For many people, the recently released Persona 3 Reload will be their first venture into the company-saving title by Atlus. It was my first time, too, when I did my review (please read it!), and given that, I thought it’d be a good idea to lay out some pointers that I thought of as I was trying to figure out the game. So, with that in mind, here is my Persona 3 Reload Beginners Guide! There won’t be too many spoilers from the game, but I do get through with what you should look out for.
Make A Balanced Team
I wanted to put this one in first because of a moment in time within the game when my S.E.E.S. crew was packed to the brim, and I wondered if I was “doing something wrong” by keeping the “core team” that had worked with me so far. The answer, to me, was “no,” I wasn’t doing anything wrong. This is why YOU need to think about how YOU want to play the game team-wise and then build around that.
For me, I wanted a team that would be able to pick apart any enemy regardless of weakness or one that could overwhelm foes if they don’t have a weak point (which you will face several times over.) Furthermore, given the damage that some of these enemies could dish out, I knew I needed at least one dedicated healer, if not two.
The team I used was comprised of Makoto Yuki (your protagonist character), Yukari, Mitsuru, and Akihiko. That gave me everything I needed and more to move through the game, and I rarely struggled with the big bosses once I found my groove and strategies.
Side note: for Makoto Yuki, you should take this “balanced team approach” to your Personas. You’ll get 12 max, so use that space to try to get personas that use every element possible. It’ll save you a ton of grief in the long run. And once you get to certain levels of Personas, they’ll have MULTIPLE elements to use at once, which can save you space for better fusions down the line.
Protect Your Leader!
This is one I had to find out the hard way…and it cost me about 20 minutes during a Tartarus run.
In many RPGS, any member of your party can “die” in battle and not have anything happen in the overall unless all your party members get knocked out. But if you remember nothing else in my Persona 3 Reload Beginners Guide, remember this: if Makoto Yuki gets taken out, the battle ends immediately.
“But can’t we just redo the battle?” you might ask. Yes, if it’s a boss fight. But if it’s a random Shadow battle in Tartarus or a fight in the Monad Door areas, you’ll be forced to go back to the beginning of Tartarus (from when you last entered) or reload a save. That can cost you time and effort and seriously get you frustrated.
So when you think an enemy is about to do a “big strike” (Hint: Look for attacks labeled “Concentrate”) on your main character, have them do guard; it’ll save you from the killer blow.
Side Note: “Guard” is something you’ll want to do frequently in key battles because when enemies knock one of you down, they get an extra attack! Know your teams’ weaknesses and use Guard when appropriate!
Orpheus Is Your Swiss Army Knife Early On
This one might not make sense right now, but it ties into the “well-balanced team” thread from before.
Having all the elements at your disposal (including physical attacks) during the early parts of the game will help ease the pressure off certain boss fights. Early on, though, you’ll only have access to a few Persona to use for Makoto and then have only a few teammates to help “pad you.” The twist is that you’ll get Skill Cards that can give your personas special abilities. That includes giving them different elemental attacks, even if it’s not their “base ones.”
Orpheus is Makoto’s first Persona, and you can use him as a “Swiss Army Knife” and give him all the extra elemental attacks so that you can take on any foe with what few Personas you have at the game’s start. That way, you don’t have to worry about which Persona to keep or not because it’ll be an easier choice. Then, later on, if you want to get rid of Orpheus for Fusions or because you have enough Personas to handle the entire elemental spectrum? By all means.
Side Note: You get more Persona slots by leveling up, but you only get 12 max! So, even in the latter parts of the game, you’ll need to be careful about who you keep and who you get rid of! Levels don’t matter as much as the skills they have!
Conserve Your SP (and SP Items) When Possible
When you’re doing a huge grinding session in Tartarus, it might be a “gut instinct” to blast through them with your special attacks just to get done with them and move on. But if you do that too much, suddenly, you’ll have little to no SP left, and that’ll leave you in a bind.
Thankfully, as you level up, you’ll get better SP reserves, and not all attacks take SP. However, you still need to be mindful of it because you can’t buy good SP items in the real world, and Tartarus only occasionally gives you SP items.
Some easy tips to help you out is to use HP items to heal instead of frequently using Makoto’s or Yukari’s healing powers. You’ll get LOTS of HP items in Tartarus and can buy those items more frequently, so you won’t blast through them so easily. Another easy tip is to do a long Tartarus run until you run out of SP, find a good save spot, and then pick things up again in another run. You’re going to be heading to Tartarus at least twice a month anyway, so don’t strain yourself.
Side Note: There are special ways to get SP items, and you can even grow plants that will give you SP items! You can also go to an “antique dealer” to create them.
Focus On EXP And Arcana Cards In Shuffle Time
“Shuffle Time” refers to a special card event that happens if you end a battle in specific ways. The easiest way is to end it with an All-Out Attack. Once you enter this time, special cards will give you the ability to add a “bonus” to your victory. You can get items, Skill Cards, money, EXP, Personas, or an Arcana Card that can be stacked throughout your runs in Tartarus (individual runs, that is.)
My tip for this is simple: Always go for EXP or Arcana Cards when applicable. Why? First, as I noted in my review, EXP has an odd distribution system, and it makes it hard to calculate when you’re getting close to a new level. As a result, when you get the EXP boosts, they can help lessen that frustration.
As for the Arcana Cards, if you get to your “limit” with them, you get an “Arcana Boost” that’ll last the duration of your current visit in Tartarus. That means that EVERY kind of card will get a bigger boost, including EXP, money, and the Skill Cards you can get.
There are even some Arcana cards that’ll let you grab multiple cards in one shot, so definitely get those when you see them. By doing all this, you’ll ensure you’re gaining levels and getting the best cards possible. And while going for items or money might seem like a good idea, you’re going to be getting plenty of cash and items just by doing multiple Tartarus runs naturally.
Side Note: Yes, you should pick up Personas when you can, but sometimes you can “leave them be” to get some of the better cards because they tend to show back up if you do enough battles.
Plan Around Theurgy Attacks For Key Battles
One of the newest elements in P3R is Theurgy attacks. These are special one-off attacks that must be charged up over the course of many battles. When you unleash them, they can do LOTS of damage to either one foe or several.
It’s not a stretch to say that I won several key battles against bosses and rare enemies due to using the Theurgy attacks or having them charged up before ever getting into those fights. Many of them ignore resistance, too. So even if your foe is immune to an elemental type that your Theurgy attack uses, it’ll still heavily damage them.
Use these properly, and they can save the day!
Side Note: Every character has a different way of building their gauge. Definitely pay attention to that and play to it in key battles. Yukari’s is the easiest due to it revolving around her healing teammates.
Pay Attention To Enemies and Their Weaknesses
Yes, I’ve already touched on this, but there’s another element to point out. You’re going to see several of the same “type” of enemy in Tartarus, and if you pay attention, you can predict their weaknesses without having to “get lucky” or have Fuuka scan them (which costs SP.)
For example, there’s a dice enemy in the game that is almost always weak to electricity. If you remember that, it can play out huge in some battles. Another thing to pay attention to is enemy attacks. You can sometimes see the attacks they’ll use when using Fuuka’s “Analysis” button, and that can give you tips on what to attack with. If an enemy has an ice-type attack? Use fire on them! If nothing else? You’ll know what not to try next.
Side Note: There are PLENTY of enemies that don’t have elemental weaknesses. Be happy when you see those because you can just do physical attacks and save SP!
Be Aggressive (And Careful) With Your Social Links
This is one I regrettably didn’t do well enough in my personal playthrough, so I’m really trying to help you here.
Social Links are one of the best parts of the game. Full stop. I LOVED so many of these characters, and it’s interesting to see their stories. HOWEVER!!!!! …there’s never enough time!!! Small spoiler: you have from April to January to get them all maxed out. That’s not a lot of room for error.
So once you have the chance to start building these links, do so, and so often. Never miss a chance to build one up. Some won’t be active right away, and some will only be active after other links get to a certain level. So don’t freak out if you see someone talking to a character you never heard of before; they’ll show up eventually.
And don’t be afraid to “save scrum” so you can rewind and retry a conversation to get the best reaction and notes.
The reason I say “be aggressive” is that there are going to be times during whole weeks when you can’t improve your links, and that caused me not to finish several of mine in time.
Side Note: There is a hacker you can meet in a nightclub that can get you a program to build up your relationships. You can buy as many as you want! So, if you don’t have enough “notes” to build up to the next level, use that program and save time later!
Certain Elizabeth Requests Won’t Have Obvious Solutions
Elizabeth is the best. That’s just the truth. She’s adorable and fun from the first time you get requests from her. She’ll give you many throughout your time in the game, and you should enjoy that. However, some of her requests aren’t obvious with their solution.
There were many I literally lucked into because I talked to the right random person or went to the right building to “observe” it and somehow got access to it, even though you never go there for real.
Don’t be afraid to wander around and see if you can find the solution without looking up a guide.
Side Note: For Fusion-focused requests, you might want to do some early; that way, you’re not trying to do it much later.
Do One Tartarus Venture A Day Or Two Before Each Full Moon
“How much is too much?” is a fair question to ask about Tartarus. The easy answer is that in the early months, you’ll only need to go there about once or twice a month. Depending on your sense of timing, you might have to do it three times. But you really shouldn’t have to do it more than that.
The key thing will be not just getting to each “border floor” before the end of the month (it’ll save trouble later) but saving the people who will eventually wander into Tartarus on their own. If you don’t rescue them? They’re gone for good, and some of the people will be ones from your social links!
If you do a solid “grind” twice a month, you should be fine and get through the game with relative ease.
Side Note: Whenever you come across the two-way teleporters? Use them. Always save when you have the chance; it’ll save you grief later.
ALWAYS Break The Random Stuff In Tartarus
This ties into a previous point, but when you’re in Tartarus, there are going to be random little “spires” that you can break. When you find them…BREAK THEM! Seriously, they tend to have items that can be of big help later on.
Sometimes, it’s healing items, both HP and SP, and other times, it’ll be things you can sell for big cash. Some of them even contain Twilight Fragments, which are used to open special chests.
Either way, even if you hit a string of them where you get nothing, they’re worth destroying.
Side Note: Always get treasure chests, too, especially the “rare ones,” as they can give you materials for crafting special items later.
Do The “Bonding Events” With Your Teammates Early
Social Links with your S.E.E.S Counterparts aren’t as simplistic as P4 and P5. Some of the characters don’t have Social Links at all! Instead, many have “bonding events” that you can do at night with them. Sometimes, it’s watching TV, and others want to read a book with you. There are even ones where you can tend to your garden with them, which will improve the amount of crops you receive (definitely do this with the SP crops!)
When you do it three times, your teammates will get a new “characteristic” that can help them in battle. So, no matter what your team is, definitely build up those bonds quickly so they’ll be even stronger!
Side Note: There are also special “side stories” that you can do with characters like Akihiko, Aragami, and Junpei. Do those to get more depth from their characters and see some interesting scenes in the process.
Take Note Of Which Places (and Events) Improve Your Core Stats
In Persona 3 Reload, there are three “core stats” for your Leader’s personality that you need to build up over the course of the game. Courage, Charm, and Academics. The good news is you WILL have plenty of time to max them out to Level 6. The bad news is that it can take a while if you don’t plan carefully.
To that end, there are events both during the day and the night that can help you improve those stats by decent numbers (or notes, in this case.) There are plenty of restaurants that can give you a boost, and there are things like answering questions during school time that can give you a boost as well. Before the exams, you can do “study groups” with your crew that will give you a fun little scene along with plenty of notes, so don’t be afraid to abuse those when the time comes.
There are also places to work where you can improve your stats. I did a cafe job that let me improve Charm and Courage at the same time while also making money. It helped tremendously.
One thing to know upfront is that Academics is the HARDEST to max out because you need a TON of notes to complete it. Be smart about when to get academic notes, and you’ll be fine, though.
Side Note: Yukari, Fuuka, and Mitsuru all have their Social Links tied to these stats. Yukari for Charm, Fuuka for Courage, and Mitsuru for Academics. So, if you’re hoping to be in a relationship with them, max out those stats ASAP!
Enjoy The Music and the Game!
While I wish there were more tracks in the game, I want to end this Persona 3 Reload Beginners Guide on a positive note and say that I loved the game’s music and the game itself! I gave it a 4.5/5 in my review for a reason! Seriously, so many tracks got stuck in my head.
So, with these tips, I hope you’ll have fun and save the world!
The Persona 3 Reload release date is February 2024 for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC (Steam, Windows Store). Be sure to check out our review of Persona 3 Reload.