2021 is going to be a big year for Persona fans as it marks the 25th anniversary for the series. Atlus has announced a celebration for the series later in the year, and fans have been eyeing Persona 3 in particular as its 15th anniversary comes up this summer. With the huge success of the Persona 4 Golden port on Steam last year, Atlus has expressed interest in more ports and potential remakes in the future.
Although it’s more likely that a Persona 3 port is announced rather than a full remake, it’s also an entry in the series that would benefit greatly from a full remake given how its versions differ. With that in mind, there’s a few things that Atlus should include if they do decide to go the remake route for Persona 3 this year.
Regardless of whether Persona 3 turns out to be a remake or a port, Atlus will likely need to combine elements from both versions of the game together. Persona 3 FES was an enhanced rerelease of Persona 3 back in 2007. Featuring an epilogue section titled “The Answer,” Persona 3 FES also included additions such as more Personas and modified Social Links. For Persona fans unfamiliar with Persona 3, Persona 3 FES can be thought of as an enhanced version of the original much like Persona 4 Golden or Persona 5 Royal.
Persona 3 also received an enhanced port of the game for the PSP titled Persona 3 Portable in 2009. A more streamlined version of Persona 3, the animated cutscenes were removed and many models or textures were downgraded in order to run on a handheld system. On the other hand, since Persona 3 Portable was released after Persona 4, it borrowed many of the convenient changes found in Persona 4 that improved the overall gameplay experience. With the release of Persona 3 Portable, it also brought along QoL changes such as being able to control all party members in battle.
Furthermore, Persona 3 Portable also featured the ability to play as a female main character. While her core story is similar to the male protagonist, she has some different dialogue and Social Link options. Since she was limited to Persona 3 Portable, she didn’t have animated cutscenes and her story introduced a few exclusive characters. Though her inclusion in a Persona 3 remake could require some story modifications, players having the option to pick either the male or female protagonist would be a fantastic addition to a potential remake. Unifying the best parts of Persona 3 FES and Persona 3 Portable is perhaps the biggest argument for a remake over a port.
As the Persona series evolved over the years, a lot of QoL changes have been added to the franchise as well. A lot of convenient gameplay features from Persona 4 and Persona 5 would make a Persona 3 remake much more accessible than its original games. For example, allowing players to pick the spells that party members learn or revamping the EXP system to be similar to the newer Persona games would be great additions to a remake. Persona 3 suffered from awkwardly implemented mechanics such as the lack of money drops from monsters or Social Link regression. While some of these mechanics helped make Persona 3 more challenging than its successors, they also felt unnecessary.
While Persona 3 is a fantastic game, these outdated mechanics can make the game feel like a slog at times. For players who have only experienced Persona 4 and Persona 5, many of these mechanics can be off-putting, especially since they’re already used to the newer QoL improvements. Some Persona 3 exclusive mechanics would also need to be reworked in order to become more accessible. For example, the Tired system was implemented to prevent players from grinding but its a nuisance in the early stages of the game when players don’t have enough party members to rotate.
Although Persona 3 doesn’t need a graphical update in a remake, it would definitely be a welcome addition. As Persona 3 was originally released on the PS2, many of its models and even its animated cutscenes are showing their age. Players have already caught a glimpse of what a graphically overhauled Persona 3 game could look like with its 2018 spinoff Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight. Of course, graphical improvements would require much more time and investment but it also solves one of the big problems in Persona 3, the Tartarus.
Unlike the newer games in the series, Persona 3 only featured one large dungeon called Tartarus. Although the floors are randomly generated, there is a lack of variety between them leading to players getting easily bored. There are 264 floors in Tartarus, and since there is almost no visual distinction, the dungeon-crawling elements quickly become too much of a grind. Having a graphical update would allow Tartarus to have unique designs that would feel similar to the different dungeons of Persona 4 and Persona 5. The inherent design of Tartarus being one long dungeon isn’t bad but it would greatly benefit from a graphical update.
One of the most beneficial upgrades to the PC port of Persona 4 Golden was the ability to change the difficulty of the game at any time. Like Persona 5, players were able to go into the menu and select a different difficulty setting if they wanted a challenge or found certain dungeons too hard. For Persona 3 in particular, having easily modified difficulty settings is important as difficulty spikes are much more common. A number of bosses such as the infamous Sleeping Table pose a huge difficulty spike for new players and can be a source of frustration if they aren’t prepared.
The other important reason for Persona 3 to have difficulty options is because of its nature as a long-winded turn-based RPG. The nature of the Tartarus forces players to go through extended sections of dungeon-crawling. Players who cannot dedicate hours of their time to the turn-based battles will find easier difficulty options to be more enjoyable. Persona 5 didn’t offer players an option to skip the battle animations so a potential Persona 3 remake would likely be similar. As a result, having difficulty options that are easily changed will be a vital accessibility option for players who cannot sit through all 264 floors of the Tartarus.
Persona celebrates its 25th anniversary on September 20, 2021.