After years of rumors and speculation, Atlus announced the much anticipated Persona 5. This reveal was built up like no Persona title before it, with a countdown starting in September and a 72 hour stream before the unveiling, and it paid off, with over 1 million people viewed the event and left hundreds of thousands of comments. Clearly, the Persona series has earned itself quite a reputation since its humble days on the PlayStation and with four new games to accompany the announcement, the series shows no sign of slowing down, with Persona 5 being the largest among them. Little is known about this elusive title at the moment. All we know is that it will take place in a high school setting and that it will have a darker tone than ever before but that's it. So with all the speculation surrounding this highly anticipated RPG, I thought i'd throw in my two cents and tell you what i'd like to see in the next Persona entry. Load up your gun and crush a deck of cards folks, these are my Top 5 Hopes For Persona 5.
Number 5 - A new cast
Persona 5 will have a different mood and feel to it than previous entries and should feature a fresh new cast to match this new, darker tone with their own problems to confront and resolve. Much as I enjoy the characters in, say, Persona 4, I don't feel they need to play a large role in the next installment. There's not really anywhere else you can take the characters without rehashing the same plot. While Persona 4: Arena continues the plot to Persona 3 and 4, the character arcs themselves are complete. All of their growth has come full circle. There is no reason to include them in this new plot whatsoever. Having a cameo or two as per usual is fine, just don't involve any old characters in the plot of this new one. We've already seen them and their adventure, it's time for some new faces to take center stage.
Number 4 - Quick save
A small addition but one that would be very helpful. Being able to stop playing at any time in a dungeon and not losing any progress would be such a convenient feature to have. Frankly, i'm surprised something as simple as this hasn't been implemented yet. After going through over 20 floors, being able to take a break instead of leaving the dungeon to save is a huge relief. Very minor, but very useful in the grand scheme of the game.
Number 3 - Better relationships
Part of the appeal of the more recent Persona titles is the addition of social Links. In between dungeon crawling and school, you can spend time with your friends and get to know them better, which may lead into a romantic relationship, stronger Persona and gives the characters time for development outside the main plot. It's a great system that makes you choose between developing your relationships further with your favorite characters or honing in on their battle skills. However the bonds you makenever seems to be acknowledged in the main plot. All that character development, that growth your friends go through from hanging around and talking to you, it never surfaces beyond the character's initial revelation, and that can be a bit distracting.
A little acknowledgement of them in the plot could change this all for the better. They could show other characters acting jealous of how you're treated, a good friend siding with you more in the decisions you make or someone you never hang out with being quiet around you. Just a line or two in some scenes would go a long way in enjoying the story more and the friendships you make with the characters. Speaking of relationships...
Number 2: Same sex relationship
No i'm not saying that Atlus should shoehorn in the option to have a same sex relationship for the sake of representation. No, not every character has to be an option for one. But having the option to engage in a same sex relationship with another character or two could open up a new dynamic in the character's relationship. What's more, it would perfectly fit the setting and the timing for the characters. High school is a challenging period for teenagers where they discover things they never knew about themselves, including orientation. More options is always appreciated and more ways to explore the colorful cast we're sure to see can only make things better in the end in addition to adding more replay value. And it doesn't have to be just be between guys, ladies.
The Persona series may be niche, but it has reached out to a massive, worldwide audience and amassed a large and devoted fanbase, several of which identify themselves as a part of the LGBT who i'm sure would appreciate being represented in one of the most beloved JRPG series of all time. Besides, it's not like Persona has never done this before. In Persona 2: Innocent Sin, the main character can get into a gay relationship with another party member, Jun Kurosu. And considering how often and how well Persona 4 dealt with issues of identity and sexuality, I don't think having a character who explores this would be so out of the ordinary for the series to try, in fact, it could be downright excellent if pulled off right and could bring out some truly powerful moments of growth in our main characters. However, this also brings us to...
Number 1: No silent protagonist
I know that, at the end of the day, Persona is a spin-off of the main Megami Tensei series. They are well known for their silent protagonists and have continued to utilize them to this day, as seen in Shin Megami Tensei IV.
Yet, in spite of that, the popularity of the Persona series has rapidly grown over the years, to the point where it's surpassed the main Megami Tensei line and become a franchise of its own. One would think that they would abandon certain traits after establishing itself as its own separate series. But in a franchise well known for its characters and relationships, it strikes me as a missed opportunity to continue to have a silent lead in every game.
Actually, I take that back, in Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, they turn a character who was once full of personality and charm into a blank slate with no redeeming quality.
This makes absolutely no sense. Silent protagonists are supposed to represent the player and immerse you in these worlds but it ends up having the opposite effect. Instead of placing you into the role and getting lost in this amazing world, all it does is show you how underutilized you are as a character and you end up getting invested with the other characters because there's a personality and identity to associate with them, and some great ones at that. We know that this unnamed person is not us, because they have no identity or any characteristic to relate to or define themselves as. They're a blank slate not to project ourselves onto or create by our actions, but one we have to create by the limits that the writers came up with as options. If we're playing a role in this role playing game, then it ought to be one that we enjoy putting ourselves into, not one we have to make up for ourselves.
You are the weakest link in this chain of characters, and it's about time that Atlus fixed that. There's a lot of potential to explore this new character and focus their own life. What if they moved in to a new town, how do they feel about leaving their old home and friends behind, how are they enjoying this new town and school? What if they're a local resident just starting high school, are they nervous about what they'll do there? Is the pressure of test after test getting to them? Are their parents unhappy with all the time they spend with their friends instead of homework? That is something that people can identify with and relate to.
From Persona 3 onward, the series has focused on themes of trust and close bonds, yet has kept the main character as speechless as ever. And there doesn't seem to be any other reason beyond tradition. This tradition makes even less sense when you consider that the Persona animated series has made their silent leads into likable, well-written characters with a voice of their own. We know that Atlus has made some very engaging leads over the years that have made the story and overall experience all the more enjoyable. Moreover, the Persona team has made a game with a lead who is not a silent protagonist revolving around relationships which turned out pretty well.
The plot to Catherine is entirely about the development of the relationship between Vincent Brookes and his girlfriend Katherine, his struggles and choices in life that are both relatable and instantly recognizable as a title by the Persona team. It's clear that they have a talented team of writers and have crafted some incredibly memorable characters, so why not add another one to the list? In the year that Persona 5 will be released, the Atlus brand will officially be 25 years old. Maybe now is the right time for them to abandon this tradition and celebrate this tradition by trying something fresh and new as a start for the next 25, much like how the series put a new spin on the Megami Tensei series nearly two decades ago. Forget about using a silent lead, give them a personality and a voice, and realize the potential of the main protagonist being a fully realized character.
A better battle system
Simplistic but enjoyable, the Persona battle system hasn't changed much over the years. In fact, one could argue the "only one Persona except you" rule has made battles less enjoyable than before due to the limitations placed on you. There's a ton of area for improvement and even more ways to do so than ever before. Also, show us the order of turns and who's going next. Don't make us guess at random and hope we wiped out the enemy who was closest to attacking us.
This one comes purely out of respect for the Japanese voice actor, Isamu Tanonaka, who passed away a few years ago due to a heart attack. His performance as Igor was what made the character to Japanese audiences, as does the American one for us Western folk. But to include him would severely restrict what the writers could do with him in the Japanese version and of course, the localized version. He may be the face of Persona to many and it may not matter to many people here, but it would be the right thing to do regardless of his status in the series.
So those are my hopes for Persona 5, I hope you enjoyed them. Did you agree with the choices? What would you like to see in Persona 5? Let me know what you think.