Persona 3 Reloaded — What should a Persona 3 remake even be?

I’ve professed my love for Persona 3 multiple times on this site. Despite its age, many flaws, and lack of a truly definitive version, it remains my favorite in the series for its poignant ruminations on death, great character development, and amazing music. If you’ve been paying attention to the series lately, you may have heard the rumor that a Persona 3 remake is currently in development. Lo and behold, Atlus West officially announced a modern remake titled Persona 3 Reloaded at the Xbox Showcase. So, what will the remake need to become the modern, definitive version of the game? What are some realistic expectations, and some wild hopes and speculation for fun?

First of all, this remake should be a combination of all the content from Persona 3 FES and Persona 3 Portable including the female protagonist, party control in battle, social links with your party, and yes, The Answer as the post game. The character you inhabit in Persona games is supposed to be somewhat of a reflection of you. Even though they do have personalities you can glean from dialogue options, you’re still the one in control here and you should be able to choose your gender. However, I fully expect the female option will be the first on the chopping block to be cut, because, as much as I love them, that’s a very Atlus thing to do. The female route offered a significantly different experience and, unless the two routes are made more homogenous, would require additional voice acting, animations, writing, and more.

Party control is just a gimmie. Every single game in the series after FES has had the option, and while it did serve the purpose of making your party feel more like people outside of you, no one likes it when Yukari tries to charm an enemy instead of knocking them down for an all out attack. The game may still default to AI, but most people will change that to manual and never look back.

While the female route had social links with all party members, the male route only had them with the girls. And at that if he maxed out one of those links, he had no choice but to date them. While I don’t think it’s the best idea to just throw out social links like with Kenji, Kaz, or your MMO friend (OK, that one can actually just go – outside of the P2 references, we keep any classic Persona scraps we can get), the social links for the female route are almost universally better, largely thanks to the “second draft” the route as a whole serves as. A compromise could be allowing both protagonists to choose, but people expect party member links so I’m not sure that would be worth the effort.

On the topic of Social Links, let’s talk romance. In the modern era, Persona has not been very queer friendly to make the understatement of the century (it’s more hostile than anything), but this would be a great opportunity to reintroduce same sex relationships. The male MC should be able to date Junpei, Akihiko, and not Ken, and the female MC should be able to romance Mitsuru, Yukari, and of course not Ken. If romances are already written for all these characters, it shouldn’t be too hard to change a few pronouns referring to the MC and leave it at that. You don’t need to make a big deal about it (while that could make for an interesting storyline, I don’t exactly trust Atlus to pull that off), just treat it the same as a straight romance. I’m not entirely against letting the protagonist still be able to date multiple people, but the punishment for doing so (you can’t form a consensual polycule unfortunately) should be much greater. Like bringing back reversed social links, forcing you to spend a lot of time to mend that relationship, or possibly locking you out of levels 9 and 10 entirely for breaking their trust. Part of offering choice in games is allowing players to make the wrong choices, and there should be consequences for that when it’s so obvious.

As for more direct gameplay changes, I suspect battles will get the most overhaul. I’d argue that the single best quality of life addition Persona 5 made was the Baton Pass. For those unfamiliar, after striking an enemy’s weakness and getting a Once More, the acting character can pass their turn onto another party member and so on until the entire party has gone. This makes you rely much less on the protagonist’s multiple personas by making party members a lot more useful. Even if someone can’t follow up with a weakness, they can use their free turn to buff, heal, or do anything really. Persona is the more player friendly version of Shin Megami Tensei, and this goes a long way towards that goal.

Continuing on from that point, Persona 3 and 4 retained the corridor dungeon design of their predecessors, with each floor being randomized. Similar to how Persona 5 handled things, I believe the main dungeon, Tartarus, would still be randomized but the mini-dungeons encountered every full moon could see an overhaul to be a bit more involved. Not quite as intricate as P5’s Palaces, since you can’t leave until the boss is defeated, but a bit more interesting and distorted due to the dark hour. I can’t remember any of P3’s areas like that other than the train and Love Hotel, so they could really use some spicing up.

The Answer is quite possibly the most controversial addition the base game has seen. While it does a few things right, such as putting Aigis center stage and expanding on her character through Metis, I am personally in the camp that it’s a poor followup to The Journey. It completely tramples on the carefully built themes and character development, especially when it comes to Yukari. I think this direction could work, continuing to use Yukari as an example her completed social link leads to unexpected tragedy in the game’s ending which would have her feeling lost and bitter, but it needs a redo. Another “second draft” if you will could help The Answer feel like an extension of The Journey rather than a betrayal. The idea is good, but the execution can feel incongruous with the characters’ growth in the main game. I can see that repeated trauma causes backsliding and lashing out, but overall it feels like your party just aren’t friends anymore after the conclusion of the base game.

We saw in the trailer that the art style has seen an update, more closely matching Persona 5, but it does lose a bit in the translation. I certainly don’t mind how it looks now, but there are a few smaller details I hope make it in before the game releases early next year, such as the command menu looking like a revolver cylinder and the rest of Junpei’s goatee. The best part of the short teaser has to be the new Lotus Juice music, which means we can expect a few new tracks in his style that we’ll be jamming out to for years to come.

Overall, while Persona 3 Reloaded has a lot to deliver on, this could be the definitive version of Persona 3 I’ve wanted since P3P came out. While I fully expect there to be missing features like the female protagonist, Reloaded will no doubt make the game even more accessible to a modern audience than Persona 3 Portable’s remaster.

David is the kind of person to wear his heart on his sleeve. He can find positives in anything, like this is a person who loved Star Fox Zero to death. You’ll see him playing all kinds of games: AAAs, Indies, game jam games, games of all genres, and writing about them! Here. On this website. When not writing or playing games, you can find David making music, games, or enjoying a good book.
David’s favorite games include NieR: Automata, Mother 3, and Gravity Rush.

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