Persona fans can have a hard time letting go of their favorite characters; after spending upwards of 100 hours with the heroes of Personas 3, 4, or 5, it’s only natural to feel a void once you’ve rolled the credits. Persona publisher Atlus clearly understands we’ve wanted to see more of SEES and the Investigation Team; we’ve brawled in the arena and danced all night with them in follow up titles long after their original releases. In November, Persona 5’s Phantom Thieves get another curtain call in a new genre: tactical RPG.
At gamescom, I got to spend an hour with Persona 5 Tactica (P5T) on Xbox, and it’s no surprise this is shaping up to be one of the most stylish tactics games on the market. Pretty much everything I loved about Persona 5 returns in a remixed fashion: the iconic music played with new instruments, characters like Joker, Ann, and Mona hanging out in Leblanc Coffee Shop, even the endlessly pulsating menu options return in a new, “cuteified” art style. In short, if you loved that world, you’re already going to be predisposed towards this one.
Most notably, the gameplay has been remixed from turn-based RPG to a tactics -focused affair, with its own Persona twists. Early on, weird stuff seems to be happening in Tokyo (again!), and the Phantom Thieves soon find themselves back in the Metaverse, where players begin learning the particular nuances of this system, one battle at a time.
Mainline Persona games focus on sussing out enemies’ elemental weaknesses to launch devastating all-out attacks, P5T has you deploying familiar tools (melee weapons, firearms, and Personas) in a different way: placement and cover are of utmost importance, enabling your team of three to make the most of their turns.
A key tactic revolves around using melee attacks to leave an enemy defenseless, allowing a second character to “down” them, earning “One More” free turn. Surrounding a downed enemy with your characters in a triangle formation enables a Triple Threat attack, stylized in the manner of Persona 5′s All Out Attack, which is a very good thing. Triangle formation: works in basketball, works in soccer, works in P5T.
That said, setting up Triple Threats often forces at least one character to leave cover in a compelling risk/reward scenario.
P5T is rife with this sort of tension: speed is incentivized through rewards for completing matches in fewer turns, but characters who choose to spend a turn without attacking channel their focus in powerful ways. New playable character Erina, for example, can shoot right through cover after hunkering down for a turn. Speed, or patience? Safety or daring? Finding ways to get the best out of both ends of these systems is likely to define your time with P5T.
Well, that and everything else you may love about the world of Persona 5. Hearing hardcore gamer Futaba self-referentially refer to their next adventure as “DLC” while Ryuji and Yusuke argue over a beach trip brought me back to that time spent in the alternate universes of Tokyo, and I’m ready to do it all over again.
Persona 5 Tactica arrives November 17 on Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Windows PC.
Persona 5 Tactica
SEGA of America, Inc.