Persona 5 Royal: Royally Improving the Gameplay
Persona-lly, I’m excited.
Let me start off by saying that Persona 5 was my favourite game of 2017. Persona 5 took everything I loved about Persona and dialled it up. However, as great as the game was, there were some aspects of it that bothered me, and an enhanced re-release can definitely help fix them.
1. Expanded Skill sets for party members
This one is a given, especially since Persona 4 Golden expanded the skill sets of party members from the base Persona 4 game. Each party member was also given a unique special skill upon upgrading their Personas to the third stage. Yosuke got Youthful Wind, Chie received Dragon Hustle, etc. These unique skills were not only very helpful in battle (well, most of them. Looking at you, Kanji), but also reflected their personalities. Youthful Wind restored some HP to all party members and buffed their Evasion stat during battle. The skill represents Yosuke’s brotherly demeanour, picking you up when you’re down, while also dodging life’s responsibilities. Chie loves kung fu movies, and the image of a dragon is a classic motif of the kung fu genre. It totally makes sense that her high energy motivates everyone in the room and buffs every single stat of her and her allies (although it costs her tremendous amounts of energy to even use the skill once).
It is very likely that Persona 5 Royal will provide more opportunities for party members to learn new skills that they otherwise didn’t have in Persona 5. I also have some ideas about how to improve Yusuke, the game’s objectively worst character in battle, but that’s a story for another day.
2. Let players engage in more activities during the night time
During certain points of the game’s story, you are unable to do any activities, even if the player returns to their room. Morgana, your cat, will just say ‘Let’s not do that today/tonight’. This is usually the result of a plot point that is going to happen the next in game day. I guess this makes sense in real life, as you want to be well rested for the event happening tomorrow, so you it’s a good idea to go to bed early. However, what if we just did something in our rooms? In the player’s room, you have the option to craft lock picks and other items at your desk, which will undoubtedly help during your trips into the game’s dungeons. But even Morgana will sometimes tell you to ‘not do that today’. Why not? It’s absolutely frustrating that I have a free night to make something that will assist me in gameplay but my talking cat is giving me orders? Come on. You’re not my mom! I understand not going out too late at night, but come on, how long does it take us to make one to three lock picks? Hopefully Persona 5 Royal will allow us more flexibility during the exposition-heavy beats during the story and at least give us the option to do some sort of activity.
3. More musical options during battle
Okay, I’m cheating a bit here, as this isn’t so much a gameplay addition rather than a quality of life one. Look, I love the Persona 5 soundtrack, but honestly I get tired of hearing Last Surprise for the 500th time in a row. The boss fight theme, Willpower, is great, and you hear it sparingly since it only appears during the bigger battles of the game. But how come there are multiple boss themes but only one regular encounter theme, especially since you will be running into the latter way more often? Blooming Villain is an alternative boss battle track, and even Keeper of Lust plays during mini boss fights. However, Last Surprise plays during every single regular encounter? Atlus definitely needs do add more tracks so it breaks the monotony of having to hear the same song over and over again. Persona 4 was in the same spot when Reach Out to the Truth was constantly playing, and then Golden released and added Time to Make History. Sure, it’s only one extra song, but it’s better than nothing. The first new song (currently unnamed) of Persona 5 Royal was introduced in the reveal trailer. Atlus used Time to Make History as its main song in the Persona 4 Golden trailer, so there’s a high possibility that this new song will be in rotation with Last Surprise during regular encounters. In Persona 4 Golden, Time to Make History plays instead of Reach out to the Truth whenever the player gains an advantage over enemies during battle by ambushing them in battle. Perhaps the music could change depending on how well you’re currently doing in battle? Devil May Cry 5 does this, when you increase in rank during battle, the music switches up. There, that’s how this point could tie in with gameplay!
4. Add in new elements
Persona 5 added the Nuclear and Psy elements to the roster. These are quite unorthodox elements compared to the others you see in RPGs. While too many elements might cause confusion (like Pokemon), I don’t see the harm in adding one or two more. Nuclear previously appeared in Persona 2, while Psy was in Persona’s sister franchise, Shin Megami Tensei. Two other elements that I believe should be added are Water and Earth. Of course, these two are elements that are more commonly seen in games, but I still feel like it should be common sense to include them. Overall, new elements contribute to more gameplay, such as additional types of enemies, as well as other enemies being weak against them.
Additionally, the Persona 5 Royal trailer introduced a new Phantom Thief, Kasumi Yoshizawa. We still don’t know what element she will specialise in, as every other party member has an elemental affinity. The only element that isn’t covered is Persona’s neutral element, Almighty. However, if Atlus were to add in a new element for her, that could work too. An earth element seems to make more sense, as Water could be too similar to the existing Ice Element, which is Yusuke speciality. Kasumi could also contrast Joker and have an affinity for Light, but then that conflicts with my final suggestion.
5. More Goro Akechi, please
WARNING: This part contains spoilers for Persona 5.
As it turns out, our Light element wielding Goro Akechi isn’t a permanent playable party member due to story reasons. I personally don’t like temporary party members as I always feel like part of the gameplay is gone when their time is up. Persona 5 Royal should include Goro Akechi as a permanent party member in battle at least, regardless of how the story pans out. To solve this, they can take the same approach as Tri-Ace did with Star Ocean 4: The Last Hope. In that game, a certain party member becomes evil due to story reasons, and a new character replaces him as a permanent party member as a result. On subsequent New Game+ playthroughs, you have the option of replacing the new character with the evil character in battle. The evil character will never show up in cutscenes, and they will still show the new character in them, but the evil character will still be playable during fights. Atlus can adopt the same idea, except have an extra slot in the menu for Goro Akechi rather than having him replace a character’s place in battle. Akechi won’t show up in cutscenes after he’s left the party completely in the story, but he will still be present in fights. If Atlus doesn’t decide to this, then Kasumi could very well be the replacement for Akechi and will have Light elemental attacks. I do miss Akechi’s lines in battle sometimes!
Persona 5 Royal is slated to release in Japan on October 31, 2019, along with a western release in 2020. Persona 4 was one of the best games on the PlayStation 2, and the release of Persona 4 Golden on the PlayStation Vita was probably my favourite game of all time. You can expect the extra content and gameplay tweaks that comes with an enhanced re-release to elevate Persona 5 Royal to even greater heights.