Part 14: Hard Difficulty: Enjoy The Increased Challenge!
Gameplay Notes: Enjoy the Increased Challenge!
I talk briefly about the increased challenge this game presents relative to the original story, and for my inaugural Gameplay Notes I'll go into some more detail on that front.
Hard Difficulty: For Those Who Enjoy The Thrill of Death
Original Persona 3 had two difficulties, Easy and Normal. In Easy, you got some number of a special item that acted as continues or some such tomfoolery. Normal mode dispenses with this handholding. With the release of Persona 3 FES, the original game (now called The Journey) gained extra content, including a new difficulty, Hard. Hard is a lot like Normal except everything does more damage, especially with magic. This is the difficulty The Answer is locked on. This means that poor play choices can easily lead to deaths even against random wandering enemies. It is potentially possible, though unlikely, for you to be wiped by the very first encounter.
The Persona Compendium: That Book Had to Have Been Heavy
Veterans of Personas 3 or 4 are of course aware of the Persona Compendium. This helpful little tome comes into play when creating new Personas in those games and allows us to save and recall them in exchange for a small (re: ruinous) fee. Luckily for us, we can save our money for other things in The Answer because we don't have access to it, which makes a lot of things we could normally exploit to make the game a lot easier more annoying to the point at which they're hardly worthwhile.
Weapon Selection: Stop Or My Robot Will Shoot!
In the original story, the Main Character has access to a wide array of weapons. These do different types of damage, have different characteristics, and are better or worse at engaging Shadows in the dungeon. Aigis isn't so versatile. Her weapons are one of the two types he could not use, guns. The downside is that we can't tailor our physical attack type to what we're facing and the timing on our dungeon attack is very different than what we might be used to from P3 or P4. The upside of this is that guns have fantastic range and we can't fall down when we miss with them.
Dungeon Design: You're Not Tired Are You?
In the original Persona 3, we are given a two-way Access Point that allows us to warp back to the entrance, save, and recover our resources before each and every boss. The Answer isn't so nice. We just get a one-way Access Point and a Save Point before each boss, meaning we need to be careful not to leave ourselves in a state where we can't beat the boss. One nice thing is that the game dispenses with the Sick and Tired statuses from the original game.
Boss Design: ATLUS Personally Wishes You Ill
The Bosses are really where The Answer earns the right to say it's on Hard difficulty. Each and every boss is designed to be able to rain utter bullshit on you and ruin your day if you go into it without proper preparations. Their skill sets do tend to follow some common trends that I'll discuss in the boss sections of the updates. Whereas most of the Tartarus bosses and basically all of the story bosses didn't require that much strategy beyond the obvious 'don't use a Persona weak against this thing's gimmick attack' these really favor putting some work into creating Personas with well-tailored skill sets that have proper resistances/immunities. The plus side of this is that the final encounters are a million times more fun than The Journey's because a) they're even moderately threatening and b) they are much shorter.
Level Cap: Lucifer? Who's That?
For a game known for being grind-heavy, you are strongly discouraged from trying to really severely overlevel the content. Your ability to level quickly peters out around 80-81, which is about the level you want to be for the final boss. This cuts off access to a lot of really abusive things that were available in the original story (though there's plenty of lesser abusive things and I use a lot of them because you're a fool not to use every resource the game leaves you).
Social Links: Robots Have No Friends
Unlike Persona 3, we do not have access to Social Links to raise our Persona levels after we create them. This turns out to not be such a problem though, which I'll discuss when we get to Persona fusion.
Resources: No Money, Mo Problems
There is an issue that comes up a lot in Personas 3 and 4 that is really magnified in The Answer. Upgrading our equipment is very expensive and we'll want to at the very least keep Aigis' armor up to date and everyone's weapons up to date. Up to date armor on Aigis can save us from Game Overs and up to date weapons make everyone's backup attacks more powerful. Everyone else's armor is at a much lower priority and we can largely rely on field upgrades for them.
Join me tomorrow for our next exciting story chapter, wherein the best character in any Persona game makes his appearance!