10 things I wish I knew before starting Persona 5

Congratulations, fellow Persona fans! We've been shouting about this remarkable JRPG series for so long that plenty of folks who don't know a steak croquette from an Evoker are ready to take a whack at Persona 5. If you're one of our new brethren, welcome! You're about to embark on a very weird - but eminently satisfying - journey, but there's a whole lot to learn along the way. Even if you're familiar with Persona's many quirks, you'll find that Persona 5 is just different enough to be confounding every now and again. Here are some handy tips for all budding Phantom Thieves - feel free to suggest your own in the comments, but please - no spoilers, ok?

Watch the clock

Every activity you do, be that infiltrating a dungeon, studying after school, or doing your laundry, causes time to pass, and you only have so many chunks of time per day to spend. Visiting a dungeon or Mementos will tire you out so much that you have to go straight to sleep afterwards; each dungeon has a time limit for completing it, so plan appropriately. Mementos doesn't have a time limit, but don't ignore it, as it's useful for level and cash grinding as well collecting personas.

You'll meet many people throughout Persona 5, and building relationships with them will benefit you greatly. Hanging out with the fortune teller, politician, or kid at the arcade can make the personas you create more powerful, but even more importantly, they can give you valuable battle skills. Being friendly with shopkeepers opens up new lines of inventory and deep discounts. A blue tarot card on your train map indicates that one of your confidants is at that location and available for socializing, but hit the square button to see if your link is about to increase or not. Some confidants will level up no matter what as you advance the story, but be mindful of which others might help your gameplay most and remember that any you advance to level 10 carry over in New Game+.

Don't neglect your personality

Your five personality stats - Knowledge, Proficiency, Guts, Kindness, and Charm - won't impact your fighting skill at all, but they will influence your confidants. Some relationships will be closed off to you until your raise a certain stat to a high enough level, and even some jobs will be off limits until you've put in enough effort. Spending time with certain confidants or doing a shift at certain jobs has a side benefit of upping a personality stat, giving you a nice twofer. 

You'll never get fired

Normally, if you took a job and then didn't show up for three weeks, you'd get fired, but the proprietors of Persona 5 are fortunately far more forgiving. Work at a shop long enough to get the tip you need for a certain quest and never come back...they won't mind. You can have as many jobs as you like, too, so don't be afraid to apply for them all.  

You're way better hidden than you think

Given that you're a thief, stealth is naturally a big part of working your way through the "palaces" that serve as Persona 5's dungeons. In fact, if you're spotted too much, you'll be bounced out and have to return another day. The good news is that enemies can't really see you all that well; if you're "hidden," say behind a corner or sculpture, they can be mere inches away and be utterly clueless. They also won't spot you down the hall or up the stairs, so you don't have to be Metal Gear Solid levels of sneaky to survive. 

You can't revisit dungeons

This one's mostly for Persona vets who remember you could get really excellent weapons by beating dungeons a second time. The palaces of Persona 5 will disappear after you defeat the boss, so make sure you've cleaned it out before you head to the end. Fast travel between save rooms to clear out any unvisited areas you may have missed.

Always have plenty of lockpicks

Some of the treasure chests you'll discover in the palaces and Mementos are locked, so make sure you're well stocked with lockpicks. Once you've raised Morgana's confidant level high enough, he'll teach you how to make valuable infiltration tools like lockpicks and Goho-M, which lets you immediately leave a dungeon. Your proficiency stat determines how many tools you can make in a sitting, so bump that up a notch or two as early as you can. 

Check the weather 

The weather impacts the how the enemies of Mementos - the underground dungeon you'll explore to recover Morgana's memory - behave. Rain, heat, and even pollen can make them easier to tackle, so plan accordingly. Certain highly useful items are also only sold during specific kinds of weather - listen to the girls in your classroom for intel on what shops to visit. Your access to certain confidants is also determined by the weather, as someone who likes to sit outside isn't likely to be around when it's raining.

Yes, that will be on the test

You are a high school student, after all, so much of your time will be spent in class, listening to lessons. Pay attention, because you'll have to sit through exams a few times during the year and what you heard in class will definitely be on the test. Getting answers right in class raises your knowledge, and doing well on exams raises your charm. You have to take the tests no matter what, so you may as well do your best! Go ahead and google the answers - we won't tell anyone.

Choose your gifts wisely

At a certain point, you'll be able to give some of your confidants gifts. If your gift-giving is on point, you'll grow closer, but don't just pick something at random; most gift items can only be purchased once, so if you give it to the wrong confidant, you've forever missed your chance to give it to the right one. Wait until you've spent enough time with someone to get a real feel for their personality before you hand them a present. 

Susan Arendt

Susan was once Managing Editor US at GamesRadar, but has since gone on to become a skilled freelance journalist, editor, producer, and content manager. She is now 1/3 of @Continuepod, 1/2 of @BeastiesLl, co-founder of @TakeThisOrg, and Apex Editor, Fluid Group.