What's new in Persona 3 Reload? A PS5 and PS4 remake of the original Persona 3 — a 2006 PS2 game — Reload retains the core structure and story of the title that it's based upon. However, this is also a complete rebuild in terms of visuals, and it hides many, many gameplay-related changes beneath its shiny Unreal Engine surface.
In this Persona 3 Reload guide, we're going to break down all of the differences between the remake and the original Persona 3 that we're aware of, having completed the game.
Please note that while this guide does not contain story spoilers, it does cover new content.
Persona 3 Reload: All Differences Compared to Persona 3
Below is a list of all the new and adjusted stuff in Persona 3 Reload. We've split things up into categories for easier reading.
Persona 3 Reload tells the same story as the original Persona 3, although it does expand on things, especially with regards to characters who didn't get much screentime in the PS2 release.
- New story scenes have been added
- Some story scenes have been rewritten
- Optional story-related scenarios have been added, where you can spend time with key characters
Persona 3 Reload makes fairly significant changes to the turn-based combat system found in the original game. Overall, the retuned system is much more in-line with Persona 5 Royal.
- There are now a total of five difficulty levels, ranging from Casual to Merciless; the higher the difficulty, the more powerful enemies become in battle
- The difficulty level cam be changed at any time through the options menu, but reducing the difficulty from Merciless locks you out of Merciless for the rest of the game
- All party members can be given direct orders by the player, unlike in the original Persona 3
- The command menu is now based on single button presses, like in Persona 5
- If you already know an enemy's weakness, there's now a button shortcut to hit that weakness as long as you have the required type of skill
- The new Shift mechanic is basically like the Baton Pass from Persona 5 Royal, which lets you switch between party members after hitting an enemy's weakness or scoring a critical hit
- The new Theurgy mechanic gives each party member their own unique ultimate move, which can be unleashed when the Theurgy bar is full
- The Theurgy bar fills up as you fight, dealing and receiving damage
- Characters gain a bigger Theurgy bar boost when they perform specific actions; Yukari, for example, charges her Theurgy faster when she uses healing skills
- Light (Kouga) and Dark (Eiga) elements have been added from Persona 5
- Because of the new elements, many enemies have new weaknesses and resistances
- Many enemies have new skills
- Numerous bosses have new skills, weaknesses, and resistances
- Fuuka now has skills that can be used in combat at the cost of her own SP
- Fuuka has her own Theurgy that grants the party various buffs
- Party members have passive perks that can be unlocked through social events, which bolster their combat strengths
- Completely new artwork cut-ins and character attack animations
Personas and Fusion
Persona 3 Reload doesn't make huge changes to its persona roster or how fusion works, but there are still some adjustments that are worth outlining.
- Personas from Persona 5 have been added to Reload's roster
- Many personas have had their weaknesses and resistances changed in order to accommodate the new light and dark elements
- Many personas have new skills that they can learn
- Numerous new persona skills have been added
- It's possible to gain new key items from story-related events that let you fuse new personas
- More personas have been added to Shuffle Time as rewards
Tartarus, the procedurally generated dungeon that's central to Persona 3's gameplay loop, has been added to in a number of ways in Reload.
- The Fatigue mechanic from the original Persona 3 has been removed completely — party members no longer get tired after too much exploration in Tartarus
- Teleporters are much more common throughout Tartarus, letting to return to the entrance to regroup
- Tartarus now has breakable shadow objects that can be attacked by the player character, often yielding items
- A new currency, called Twilight Fragments, can also be found via breakable objects
- A large number of Twilight Fragments can be used to restore all of your party's HP and SP at clocks found throughout Tartarus, and at the tower's entrance
- New, rare treasure chests can be found throughout Tartarus, but they require a small number of Twilight Fragments to open
- Tartarus has a range of new, randomised gameplay elements that unlock as you progress through the game
- Monad Doors are unlocked later on, which lead to optional boss encounters and rare rewards
- Completing a Monad Door reveals the whole map of the floor that you're on, and the map of the next floor
- Fuuka gains new abilities through levelling up that help with your exploration of Tartarus
- Shuffle Time now shows you your potential rewards, like in Persona 4 Golden
- Defeating main story bosses rewards you with Major Arcana cards, which are added to Shuffle Time
- Major Arcana cards grant powerful bonuses during your stay in Tartarus
- Collecting a full set of Major Arcana cards during Shuffle Time grants you significant bonuses to all Shuffle Time rewards until your leave Tartarus
- A new Clock Room can appear in Tartarus after you spend Twilight Fragments
- Inside the Clock Room, you can choose to level up two party members to the same level as the main character, lessening the grind for SEES members who you haven't been using in combat
Items and Equipment
- New consumable items have been added
- New crafting materials have been added (for use in the antiques shop)
- New weapons have been added
- New armour has been added
- New accessories have been added
- New skill cards have been added
- More items have been added to Shuffle Time as rewards
Persona 3 Reload makes numerous adjustments to how daily life unfolds, as the main character attends school and explores Tatsumi Port Island during the day and at night.
- The game can now be saved anywhere outside of dialogue / battle / Tartarus dungeon floors
- School exams and questions from the teacher are completely new and rewritten (you can find all the answers in our Persona 3 Reload: Exam Answers - All School and Test Questions Answered guide)
- You can now buy software from the cyber cafe in Iwatodai Strip Mall, and make use of it via the PC in the dorm's downstairs lobby
- PC software is one-use only, but different software increases different personality traits (Academics, Charm, Courage)
- Some PC software grants new abilities for use in Tartarus, like a dashing attack for catching shadows by surprise
- Visiting a restaurant or item shop now enables text notifications on your phone, letting you know when these locations have discounts, offers, or new things for sale
- Taking on a part-time job now enables text notifications on your phone, which tell you when the jobs are available
- Many of Elizabeth's Requests (optional side quests) now place exclamation points above locations on the map, pointing you in the direction of the Request's objective
Social Links and Character Events
Although Persona 3 Reload doesn't change the way Social Links work, it does introduce a range of additional scenarios and events.
- Social Links remain the same as in the original game, but some are unlocked in slightly different ways (for more information, check out our Persona 3 Reload: All Social Links and How to Unlock Them guide)
- Social Link characters will now message you on your phone to let you know when they're available
- You can fast travel to a character's location directly after reading their message
- New events have been added with Social Link characters when there's no school
- Many new evening events with SEES members have been added, letting you hang out with your fellow persona users
- These new events include activities such as gardening, cooking, and watching DVDs
- Partaking in these events can increase your personality traits (Academics, Charm, Courage), get you unique items, and unlock new passive perks for your party members in combat
- Spending time with SEES members who also have Social Links later in the game (Yukari, Fuuka, Mitsuru) increases their Social Link Rank by a small amount
- Elizabeth rewards you with Twilight Fragments every time you increase a Social Link Rank
Just like in the original game, you can choose to enter a romantic relationship with a number of female characters through their Social Link. However, Reload adjusts the system quite significantly.
- Romance now operates in a similar way to Persona 5, where you choose to enter a relationship through a key dialogue choice
- You're no longer forced to enter a romantic relationship with a character in order to complete their Social Link
- Rejecting a romantic relationship does not negatively impact the Social Link of that character
- You can romance multiple characters at once, but there are consequences
- Because of the changes to how romance works, new Social Link events have been added for all of the available girls
- Some Social Link events have been rewritten
- Some additional dialogue has been added based on your chosen girlfriend
Persona 3 Reload has been completely remade in Unreal Engine.
- Completely new character models
- Completely remade environments
- Completely redrawn character portraits during dialogue
- Upgraded enemy models
- Upgraded persona models
- Completely remade menus
Music and Sound
Persona 3 Reload uses the same fundamental soundtrack as the original game, but key changes have been made to both the music and the voicework.
- Various tracks have been remixed, while others have been remastered
- Characters have been completely revoiced, both in English and Japanese
- Many more conversations feature full voice acting, including all Social Link scenes
Did you find this guide on Persona 3 Reload: All Differences useful? Check out our Persona 3 Reload guide for more help with the game, and then tell us what changes you like best in the comments section below.