Persona 3 Reload: Tips & Tricks for new players

These tips are mainly for newbies, and the article is written from the perspective of a player who had no major exposure to either Persona 3, FES or Portable, but has exposure to Persona 4 and 5.
Persona 3 Reload Cover

Two weeks after Persona 3 Reload came out, it hit the world by storm, and we at Mobidictum love it. It also helps that many of us are huge Persona fans, and seeing the series we care about so much get a complete makeover is a pleasure to the heart. That said, Persona 3 Reload may also be a really good gateway for new players to learn about this series. Do not get intimidated by the number 3 in the name. The first two games are not connected with the third in any narrative way and tell completely different stories. Moreover, when the original Persona 3 came out, it shifted away from the gameplay loop of the first two games and added a lot of social sim elements to the mix. A trend that persisted with later titles. Persona 3 marks this change of direction for the series that lasts to this day. It is a valid place to start your familiarity with the series because you will have the opportunity to see how the game design evolved over the course of P3, P4, and P5. To those interested in seeing this change, we have prepared a set of tips and tricks to give you the best possible experience while playing this new game and familiarizing yourself with the series.

If you are someone who wants to start your Persona journey now, you are in the right place; these tips will help you have the best experience on your first-ever run. 

Advice 1: Merge personas often.

On one hand, this seems like rather simple advice. The game tells you to do just that, after all. However, it may still be a confusing mechanic, considering that your companions do not change personas over the course of gameplay. Because of that, it may seem enticing to try to pick an original persona and level it through grinding, but actually, personas are not designed to be leveled easily. Best leveling can only be accomplished by merging multiple personas.

In the original P3, when merging two or more personas, you were running a risk of losing some of the spells your party may rely on because you had no control over which abilities to transfer. Because of that, if you have a persona that can debuff enemy defense, getting rid of it may create more trouble than it is worth. In Reload, you now have direct control over which spells you transfer when merging personas, so it will be significantly easier for you to plan out builds. Speaking of builds and spells that you may want to keep…

Advice 2: Rely on negative effects in battle.

One of the most fun things about P3 combat is knocking down all enemies with elemental spells and performing an all-out attack on them. However, you will be unable to solve all your problems that way with harder difficulties. This is where negative effects occur. If you choose one of the easier difficulties, this advice may not apply as much to you, but it is still an important part of succeeding in this game. If you encounter a boss that you do not have an elemental affinity for, or if he seems to deal too much damage to you, then this is where buff and debuff spells go into the mix. The game explains some of the spells well, but it doesn’t always communicate what exactly panicked or enraged enemies do, so here is a small list of spells that apply a unique effect and what exactly that effect does:

  • Poisma and Poison Mist inflict Poison, which damages opponents over time.
  • Marin Karin and Sexy Dance Charm opponents by making them fight each other. Do be careful because everyone frequently blocks this effect. In the original Persona 3, it was a bit of a meme).
  • Evil Touch and Evil Smile instill Fear in foes, making them lose turns or even flee from battle. When under this negative effect, enemies are also more susceptible to critical attacks, making it easier to knock them down and perform an all-out attack.
  • Provoke and Infuriate throws targets into Rage, essentially making it so those under it attack directly instead of trying to exploit weaknesses or utilize tactics. This effect is more dangerous to your group because it makes them disobey your commands, but it can also be used to your advantage, as there are passive abilities that raise your damage when enraged.
  • Pulpina and Tentarafoo make the enemy Panic, which prevents them from using magic spells. Like rage, this effect is more deadly to the player, as it disables the use of all persona abilities.
  • Bewilder and Eerie Sound make the enemy suffer Distress. This spell lowers defense and also increases the chance of you being able to kill the enemy with Light and Dark Instakill spells like Hama or Mudo. Keep this spell on personas designed around instakill spells or on personas designed around dishing out crits left and right.

On top of that, I personally recommend holding onto Rakunda and Tarukaja, as careful application of both may make a lot of early-game battles much smoother. Once you get AoE versions of those spells, you can get ahead in any battle in the game, as they will be key to ensuring your team succeeds during the Dark Hour. Always have a special persona dedicated to debuffs; it may save you so many nerves.

Advice 3: Connect the game to the network and check other people’s choices.

Persona 3 Reload has a rather large tutorial, but it expects you to show initiative once you are thrown into the open world. Because of that, your first free days will be very intimidating. By free days, I mean days when you have complete agency of what to do, be it venture into Tartarus, do social links, go to work, or one of the shops/entertainment places. It may seem intimidating when you first discover that you have so many options, and keep in mind that the game is at a timer. You only have so many days to do all the things you want. That is why looking up what other people did is useful. It helps you understand what other options are available and adjust to them accordingly in a manner that works for you. In my case, it helped me discover some social links I overlooked.

One piece of advice when asking the network for advice: look at percentages of what people did. Percentages are broken apart between social links, Tartarus exploration, and other activities (working, going to the ramen shop, praying at a shrine, and so on). Also, you might quickly notice that there are no days where the majority of players go into Tartarus. That is because on any given day, most players choose other interactions, but every player ventures there at least once or twice per moon cycle. The most optimal Tartarus days are the ones where 30% of the player base decided to go there. Do not just blindly do the most popular thing, even if 94% of players do something on a given day; rather, use it to see what options are available in order to make the whole process of going about your daily routine less intimidating.

Advice 4: Use the ‘circle back’ option in settings.

This game has a very interesting mechanic of autosaves: there are two main periods when you can do stuff in Persona’s social simulator – after school and evening, and the game holds the last five state transitions between them at all times. So if you went for ramen after school and realized in the evening that you want to up a social link instead, you can dial back if you so choose.

Do not feel ashamed about using this trick as much as you want. You are save scumming, that is true, but what is also true is that you are given an overwhelming amount of options, and sometimes it may be difficult to choose something from the get-go properly. Not to mention that sometimes the narrative prevents you from doing some activities because story events suddenly take away multiple days from you. Because of that, it is sometimes hard to know what the best choice is in each situation.

Advice 5: Do not attempt to complete all content on the first run.

Persona games are designed with NG+ in mind. This means that in order to witness everything the game has to offer, you will need to play the game the second time with an NG+ mode. This is traditional for the Persona series and directly ties into its social link mechanics, as well as social stats mechanics. To access all social links, you must max out three stats: Charm, Intelligence, and Cunning. Maxing them during the first run is extremely hard because of how many time slots maxing them will consume.

A couple of tricks will make the process easier (go to the school doctor after a night in Tartarus for some free Cunning levels), but ultimately, prepare yourself for not being able to max out all social links on your first run. Feel free to try if it’s your thing, but in such case, I will heavily recommend looking up answers to questions your character gets asked in class in advance, as well as keeping a cheat sheet for exams by your side. You will need all of this in order to max the number of points you get in each skill. Also, if you want to see as much as possible in one run, check out the next advice.

The game gives this advice, too, and even highlights it when you go to hang out with someone and have that persona in your inventory. If you want to make sure you can spend as much time as possible with as many social links as possible, you will need to use this feature because it directly affects social link leveling. Each social link has ten stages in order to be maxed out, and after completing one stage, you go to the next. What the game doesn’t really tell you, but does hint at, is that each stage has to be unlocked by either choosing the right dialogue answers, praying to become closer to the social link at the shrine, or spending some bonus time with the social links.

The way you unlock each stage is by farming reputation points, and having a persona when talking to social links increases the yield of these points. This can minimize the amount of time you will need to dedicate extra attention to one link and, as a consequence, allow you more time to focus on others. During my playthrough, I even postponed leveling some of the links because I didn’t have the right personas.

Advice 7: Walk around and collect stuff.

This advice applies to both Iwatodai and Tartarus. One of the greater flaws of the original series was that exploring Tartarus was extremely repetitive, and there was not much you could do. One of the ways Persona 3 Reload fixes this is by giving you lots of smashable objects in Tartarus. Now, while running around the labyrinth, you may break black roots sticking out of the ground for a chance to get some items that can either recover your health and stamina or be sold for a lot of money later down the line.

Another important mechanic to discuss here is the rare chests you meet in Tartarus. They can only be opened with Twighlight Fragments, which are collectible items that you can get either through leveling your social links or completing requests from Elizabeth – your assistant in merging personas. However, a third way to farm them is to explore Iwatodai instead of fast-traveling it. As a means to encourage the player to interact with Iwatodai on a stronger level than just teleporting everywhere they need to go, the game has scattered free Twighlight Fragments throughout the map, and if you are attentive enough, you should be able to find them each relatively quickly. Such a scavenger hunt was implemented to familiarize you with the city’s environment and let you savor the moments you spend in this game just a little longer.


As of the publishing of this article, the P3R soundtrack is not on Spotify, so here is a link to it on Soundcloud, and YouTube for those who want to listen to it. All Persona games have amazing soundtracks that you can lose yourself in. This is another reason to check out P4 and P5 after playing Persona 3. If you have any more questions about the game, feel free to contact me on Mobidictum’s Discord, or google them yourself if you feel like it!

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