Persona 5 Royal gives the game the Persona 4 Golden treatment, adding a bevy of new content, features, adjustments, and characters. It’s the definitive version of the game, making the original release obsolete. Despite Persona 5 being our game of the year for 2017, it did have some minor issues, most of which Persona 5 Royal addresses.
I’ve spent around 35 hours with Royal so far, and the experience has been just as engrossing as my original playthrough. So many little touches have been added that smooth out some of the more tedious aspects of the game. It’s easier to level confidants, Morgana doesn’t screech at you to go to bed as much, and you don’t always feel like you’re racing the clock to get everything done. If you haven’t played Persona 5 before, just stop reading this and grab Persona 5 Royal as soon as possible. It’s essentially the GOTY edition and includes everything you need to enjoy the game, including (for the West) all the DLC from the original.
For those that have played Persona 5, the differences in Persona 5 Royal may not be readily apparent. Starting out, things are a bit subtle. There are the excellent quality of life changes above, but the actual new content doesn’t really hit until later on. The big draw for Royal is Kasumi, a new confidant and later a new party member. With her also comes a new school semester and another palace. She starts making her way into the story shortly after the game begins, but even at 35 hours in, I haven’t seen a ton of her.
Dungeons have also received a redesign. For the main dungeons, palaces, you get a new grappling hook, which adds some verticality to your explorations. The layouts of palaces have been updated to take advantage of this. You can also get through palaces a bit quicker in general, which leaves you more free time to work on your skills, confidants, or hit up Mementos.
Mementos has gotten some new additions as well. Jose, a new NPC, will trade you valuable items for flowers you collect during your time in the dungeon. You can also collect stamps and bring them to Jose. Using these stamps as currency, you can add permanent bonuses to Mementos that give more XP, more money, or more item drops. This makes the time you spend in Mementos feel more worthwhile and less grindy.
As much as I’m enjoying my time with Persona 5 Royal, the new material feels very DLC. That is to say, I feel like owners of the original Persona 5 got snubbed by having to pay full price for a game that is probably 80-85% the same. This is especially true since the majority of the new content is set in the third semester, which is after the ending of the original. It would have been great if Persona 5 owners could have gotten a $20 DLC pack containing the new content from Royal. Additionally, it seems like many of the quality of life changes, like improved graphics and better fast travel, could have been added to the original via a free update.
At the same time. Persona 5 is a fantastic game, so I can’t really complain too much about the $60 price tag for Persona 5 Royal. The base game was easily 100 hours of quality gameplay, and the new content in Royal looks like it’ll add an addition 25-30 hours on top of that. Besides pricing, the one nitpick I do have is that you can’t import your Persona 5 save game into Royal. That would have been a great feature for those who just wanted to experience the third semester. However, I can see how there would be issues since Kasumi is interwoven throughout the game.
I’ve only touched on the new additions Persona 5 Royal brings. There’s new music, items, Personas, a third form for each character’s Persona, additional endings, more scenes with confidants, more holidays, and a ton more. The biggest issue with a lot of this is that it’s subtle, so it sometimes seems like you’re getting less new content than you really are. However, if you were to play the original and Royal side-by-side, it’d become apparent just how much has been added or tweaked to make the game even better.
I’m looking forward to finishing my playthrough of Persona 5 Royal. I’m sure I’ve got about 100 more hours ahead of me, but we’ll have a full review of the game live before Persona 5 Royal launches on March 31.