Siliconera, reporting on an interview from Dengeki Playstation with Katsura Hashino – director of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 – finally confirms the rumor that’s been swirling around since last year: work on the next game in the Persona series will be underway soon. Hashino states he wants to add the elements expected of the series, but "change things within those constraints."
Here’s a few suggestions for you, Mr. Hashino, if you’re listening.
- Keep the battle system – I like having full control, ala Persona 4 and Persona 3 Portable, and I like the modified Press Turn system that P3/P4 used – but please, 100% less of the Demonic Spiders. Maybe the navigator character this time could warn us if that enemy around the corner is going to totally ruin our day. In fact, just some kind of general guideline of difficulty would be nice – in P3, it was relatively easy to tell if you were ready to move to the next block of Tartarus (in that you’d have beaten the boss of the previous block), but in P4 there wasn’t really any way to tell until you actually poked your head into the new dungeon and got your head handed to you.
- Keep the dungeon crawling – especially with the light puzzle-solving elements of the later dungeons in P4 – but no more super-repetitive Tartarus dungeons.
- Keep the voice acting, but never hire Fuuka Yamagishi’s English voice actor again. (Seriously, it was such a shock hearing the difference between her English VA and Japanese seiyuu when I started playing an import copy of P3P. It’s so much better! She expresses emotions!)
- Keep the Social Link system – it’s one of my favorite parts of P3 and P4, and in fact was one of the new features Hashino was responsible for adding to the series – but let’s spice it up a little. I think adding links to all of the party members was the right direction to take (and probably one that will continue – it started in P4, and if you play P3P as the female protagonist, a big chunk of the available social links and romantic interactions shuffle from random NPCs to your party members). I’m not sure how exactly to go about this, but some of the Social Link storylines tend to be very hit or miss; I liked Akinari Kamiki’s social link in P3 (i.e. the Dying Boy, or Sun, link), but only one of his two replacements was an enjoyable experience in P4. In fact, I think perhaps more choices as far as Social Links go would be a great idea – how about two or three links for every Arcana? If nothing else, it adds replayability to an already deep and replayable game.
I can think of a few other minor things I’d like (like, for example, let’s not have party members we get late in the game with Personas that are utterly useless for most of endgame – looking at you, Naoto), but let’s turn it over to the other Persona fans out there. What would you like to see go away in Persona 5? What would you like to see stay? What new features would you request, if you had Hashino’s ear?