I love Japanese Role Playing Games (jRPGs) – none more so than the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series by Atlus.  After putting 100 and 200 hours in Persona 3 FES and Persona 4, respectively, I think I have a good handle on these games and where I would like to see the series continue.  Even after the 200 hours into Persona 4, I’m still looking forward to the release of Persona 4 Golden in November.   With P4G still a month off from release, it’s obvious that a Persona 5 is still way on the distant horizon, but here are 5 things I would like to see in the next full installment in the Shin Megami Tensei series.

Keep Persona Fusions – Found in both Persona 3 and 4, creating new and improved personae by fusing together personae you already have in your inventory scratches many itches jRPG fans crave.  This is a feature that definitely needs to continue on to Persona 5.  It involves collection, creativity and experimentation, all things jRPG fans love. The system itself is large enough that it gives any player a large variety of personae to choose from, while also presenting a challenge for any player that is looking for a complete collection.

Improve Weapon System through Combination – In both Persona 3 and 4, the weapons you collect do not necessarily make or break your game experience. I would like to see Atlus improve the weapon choices, as well as the importance of weapons and gear as a whole.  In Persona 3, you have weapon fusion, where you can fuse a persona into a specialized weapon.  Whereas in Persona 4, you collect item drops and once you hit a certain number of each drop, you can trade them in for a special piece of equipment (weapon, armor, item).  I would like to see a combination of these concepts and build upon it to drive an element of supreme modification and customization. For instance, have the ability to incorporate magic strengths into the weapon.

Update the Battle System – There really wasn’t much difference in the battle system between Persona 3 and 4, with the exception that in Persona 4 you control all the characters in your party.  I’m not saying there is anything wrong with the battle system. It has your typical rock-paper-scissors mentality, where you exploit the shadows’ weaknesses by beating fire with ice and light with dark.  It’s just that after two full games of basically the exact same system, it is time for an update to something bigger and better.

Expand Social Links and Story Progression – When not battling shadows, you are attending high school, visiting with friends and working. In both games, it’s fun to move about town, visit different people and engage in these relationships.  Atlus does a fantastic job in hitting socially conscious issues in many of these story lines – from dealing with death to divorce to sexual orientation to self-actualization.  In Persona 5, I would want Atlus to delve even deeper into the human condition, reflecting more of what people are facing in the globalized society we live in today.   The change I would most like to see in this regard would be the ability to have a same-sex relationship.

Next-Generation Graphics – Yes, I realize both Persona 3 and Persona 4 were made for the PlayStation 2, but even for that generation, the graphics were only so-so.  I would like to see Atlus move into one of two directions.  Either move towards a more realistic graphical design (in the vein of Final Fantasy) or move towards a more anime-centric design that would be considered artistic.  One way or another, a new engine is in order and a move toward a stronger artistic design.

No matter what, I will continue to wait patiently for Persona 5 news.  I know Atlus will eventually give us the game we are hoping to finally receive.  In the meantime, I will definitely be pouring my time into Persona 4 Golden in November when it arrives on the PlayStation Vita.  Oh well, guess there goes another hundred hours.