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Persona 6: Everything We Want To See In The Sequel

Over the years, Atlus Games' Persona series has continued to evolve in new and exciting ways. From its humble beginnings as a spinoff of the Megami Tensei series, Persona has grown more and more separate from the series that spawned it, changing its approach to character progression, dungeon-crawling, and general aesthetics. Persona 5 was perhaps the pinnacle of the series, with incredible exploration and characters that made players feel like they were playing an anime series.

In their review of the game, IGN said that Persona 5 was "the culmination of everything the JRPG series has been building to, with familiar elements dialed up to 11 and some welcome new surprises added into the mix." Still, even with praise of that nature, there are still some things that we'd love to see tweaked or added with the next installment. There's always room for improvement, even for such a beloved franchise. One of the best things about the Persona series has been its constant willingness to experiment with the formula, if not get downright weird (and that's without getting into the dancing games, which are also a blast). Think of this as our wish list for the inevitable Persona 6. 

Better visuals

Just to be clear, this isn't to say that Persona 5 was an ugly game by any stretch of the imagination. However, the game was originally developed with certain limitations in mind, limitations that (hopefully) shouldn't be a hurdle in the development cycle of Persona 6.

Specifically, Persona 5 began production as a PlayStation 3 title and was announced as such. By the time the game finally released, it was a cross-platform game, available on both the PlayStation 3 and the PS4. While the visuals certainly aren't a slouch in Persona 5 (the traditionally animated cutscenes look particularly great), it's obviously a game made to be played on older hardware. As noted by USgamer, the biggest difference between the two console versions is that the PS3 release was "a little blurrier around the edges."  In fact, one of the most exciting aspects of 2020's updated version, Persona 5 Royal, aside from the new characters and story elements, is the fact that the game will receive a graphical facelift worthy of the PlayStation 4 Pro. Hopefully that type of forward thinking will translate to the visuals in the next proper installment of the series.

More relaxed streaming guidelines

One of the more controversial aspects of Persona 5 was just how strict the guidelines on recording your gameplay were. When the game first launched, all streaming and sharing was prohibited, with many gamers resorting to using their phones to take pictures of their game. These guidelines were so stringent that many players worked to find ways of bypassing the block on share features.

Atlus eventually relented and said that players could stream content up to the in-game date of 7/7, then 11/19, attempting to avoid leaking spoilers. Still, PlayStation 4 sharing features remained disabled and streamers were hit with ban warnings when going past those dates. The Verge pointed out that this dedication to keeping fans spoiler-free was admirable, but flawed: "For a game like Persona 5 — long, complex, and damn near impossible to fully explain in a few words — streaming can be a powerful marketing tool." 

Again, the guidelines aren't necessarily a bad idea; they could probably just use a little more finesse. Since livestreaming is such a huge part of the gaming experience in the present day, perhaps Atlus could ease up on these rules a bit. 

A non-silent protagonist

While the Persona and Shin Megami Tensei games have always given us a silent (or mostly silent) protagonist as a blank slate, it may be time to try something different. While this wasn't quite so noticeable in the earlier installments, it's kind of odd seeing our hero just kind of nod at the other fully voiced characters. It's especially noticeable when romancing another character (although maybe all of the ladies in Persona 5 like a strong silent type). It feels like a relic from an earlier era. 

It's a hurdle that eventually had to be confronted. The Protagonist of Persona 5 had to be given a name (Ren Amamiya) and a voice in the anime Persona 5: The Animation. While naming your character is one of the classic elements of RPGs, Atlus may want to consider giving their lead characters a voice of their own in the future. It honestly wouldn't rob the character of any of the hours of development that players would put into them, anyway.

More gender options for protagonists

Fans of Persona 3 Portable's female protagonist were surely disappointed when they discovered that the male protagonist of Persona 5 was the only choice given to themWhen asked about the lack of a female lead, game director Katsura Hashino said, "Honestly, to put that [female character] option into the game, we'd have to cut out other things to compensate for the workload, and every time that's the situation we'll basically say, 'it's not worth it.'"

Unfortunately, this reason just doesn't seem to hold water. RPGs allow a choice of gender and character design all the time. There's certainly nothing about the protagonist's home or school life that screams "a woman couldn't do this." The idea that the story of Persona 5 is inherently masculine just seems like a step backwards in the series' imagination. 

If this truly is the reason why we haven't gotten a choice in our protagonist's gender in this series, then hopefully that's something that will be considered in the production of Persona 6, allowing players more freedom in the creation and progression of their characters.

New Social Link/Confidant consequences

Social Links are a major component of the Persona franchise, so the hope is that they wouldn't be done away with, but rather expanded upon. Essentially, your protagonist will encounter other characters through the course of the game and, through spending time with them and helping them out, you gain their trust. In Persona 5, these characters were known as Confidants, and leveling up your relationship with them would unlock new perks, including the ability to replace KO'd party members during battle and discounts on health supplies and other purchasable items. 

It would be interesting to see new ways of exploring how the relationship with a Confidant can alter your gameplay experience. Say you're romancing a teammate and you've unlocked a new skill through that Social Link. Well, what if you have a bad date with them and then, the next time you're in battle together, that previously unlocked perk is temporarily locked or its effectiveness is reduced until you make up outside of battle? Persona 6 could add small touches like this to not only deepen the combat system, but also to broaden the scope of the occasionally superficial romances.

Allow the protagonist to rest

Look, we love our protagonists. There would literally be no game without them. However, there's nothing more annoying than getting one game over after another because the protagonist's skills aren't suited to a particular battle, especially during boss fights. Sometimes, the idea of backtracking and rethinking the protagonist's load-out of Personas after losing a fight is just a total hassle.

In Persona 5, befriending the character of Hifumi Togo will eventually unlock the Party Switch mechanic. This allows players to do exactly that: switch out the members of their party during battle with someone on standby — minus the protagonist. With a small tweak, this mechanic could make some of those insurmountable fights just a bit easier. If your protagonist isn't doing the job, it would be great to be able to swap them with someone who could lay a real smackdown on the enemy. Sure, that would come at the cost of not being able to collect the enemy Persona for the protagonist's arsenal, but that could be an interesting consequence in itself. Adding that kind of trade-off to the mechanic in a future game could make for some real changes in strategy.

Adult main characters

Okay, so high school settings and characters are something of a staple of the Persona series. Still, if Persona 6 wants to shake things up a bit, maybe we could see some older main characters? Even a college-aged cast would be a decent change of pace. 

Not only would it give us different dynamics, getting our characters out of the classroom and into the daily grind of adulthood, but it would have a positive effect on some of the ... iffier aspects of the series' Social Links. For example, some of the romantic relationships in Persona 5 were somewhat uncomfortable due to the age gaps. When a teacher is admitting that they shouldn't be dating their underage student, it's not exactly as cute as the game intends it to be. It also sends mixed messages when the game outright wants you to know that Kamoshida is a villain for sleeping with students (among other nefarious activities), but then essentially encourages the protagonist to woo a female teacher. 

That's not to say that everything would immediately improve with an aged-up cast, but it could at least fix some of the elements that felt a bit icky in past games.

Less dungeon filler

In Persona 5, dungeons (or Palaces, as they're called in that game) differ in many ways from those seen in previous installments. The biggest difference is the fact that they are not procedurally generated like they were in earlier entries. As explained by Paste Magazine, "Persona 5's Metaverse comes closer to making the player feel that they're trawling through the metaphysical manifestations of internal psyches than ever before."

The drawbacks here are the moments when sections are blocked until you alter something in the real world. For example: the gang has to retreat from Madarame's Palace so they can get a real life door unlocked. Unfortunately, this little side mission take extra days (and lots of cut scenes) in the game's timeline, meaning you might run out your time limit and fail this mission if you wait too long to invade the Palace. 

The intricately designed Palaces are a major plus, but some of the story filler can be frustrating, especially if it's unexpected and forces you to reset the clock on the entire week. Perhaps this could be taken into account in Persona 6, eliminating some of that awkward padding.

Better story pacing

One of the most common complaints against Persona 5 is its length. The average playthrough of the full story clocks in at nearly 100 hours, but exploring further can push that runtime out much more. It's great that the game offers so much content, but it comes at the expense of the story feeling a little bloated.

"The story spins its wheels for hours at a time ... All those walls of text, so promising in the game's early going ... were a sort of room-temperature morass by the game's back end," wrote The AV Club. "For all the game's beauty and brilliance, it's twice as long as it should be." They also mentioned that there were whole characters and arcs that could have been eschewed in favor of a more concise plot and gameplay experience.

While the ambition shown in this game's design and story is commendable, it may be better for Persona 6 to pare down on the multiple plot lines and the occasional inconsequential Confidant interactions. Gamers love a lengthy and detailed experience, but a little less meandering in the next installment could lead to a more impactful overall story.

More varied romance options

While the romance options in the Persona series are occasionally complicated, they aren't quite as progressive as many gamers would hope for. Specifically, the series' lack of gay romance options has been seen as a major missed opportunity. It would certainly go a long way toward making up for some characters and sequences that play on "all the worst stereotypes of gay men."

Persona 4 similarly received flak for the perceived notion that parts of the game had an anti-queer stance (or simply failed to tell a fully satisfying story with its characters who questioned their own identities); particularly in its handling of the character Kanji, comfortability with other men was treated as a genuine problem. If the Persona games want to be fully immersive in their depictions of romances, then it may be time for the series to consider the possibilities of LBGTQ+ relationships and characters. It would not only widen the scope of the games, but it would also address these issues of inclusivity (hopefully in positive ways).

A new approach to the time limits

Giving players a limit to how many activities they can get up to during a single day is yet another staple of this series, sometimes necessitating a hard choice between going on a date, studying for exams, taking a soak at the hot springs, or any of the other dozens of available activities. With that in mind, we're not exactly suggesting that this mechanic be done away with entirely. However, perhaps it could be slightly reevaluated in future games.

One idea that could be explored is giving players the option of staying out all night, thus letting them level up their attributes and spend time on their social life. It could be very interesting to pair this with consequences for doing so. Say you keep your protagonist out all night so they can see a movie or go to the arcade, but the following day, one of your stats (like Defense) is lower than the day before, only resetting when you finally get a good night's sleep. This would be an interesting way to change the Day/Night cycles into even more of a risk/reward mechanic.

Another fantastic soundtrack

There are a few universal truths that all gamers must acknowledge when it comes to video game music: "Guile's Theme" goes with everything and the Persona 5 soundtrack is made out of all bangers. The music of the Persona series began with a somewhat generic JRPG sound and has matured along with the seriesPersona 3 Portable's soundtrack combined elements of metal and industrial music, while Persona 4 Golden embraced something of a J-Pop sound. 

Shoji Meguro's Persona 5 soundtrack perfectly exemplifies the cool, stylish feel of the game. As mentioned by Medium, "Persona 5 takes the franchise in a new direction musically, moving away from the more synthetic digital style and embracing a more cool and organic jazz sound, powered by rich vocals from the immensely talented Lyn Inaizumi." 

If Meguro returned to score Persona 6, it would be fascinating to see if the music continues in this style or if it moves to another genre. Perhaps something with more of a blues influence, similar to the music of Cowboy Bebop? It could give the next game an even more sophisticated feel, just as the up-tempo numbers in Persona 5 embraced the youthfulness of its characters.