Persona 3 Reload is finally here, and it promises to be a faithful remake of the classic Persona 3, all while adding enough enhancements and new elements to make it fresh and fun, even for those who have already played Persona 3 Portable.
Given that Reload remakes Persona 3 to a modern standard that’s akin to Persona 5, it’s no doubt a must-play for fans who started their Persona journey with the fifth installment. But those who already played Portable may still be on the fence regarding this new remake.
As someone who played (and very much enjoyed) Persona 3 Portable when it was finally released on modern consoles and PCs last year, I can safely say that Reload adds so much to the Persona 3 experience that it should still be an excellent experience for those who have played Portable like me.
Reload Makes the Classic Persona 3 Even Better
Before I get started on the Reload experience, it’s important to first explain what exactly Reload is. This new release is a remake of the original Persona 3, and it is a faithful recreation of the iconic PS2 game. Reload doesn’t change things much at the core, meaning the story and most of the elements of the game that players loved from the original are still here.
There are some changes to the game that were added to make it more like a modern JRPG though. This is apparent in combat as players can pass the attack to an ally (essentially the “Baton Pass” from Persona 5), leading to faster combat as you’ll get All-Out Attacks more reliably. It’s a small change, but it’s one that no doubt helps in making exploring Tartarus feel better.
The game’s Social Links have also been updated as they now have new art and are fully voiced, making them much more engaging to experience.
Yes, Social Links are still a big part of the game. After all, the core gameplay loop of spending time with friends/social links while exploring the massive Tartarus is still very much the same in Reload.
The new coat of paint along with the gameplay tweaks definitely help a lot in making this game feel like a modern JRPG. But what’s surprising is that Reload highlights just how well the Persona gameplay loop has aged. Even two decades following the original game’s release, Persona 3’s mechanics still feel as fresh as ever. In fact, Persona 4 and 5 enhanced the formula, but they still share the same core systems and mechanics.
Because of this, Persona 5 players will feel right at home with Reload given how familiar the systems should feel. What’s more, those who have yet to try Persona can jump straight into Persona 3 as it is now perhaps one of the best starting points to the series given the remake’s various enhancements.
It also helps that Persona 3’s story (as with the other mainline series entries) is standalone. On top of requiring no prior knowledge to play, Persona 3’s story is still one of the best and most memorable in the series. This is thanks to the story’s hard-hitting themes, as well as how memorable and emotional some of the moments can get. That’s why, if you ask me, Persona 3 (based on my time with Portable) might be my favorite game in the series.
A Must-Play, Even For Players Who Finished Persona 3 Portable
I’m sure many fans like me love Persona 3 Portable, though some may not be sure about getting Reload, especially as it has only been a year since Portable’s re-release. After all, while it’s a massive remake project, Persona 3 Reload still has the same core gameplay systems and story.
For those who are unsure about getting Reload, I can say that this remake is well worth your time as the remake adds so much, enough to make it a journey well worth re-experiencing.
Even though I have already waxed poetic about Portable enough, it’s still fair to say that it’s not a release for everyone, especially with its visual novel style and the fact that you navigate a 2D map with a cursor.
But with Persona 3 Reload, the world feels much more alive. Even though I spent around 100 hours playing Portable, actually exploring Iwatodai Strip Mall, Pauwlonia Mall, and even the dorm made the experience much more immersive. Even though I still know practically all the story beats, the graphical enhancements that Reload added meant that I was compelled to play.
The updated voice acting, coupled with the new character models also made the characters more memorable for me. In fact, playing through Reload just solidified my thoughts on Persona 3 as possibly my favorite game in the series.
On top of the added immersion thanks to the overhauled graphics, Reload’s music has also been remade. While the iconic tracks like “Mass Destruction” are still there, they come with tweaks to make them feel a bit newer. Plus, there are more battle tracks this time, meaning there are more songs to bop your head to while facing off against the myriad of opponents in Tartarus.
As a bonus, the questions asked in classrooms have also been entirely remade, meaning even players of P3P should pay attention as they can’t simply coast on previous game knowledge.
Persona 3 Reload: Now Available on Consoles and PC
It’s fair to say that Persona 3 Reload is a faithful remake of the Persona game that has since set the blueprint for the franchise. The story and core gameplay mechanics of the original are still here, though they are complemented by massive graphical improvements along with quality-of-life changes.
Reload strikes a great balance between all these elements, making it not only the definitive way to experience Persona 3 but also a must-play for those who have already finished P3P and for those who have only recently gotten into the series thanks to Persona 5.
Itching to experience (or re-experience) this classic? Persona 3 Reload is available now on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and PC.