Where should I start with the Persona series?

  • Persona 4 brother. Really polished battle system, great graphics and an engaging story.

    Good luck & hope you enjoy ;)

  • P3 and P4 are in the same universes, so if you want to, you can start with P3. There are two versions to pick from, though, so it depends on whether you want it on a handheld or not. P4 I'd say P4G. They have very different vibes and tones, so prepare for that.

  • Hmmm I have both P3P and Persona 4 Golden on my Vita (poor thing) and I started playing P3P once some months ago, but it didn't really do it for me. I was hooked on the story and characters and even the combat system, but the moment they let you go wherever you want on the map and I found out everything was menus and choosing options to spend time without real dialogues or anything interesting I got pretty bummed out.

    The fact that there are so many options and stats to manage (in such a bland way) and that there IS a perfect way of doing it to get everything to max (leaving me with the feel that everything I did was not a choice, but a bad management) were the low points for me. I will go back to it, because I liked the characters, story and battles a lot, but I may just look up a walkthrough to know what actions to do when...

    Is there something wrong with me? Anyone else felt that system was meh? And does it improve in P4 Golden?

  • 1 and 2 are drastically different games, and I couldn't even make myself beat 1, and I'm still making my way through 2, so I'd recommend either of those for a start.

    I think that both 3 and 4 are such fantastic experiences that I would have to recommend both, but if you can only choose one, then 4 would be the answer, just keep in mind that if you'd then want to play 3, it would be a very very rough experience, as there were a lot of improvements made from 3 to 4. But if you'd be interested in both then go with 3.

  • I've been trying to play through the series before Persona 5 releases. So far I've finished Persona 1 (PSP), Persona 2 Innocent Sin (PSP) and Persona 2 Eternal Punishment (Playstation 1 Classics) and I'm about to start Persona 3 Portable (PSP).

    Persona 1 is a 1st person dungeon crawler with a cool story, two cool stories in fact as there is a hidden story line that you can only activate under certain conditions at the start of the game. Battles are fought on two opposing grids with different weapons having different ranges of attack across the grid, where as magic has infinite range but uses SP, this type of battle system requires more micromanaging but I found is more engaging as a result. The game also has demon negotiation that allows you to recruit enemies, take their money or gain information, the game does a poor job of explaining this feature but it involves filling up different meters for Happy, Sad, Surprised and Angry, if you get 3 points in a category or in multiple categories the demon will react appropriately. A super neat feature of the game is that you can choose your party members for a playthrough and then those party members will have completely unique dialogue during the story. However the game is very difficult and if you want to get the good ending you will NEED to use a FAQ or guide, especially during a certain obtuse section starring a ginger bread house.

    Persona 2 Innocent Sin is a 3rd person RPG with another great story with plenty of twists and fun characters. There is more emphasis on exploring and talking to NPCs as after every dungeon or story event all the people you can talk to in the city get new dialogue, making it feel like a city that reacts to the actions made by characters. Another interesting system in the game is that you can learn rumors from rumor mongers, pay to spread these rumors, and then they will come true. These rumors may be about items or shops or even side bosses. The battle system is no longer grid based but the new aspect of battles are that you can perform combo attacks for massive damage by using different types magic in certain orders, these combinations are never told to you so it is up to you to keep trying different combinations to see what works. The issue with Innocent Sin is that they seem to have taken Persona 1 feedback to heart and the game is completely devoid of challenge for the bulk of the game, you can go through most of it without ever upgrading armor or weapons or Personas. All magic costs the exact same amount of SP for a given Persona on a given character meaning as you level up some skills become completely redundant. Demon negotiation returns and you now can do combo negotiations with different combinations of characters.

    Persona 2 Eternal Punishment is an alternate story set in an alternate timeline to Innocent Sin that follows a few new characters along with a few old ones. It reuses a lot of assets from Innocent Sin and a couple dungeons feel like they are straight copy and pasted with a small amount of changes made. The battle system though is overall more balanced and sits in the Goldilocks zone of difficulty between Persona 1 and Innocent Sin. Providing a decent amount of challenge without needing you to ever grind. It was fun learning about the new characters that were given a more prominent role than in Innocent Sin, but since the main story runs somewhat parallel to Innocent Sin there are less plot twists providing you have already played the first part.

  • Honestly I'd suggest starting with P3, it's closer to what P5 will be like in terms of tone and gameplay style than 1 and 2 I think but both those games are great too!

  • Start with 3 or 4. They're much easier entry points and likely much more like Persona 5 will be. The order isn't super important. 3 is a darker game (but it has its lighthearted moments) with much more existential issues at play, Persona 4 is brighter (but can still get pretty dark) and deals with more personal issues. Persona 4 is basically a rom hack of Persona 3, so don't worry about any big changes in mechanics.

    Play 3 and 4 before you play any of the spinoffs.

    I would really reccommend the 2 duology after you've payed 3/4, its very different and a lot more complex, but you can see where 3 and 4 got their roots. The characters are memorable, the soundtrack is great, If you like Persona and can bear a steep learning curve you'll enjoy the P2 games. It's a little dated, so it might be tough to start , but once you've gotten in the groove those games are addicting.

    The original Persona can be tough, Not necessarily because of the difficulty, but it's very very dated, so playing it can be a chore at times. Even though its a good JRPG, and I'd certainly put it above a lot of other games, it's definitely the weak link in the Persona series.

  • If you like playing on a vita, start with persona 4 golden. If you don't have a vita, get yourself a PS TV. They're pretty cheap and you can play the game on a big screen and from the comfort of your coach.

    After you finish Persona 4 golden, get persona 3 FES. It's on psn for ps3 as a ps2-classic(God that sounds confusing, thanks Sony). You can also buy it second-hand but ps2-copies seem to be pretty expensive nowadays. If you have a good pc, just run it through pcsx2.

    "But Michster why not just get the portable version(persona 3 portable for ps vita/psp?!"

    Because I don't trade in gorgeous cinematics, better exploration & immersion for controllable party-members.

    P3 FES is amazing, but P4G has better pacing & gameplayoverall I think. The pace does pick up after a few (in-game)months, but once you played P4G, this won't be an issue. Be warned that P3 FES touches on some very dark themes. When you see that opening cinematic showing the text "Memento mori", that's not just window-dressing...

    Also P3 FES has one of the best videogame soundtracks ever.

    (Just my 2 cents, I respect anyone who prefers P3P over P3 FES.)
    (Even though those people are wrong)

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  • Thanks so much for the tips everybody ;) I will probably get started with P4 on Vita as I mentioned above.

    But loving all the love Persona is getting in this thread 😻 The hype must be real :)

  • I found persona hard work. I didn't really know what I was doing and was finding it hard to figure what to do with my days. I lost the game and started again haha maybe I will do better second time round, if I ever get round to it

  • @marcel You're lucky you can get P4G. I am playing through P4 right now for the first time (and first full Persona game) and I'm loving it. However, it does bother me a bit that the game was only expanded and improved in Golden. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

    I will say I tried P3:FES first but it couldn't grip me. I prefer P4 because it involves the main character more prominently. In P3 (at least the first 10 hours) it felt like they were all talking around me but not including me.

  • Either 3 or 4, but definitely try one before going into P5. It's likely a smaller cost commitment and you can get a feel for what these games are like. For me I preferred Persona 4, though I never got to play the supposedly better Golden version.

  • It might be worth it to give Persona 2 a shot. Innocent Sin (the first part of the P2 duology) is on PSP and non-censored fan translation is up for grabs for PS1.

    P2 is in my opinion superior to P3 and 4 in terms of characters, story and atmosphere. People will disagree with me, but characters in 3 and 4 are much more of anime caricatures that really only exist to justify main character's existence. That's how I feel, anyway.

    What P2 has going against it is somewhat dated looks and clunky UI. The fight system is deeper than in the later entries but it is, again, hindered by the poorly designed UI. But there are ways around it (speed-up function in emulators really helps this game).

    Chances are that you will not be able to go back to P2 after so many things have been streamlined in P3/4, so I'd recommend giving that one a try first. It's kind of like playing Witcher 1 after Witcher 3.

    P2 also has undisputably best waifu.

  • How about starting with P3? Depending on which platform do you have you can try either P3FES on PS2 or P3P on PSP/PSV. I have played all 5 games so far and I would say persona 2: sin and persona 2: punishment have the best story but they are far away from the modern persona games while more similar to the shin migami tensei games. Persona 3 has pretty good plot and settings, you also get accompanies like A.I robot, dogs, and the idea of using a fake gun to trigger your persona is way cooler than the glasses in 4 and the masks in the upcoming 5. Also need to mention that in P3P you even get the chance to play as the female protagonist!

  • I started with Persona 4 the original. It's fun, but I'm not a rabbit fan. I guess I'm not super into how the dungeons work. Worth checking out, though, I'd say!

  • I know you said you're probably going with P4 which is great but if you can and have time later on you should totally go back and play P3!

    I started with P3 and oh man, great vibes all around during that game.

    Hype is real for P5 and so happy to hear of more people trying to get into this amazing series!

  • The first Persona I played was 3 when it first released, but I never got into it at the time. It wasn't until P4 Golden that I gave the series another shot. Golden was incredible and I loved every moment, but then when I went back to P3 I had a hard time playing it because of the many improvements in 4. Still beat it and loved it, just probably not as much as I would have if I played it first. I would play P3FES or P3P first then move on to Persona 4 Golden just so that doesn't happen to you.

    The older games are fun but entirely different so feel free to not play them if you don't feel the old school JRPG vibes.

  • You don't need to catch up as they are all different, but I do recommend Persona 4. The group is very endearing and likable.

    Persona 3 has okay characters. They're a bit too disconnected from each other where Persona 4 has a lot of moments where they truly care about each other. Persona 3 is also a bit long which is like 120 hours minimum for a playthrough.

    You can just start with Persona 5, but it is half a year away.

    Edit: Wait, why is this in the announcements?

  • 3 and 4 are obviously the ones that shot Persona in to the mainstream (many mainline SMT fans resent it and don't count it) but 1 and especially 2 are really good games imo, they have that SMT dread and weird atmosphere and 2 has a very interesting plot. 3 is pretty dark too though.