Persona 5: The Phantom X is a new mobile and PC spin-off of the very popular Persona 5. It’s currently only slated for release in China, with no news of an international release yet.
P5X’s very first closed beta ended on March 31, and we’ve listed below what we know so far about the gameplay and story. Keep in mind that mechanics and other details revealed during the beta may change for the full release.
Who’s making the game?
Publisher Perfect World and developer Black Wings studio are making Persona 5: The Phantom X with “deep involvement” from Atlus and Sega on the creation of the characters, story, and music. Atlus character designer Shigenori Soejima–a Persona veteran who served as character designer for P5’s Phantom Thieves–designed P5X’s main character, Wonder, and his Persona.
Is there a release date yet?
Nope. More importantly, we also do not know if P5X will get localized for an international release. Persona 5: The Phantom X was announced on March 16, with closed beta registrations opening on March 17. The closed beta took place March 29-31, and according to the official announcement, was available to PC and Android users in China only.
What’s the story?
Joker, the protagonist of Persona 5, is not the main character. The new main character’s code name is Wonder, and a primary theme of Persona 5: The Phantom X is “a lack of desire.” From the trailers, it appears that Wonder–you get to name the protagonist, but we’ll refer to him as Wonder for convenience’s sake–encounters P5X’s new mascot, an owl named Luffy. Wonder will then meet a man who is “twisted by desire,” and he’ll enter the man’s baseball-themed palace to steal his Treasure.
Wonder’s persona is Janosik, a hero who “robs the rich but doesn’t kill innocents.”
Below is a more detailed, but still brief, breakdown of the first palace’s story in the closed beta. (Click or tap on the black bars to reveal the text.)
The game opens with Wonder in a classroom scene filling out a form detailing his future plans. He’s visibly bored and, after falling asleep, gets transported to Igor’s Velvet room. They chat about desire. Igor leaves Wonder with a warning that being without desire can cause one to give up on themselves.
Wonder then meets Luffy–an owl-looking avatar that replaces Mona’s role as companion–when he falls asleep on the subway. They go on a jaunt into combat, and Wonder awakens his Persona.
Fast-forwarding a little bit, Wonder’s at a subway stop, and he sees a guy attempting to kick a female classmate, Motoha Arai (code name Closer), off the train platform and onto the train tracks. Arai’s friend tries to defend her, but unfortunately, she becomes the one to get kicked.
Wonder enters the palace of the evil guy, and Closer secretly follows him. She gets kidnapped and then, under duress, awakens her Persona. It turns out the evil guy used to be Closer’s baseball teacher, but he has a grudge against Closer because when she was an elementary school kid, she successfully hit a pitch from him. He apparently lost his professional reputation due to that event. The story shares a lot of elements with P5’s first arc revolving around the abusive volleyball teacher Suguru Kamoshida.
The closed beta’s story did not seem to resonate with some players. The story is “short and incomplete,” said user 以身为J in their evaluation of the game. “The progression of the story is too abrupt… the main character suddenly becomes a Phantom Thief and gets an owl companion.” Bilibili user Treedad also agreed in a P5X closed beta review, loosely translated, “The ‘You are me, I am me’ happens right in the beginning of the game, and then when you’re still confused about what just happened, the owl immediately tells you how to start fighting monsters.”
The developers addressed criticism towards the main storyline, and their comments are included below, in the closed beta post-mortem section.
P5X’s combat is largely the same as P5 and is still turn-based. However, there are a few changes. (Thanks to YouTube user Faz for uploading recorded combat gameplay):
- One More mechanic: Triggering One More still works as it did previously. But in P5, players could choose which abilities to use in the extra turn. In P5X, One More is a specific attack and players can’t choose.
- Weakness “meter:” In order to achieve knockdown, players need to trigger weak a certain amount of times to reduce a weakness “meter”–somewhat similar to Persona 5 Striker’s combat–to zero before the monster is knocked down.
- Highlight: Showtime has turned into Highlight. This is triggered when all enemies are knocked down. Players can choose one character to Highlight, and the Highlighted character can deal a lot of damage of a specific attribute type. The attribute that a Highlighted character will deal is shown on the Highlight “wheel.”
Mementos is expanded in P5X, and players can unlock parts of Mementos with “map parts” that they ram into with the Luffy bus. Mementos, according to 八咲Ureshiiiiii’s closed beta write-up, is also the place where players go to do daily quests.
Training team members and social links
Players can level up their team members, their weapons, and also their Personas. Each character has stats like attack, crit, defense, and more, which were absent in P5. There are still social links, and like in P5, you can gift character items. The extent of dates is unknown right now.
Aside from Wonder and Motoha Arai, players can also include other companions on their team like Seiji, Mont, and Yuki. They also have their own special Personas.
Players can explore Tokyo and do the following activities:
- Taking photos
- Going to the batting cage
- Bathing in the public bathhouse
- Exercising in the gym
- Signing up for work shifts
- Watching movies
- Going on dates
It’s basically the mode that contains familiar minigames from Persona 5, with the addition of the brand-new fishing activity. A player has already put a fishing guide up, so there’s certainly excitement around the new minigame.
There are new places on the maps, like the protagonist’s very well-furnished and gigantic home. But a lot of familiar places from P5 are present, such as Tae Takemi’s clinic. Sojiro is not present anymore, and LeBlanc has been replaced by a different coffee shop with a new barista. The interior of the new shop does, however, look almost identical to LeBlanc. Player Faz tried to go up the stairs to Joker’s previous living area, but the game said it was a restricted area.
Will there be gacha? What about other mechanics found in other mobile games?
It’s likely there will be gacha mechanics. While gacha was not active during the closed beta, each character had gacha-like animations. P5X is also a mobile-centric game, so let’s just say there is a decent chance we’ll see gacha in the future.
In the closed beta, players obtained characters, including the original P5 team members, through shop currency and quest completions.
Similar to Genshin Impact’s resin, Persona 5: The Phantom X also has a stamina system. According to 八咲Ureshiiiiii’s closed beta write-up, if players want to level up Personas and weapons, they have to use stamina to enter the Metaverse to fight special monsters.
Closed beta post-mortem
Persona 5: The Phantom X keeps a lot of the mechanics from Persona 5 intact, and the art direction is almost indistinguishable from P5. There are gacha mobile elements–stamina meter and potentially gacha for character and/or weapons–but that’s not too surprising for a free-to-play mobile game. What people will likely be keeping an eye on, as game development progresses, is how the brand-new storyline in P5X will evolve.
The developer acknowledged some players’ dissatisfaction with the main storyline in a note posted after the closed beta ended. “[I want to say] thank you to every player that offered feedback and criticism of the main storyline–like the abrupt story progression, fast pacing, weak character development, and more,” said producer V. “It’s true that there are problems with the story. Also, there are currently a lot of important story moments that are getting 2D and 3D animated scenes and a majority of those are still in production. We couldn’t show those in the closed beta, and that’s why some of the story felt disjointed.”
V went on to say that Atlus’ Kazuhisa Wada and the original development team take the game’s script very seriously, and with their help, P5X’s development team believes they can deliver a better and more exciting story.
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