The latest issue of Famitsu includes new information on the upcoming updated version of Persona 5 The Royal, including a developer interview with producer Wada Kazuhisa, director Itou Daiki, and character designer Soejima Shigenori.
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New character Yoshizawa Kasumi (voiced by Amamiya Sora) is stated to be representative of the new elements introduced to P5R. A freshman entering Shujin Academy at the start of the story in April, she gets involved with the protagonist from early on in the story, and has been excelling in gymnastics since middle school. She gets along with the protagonist, but is also skeptical of the Phantom Thieves, but screenshots show her as a member of the Phantom Thieves. No details have been revealed so far on what leads her to joining them.
Another new character introduced in P5R is school councelor Maruki Takuto (voiced by Hino Satoshi), who joins the school due to the incident which results in the Phantom Thieves forming, and serves as a new confidant.
P5R makes the third school semester which was not seen in Persona 5 a playable period, which includes events such as the new year. The first and second semesters are also changed with new features such as the addition of new characters like Kasumi and new events like school cleanup activities or venturing outside the Velvet Room with Caroline and Justine. Additionally, the town of Kichijoji is added as a new area to explore, combination attacks for party members, powerful new enemies, new gimmicks in the dungeons, and changes to the persona fusing system. New screenshots also depict Futaba sitting in Leblanc next to a woman who resembles her mother, and what seems to be Morgana in a human form.
Interview with producer Wada Kazuhisa, director Itou Daiki, and character designer Soejima Shigenori
The interview begins with the interviewer asking the three about the title of the game, and Wada says that “Royal” was decided on early in the project, and chosen so as to portray a title that is “artistic, proud and gorgeous”. He says that it is to P5 what Persona 4 The Golden was to Persona 4.
Itou adds that they did not just add new features but also change existing ones, such as adding functions that allow players to gain more experience points to improve the pacing of the game, streamlining it all-round but taking care not to ruin its balance. There are also things like a function that looks at the player’s parameters and proposes where to go to raise the lower ones, and allows the player to go to the proposed place simply by pressing the confirm button, which he says is not for people aiming for a “perfect” playthrough, but rather want to experience as much as they can, saying that it helps them to find out more. Wada says that these functions make it so that people who want to go in-depth and people who just want to get through the game quickly can both play the game their way.
Wada says that the amount of content in P5R’s third semester is similar to that in P4G’s, and Itou says that the daily life portions have plenty of new events, and that the non-daily-life portions may exceed the expectations of people who experienced P4G.
Kichijoji is implemented as a new town that players can explore like Shibuya and Shinjuku. Soejima says that the staff went around Tokyo looking for an appropriate location to add, and Itou elaborates on this, saying that they were looking for a town that would represent the current age, and decided on Kichijoji, due to how it is a place where all sorts of culture fuses, with fashionable stores for younger people, old pubs, and traditional temples.
The new dart minigame added in P5R is also implemented in Kichijoji, as part of a collaboration with Sega Sammy group dart machine company Dartslive. Wada mentions that they also borrowed an actual machine as part of the collaboration, which the staff enjoyed playing with, and Itou adds that darts will be one of the more in-depth minigames like P5’s batting center.
New character Yoshizawa Kasumi is discussed next. As a student of the same school as the protagonists, she naturally has the chance to meet with them often. Itou says that the addition of a new character results in new ways of seeing or enjoying the story, and helps in better portraying pre-existing characters as well, and Kasumi was created after much consideration over how to make a character that would make this possible. Wada says that they took care to make Kasumi’s addition to the story natural, making sure not to change the original story too much.
Soejima talks about Kasumi’s design next, and says that adding new characters to something which has an original version is a tough job for character designers, something not limited to P5R. He says that as most people interested in P5R are likely to be fans of Persona 5 to begin with, he did his best to make sure that she does not look out of place when placed next to the existing characters. Unlike P4G’s Marie, who had a special place in the game as a new denizen of the Velvet Room, Kasumi is actually involved in the main story, and so making sure that her design fits in was especially important, and Soejima designed her to be the “icon” of P5R.
Soejima also says that Kasumi’s design was made to look elegant due to how she is a gymnast, and also made to look like a “classic” heroine. As for her costume as a phantom thief, Soejima says that while her character’s position is not meant to be a reflection of the protagonist’s, she is the “icon” of P5R, and so her costume was designed to be a reflection of the protagonist’s, with the same concept of what most people think a cool phantom thief would look like.
The interviewer next asks about the teaser trailer revealed in March which showed Kasumi skeptical of the Phantom Thieves, and Itou says that while they are not ready to reveal more yet, there is more to it than it seems, and that the impressions viewers may have gotten from the trailer may be different from what they get once they play the game. He adds that Kasumi is a confidant as well, and says that more information will be revealed later.
The new confidant Maruki Takuto is discussed next. As a school counselor, he listens to problems the protagonist has, and as schoolmates, Ryuuji and Ann get involved as well, and the player will get to learn how the other characters are feeling. Wada says that while Persona 5 had few sympathetic adult characters early in the game, the addition of Maruki, who is nice to the protagonist, should be refreshing, adding something different to the Persona 5 formula of “children versus bad adults”. Soejima says Maruki’s design went easily, as a man who seems slightly daft.
Itou says that as new confidants, both Kasumi and Maruki give the players new benefits, and also confirms that there will be other new confidants, though they are not ready to reveal further details yet.
Soejima says that P5R also adds a large number of new portraits for conversations to the game, which should make conversations more refreshing, and that this includes new costumes for characters in the third semester. This was a large amount of work for the art team, and he hopes people notice the effort.
Itou says that as creators, when they looked back at Persona 5, they saw many parts that they wished they did differently, and all of that is poured into P5R. He says that aside from the new characters and third semester, the whole game has been improved considerably as well, turned into a new experience.
Finally, Wada says that the staff are now working as hard as they can to finish the game, and that it is a period where they can feel the quality improving each day, and that they intend to run all the way so as to meet expectations.
Persona 5: The Royal will be released in Japan on the PS4 on 31st October 2019, and in the west in 2020.