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The Royal Treatment: ‘Persona 5 Royal’ preview

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Given the current pandemic and droves of panic TP-buying, it’s been a little difficult to secure the minimum 80+ hours needed for a Persona playthrough. We’ve managed to log around 30 hours in this lavish re-release however, so we settled on a preview for right now.

For those unfamiliar, Persona 5 originally released in 2017 (worldwide, Japan got it the prior year) for PlayStation 3 and 4. It tells the tale of a group of high school youngsters gifted with specially powered personas, masquerading as sneaky thieves that can steal a person’s metaphorical heart and forcefully confess their crimes in the real world. Confusing but cool sounding? Welcome to the world of Persona.

Persona 5 Royale is a re-release of sorts, where the original game has been expanded on in several ways (similar to Persona 4 Golden). New confidants have been introduced, additions made to dungeons, new locations and several other refinements have been made to the title. However, the core story appears largely untouched.

Prior Persona 5 players will notice a bevvy of improvements right away such as more active combat bonuses, easier fast travel options, and expanded activities selection. This has made the stat boosting less of a chore this time around, and gives a lot more freedom of choice to pursuing different activities that fulfill the same stat need. For example, you can do a quick boost to your Knowledge with a crossword puzzle and then focus on upping your Guts with a DVD, without having to sacrifice your whole evening to one or the other. Another huge plus is that passive abilities have a more prominent role in battles, giving players more reason to curate their personas to the fight at hand.

The newer confidants of Kasumi and Maruki come with several new scenes and story trees unique to them. Kasumi is an additional teammate to the Phantom Thieves, so her plot is a little more involved much earlier in the main story. Again though, these are only enhancements to the story so far, as the major villains and overall plot have appeared much the same.

Persona 5 Royal Tycoon
It’s no Gwent, but Tycoon is easy enough to play for a few rounds.

The introduction of the Thieves’ Den hub serves as a way for players to unlock in-game art, music and various bonuses via a new card minigame ‘Tycoon’. Also a Stranger-esque (shout outs to Resident Evil 4) character named Jose has been launched into the depths of Mementos. He serves to add bonuses to the area that can really assist players in capitalizing on the inevitable experience grind, but his actual impact to the story (if any) has yet to truly present itself.

For players who missed out on Persona 5 when it first released, Persona 5 Royal is so far the better way to experience the game. Our full review will dive deeper into the other additions and whether or not it’s worth the price tag for folks who logged major hours into the original.

Persona 5 Royal will be available on March 31 for PlayStation 4. Watch the trailer below.

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About the author

Christen Bejar

Christen Bejar is a freelance gaming writer who started the local blog The Pause Button while studying at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. For Nerdvana, Bejar reviews video games and also previews, recaps and photographs many local events from a gamer's perspective.