Persona 5 Royal is the definitive edition of Persona 5, released some three years after it with a host of additional content. This raises some obvious questions for both old and new players. What are the Persona 5 Royal differences? Is Persona 5 Royal worth it? Rest assured, we’re here to answer them all and more by explaining everything you should expect in this new, shiny title.
Here are all significant Persona 5 Royal differences and changes compared to the vanilla version of Persona 5.
An extra semester and palace
Persona 5 Royal adds an extra semester at the end of the game, which comes with its own story segment and palace. After the palace arc is set up, this translates to around a month of available time to clear the palace and mop up any unfinished confidants. Within this winter period, there are also extra confidant scenes with the playable party which will awaken a new final form of each persona.
The new palace, along with its ruler, are superb. Admittedly, the additional plot section does feel a little tacked on, and doesn’t blend seamlessly with what came before, but overall it’s a great addition to the game. Without spoiling anything, the additional story segment has significant involvement for some new characters. You just have to make sure you unlock it by meeting certain criteria. We have a spoiler-free guide to help you do just that below.
Two new confidants, and one vastly improved
Speaking of new characters, there are two brand new confidants in Persona 5 Royal – Takuto Maruki and Kasumi Yoshizawa – and both are terrific. Maruki is a school counsellor who joins Shujin Academy fairly early in the game. His counselling sessions bestow Joker with some extra SP and other useful abilities. As for Kasumi, she is a gymnast Honor student one year younger than Joker who becomes a playable character alongside the Phantom Thieves.
Effectively, there is a third new confidant – the detective prince Goro Akechi has an entirely different confidant arc. Unlike the original, which levelled up automatically, Joker has to spend time with Akechi just like everyone else. This is another excellent addition, and I found Akechi’s extra involvement to be a surprising highlight in Persona 5 Royal. As long as all content is unlocked, we get a completely different side to his character which is both interesting and often hilarious.
Two possible new endings
The new story section naturally leads to a new potential ending. You can still technically get the old one if you fail to meet the necessary conditions, but if you max all of the new confidants within a set timescale, you’ll be able to unlock the extra semester which leads to the new ending.
There’s actually a brand new ‘bad’ ending as well, which can also only be accessed by reaching the new semester. Even if you don’t get this one, it’ll be worth watching online as it’s another interesting conclusion to the tale.
Whether the new true ending improves on the original is debatable, but once you’ve reached the new plot section it makes sense for the ending to adapt accordingly.
Battle system changes and tweaks
One of the most significant Persona 5 Royal differences is in its battle system, which has plenty of tweaks. The crucial baton pass function is unlocked automatically, and doesn’t require any confidant ranks to be increased. The baton pass can also be strengthened by fulfilling other requirements (covered later), becoming even more important.
Technical attacks can be inflicted by causing status ailments followed by a certain attack type, adding some further strategy against foes that don’t have a weakness. Like baton passes, your team’s Technical Rank can be improved to grant additional damage.
Other changes include Showtime attacks (pictured above) – these are powerful moves that trigger at random and feature some frankly bizarre cutscenes involving two characters at a time. These range from awesome to idiotic, with my favourites being Joker’s combinations with Akechi and Kasumi. Either way, they deal huge damage so are always worth exploiting.
A final neat improvement is that guns replenish their bullets after every battle, meaning you don’t have to be so conservative with your ammunition. As a result, guns are a lot more useful as a source of damage.
Overall, these changes generally improve the game, even if they make things a lot easier.
Kichijoji – a new area of Tokyo
Early in Persona 5 Royal, a brand new area of Tokyo is unlocked called Kichijoji. This place is great, featuring an awesome darts and pool club called Penguin Sniper. It’s here where baton pass and technical levels are powered up by taking part in these mini games. In truth, the pool doesn’t actually have any skill involved (you simply pick shot options from a list) but the darts is a genuine mini-game that requires some concentration.
These games also give some handy confidant music notes towards the next level, and can actually give a little boost to multiple confidants at a time. As such, it’s a great new way of spending Joker’s time with multiple benefits at once.
There is also a shrine to meditate and improve Joker’s SP, along with extra shops and a Jazz club with some cracking music and interesting perks. Inviting friends here at night can lead to new persona abilities and boosts, along with some extra dialogue.
Kichijoji is where Kasumi and Akechi hang out, and it’s one of the best Persona 5 Royal changes versus the vanilla version.
An expanded soundtrack
How do you make one of the best gaming soundtracks even better? Simple really – just add more tracks. There are around 30 more tracks in total!
Therefore Persona 5 Royal manages to improve on the exceptional. A new battle theme, Take Over is a wonderful tune that plays during ambush attacks (don’t worry, Last Surprise is still there for regular battles), along with a great new opening theme Colors Flying High.
Other tunes are dotted here and there, until the final dungeon drops a couple of absolute classics right at the end. For me, I Believe and Throw Away Your Mask are two of the best tracks in the entire Persona series. On the one hand it’s a shame they come so late in the day, but it also adds to their impact.
There’s nothing quite like a Persona soundtrack, and Persona 5 Royal won’t disappoint in this regard.
Extra palace sections
Palaces are largely the same as before, but there are two main Persona 5 Royal differences that spice them up a tad.
Early in the game, Joker is handed a grappling hook, used to swing his way into new areas to snag some extra treasure. Occasionally, this switches up an existing section or gives Joker an extra escape route when he’s sneaking past the shadows lurking nearby.
The grappling hook is used by a simple button tap and doesn’t require any actual skill, but it always looks incredibly cool and fits the style of the Phantom Thieves like a glove.
Many of the new grappling-hook areas lead to Will Seeds, which are special hidden items that replenish a bit of SP, making it more feasible to blast through a palace in one go. There are three per palace, and finding them all will reward you with a new accessory which is usually very handy at the time.
Boss battle changes
Virtually every boss battle has been reimagined with some new mechanics. These are decent enough, mixing things up and keeping you on your toes during these battles. They’re still a bit gimmicky, but at least there’s something fresh to grab your attention.
That’s with one notable, rage-inducing exception – Okumura! His battle has become very difficult, due to some frustratingly cheap mechanics that come without any warning. I like a challenge, but this one feels incredibly underhand. You’ll know what I mean when you get there.
I would suggest bookmarking our guide below and reading it before you steal the treasure in Okumura’s palace. Despite the game being released some time ago, this is still one of the most-visited pages on our entire site, indicating how much trouble people are still having with him.
Velvet Room Challenge battles
Justine and Caroline offer a lot of services in the Velvet Room, and a brand new option comes in the form of Challenge Battles. The Phantom Thieves are pitted against specific enemies, with different challenges unlocked as you succeed.
These don’t take long to get tough, and they test your ability to meet certain conditions to amass the biggest amount of points. Bonuses are awarded for using certain elements or characters to deal damage and if you reach the necessary threshold there are some excellent items on offer.
Despite being another good inclusion, the most disappointing aspect of these enjoyable battles is that many of the higher difficulty options are locked behind a DLC pay wall. Unfortunately, this includes battles against the Persona 3 and Persona 4 protagonists.
I mean, it’s not that expensive (it seems to range between $4,99 and $9.99 depending on sales – check here) but if you’ve already stumped up the cash for Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal, I personally think it’s a bit harsh to expect players to dip into their wallets yet again.
Extra Mementos rewards (and Jose)
The winding labyrinth of Mementos is now home to a new character named Jose. He’s a kid in a helmet who zooms around in a kart searching for flowers. That’s where you come in – flowers are now scattered around Mementos and can be exchanged with Jose for some very useful items including SP healers.
Jose also provides some Mementos-only benefits if you collect stamps, which are another new feature. These are often behind hidden walls, and finding enough can be used to permanently boost EXP, money or item drop rate within Mementos. All in all, this makes Mementos a more beneficial way to spend time, with far greater rewards on offer.
Speaking of Mementos, the Reaper trick has been patched! You can no longer attack him during flu season to watch him succumb to despair after just three turns. This time around, you’ll have to beat him the hard way. Thankfully, we’ve got a guide below to help you do just that.
The Thieves’ Den
The Thieves’ Den is a new hangout area filled entirely of optional content. It’s detached from the main story and there is no obligation to visit here whatsoever.
However, it’s probably worth checking out at least one as it provides gameplay challenges that can unlock benefits like concept art, music and additional dialogue as well as a theatre and music player. All challenges are entirely detached from the trophy list, so you can tackle them with no pressure.
My favourite Thieves’ Den activity is the card game Tycoon, which is ridiculously addictive and I rather wish it had been included in the main game in some capacity.
A later bedtime!
This change may be one of the relatively small Persona 5 Royal differences, but it makes a huge impact. Morgana’s constant insistence that Joker had to go to bed was damn annoying in vanilla, robbing you of slots that could have made the time management significantly easier. Worse, it just made no sense – surely the leader of the Phantom Thieves can spend an hour or so crafting lock picks, even after a hard day’s work.
In Persona 5 Royal, Morgana is far more charitable and hardly ever orders Joker to bed – even after escapades in palaces or Mementos. Generally Joker cannot leave Yongen-Jaya but it’s still a great chance to use the time productively. Over the course of the game this adds up to a lot of extra slots, making it far easier to max all social stats and confidants.
Other Persona 5 Royal differences and changes
The final selection of more minor, miscellaneous changes are as follows:
- The casino intro segment is altered, including a terrific introduction for Kasumi
- A fusion alarm is occasionally triggered after enough battles, which makes your persona fusions more unpredictable, but potentially more powerful (you can disable the alarm if this concerns you!)
- Crossword puzzles can often be solved in Leblanc to earn a free knowledge point
- Updated characters models and better graphics including 4K option on PS4 Pro and PS5
- A phone call occurs at the end of confidant hang-outs, giving Joker one final chance to gain a few bonus music notes towards the next rank up. This makes it a lot easier to max all confidants
- Confidants gain some of their best abilities at earlier levels – again, this makes things easier. For instance, Strength confidant (Justine and Caroline) gains Special Treatment at level 5 rather than 10, and Fortune confidant (Chihaya) gains Affinity Reading at level 5 rather than level 7.
- Several scenes of additional dialogue slotted in amongst the usual story, particularly including Kasumi and Maruki
- There are also a handful of extra animated scenes, including a new opening movie which comes with its own new theme Colors Flying High
- Some additional weapons, armours, accessories, items and personas
- Extra Mementos requests
- A completely overhauled list of trophies
- Various persona stats and abilities have been tweaked, as have some enemy stats and abilities
- Some new weather effects occur on certain dates
- Disaster shadows sometimes appear in battle which can explode and do damage to other enemies if they are killed first
Persona 5 Royal vs Persona 5 – do all changes make it better?
As you’ll have gathered, these significant Persona 5 Royal changes ultimately improve things in the vast, vast majority of cases. There is just one area that I’d argue is not improved – the difficulty balance.
Virtually every change has ensured Persona 5 Royal is far easier than Persona 5. If you played the original, then you’ll already know all tricks of the trade, making it a borderline joke at times. I didn’t die at all in the entire game, except for Okumura (!), and if you want even a moderate degree of challenge I suggest you combat this by playing on one of the higher difficulty settings.
How many more hours does Persona 5 Royal add?
In pure gameplay terms, a full playthough of Persona 5 Royal will take around 25-30 hours more than Persona 5.
Some of this content is dotted in throughout the game, so around 8-10 hours of this is sandwiched amongst the old content and 15-20 hours is added after the point Persona 5 vanilla concluded.
Is Persona 5 Royal worth it?
This is the big question, and even after breaking down every significant difference between Persona 5 Royal and Persona 5 vanilla, it’s not a clear-cut answer.
There is no doubt whatsoever that Persona 5 Royal is a significantly better game. The additional content is generally excellent. I loved the two new confidants, as well as Akechi’s greater involvement. The gameplay is improved and there is more spare time to take care of a bigger range of activities.
Therefore, if you have NOT played the vanilla version, then you should definitely get Persona 5 Royal instead.
The catch is that Persona 5 is already a very long game. Playing Persona 5 Royal means essentially playing through the entire thing again, which is almost impossible to do within 80 hours (unless speedrunning). Yes, there are numerous tweaks that change along the way such as extra scenes and the gameplay improvements, but there are still dozens and dozens of hours of the same stuff.
If you have already played the vanilla version, then ask yourself whether you are willing to play through the entirety of the original again. If this possibility sounds appealing, or even doesn’t sound too daunting, then the extra content is good enough that you should get Persona 5 Royal to enjoy the extra content.
Honestly, I’d have liked a DLC that could be picked up for players of the original without having to repeat the vanilla content, but that’s not how Atlus rolls.
Hopefully this list of Persona 5 Royal differences and changes helps you decide whether to purchase it. Check out our full review of Persona 5 Royal below:
- RELATED: Persona 5 Royal Review