Persona games can be difficult to understand if it is your first time playing them and Persona 3 Reload is no exception. They feature atypical gameplay loops which require players to balance their daily lives of attending high school during the day and exploring the mysterious Dark Hour to protect the world from man-eating Shadows during the night.
If you aren’t careful, it can be very easy to make mistakes and miss out on a ton of secrets that will help make your life much easier. Well, no need to fear because we have prepared a list of tips and tricks to help newcomers get a head start in Persona 3 Reload and avoid making slip-ups during their first playthrough.
Persona 3 Reload tips and tricks: Build as many social links as you can
One of the key gameplay components of Persona 3 Reload is to befriend various NPCs and party members around town to develop Social Links. Social Links provide small, interesting side stories about the characters you interact with and grant you bonus experience points when creating new Personas via Fusion in the Velvet Room. Getting a Social Link to the max rank (Rank 10) will also reward you with recipes to create powerful and unique Personas you won’t find randomly from winning battles or by natural fusions.
To level up your rankings with a Social Link quickly, you must answer questions that will appeal to the NPCs/party members and hang out with them if they decide to invite you for a day out via text message. In addition, if you are equipped with a Persona whose Arcana matches that of a Social Link NPC, you will gain extra relationship points when interacting with them and level up your Social Link ranking with them much faster.
In Persona 3 Reload, it is generally a good idea to spend time developing Social Links simultaneously rather than focusing on maxing one Social Link at a time. This is because some Social Links aren’t available during certain days and holidays while others are. Also, some Social Links can only be unlocked by advancing through the ranks of other Social Links first or by leveling up your Social Stats. By unlocking as many Social Links as possible, you will have plenty of opportunities to develop a Social Link and not waste a day doing nothing if a Social Link NPC isn’t available.
Be warned, at later points in the game, some of your Social Links may be kidnapped by Shadows and locked up within the dungeons of Tartarus. If this happens, you must rescue them immediately because if they’re not retrieved before a certain deadline (which you can check on a bulletin board at the police station), they will die and your Social Link with them will be permanently broken, severing you from their benefits.
Persona 3 Reload tips and tricks: Explore Tatsumi Port Island to level up your Social Stats and more
To unlock certain Social Links, you will need experience points to level up your Charm, Courage and Academics Social Stats. Thankfully, there are plenty of facilities scattered throughout the city of Tatsumi Port Island which can help you accomplish this.
|Gekkoukan High School
|Row 0 - Cell 0
Gekkoukan High School features a couple of facilities to level Social Stats. There's the Library where you can study to improve your Academics and the Nurse's Office where you can drink a suspicious potion to increase your Courage stat after going on a trip to Tartarus. Both of these can be located on the first floor Faculty Office Hallway of the school.
|Row 0 - Cell 0
Paulownia Mall features a plethora of facilities to help you upgrade Social Stats.
|An arcade called Game Parade where you can level up various Social Stats depending on which games are available at the time.
|A café called Chagall Cafe where you can level up your Charm by drinking coffee or working part-time there to earn a bit of cash and level up your Charm and Courage.
|A karaoke bar called Mandragora where you can level up your Courage.
|A nightclub called Club Escapade where you can visit a shady hacker in a corner who sells URLs of websites you can visit by using the shared computer in the 1st Floor lounge of Iwatodai Dormitory, your party’s home base. On a side note, there’s a fortune teller here in Club Escapade who, for a price, can grant you a higher chance to encounter Rare or Strong Shadows that yield tons of EXP if you manage to defeat them during an expedition into Tartarus.
While we’re talking about Paulownia Mall, do note that this place is also where you can purchase weapons and armor for your party by visiting the Police Station and Mayoido Antiques. There’s also a pharmacy called Aohige Pharmacy where you can purchase medical supplies to help you survive during battle.
|Row 0 - Cell 0
Naganaki Shrine can allow you to level up your Academics by donating money and praying at the shrine. You can also get your fortune read at the shrine which will allow you to level up your rankings with a Social Link NPC if they’re not available to interact with, provided you offer a small donation to the shrine.
On a side note, Naganaki Shrine features the Inari Shrine, which allows you to create duplicates of Persona Skill Cards you have in your possession.
|Iwatodai Station Strip Mall
|Row 0 - Cell 0
Iwatodai Station’s Strip Mall features a smorgasbord of restaurants and shops where you can level up Social Stats and purchase food and drinks to restore your HP while dungeon crawling.
|Eating at Wilduck Burger will level up your Courage. In addition, there is a special burger-eating challenge that will allow you to level up all of your Social Stats if you manage to complete it.
|Eating at Wakatsu Kitchen will level up your Academics stat.
|Eating at Hagakure Ramen will level up your Charm stat.
One particular location of note at Iwatodai Station's Strip Mall is the Net Café, a shop where you can purchase various computer programs that will level up your Social Stats by accessing them via Iwatodai Dormitory’s shared computer in the lounge area.
|Port Island Station
|Row 0 - Cell 0
Port Island Station features a movie theatre called Screen Shot where you can watch movies to level up certain Social Stats depending on which movies are available or alternatively work part-time here to level up your Courage and Academics stats. You can also bring one of your Social Link contacts here to watch movies with you and advance your Social Link rankings with them.
On a side note, there’s a flower shop here called Rafflesia where you can purchase seeds to grow healing and support items in Iwatodai Dormitory’s Rooftop Garden or buy gifts for any Social Link NPCs with whom you have entered into a romantic relationship.
|Row 0 - Cell 0
You can even level up your Social Stats at your home base at the Iwatodai Dormitory by using the aforementioned computer programs and website URLs at the Lounge’s computer, studying in your room to level up your Academics or even spending time hanging out with your party members.
Also, remember those URLs you can purchase from the shady hacker in Club Escapade? In addition to levelling up Social Stats, they can also unlock new abilities which will assist you in exploring Tartarus. These include being able to dash faster and perform a running slash attack out of combat to get the drop on enemies, even if you strike at them from the front.
Persona 3 Reload tips and tricks: Don’t forgot to spend time with your party members
One of the new features of Persona 3 Reload is Linked Episodes. These are special side stories that focus on your party members, similar to Social Links. I recommend prioritizing completing these Linked Episodes when you can as not only do they provide a greater insight into your party members’ backstory and motivations, but they can also yield a ton of rewards.
These rewards include points to level up your Social Stats, increase your combat stats like HP or SP, and even unlock new Personas to create in the Velvet Room. In addition to Linked Episodes, Persona 3 Reload features new hang-out activities where you can spend time with your party members in the Iwatodai Dormitory.
These activities include studying together to level up your Academics stat, cooking in the kitchen to create healing items, reading books together to level up various Social Stats (depending on the party member you read with), and watering your garden on the rooftop to cultivate healing or support items. If you can complete enough of these activities with party members, you will unlock powerful passive Characteristic traits that will make them stronger in battle.
I suggest you focus on unlocking Fuuka Yamagishi’s Characteristics first as they affect all of your party members since she’s a non-combatant support character. Fuuka’s Characteristics mitigate the amount of damage a character takes when an enemy strikes their elemental or physical weaknesses. This is an incredibly powerful passive trait that will help you survive fighting enemies who love to exploit a party member’s weaknesses.
Persona 3 Reload tips and tricks: Exploit enemy’s weaknesses and cripple them with status ailments and debuffs
While exploring Tartarus to uncover the secrets of the Dark Hour, you will need to engage Shadows in turn-based combat to advance. The best method in dispatching Shadows is by using your weapons and Persona abilities to strike the enemy’s elemental and physical weaknesses.
If you hit an enemy’s weaknesses, you will knock them down and be granted an extra turn or use the Shift mechanic to switch to another party member. Once you knock down all enemies in the field, you will be able to activate the devastating All-Out Attack mechanic and have all active party members beat up the enemies while they’re floored.
However, there are times when you will encounter an enemy who features no weaknesses whatsoever. During these more difficult encounters, try inflicting them with status ailments like Charm or Confuse to prevent them from attacking you while you pummel them.
In addition, if you can land a critical hit with a physical attack, you will knock down an enemy and leave them vulnerable to an All-Out Attack, even if they have no weaknesses. You can increase a character's chance of dealing a critical hit on an enemy via special equipment, using the Rebellion spell on them, or inflicting an enemy with the Distress status ailment.
Another useful tactic to employ in battle is applying status buffs on your party and debuffs on your enemies. These buffs will help you withstand an enemy’s strongest attacks and avoid getting hit by a spell that can instantly kill you.
If an enemy hits a party member’s weaknesses, said enemy will gain extra turns to dish out more pain on you. You can prevent this from happening by using spells to buff your evasion stats and debuff the enemies’ accuracy so they will constantly miss hitting your team’s weaknesses.
Persona 3 Reload tips and tricks: Don’t forget to do Elizabeth’s Requests
Later on in the game, you will be commissioned by Elizabeth, a mysterious NPC who resides in the Velvet Room, to fulfill requests for her. These take the form of sidequests that will have you trapezing about Tatsumi Port Island and Tartarus looking for special key items, killing certain enemies, obtaining Personas with a specific ability attached to them, and more.
Completing Elizabeth’s requests is worth your time and effort as they yield tons of rewards including money, powerful gear and items, Twilight Fragments, and even cosmetic outfits.
Persona 3 Reload tips and tricks: Don’t forget to collect Twilight Fragments
Twilight Fragments are rare items that can be used to unlock special chests in Tartarus that contain healing items, Persona Skill Cards, equipment, and cosmetic outfits. Also, if you open enough chests with Twilight Fragments while exploring Tartarus, you will have a chance to open the door leading to the Great Clock. The Great Clock is a special device that will allow two of your party members to significantly level up.
This is an incredibly handy tool for helping reserve party members catch up to your main party’s levels in case you need them to fill in on days when certain party members aren’t available. However, there are limitations: the Great Clock can only level up a party member to the main character’s current level and if the level gap is too far apart, that party member will only level up by twelve levels.
You can find Twilight Fragments scattered throughout Tatsumi Port Island and after completing some of Elizabeth’s requests. Elizabeth will also give you Twilight Fragments whenever you level up your Social Link rankings.
However, you should note that there is a limited amount of Twilight Fragments you can collect during a playthrough so think carefully about when and where you should use them. I personally save up at least ten Twilight Fragments so I can open locked chests on floors that are guaranteed to have them, which are usually floors with Shadow mini-bosses guarding the entrance to the next floor.
Persona 3 Reload tips and tricks: Don’t forget to register Personas before performing Fusions in the Velvet Room
When visiting the Velvet Room to summon or create Personas to use in battle, make sure you register all your current Personas to the Compendium beforehand. Registering Personas to the Compendium will save a Persona’s current level and all the abilities they have learned while you have possessed them.
By doing this, the next time you summon a Persona through the Compendium, they will retain all of their recorded levels and skills. This will save you time from level grinding them back up to the current levels of the rest of your Personas.
Burn your dreads with these tips and tricks
And with that, you are now more prepared to deal with the challenges of Persona 3 Reload and avoid making critical mistakes during your first playthrough of one of the Xbox’s best JRPGs. If you want to learn more about the game, check out our review of Persona 3 Reload and see why we at Windows Central consider it one of 2024’s best Xbox games thus far.
Persona 3 Reload is now available after releasing on February 2, 2024, for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC via the Microsoft Store & Steam.
Get the Windows Central Newsletter
All the latest news, reviews, and guides for Windows and Xbox diehards.
Alexander Cope is a gaming veteran of 30-plus years, primarily covering PC and Xbox games here on Windows Central. Gaming since the 8-bit era, Alexander's expertise revolves around gaming guides and news, with a particular focus on Japanese titles from the likes of Elden Ring to Final Fantasy. Alexander is always on deck to help our readers conquer the industry's most difficult games — when he can pry himself away from Monster Hunter that is!