TGS 2023: ‘Persona 5 Tactica’ Adds New Characters, Sub-Personas & Weapon Forging

The Persona franchise has its legion of fans around the world, and the upcoming spin-off looks set to light the flames of revolution, with a turn-based tactical twist.

Released back in 2016, the current mainline game, Persona 5, serves as a coming-of-age RPG that follows a group of high school students who operate as the Phantom Thieves, an organization that seeks out and reforms corrupt adults, by night. Over the years, the Persona 5 game franchise has sold over 9 million copies. Persona 5 Tactica is the latest instalment developed by Atlus, but with a tactical twist. With familiar battle features like “One More” and “All-Out Attacks” making a return from Persona 5, fans will once again enjoy satisfying team-based combo attacks in this new tactical RPG.

During Tokyo Game Show 2023, Sega and Atlus shared a host of new information on the upcoming tactical RPG, and the game’s business producer, Atsushi Nomura, shared a quick overview of what fans can expect as they progress in the game. On franchise newcomer Erina the Rebel, Nomura-san described as an ally in the game’s push towards a revolution.

“She’s a brand new character who leads the revolution and helps the Phantom Thieves when they arrive at the start of the game in a completely different world. We tried to make her a very strong independent individual, to bring forward that idea of revolution in a personified version of that word. However, we also wanted to balance things and ensure she doesn’t overshadow the Phantom Thieves or even collide with what the Phantom Thieves represent. So we gave her more of a comical spin where possible. Outside of the actual character design and her personality design, we wanted to get her accustomed to the users as quickly as possible, said Nomura-san. 

“We kind of fear that there might be a tendency for the players to really just focus on the Phantom Thieves and the characters they’ve come to love from the past Persona 5 titles. But as she is a very unique character, we wanted her to be at the very front, so that users will be able to start liking her, start playing as her and get her in the team as well.”

One of the challenges the team faced was actually coming up with the official title for the game, before settling on Persona 5 Tactica, because it is the first tactical game title coming from the franchise.

“The team was divided into two sides when considering the title. One side said that putting the strategy element upfront may be a hard sell for users, while the other side insisted on stressing the genre so that players could easily picture what kind of game they could expect. As a result, we decided on a name that reflects what the gameplay is like and is aligned with the image of the game delivered through screenshots,” said Nomura-san.

“The reason why we chose the word ‘Tactica’ specifically was that it had a bit more of a lighter image than we would expect when you hear the word ‘Tactics’, especially in Japanese. This is the case so it has a more of a lighter and a friendlier tone in the Japanese language. Therefore we wanted to reflect that same lightness and friendly tone within the actual product and character design as well while maintaining the Persona 5 personality.”

“However, we didn’t just leave it at that. We also shared the idea and concept with our offices around the world, and collected feedback from SEGA America, SEGA Europe and other overseas staff. Fortunately, the overall impression was very positive. Then we finally settled on Persona 5 Tactica,” explained Nomura-san.

“Skill Tree is one of the key features that I personally love and would like to introduce. This is the very first time that we actually have a Skill Tree in a Persona game. I really feel like it kind of reflects what Persona really is, choosing your own direction and making that decision for yourself on how the characters develop. I think it also allows the users to choose the growth path of their characters. And you can change and adjust the tree as you want without too much difficulty as you progress throughout the game,” shares Nomura-san, as one of his favourite new features in the game.

On top of that, there are a variety of new mechanics and gameplay elements that will be introduced in Persona 5 Tactica as well, so let’s run through them.

New & Unique Enemies

Plenty of new enemies abound as players progress through the story. There is the Sumo-maton, who will hurl enemies at their adversaries, the Guarded Geisha who is a defensive unit that can nullify all gun, melee and skill attacks from the front. The Slimy Shinobi is a ninja that can utilise cloning techniques, so players beware!

Equip Sub-Personas

For the first time in the series, Sub-Personas can be equipped by members of the Phantom Thieves. When a character has a Sub-Persona equipped, he/she will be able to use the Persona’s Unique Skills and Inherited Skills, as well as enjoy increased stats. Personas possess skills such as Dia and Zio that cost SP to activate. Players are strongly encouraged to experiment with different Personas to find the perfect combination for each character. Do take note that there are support skills that activate passively.

Forge Weapons in the Velvet Room

Players will be able to fuse together two Personas to create new weapons. While each weapon will require a specific Persona combination, they can be given affinities and have better stats than the ones you buy from a shop.

Wait a Turn to “Charge”

As with any tactical game, it can be easy to rush head first into battle, but it pays to stay calm and collected. If a character deliberately ends a turn without taking any actions, Charge will activate, bolstering them on the following turn. Each character will gain different bonuses while Charge is active, so players are encouraged to experiment and take full advantage of this new mechanic.

Contraptions Galore

Every stage in Persona 5 Tactica comes loaded with contraptions such as Surveillance Cameras that will summon reinforcements if you enter their line of sight, and Exploding Barrels that will ignite when dealt with a certain degree of damage. Elevators can move characters up and down, while Jump Pads will send the characters soaring from one location to the next. Making good use of each contraption will give the player an extra edge in battle.

Unlimited Retries for Difficult Stages

On Hard Mode and above, the enemies will not only have more health, but players will take more damage as well. On top of that, friendly fire will be on, so careful planning is required to ensure your teammates don’t end up hurting each other when performing attacks. Fortunately, there is a “!?” indicator that will appear if any of your attacks are in danger of harming an ally. Moreover, players can retry a stage attempt as many times as they like which allows for perfectionists to perfect their strategic approach.

Persona 5 Tactica releases on 17 November 2023 on Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch and PC (Steam). An additional DLC episode will be released on the same date, and will revolve around the protagonist, Goro Akechi, and Kasumi Yoshizawa. This DLC will feature different rules, stages, and bosses from the main story.