The JRPG genre is already daunting enough with its genre-specific lengthy games, high levels of exposition, and slower combat than most games. However, there are few games that can touch the overwhelming nature of Persona 5, a title that trumps the others in its genre with well over 100 hours on average to beat the main story alone. Thankfully, this Persona 5 getting started guide is here to save the day.
I’ve had the pleasure of playing through Persona 5 three times now, once for the original and two for the Royal version, and I can tell you that it’s still quite the juggernaut of a game even for me right now. There is just so much to do, intense daily schedules to maintain, too many NPCs to build relationships with, and so on. But, I hope to leverage my several playthroughs of the game (including a fourth one just to help you out) to make this Persona 5 getting started guide useful enough for you.
Bottom Line Up Front
Persona 5 is a massive JRPG with a unique system of letting the player play through every single day of a calendar school year as Joker, the main character. This means that players must manage each part of their day, from going to class, hanging out with friends after school, running dungeons, managing their Personas, working jobs, and more.
The opening hours can be especially brutal since so much is thrown at you all at once. But the key is to prioritize the elements most important to you and focus on them first.
Before You Begin
It all begins before you even boot up Persona 5 on your platform of choice with a few key features and decisions that you’ll need to make.
Which Version to Play
First and foremost, this is the most important decision you could make, and that is what version of the game you will play.
Persona 5 is the original version of the game released worldwide in 2017 for PS4 and PS3. The problem with this version is its lack of platforms and the fact that it is the far inferior version to Royal, the vastly improved version. It has the best version of the story, including new story content that is arguably better than the original.
Now, if you’re playing on PS3, obviously, your options are limited. And you probably have Persona 5 for free if you have PlayStation Plus so you may not want to spend extra money. But if you are on another platform (PC, PS5, Xbox, Switch) or don’t mind spending some extra money, Persona 5 Royal is the way to go always.
You will get the most bang for your buck with dozens more hours of gameplay, if you even needed more, with the new third semester. Plus, you get the entire character arcs for some of the best characters in the game, which you would miss out on otherwise. Plus, there are gameplay improvements and all that.
English or Japanese Audio?
The next decision you’ll need to make is in regard to which audio version you’ll play. The English and Japanese voiceovers are available in this game, letting you pick between the two. When it comes to stuff like anime, I find that the Japanese dub is generally better most of the time.
However, games are a little bit different. There are some truly exceptional English dubs for games, and Persona 5 is no exception. Unless you want to familiarize yourself more with the Japanese language, like you’re studying it, the English dub will get it done. The English voiceovers are also recommended for anyone who struggles with reading text in games. Thankfully, most of the game is voiced but not all.
Which Platform to Play Persona 5 On
There is also the choice of platform to play on. For some, this is already made for you because you only have PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, or a computer. However, if you have more than one platform, there are plenty of reasons to carefully make this decision.
For instance, Xbox users have Persona 5 Royal for free if they have a Game Pass subscription, which will save them some money in the long run. However, if you have a Steam Deck or Switch, I can confirm from first-hand experience that these are the best places to play Persona 5 Royal. You’re honestly doing yourself a disservice if you play anywhere else and have the choice.
Do You Steal Hearts Online or Offline?
Finally, the last decision you’ll need to make before playing is whether to play it online or not. There are a plethora of online features in Persona 5, especially in Royal. The bulk of the features mostly boils down to the core element of seeing the choices everyone made each day.
If you have the internet connection to spare and any relevant subscription you may need to access the online features, I think this is a no-brainer decision. The beauty of being able to see what the other players online chose each day is brilliant as it really helps you out each day.
This goes into the tips section a bit, but I don’t recommend doing what everyone does every single day. Some days this works, but others, it doesn’t. However, online sharing still helps regardless because there are some days you may not realize you can do X activity unless you’re using a full walkthrough or have online functionality.
The First Week In-Game
As mentioned, the core of Persona 5 is in the daily schedule system. You play through every single day of the school year (for the most part) and choose what you do for those days. Now, some of the days have schedules chosen for you, and this is mostly the case in the first week of the game.
In fact, the first couple of weeks and even the first dungeon section of Persona 5 is mainly linear, with only a few possible options sprinkled throughout. This is the one benefit of the game in that you have time to learn the systems before you’re thrown into the wild.
The Tutorial Section
When you first start the game, you’ll encounter the tutorial section of both Persona 5 and Royal, no matter which you’re playing. This section is in the future (present?) of the story, featuring Joker and the others tackling one of the many Palace dungeons in the game.
This one happens to be the climax of a casino heist, and you learn the ropes of Persona 5 as you play through this heist. This is an entirely linear section so just go through the motions of learning about turn-based combat, taking on a few enemies, exploring a little, and completing stealth.
There are some slight story changes for Royal players, but it all starts and ends the same. There are some spoilers ahead, so keep this in mind. The goal here is to continue onward through the casino dungeon.
Follow all of the prompts and information that the game gives you, like hiding behind walls to sneakily attack enemies and so on. Your goal is to continue through this relatively short dungeon until you are arrested and interrogated by someone. At this point, you will want to retell the story of everything that happened to lead to that moment.
Moving Into Your New Home
The game will go back in time and reveal how Joker got involved in a fighting incident that led to his move to Tokyo. You’ll want to walk around the backstreets until you reach the home of your new caretaker, Sojiro. You can find this place at the very back of backstreets district where you’re going to be living.
Talk with the delivery person in front of Sojiro’s home and you’ll realize you need to head elsewhere. Then you need to head to Sojiro’s nearby cafe and find him there. It is located near the beginning of the backstreets area, across from the hot springs Olsen.
Your first day is straightforward, ending with you going to sleep and reliving some of the pain you felt before in your incident. The next day is about learning about your new school and meeting some people. There isn’t much to do here other than cleaning your room, watching cutscenes, and sleeping.
This will lead to the next day, in which you head to school and encounter your first dungeon. You’ll earn your first Persona and meet some friends along the way. You’ll have to navigate Kamoshida’s Palace, which is mostly linear, but there are some additional enemies and treasures here and there.
The key pointer here is you need to listen to everything that Morgana and Ryuji tell you during the dungeon. They will guide you fairly linearly through the singular path that you need to go on to get through the Palace. There is some optional rooms with treasure here and there, so feel free to explore as you go. Once you reach the checkpoint in the dungeon, the cutscenes will once again appear.
The following day will be more of the same: going to class and exploring more of the Palace. This time around, though, you’ll gain a companion who will be able to help you out in battle, which elevates your possible strategies much further.
The key here is you need to use this also linear section of the dungeon to understand the turn-based battles. The path is straightforward, involving you continuing to explore ahead to learn more about the Palace. That is why you can use this valuable bit of time to learn how it works when you and Ryuji fight together. Figure out his strengths, weaknesses, and types of skills that he uses (electric-based).
Investigating Kamoshida’s Palace
The next day is April 13, which is the fifth full day in the game. This time around, you’ve learned more about Kamoshida and what’s happening in the Palace but not much about the real world. The focus on this day will be exploring the school and getting firsthand info from the students at your new high school, mainly from the volleyball team.
The game will show you various NPCs around the school that you’ll need to interact and talk with. This is another relatively easy day as you just need to chat with all of the required NPCs to continue the storyline. Once you figure out more about Kamoshida’s abuse from the volleyball players, it’ll be the end of this day.
April 14 will then arrive, and it’ll be time for more investigations. This time around, you’ll need to figure out what’s happening with your classmates, Ann and Shiho, who are part of the volleyball team. The goal here is more of a stealth mission in the real world of following around Ann and Shiho, and spying on them.
You’ll have to visit various places like the underground walkway in Shibuya Station, which the game will, thankfully, prompt you to do. Once you overhear what’s happening with your classmates, that will be it for today, so tie to head home and sleep.
April 15 is the seventh full day and where things start to pick up. You still don’t have complete freedom just yet (that comes soon after), but you get to see more of the cycle of Persona 5. You head to school, and one of the most darkening scenes of the main story happens, leading to Ann ending up in the Palace. You’ll want to pay close attention to these cutscenes.
After the story bits, you’ll have to head to Kamoshida’s Palace with Ryuji and Morgana to rescue Ann. This mission is rather linear, too, as you learn more about acquiring new Personas and so on. Just continue until you reach your first proper boss fight and acquire Ann as a new party member of your team.
This boss fight involves taking on Belphegor, as Ann awakens to her Persona. With your newfound party member, you’ll have plenty of strategies up your sleeves since you’ll be able to now use fire-based Persona skills. Thankfully, since this is one of your first Persona 5 boss fights, the game pretty much hands you this victory.
All you want to do is watch out for his Magaru wind-based attacks, so avoid having weaknesses to that element. Other than that, he’ll use basic hits and occasionally heal himself, so you’ll want to end this fight as soon as possible or it can drag out.
What you want to do is use your most powerful skills, minus wind, and especially any fire ones you have as that is his sole weakness. If you exploit that enough via Ann and any Personas Joker might have, you should be good to go.
After defeating Belphelgor, the day will come to an end soon after. From this point forward, you’ll continue your investigations into Kamoshida and taking down the first Palace and stealing the treasure. Soon after this first week, you’ll gain access to more freedom of what you can and can’t do in your daily schedule after school and at night with the ultimate goal of stealing Kamoshida’s treasure before the deadline.
Core Mechanics Guide
These are the core mechanics that you’ll use in Persona 5 throughout the entirety of your adventure. Though the game is super long and full of so much content to check out, everything in the game essentially boils down to these few mechanics and doing them. As such, it is crucial that you master and understand all of them as soon as you can.
The first is exploring the Palaces, Persona 5’s version of dungeons. There are several of these in the game, and they all make up the bulk of the main story. Palaces are pretty different from one another, such as a traditional medieval castle or an alien spaceship.
The general idea of progression is essentially the same, though, with you exploring the corridors, rooms, and hallways to fill out your map of the entire Palace. The goal is to find the treasure, which is usually at the very end of the dungeon map for you.
Now, some of the Palaces throw in some extra gameplay mechanics like puzzles. You might have to solve vaults to find the way to the next area, go through outer space and find your path forward, or even collect keycards from higher-ranked enemies to continue on.
That said, the basics of Palace exploration come down to avoiding or tackling the enemies as you explore. What you need to watch out for is the security alert feature in the top right corner. If enemies find you first, that meter will go up until the entire Palace is on full alert, which basically kicks you out of the dungeon for the rest of the day. That is a waste of time, so it is best to avoid that whenever possible.
There are also optional bosses and treasures to find throughout. There are some Phantom Thieves items you can craft at home to help with these, such as lock picks to open up any chests that you find.
When in dungeons, you’ll encounter a lot of shadows that will turn into Personas for you to battle in the turn-based battles. These fights are as slow or fast as you want them to be. You take turns selecting your moves for that fight and then seeing it play out.
You can use regular physical attacks, gun skills, skills from your equipped Persona, switch your Persona, and so on. The core of turn-based battles is to take advantage of the weakness that your enemies have. If they are weak to fire, use your Agi skills on them, and so on.
Using the weakness of the enemies will gain you an extra turn to a specific limit, which will help you to decimate your foes more quickly and easily. There are also special attacks you can use when all of your enemies are downed from hitting them with critical attacks or their weaknesses.
These all-out attacks will deal special damage that will obliterate them in no time, which is crucial for boss fights. Some bosses even have unique mechanics, like predicting what they’ll do next or sending out one of your party members on a side mission to complete a task, leaving you with only three pals to fight with for a time.
Combat is not possible without the help of the Personas or the other selves that you command in battle. There are a couple of ways of acquiring new Personas, starting with in combat itself. Similar to the core Shin Megami Tensei series that Persona branched off from, you can negotiate with Personas that you down in battle.
Use a skill they’re weak to or get a critical hit, and they’ll be downed. You can then talk to the Persona to get an item from them or ask them to join your team. They’ll generally want something in return, like money, an item, or even your life force. Give them what they want, and they’ll join your team if you have room.
The other primary way of gaining new Personas is in the Velvet Room. Head here, and you can see all of the Personas you’ve acquired in the Compendium and fuse existing ones together. Fusion is how you acquire some of the most potent Personas in the game and one of the easiest ways to get new ones.
To help you out, I have a few starter Personas that you should absolutely acquire as soon as you can. These will help you out in the early 10 levels or so of the game. Just make sure to have Joker be the level of these Personas or he won’t be able to recruit or fuse them:
- Jack-o-Lantern Lv. 2: This is going to be one of your best Agi (fire) users early on. Great for the first boss fight. Can be fused early on or found in Kamoshida’s castle.
- Pixie Lv. 2: You get Pixie for free in the story but don’t sleep on her. She is one of the best healer Personas in the early parts of the story where this is rare.
- Berith Lv. 9: One of the strongest possible Personas in the first dungeon, especially when it comes to melee. Found in Kamoshida’s Palace or can be fused early on.
- Angel Lv. 9 (Persona 5 Royal): The single best healer in the first 10 levels plus capable of early Bless skills. She can be found in Kamoshida’s Palace or fused relatively early on.
Lastly, there is your daily life outside of the Palaces. There is an entire game that exists outside of combat where you hang out with your friends and have a good time together. As mentioned, most days play out largely the same, with you having the ability to choose what you want to do that day.
You can head to the Mementos dungeon to complete side missions, the most recent Palace to complete it or have fun in the world. You can explore and talk with your friends, known as Confidants, to build your relationships with them, eat food, watch movies, craft, work out, play minigames, and even work a part-time job.
There is so much for you to do in your daily life that it is usually broken up into after-school and at-night sections. You can usually pick one activity per section daily, limiting what you can do in the calendar year. It is honestly up to you how you want to progress in the game, so long as you complete your Palaces on time.
Here are the social stats that I recommend working on first, plus the best activities to make that happen:
- Charm: Taking a bath at the bathhouse across the street from the cafe (do it on Mondays or Thursdays) and reading books.
- Kindness: One of the harder ones to raise but so useful. I recommend working the flower shop part-time job when you are available.
- Guts (optional right now): Reading books, completing Tae Takami’s Confidant ranks, and doing the Big Bang Burger challenge.
- Knowledge (optional): Studying, answering questions in class correctly, and reading books.
Tips We Wish We Knew
I get how overwhelming it can be when starting in Persona 5, primarily if you aren’t used to the series or JRPGs in general. That is why I have a few tips for you that I hope will enlighten some of the aspects of the game and set you on the right path to success:
- Always use weaknesses in battle. This is something the game makes clear but never lets up here. If you have to, Google what the Persona is weak to so you are ready for all fights.
- If you don’t mind slight spoilers, look up what skills each Confidant gives you ahead of time. This lets you plan out and focus on grabbing the ones that you need first. For instance, you might want the gun skills one character gives you first while I would prefer the negotiation help that another gives.
- Research part-time jobs. Some are fun for their social stat boosts and money, but others are far more special. Some jobs grant access to new Confidants and more, so be sure to find those before committing to less useful jobs.
- With a few exceptions, you can turn the difficulty up or down at any time, so feel free to turn it down for some unfair boss fights later in the story. There’s no shame here.
- You have a lot of party members in Persona 5 and while this may be controversial to some, I recommend focusing on using the same four or five characters. Sure, you want the benefit of the weaknesses that others offer at times, but Joker is versatile enough to make up for that. Just watch out for the weaknesses your own party members have.
- Complete the Palace as soon as possible every single time. Whenever I receive a new Palace, I usually complete the first part of it on the first or second day it’s available. This is because there are sometimes multiple sections to a Palace, which require multiple days to complete. Once you’re done with the dungeon, you then have the freedom to do whatever you want.
- Save the current state of your Personas to the Compendium each time you visit. It automatically records all Personas you have but not the special skills they’ve learned. This will require more money to summon them in the future, but it’s worth it for the unique skill you can pass on in fusion.
- Try to acquire each new Persona you come across in battle. You don’t have to grind this or spend too much time, but even this bit of effort will pay off with the ability to gain most Personas through the Velvet Room later on.
- There will come days when there are no Confidants to hang out with. Use these days wisely to raise your social stats and the like.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
In the same vein as tips for you to do, there are some mistakes that you should avoid. These are common problems that a lot of players run into when starting Persona 5 for the first time.
- Always change up your Personas. Don’t stick to the same group of Personas for too long. Once they’ve learned all skills they can through level up, it’s time to move on. And, yes, this even goes for Joker’s signature Arsene Persona.
- Don’t waste your days in Mementos. The side quests in Mementos are crucial to some Confidants but don’t just head here all the time, as it will waste your precious days. What I like to do is pile up side quests and then tackle them all at once in Mementos two or three times at most in the entire game.
- Don’t take too long to do Palaces. Tackle them as soon as possible.
- Don’t avoid your Confidants. Prioritize these as much as possible as they are more important than any other side activity in Persona 5.
- Don’t forget to upgrade your gear. I like to do this once per Palace or sometimes even every other Palace. Otherwise, you may find yourself underpowered for the fights ahead.
- Don’t leave the Palace until you complete the objective, such as reaching the story checkpoint (you’ll know) or finding the treasure. Otherwise, it will be a waste of an entire day. Make sure to stock up on plenty of items beforehand, so this isn’t an issue.
Long-Term Goals to Consider
Looking ahead, there are lots of long-term goals that you should keep in mind when it comes to tackling Persona 5 and Royal. Sure, the first week is relatively easy to do, but it quickly becomes a lot with everything you can do in this massive JRPG.
These are some of the long-term goals you should keep in mind the most, or else you may regret what you did in the end. Without a doubt, it is possible to have a fulfilling playthrough where you achieve everything you want to, especially in Persona 5 Royal. But it isn’t easy at all.
Confidants are the number one most important long-term goal you need to consider. When it comes to “optional” content, the characters you meet are almost mandatory. In fact, they are required if you want to experience some of the content later on in the games.
The three that I absolutely require you to do if you are playing Persona 5 Royal are Maruki, Goro Akechi, and Kasumi. Complete all three of these as soon as you can in the main story, as some of them have deadlines. Do this, and you’ll be able to fully experience the third semester of content in the best way possible.
Other than that, do the Confidants in whatever order you want. The general rule of thumb is, though, if you have a Confidant to hang out with on a particular day, take advantage of that. Never waste one of these days, and you can 100% reach max rank with every single Confidant on a single playthrough.
I did it on my first Persona 5 Royal playthrough, but it requires careful planning and time management.
There are part-time jobs that you can do in Persona 5 and Royal that will give you money and social skills. Some of them will even unlock Confidants like the beef bowl restaurant giving you access to the Yoshida Confidant after a few nights of working.
You want to think ahead about your jobs and the ones you need to do. They aren’t as crucial as your Confidants, so prioritize only the ones that will give you access to them. And when you have days where you don’t have someone to hang out with, have a part-time job you can lean back on for money and more.
The five social stats are some of the least explained parts of Persona 5. The five stats are as follows:
None of them affect combat, but they do affect unlocking specific jobs, Confidants, and higher ranks for Confidants. I recommend researching which skills help with which Confidants and then focusing on those social stats first.
Knowledge is one that you can do on rainy days when there is no one to hang out with through studying, but I don’t mess with it much outside of exam periods. Proficiency is another one that I leave until later since I am not too much of a fan of the crafting element.
Charm and Kindness are especially important early on for Confidants, along with Guts, so I usually prioritize those first, but it’s up to you. Just always keep in mind what jobs, books, and more will raise which stats.
Question: Is Persona 5 Beginner Friendly?
Answer: This is going to be subjective, but I think Persona 5 is the most beginner-friendly game in the series, maybe along with Persona 4 Golden. However, there is so much to it that it may be overwhelming for some. You’ll probably need a guide or two most steps along the way, but it does a decent job teaching you.
Question: What Should I do First Persona 5?
Answer: When the game opens up finally after the lengthy tutorial, the first thing you should do is complete the Kamoshida Palace.
Question: Can you Play Persona 5 Forever?
Answer: Technically, yes, you could play Persona 5 forever but not maybe in the way you’re thinking. The game has a hard ending, but you can keep playing New Game Plus over and over. Plus, you’ll keep stats, your Compendium, and more in the process.
What to Explore Next in Persona 5
Persona 5 is one of the longest JRPGs in the entire genre, but it’s also one of the best. It is an extraordinary game that is one of the best I’ve ever played, even after multiple playthroughs. Now that you have a solid start, it’s time to expand and learn more about the Persona 5 endings. That will get you even more time to squeeze out of this title if you want to keep replaying it.
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