Where should I start with the Persona series?

  • After hearing all the hype about Persona at EZA and after talking to a buddy of mine last week, I am becoming more and more curious about the Persona series.

    Allies, can you give me any recommendations where I should start and which game I should pick up first? Do I need to know the earlier stories or should I just start with Persona 4 ... or wait for Persona 5?

  • "Modern" Persona - ie, after they added social links - started with 3.

    If you think you have it in you to finish 3 and 4 before February 14th (I wouldn't try tbh, since you could burn out), then I would start with 3 since the gameplay improvements made with 4 could make it hard to go back.

    If you don't have time for multiple 90+hour RPGs, just play Persona 4 (Golden if possible).

    (Note, later, when you DO have the time, 3 is definitely worth going back to , 4 Golden is my personal favourite, and earlier Persona games are still good but very very different)

  • You don't need to play any earlier titles to enjoy 5, but there are some great games there. What hardware do you have? If you have a Vita, Persona 4 Golden is a blast. If you have a PS2 or PS3, playing the original Persona 4 would also be baller. I've personally only played 3 and 4. They're both good, but 4 is where I started and I felt it was a great way in.

    If you really only want to play 5 (because damn, it looks amazing), you can absolutely start there. 3 and 4 are neat though if you have the time!

  • @RoyalCactopi said in Where should I start with the Persona series?:

    If you really only want to play 5 (because damn, it looks amazing), you can absolutely start there. 3 and 4 are neat though if you have the time!

    Oh yeah, right, totally forgot to mention that Persona is pretty much like Final Fantasy. You don't need to play the previous games in the main line series to get the more recent entries.

    Good point.

  • Thanks @selfconfessedcynic and @RoyalCactopi :)

    Persona 4 Golden is probably gonna be the way to go then :) And having it on a Vita (planning on buying soon) might just be the only way to get through a 90+ hour game like that. Since I travel a lot for work, I've only been playing a lot of iOS mobile games and they become very stale and repetitive over time ;)

  • @marcel Solid plan man - you're in for a BLAST.

    Persona 4 Golden is like the Easy Allies of JRPGs (all about fun, friendship and good vibes with the backdrop of a murder - looking at you Defy Media haha).

    I don't want to hype it too much for you dude, just go in fresh and note that the first 5ish hours are all about context and setting the tone (it really gets into gear after that).

  • I imagine most people will say P3 or 4.

    I've only played P4G and I'd absolutely recommend that. The best thing is they are all separate stories so you don't need to worry about that and I think P4G is the most streamlined.

    Hopefully you have a vita or PS tv. If not, I'm sure the original PS2 version is great.

  • 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.