Persona 3 Reload preview: A classic SMT receives incredible recast and QoL change

Persona 3 Reload won
Persona 3 Reload won't let the fans down when it comes to visuals and gameplay (Image via SEGA)

During SEGA’s Summer Festival, I got to preview Persona 3 Reload. It’s genuinely one of my all-time favorite games and easily one of the most beloved Shin Megami Tensei games. Some fans didn’t think the recent remaster was enough, and P3R will fix that for them. I had the opportunity to spend about an hour with the upcoming remake across two sections of the game. I journeyed into Tartarus for the first time and also fought the first major boss.

From the voice recast to an incredible Quality of Life change, Persona 3 Reload blew me away, and I’m sure it will do the same for fans worldwide. We also received a release date, so you will also find out when it will drop.

Persona 3 Reload’s post-battle rewards are easier to use than ever

We explored Tartarus and fought the first major boss (Image via SEGA)
We explored Tartarus and fought the first major boss (Image via SEGA)

Apart from the graphical overhaul and the English voice recast, the most important thing I want to talk about is post-battle. It’s easily the most important thing about Persona 3 Reload. I want to make it clear that I love this game, but P3 and the P3P remaster required a frustrating grind if you were trying to get a specific Persona.

When you beat a battle and receive the reward Tarot cards, in the original game, they would shuffle and rotate in annoying ways. Now, they are stationary, and you can easily make choices. Whether you want more EXP, Money, a Weapon, a Skill, or a specific Persona, the game tells you! If it’s a skill card, the game informs you what skill card it will be.

Not seeing the post-battle cards rotate is an amazing change (Image via SEGA)
Not seeing the post-battle cards rotate is an amazing change (Image via SEGA)

You’ll also see Major Arcana cards pop up in Tartarus, and you can only get one of each type per day in that near-endless dungeon. Persona 3 Reload players who reach that max count of Major Arcana receive “Arcana Burst,” which buffs Minor Arcana rewards.

This makes exploring and grinding in Tartarus in the upcoming remake more worthwhile and should make getting through those dungeon floors easier. The point of Persona 3 Reload is the intense, dark story, and this update makes it easier to focus on just that.

Persona 3 Reload features an entirely new English voice cast and overhauled graphics

As I was playing through the early moments of Persona 3 Reload at SEGA Summer Festival, I noticed something - Junpei’s voice was different! I thought it was Brad Swaile (Mobile Suit Gundam, Ranma ½), but this was not the case. Most of the voice cast sounded incredibly similar - I couldn’t even tell Mitsuru Kirijo had a new voice.

When talking to SEGA, they informed me it was to focus on younger, up-and-coming talent, and boy, did they deliver. From what I understand, the Japanese voice cast is mostly the same as the previous release, but I’ll have to get a confirmation on that.

The voice cast was fantastic, and I loved the updated visuals (Image via SEGA)
The voice cast was fantastic, and I loved the updated visuals (Image via SEGA)

The visuals and graphics are gorgeous too. The graphical overhaul looks like it keeps the original game's style while also vastly improving it. The sound engineering was great, and the music, as always, was amazing.

The remastered tracks from Persona 3 filled me with joy. You also get sharp, brief cutscenes while summoning your Persona that really stood out.

In Conclusion

P3R was an amazing experience (Image via SEGA)
P3R was an amazing experience (Image via SEGA)

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 FES is one of the most beloved games in the franchise’s history, and Persona 3 Reload builds upon that. Visually it’s remarkable, and the gameplay felt smooth. I did ask if there were any balancing or boss battle changes, but I couldn’t get an answer.

I can tell you that it felt and looked great. The only very minor complaint I have is a strange one - I almost felt like you run too fast in Tartarus. I frequently bolted past my targets, but that’s the only real problem I had.

Persona 3 Reload releases on February 2, 2024, for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and Windows.