Persona 3: FES vs P3P

  • Hi allies!

    I've got a bit of a dilemma, but first I've got some context (there's a tl;dr if you don't care). Just last night I finally beat Persona 5 (after a little over 120 hours 0_0;). I really loved it, so much so that about partway through I was inspired to go back to Persona 3 and Persona 4, both of which I had given a try in the past but didn't really get into at the time (mostly because the battles were tough, spell/ability names were weird, and persona fusion confused and intimidated the hell outa me). I had, at one point, owned the vanilla PS2 version of P3 and bought the vanilla version of P4 through the PS3 on the PSN (that's a lot of P acronyms!). Sadly, I sold off my PS3 when I moved last year, and I traded in my copy of Persona 3 long ago, so I no longer own the base game for either. So I've got some choices as to which versions of each game to get. At the time, I didn't own any Sony handhelds, so I was looking at just picking up P4 on PS2 again (since I didn't have access to the PSN version, frustratingly), but after reading a lot of praise for Golden, I started to reconsider. I'll fast-forward a bit here and just say that after doing some more research, I decided to put off getting a Switch and instead went and bought Persona 4 Golden and a shiny used Vita (slim).

    Now that I have a Vita though, I have another set of versions to consider for Persona 3, FES for PS2 (which I think I'd have to get a hard copy of) or P3P for PSP (which I can get on the Vita PSN store). I went in assuming that the better version would again be clear-cut, but sadly that doesn't seem to be the case. From what I can tell (through some googling), I have to choose between P3P's superior gameplay (and fem MC option) and Fes' superior presentation/story experience.

    Normally I'd be OK sacrificing some gameplay tweaks in favor of an overall better story and presentation, but the tweaks in P3P are, for me, ones that can make or break a game. I've straight up stopped playing and returned games before because of AI incompetence driving me up a wall. That said, I can look past an aggravatingly stupid party AI in some instances. For example, games where most battles don't require a lot of very specific team synergy, or resources are easy to come by/conserve, or the MC is just super OP making your party not very important (I'm looking at you Berseria). But Persona is not that kind of game (well, except for maybe the OP MC thing, but that seems like more of a late game thing). In P5 I was constantly messing around in practically every fight with who was doing what in and in what order so I could conserve resources and deal with awful situations I'd sometimes put myself in. Having to deal with questionable party AI in situations like that sounds like an absolute nightmare to me, and it drives me nuts when party AI is slinging spells left and right when a simple physical attack would suffice, especially if those spells are using up a valuable resource.

    Based on this alone, it would seem that getting P3P on Vita is the way to go. On top of that, there's the benefit of being able to play as a fem MC (which I would love to be able to do, especially in a genre like this that seemingly doesn't give that option practically ever). If the Persona series wasn't so well known for its stories this would be a no-brainer. But that isn't the case, and after playing through P5 I think losing out on both the animated cutscenes and all of the 3D interactions would be a massive blow to the story presentation and overall experience. I'm worried that not having that is going to severely hamper my enjoyment of the game and what I take away from it.


    To you all who have actually played one or both versions of Persona 3, what were your experiences? Was the AI intelligent enough for you in FES? Did the lack of cutscenes/full character interactions make you lose interest in the story in P3P? Have any of you tried playing P3P and watching the cutscenes on YouTube as you play? There's also the silly option of getting and playing both, but are the two different enough for that to be worth it? I'd love to hear some thoughts!

    P.S. I plan on playing through P3 before getting to P4G, but I'm going to finish Gravity Rush as a bit of a palate cleanser first (and I'm still debating if I want to go for P5's Platinum now or maybe sometime later as well), so there's time to mull things over.

    P.P.S. For the record, I don't really care about "The Answer" from FES. It sounds like it's basically just a grind fest and I'm definitely not willing to deal with the AI party members through that. Plus, I've read it doesn't really give that great of a closure to the story anyways. Also, portability is not something I consider a plus or minus. If I play a game on a handheld, I play it at home like every other game. It just has a different vibe (which sometimes I really like).

  • It definitively sucks that there's not a definitive version of P3, I haven't played through either of the PS2 versions in a while so I can't make a fair direct comparison between FES and P3P right now, in terms of the gameplay improvements.

    When I played P3P (which I played after Golden) I felt the experience was losing a lot in comparison to the PS2 versions of the game. In my case I was already so invested in P3 that I didn't have much of an issue powering through that and getting a good experience out of it, but I can't say I would recommend it as a first version for the game.

    In my opinion FES is the best option given a choice, I don't think the improvements in P3P or the female route (which I would only recommend playing after the male one) push the game above FES.

    My choice for FES is purely for the presentation, it being the most complete PS2 version. The Answer is an exercise in frustration management, which I wouldn't blame anyone for skipping and watching on youtube.

    So without going back to them to look at the improvements of P3P and seeing if they make enough of a difference (I doubt they are), i would just say FES.

  • @GalacticSugarPunk I've played through all of vanilla P3, and about half of FES before I got distracted with life. Honestly, sacrificing control in this game isn't a dealbreaker seeing as how the game was initially designed with that restriction. You don't have to worry about party members wasting all your resources as you can issue tactics to them such as "Conserve SP" or "Knock Down". I honestly don't remember the game ever getting to a point of being frustrating or party members making decisions that cost me fights. I can't speak to the integrity of P3P as I haven't played it, but like yourself, I want to try it out to see what the female MC changes.

    In your position, I'd recommend playing P3:FES as it is basically the deluxe edition of the original game and later on, if you still crave more Persona 3, dive into P3P. Either way, I don't think there's a wrong decision you can make.

  • I'm thinking about doing the same thing, got an old PS3 (with backwards compatibility) but yeah, unsure whether to go for Vanilla P3 or P3 FES.

    Looking at prices too, £40 for FES on ebay I've found, whereas the digital version on PSN is £8...I've heard the PSN version is not very good though?

    Also, is there a 'safe' or 'very easy' difficulty setting for P3? (Played P4G on Very Easy, playing P5 on Safe).

  • @DisturbedSwan there's no reason to go for vanilla over FES unless you were interested in playing through all of the versions, FES can ussually be acquired cheaper as well, no idea about the PSN version, but all PSN games I've played have had no problems.

    I'm pretty sure there's not a very easy option on either, I know there's an easy one but that's from what I can remember

  • @DisturbedSwan I believe just Easy. Also, I'm gonna say if you've tackled two Persona games, it may be time to crank up the difficulty a little bit. The battle system is glorious in Persona 3 through 5, it's kinda hard to see it shine on lower difficulties - but play how you wanna play of course.

  • Ah ok, cheers for the advise guys :)

  • Honestly, P3P is my favorite game of all time. It feels like a visual novel when not battling, but I don't think that's a bad thing. And the Fem MC route is the only route I've completed, I might be biased towards it since I'm a girl myself but I really think it's worth trying. Not to mention, you can control the other party members in Portable. Long story short, it might not be for everyone, but if you don't mind the limited controls and want arguably the best protagonist in series history (sorry Maya), go with Portable.

  • It was hard to get into P3P after playing P3 FES on the PS2. And getting absorbed into the world where you can physically roam around. Whereas P3P has this curosor icon thing instead.

    At the same time, I've never even gotten half way done with a Persona game. P3P is certainly a treat for fans who want to see a female perspective, after playing through P3.

  • As a more complete experience I'd say FES, although P3P isn't bad either with some of its gameplay refinements.

  • @michemagius Well, I share the same bias, so it's a strong pull in that direction~

    General consensus seems to be that FES is the way to go... I'm still torn though. I might just wind up playing both. Or trying both and returning whichever one I like less......

    ....Is what I would say if you could actually get refunds from the PSN store scrunchy face FES would still be returnable though so not a complete non-option.

    Luckily both of these games are fairly cheap (I saw a hard copy of FES on Amazon for, like, $17, and there's a good chance a local store has an affordable copy as well).

  • Finished P4 Golden last week and was having the same dilemma...

    P3 FES is the full game story and gameplay wise, so i picked it

    BUT...oh my god how ANNOYING the battle system can be, being able to control only the main character broke the game for me. I cant describe the frustration of watching Yukari miss a all-out-attack opportunity because she chose the wrong target to attack or did anything else. I decided to drop the game after the 1st boss.

    The soundtrack is amazing tough, even better than P4G

    P3P fixes the battle system but no cutscenes and the visual novel style are not for me. So there is no Persona 3 version for me and im fine with that, at least I tried.

  • @michemagius I can't speak about relating more with the Fem MC, you know being a dude and all, but to bring back some praise to P3P, which I still absolutely consider worth playing, the ability to control everyone is indeed a great help (I was pretty sure you could do this in FES as well) and I think it is still very enjoyable overall.

    And to reiterate an important fact that you kinda touched.


    I don't care if she is protag or not Minako is the absolute best, I mean just look at her, ain't she just lovely.

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    Also you get to listen to the sweet Ways of Life if you play as fem MC

    Youtube Video

  • @bard91 I always listen to Ways of Life!

  • @bard91
    Didn't they also make a few new cutscenes for the fem MC?

  • @DMCMaster Not that I can remember, some were definitevely changed but I don't think it was for the best (some scenes with Yukari for example), and some social links with the FMC are much better, such as Saori and Rio, which are miles better than Kenji and the council guy whose names I always forget, sadly it also loses the Maya s. link which is easily one the best three out of all of the ones from P3

  • This thread solidifies it. With the success of P5, Atlus needs to bring back the game with the closest tone to a modern audience in its best form - P3 Deluxe Edition Hyper Turbo Fun Times HD Re-Master Re-Collection Re-Imagined. All the joys of FES mixed with an optional female lead and being able to control all your characters in battle. Ken is removed from the game entirely and replaced with a Morgana plushie.

  • FES is in my opinion the only way you should play this game. I was talking to someone on Discord who was playing P3P fresh off finishing Persona 5 and he was disappointed cause it was basically a visual novel. If you want that traditional Persona game go with FES.

  • @SabotageTheTruth
    To be fair Atlus did register a ton of Persona related names the other week, Persona 3 Platnium Hyper Fighting Edition Turbo has to be one of them

  • @SabotageTheTruth All joking aside I don't understand why they don't do it, I think that updating the graphics a bit and reworking some things (particularly some of the crappy S. Links) would do wonders, and they could do it like the Valkyria Remaster and sell it for $30

  • Well, I just found out that Persona 3 has an anime.
    Might just watch it to see the whole story.

    It was condensed into 4 movies, the last one came out last year.

    Since I dont think it was licensed outside Japan yet, it easier to find fansubs out there.

    DameDesuYo is one of these fansubbers, just google it