How do you follow up the groundbreaking title in a franchise? Kazuhisa Wada, the Production Manager of the Persona Series and the General Producer of Persona 3 Reload, has a simple answer — improve everything.

ONE Esports had the opportunity to participate in an Interview roundtable with Persona 3 Reload’s general producer Kazuhisa Wada, via a translator.

Wada talked about the obstacles ATLUS ran into remaking the classic JRPG, as well as the several upgrades they’ve made in their remaster — including taking and improving on elements from Persona 5 Royal.

Persona 3 Reload was four years in the making with some massive obstacles

Elizabeth balancing on a seesaw in Persona 3 Reload
Credit: ATLUS | Screenshot by Dexter Tan

Wada said that the remake of Persona 3 began in 2019 and lasted four years. With the remaking of this “very special title,” the producer said one of the biggest difficulties revolved around exactly what should be changed, and what should remain untouched.

“This took us a lot of time to get the right balance, and there was a lot of debate internally to move forward with certain changes,” Wada said. “It was very difficult to try to improve the game without having to change the original feel, as well as the original kind of elements of the game that were very well received.”

Persona 3 Reload Aigis Edition full set
Credit: SEGA
VIEW PRICE: Persona 3 Reload Aigis Edition on Xbox Series X

“Ideally, we would like to think that everything has improved as compared to the older titles,” the producer said, specifically praising the visual improvements and improved usability compared to the original.

One big addition to Persona 3 Reload from its original title was increasing the amount of background stories — including new hangout content with S.E.E.S.members and exclusive dialogues in Tartarus — to “increase the overall appeal of the characters.” Crucially, players might get even more hints about future titles, that’s referring to Persona 4 Arena and Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, with apparent ties to Persona titles chronologically down the line.

Revamped combat draws inspiration from Persona 5 Royal

Yukari Takeba's Theurgy in Persona 3 Reload
Credit: ATLUS | Screenshot by Dexter Tan

The improved story content doesn’t end with just the conversations. Considering a large part of the game revolves around combat, including wading through Tartarus and fighting milestone bosses, Wada Niitsuma said that the revamped combat system was also an important tool for storytelling.

“We definitely wanted to use the combat system in a way that will be useful to the story, and give characters additional sides to them to make it more interesting,” the producer said.

Persona 3 Reload review: A haunting remaster that stands tall and on its own

Persona 3 Reload’s battle system used the previous mainline title in the series, Persona 5 Royal, as a basis, with “further improvements” from there. These included additional combat powers like the new Theurgy gauge, plus additional personality traits and characteristics unique to each member of S.E.E.S. that further boost their powers.

Improved quality-of-life makes P3R a breeze to play

Persona 3 Reload Thebel 2F screenshot
Credit: ATLUS

With 18 years between P3R and its original title, modern gaming sensibilities have certainly advanced in the last two decades. Wada said the goal for their new release was to have “better usability and quality of life from P5R.”

Among the new QOL features that include Dash, Assist, and Shift, there is also the RewindRollback system, a first in the Persona series. It’s a separate system from your save files, and essentially functions as rolling autosaves that allows you to quickly go back in time.

Funko Pop! Games: Persona 5 - The Joker
Credit: Funko
GET YOURS TODAY: Persona 5 The Joker Funko Pop! Figure

For a calendar-based game like P3R that lives and dies by efficiently using your limited time slots, it can be a lifesaver to rewind from your current game state instead of going back to an old save.

Other time savers include the ability to immediately teleport to the latest floor you’ve explored in Tartarus, providing more opportunities to head back to the lobby and save. Whenever you can roam freely through the map, messages from your companions asking to spend some time with you will also immediately fast travel to them instead of having to navigate the map.

P3R’s budget was a shock — but they’ve even made a simultaneous global release happen

Persona 3 Reload Dark Hour
Credit: ATLUS | Screenshot by Dexter Tan Guan Hao

The general producer Wada said that the development budget for Persona 3 Reload “was so much higher than the original cost of Persona 3,” and it was “definitely a shock” to the team.

“One of the biggest challenges that was faced by us was the fact that we were aiming for a global multi-release, including about 13 languages across all platforms,” Wada said.

“We’ve put great effort into making sure that fans all over the world, including Southeast Asia, would be able to have simultaneous access so they can all enjoy the game at the same time. Also, Person 3 Reload currently has no plan of releasing an upgraded version, like from Persona 5 to Persona 5 Royal, hence we hope that fans and players all over the world can enjoy this game once it’s released!”

Funko Pop! Games: Persona 5 Panther
Credit: Funko
GET YOURS TODAY: Persona 5 Panther Funko Pop! Figure

Persona 3 Reload will be available on February 2, releasing on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S — and will also be a day one title on the Xbox Game Pass.

It’s the next evolution of the Persona RPG, building on its obvious predecessor in 2006’s Persona 3, as well as what the development learned and accumulate from creating Persona 5 Royal , the series’ best-selling title, Persona 5 and its Royal edition.

“The Persona series, and Persona 3 in particular, has been a huge turning point for the series. So it’s a very special title for us,” Wada Niitsuma said.

Persona 3 Reload preview: Refreshed classic earns its rap

“The remake has input from people who had been players and fans of Persona 5 Royal, and they were aiming to make sure that this remake in particular outperformed P5R in a lot of ways such as controls. So we hope you look forward to them.”

You can go to ATLUS’ official website for more information about Persona 3 Reload.

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