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Persona 5: The Royal - non-spoiler impressions so far
Posted: Posted April 15th by Jo Nathan
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I've gotten about 30 hours in so far, in the slow part between the second and third major arcs, and I have some thoughts. The new content is a mixed bag for me, but I would say it's mostly good.

The first thing I'll mention is how surprised I am at how much new content was added. I went in expecting things to mostly be the same except for a couple new social links, more flexibility to do activities at night, and (I'm assuming) a new dungeon and a couple extra in-game months to do stuff at the end. However, they actually added a bunch of new things along the way and I feel like it does a good job making things more engaging for those who played the original version. For example, there's a new movement ability you can use in dungeons and they've added more secrets, which makes the dungeons more engaging for returning players.

One thing I complained about from original P5 is that it felt like a downgrade from P4 in terms of the "extra curricular" stuff your group does - fewer outings with the group, fewer school activities, etc. At least so far it seems like they're rectifying this. There are also more scripted scenes involving the new social link characters. I kind of feel like the latter is a two-edge sword though. On the one hand, I like the new characters, but on the other hand it's messing with the pacing and prolonging the already lengthy lulls between the RPG action.

One change that I find downright annoying is some additions they made to existing social links. After most hangouts now, they cut to you walking through the door in Leblanc and the character you just finished hanging out with calls you on the phone and drags things out even more. Like dude, Ryuji, I love you man but we just hung out... we don't need an extension of the conversation we just finished. It seems like unnecessary padding.

Speaking of unnecessary things..... this is something I'm torn on. I thought original P5 had a fine battle system and party mechanics- I dare say it was borderline TOO accommodating in some ways. Royal, though... it feels like they're adding more mechanics and perks that aren't necessary and are making things too complicated and simultaneously too easy. It could just be that I'm turning into a grandpa who doesn't like change - I remember being apprehensive toward Pokémon gen 3 for adding the "ability" mechanic but I've since grown to like it, so maybe I'll warm up to the changes in Royal. But I dunno.

Examples: Personas now have passive traits that are basically the aforementioned "ability" feature in Pokémon, guns reload after every battle now so you are free to spam gunfire to your heart's content, you can equip certain accessories that give you access to spells that your persona wouldn't normally have access to (e.g. I can have Ryuji cast Garu), and you can "rank up" Baton Pass for each member so it heals and restores SP (and a few other features I didn't mention.) These things all provide more flexibility, but I also think it trivializes certain aspects of the game and makes it so you rely less on strategy and careful planning.

Music - I am not that crazy about Last Surprise (super unpopular opinion, I know, whatever, fuck you, I don't think it's anything special). If you ambush an enemy, you get a different song. I'm not blown away by the new song either, but I love that there's more variety now. In fact, since I ambush more enemies than not, I actually started to miss Last Surprise so I appreciate it a bit more when I do hear it.

Mementos underwent some changes to make it a bit more interesting and more worthwhile to explore. I thought Mementos was ok as it was, but it's undoubtedly one of the more monotonous parts of the game so I give them props for improving it.

One last thing.... the "councillor" and "faith" arcanas? Did they make those up? I'm not a tarot card expert so I could be wrong but those sound like bs to me.

Well that's a wall of text. Shucks. I will make another one when I finish the game but these are my thoughts so far. Some annoying things and some things I'm unsure of, but overall a positive experience.

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