Is Persona 5 Royal worth $60? Pros, cons, and dazzling new additions

Here are all the differences from the game you played three years ago.

Persona 5 is a fantastic game, but it’s already been out for nearly three years. You can buy a copy for $20 or less virtually anywhere. However, in just a few short weeks, an enhanced version of Persona 5 called P5 Royal will launch at a $60 price point. What’s so enhanced about this Royal edition? Why should you justify spending thrice the price? Is there $40 worth of new content?

In short: yes. Persona 5 Royal feels like a new game. If you’re not convinced, here’s a handy breakdown of all the non-spoiler additions and alterations made in the 2020 upgrade.

Persona 5 Royal adds more than 20 hours of new gameplay

There are three new major characters: Kasumi Yoshizawa, Takuro Maruki, and José. Kasumi also joins the Phantom Thieves as a party member. José will use a new item known as a “Will Seed,” which can be found in Palaces, Persona 5’s massive dungeons. Each Palace contains three Will Seeds, finding all of them will unlock a special accessory.

A big chunk of the additional gameplay comes from the “Third Semester,” a new section featuring fresh narrative elements, an additional Palace, and more explorable content. The Phantom Thieves also undergo massive alterations in this portion. For example, the cat mascot, Morgana, becomes a human male. The Third Semester extends the playable story to mid-February.

Akechi’s narrative has been overhauled completely. You can now hang out with him throughout Tokyo as though he were a regular confidant. The Velvet Room wardens, Caroline and Justine, can now be toured around Tokyo. It’s a great time to just “hang out.” Royal also provides way more time for such activities than any previous Persona title.

Kichijoji, Persona 5 Royal's new areaAtlus USA

Persona 5 Royal adds Kichijoji to the map, a new area featuring team building activities like pool and darts, an SP-increasing temple, and a Jazz club. There’s also a fun spot called the “Thieves Den,” which features numerous extras like watching anime cutscenes, listening to the game’s soundtrack, and playing cards with Phantom Thieves.

The Phantom Thieves themselves have also been strengthened. Every party member now has access to an additional upgrade to their Persona. The Phantom Thieves have new moves, including a grappling hook and special attacks called “Showtime.” (The latter are also a feature of Persona 5 Scramble.)

All those upgrades will be necessary when you come face to face with the new foes: Disaster Shadows high-risk, high-reward baddies that can be found within Palaces. You can also fight previous Persona series protagonists.

Little changes in Persona 5 Royal

In addition to all these flashy details, Royal polishes the base game. The most obvious distinction is that Atlus improved the graphics by pulling from 2018's P5 Dancing for character models. Visuals can now be displayed in 4K.

If that wasn’t enough, every character portrait has been redrawn, providing more flexible faces. Characters now feel far more fleshed out.

There's also some welcome tweaks to existing characters. Haru, who comes into the story almost out of nowhere in the original, is now foreshadowed way earlier. Morgana also gives you way less guff for staying up late, allowing you to complete more activities every day.

Madarame's new boss visageAtlus USA

Royal also features alterations to memorable NPCs in the game. Lala Escargot, the sultry bartender, is now fully voiced. Bosses fights have been tweaked for greater cohesion with the story. The showdown with the gym teacher, Kamoshida, now includes a few new cohorts like Mishima and Shiho, both victims of his sleazy actions. The fight against the corrupt painter Madarame is completely different, placing a greater emphasis on elemental weaknesses. Every single boss has received at least one slight alteration to make fighting them a more enjoyable bout.

While there’s still more DLC planned for Royal, Altus USA has promised all the additional paid content released for vanilla Persona 5 will be completely free for those who buy Royal. (This is even a better deal than Japanese players got! They still had to pay 10 yen per DLC when Royal debuted.) The game is packed with Japanese audio and a more intense difficulty setting, both of which weren’t available when the base game debuted.

Royal also includes 30 new music tracks, new weather effects, and a new opening video.

If you loved the game the first time around, Persona 5 Royal is almost certainly worth the full sticker price. If you've never played P5, this is definitely the version to get.

Persona 5 Royal comes to PS4 March 31.

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