I’ve been a big fan of the Persona series since day 1, so since USGamer recently did an article about what they’d like to see in Persona 5, I thought I’d get in the act as well.
Offer Important Choices
In the original Persona, there were three major choices offered to the player.
1 – Who do you want on your party? This choice was particularly well done because it’s not presented all at once. Instead, you need to reject characters if you want to get a later character on your team. Moreover, there’s even a secret character that can only be obtained if you reject all others AND find all the story triggers involving that character.
2 – Will you do the main quest or the Snow Queen quest? Yes, Persona 1 included an entirely different playable plotline for the game.
3 – Will you see things to the end? Persona 1 and several of the later Persona games have instances where if you choose poorly, the game will end prematurely and you want see the final game content.
Now, with the cost of modern game development, including an entirely different second plot to the game like Persona 1 did is probably too much to ask. However, it wouldn’t be too much to ask for them to have some secondary characters who become main playable characters if you max out their S-Links (playable Yuko or Chihiro in Persona 3!). Or you could have a choice of one of three different clubs and depending on which one you join, you’d get a different character.
Likewise, rather than just have the game end early if you make the wrong choices in certain dialogue sequences, why not have alternate ending sequences all together? 90% of the game could be exactly the same for everybody, but the last 10% could be one of 2-3 different scenarios based on your choices throughout the game (Lawful, Neutral, Chaos).
Make Dungeons Interesting
Seriously, I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to make a huge randomly generated non-descript tower the place you spend the most time with in Persona 3, but it dragged the whole game down. Persona 4 was a little better with its themed randomly generated dungeons, but they were still pretty boring.
If you want to use randomly generated dungeons to help flesh out the game with optional content, be my guest, but please, hand-craft your main dungeons. This alone would make Persona 5 DRASTICALLY better than Persona 3 & 4.
Tighter Integration between the RPG & Sim Aspects
I see two ways to accomplish this one.
1 – Break the rut. Players of Persona 3 & 4 typically will spend a few hours in dungeons & in core story-focused cutscenes and then a few hours in the social sim part of the game. Rinse & repeat until the game is done. By breaking things up with more optional RPG content (unlocked by your progress with S-Links), and the occasional mini-boss or micro dungeon, this will help keep things more interesting & less predictable than “Oh, it’s a new month? Guess it’s time to go through a 10 floor dungeon and help someone find their true self by beating the tar out of their evil alter ego.”
2 – Make the social game impact the RPG. At the very least, if you’re dating or are best friends with a character, that should impact their dialogue in the story scenes. Not doing this is a real immersion breaker.