Comparisons between Persona 3 (FES) and Persona 4

Looking back at what I had accomplished thus far. I had finished playing Persona 3: FES one week ago and has since started playing P4. After playing P4 for roughly a week now (now on mid September), it had sprung to my mind to mention the changes for this awesome RPG in comparison with P3 or P3:FES, just for the sake of memory refreshment and ways to kill time aside from indulging myself in P4.

Story / Plot
- Moon cycle (Full Moon) in P3 is replaced by weather (Fog) in P4. For each Full Moon in P3, you will fight each Shadow correspond to the twelve major arcana. Not much curiosity involved as you are only expected to fight each shadow by every Full Moon. In P4, when the fog is the heaviest, that is when someone will be killed. Here you are presented with much curiosity as you are trying to figure out who is going to be killed next.

Dungeon Exploration:
- Your party HP and SP are no longer restored to maximum. In P3, every time you return to 1F in Tartarus, all your HP and SP will be restored to their maximum points. I used to exploit this mechanic by returning to 1F after activating the beacon before fighting the floor boss. However, in P4, the only way to restore SP is by using the Fox service (which healed your SP for a price) or SP recovery item.

- Instead of one single dungeon, Tartarus to explore in P3, there are now multiple dungeons to explore in P4, each of which caters to the character traits. The most memorable ones are the retro game dungeon which looks like 3D Dot Games Heroes.

- There are no more floor beacon to activate in the dungeons in P4. This makes sense as the number of floors is small, but seemingly increasing with each new dungeons. The highest floors I reached thus far is not more than 15F. In other words, the only way to return to the entrance now is by using skill ( ), item ( ) or the Glittering butterfly savepoint at the highest floor of each dungeon (before fighting the dungeon boss).

- Before fighting the dungeon final / true boss, there are now an intermediary boss that you will need to fight.

- In P3, you visit Tartarus in every Evening; In P4, you can only gather your party for dungeon exploration during After School.

- While exploring Tartarus with your party, your teammates as well as yourself might get tired after battling a certain number of Shadows. When this happens, the character is more prone to critical attack (hence knock down status), getting more damage from Shadow, lower hitting rate, etc. If prolonged, the character might be getting sick after returning to the reality. You wouldn't want this to happen as it takes much more days for the sickened character to become healthly again. In P4, however, this mechanic had removed altogether. Your character will not have tired/sickness status and you can explore the dungeon for all the time you want.

Battle / Game Mechanic
- In P3, you cannot issue command directly to your teammates, which frustrated many players as the AI is not intelligence enough. In my experience, during my final fight with Nyx, even when I set Akihiko on Support/Healing, he still attack Nyx when it use Moonlight Wailing. This causes the attack to deflect on himself and KO'ed. Many players had then requested such feature to be implemented in P4. Lucky for us that Atlus listen to their request and thus in P4, you can now direct command your party members.

- In P3, if you hit an enemy with its weakness, and exploit the same weakness again, that shadow will recover from knockdown status. However, if you do the same in P4, the shadow will not recover from the knockdown status, instead, it will get a dizzy status which makes it longer to recover from the status. Hence it is good to hit it with the same weakness again and again without worrying that it will recover any time soon.

- In P3, if you use a skill that struck one or more shadows (not all) that is weak towards it, you will not have a 1-more chance. 1-More chance is always granted if you managed to use a skill that all shadows in that battle is weak against. However, this had changed in P4 as you will always have a 1-More chance as long as you use an area skill that hit the weakness of a/some/all shadow in a battle.

- There are three types of Physical attack in P3, namely Strike (fist), Slash (sword), and Pierce (bow, pistol). In P4, they are all combined as simple Phy attack.

- The weakness for the same shadow in P3 might be differ from those in P4.

- Shadows in P4 are having lesser weaknesses than those of P3. Many of these shadows will not have weakness at all! E.g. Champion Knight had no weakness at all in P4. There are also shadow that had only one weakness and you can only defeat it by exploiting this one weakness. Attacks other than this weakness will not work as it will block/repel it.

- In P3, a single analysis on a shadow (other than floor boss or shadow that you fought during Full Moon) will always reveal its full weaknesses. It is much harder to know the shadow weakness in P4 as you will no longer be able to perform a full analysis on the enemies to know all their weaknesses at one scan. Instead, you can only tell after you hit it with a particular skill. Pretty much trial and error here if you are new to the game.

- Shadow is much easier to strike from behind and thus easier to enter preemtpive strike or Player Advantage in P3. Things has changed in P4 and it is much harder to do so. Shadows will always noticed your presence (shown by !) when you are near them, even when attacking from behind. There are times though that you will enter the Advantage by really striking them from behind.

- In P3, shadows will only drop quest item, which has a low selling value and really serves no point aside from completing Elizabeth quest. However, in P4, each shadow now drop much more items and at a higher rate. You can then sell these items in the Shop to unlock certain equipments. These materials sell at a higher rate too. So it's a win-win situation. Be careful not to sell those items that are required for the quest though.

- In P3, the only way to do or obtain quest is through Elizabeth. In P4, you may obtain quests from various people from various places. Many of which requires you to bring them some items obtained from enemies in Dungeon.

Cosmetic Changes:
- For somewhat reason the font in P4 is much nice looking in P4.

- The environment is much more colorful in P4.

- The circular command interface in P3 had been replaced by a typical interface, as shown below.

- Calendar transition from day to day is much faster in P4. In P3, the loading screen (shown by a rotating card at the bottom right of the screen) will show first, then only the calendar screen in which the day will shift. In P4, both the rotating card and the day transition is being shown in one screen instead. It is noticably faster.

- Social Link leveling screen is changed entirely. In P3, the only thing involved each time you rank up a social link is a bunch of words. In P4, there is a screen that shows the progressive rank bar at the bottom of the screen as well as the level.

Persona Fusion
- All fused Personas are now automatically registered without the need to register it manually in P4.

- Elizabeth in Velvet Room in P3 had been replaced with Margeret in P4.

- Velvet room in P3 is a moving elevator whereas it is a moving limousin in P4.

- The lessons that took place in P3 is much longer than P4. I really mean it. You may be glad that Mr. Edokawa doesn't realocated to Yasogami High School.

- In P3, you stay in a dorm with your fellow party members. In P4, you stay in a house with a young girl and a detective.

- You are greeted by a random dorm members in P3 every day you returned there. In P4, you will always greeted by the little girl called Nanako. I loves the way she call me 'Big Brother'.

- In P3, you only have 3 Social Stats, namely Academics, Courage, and . These Social Stats had been increased to 5, which are Courage, Diligence, Knowledge, Understanding, and Expression.

Below is a list of characters which I think is almost similar in terms of their traits/personality.
- Chie in P4 is like Yukari in P3, not the tomboyish personality of Chie but her cheerful attitute.

- In P3, you have Junpei ; In P4, you have Yousuke.

- Koromaru (white dog) in P3 ; Teddie (Stuffed Bear) in P4.

- Akihiko in P3 ; Kanji in P4 (white hair)

Social Links
- You will no longer need to bring a matching Persona when maxing a Social Link. E.g. From rank 9 to rank 10.

Common elements between P3 / P3:FES / P4
- You are still the main silent protagonist who doesn't speak.

- You are the high school student.

- You still need to initiate Social Links with various people.

- You can still date girl. You cannot gives them gifts in P4 to increase the S.Link score points as you could in P3.

- There is a Social Link that you can only engage in every Sunday. In P3, there is a young male who is having an uncurable genetic disease and eventually died (Sun Social Link). In P4, it is an old lady dressed in black who lost her husband and thinks that you look similar to him (Death Social Link).

- The shrine in P4 looks similar to the one in P3. Perhaps all the shrine in Japan look like this?

- Humor elements are still there.

- You are still a guy.

Elements that are only available in P4
- In P4, for each certain Social Link ranks that you achieved with your teammates, you might unlock certain feature for him/her, such as assisting knock down member, ailment recovering, enduring mortal blow, etc. No effect on P3.

- You can now fish at the lake for fish, in which you can trade for various items.

- There are much more activites that you can do in your room aside from study or playing MMORPG (Maya Social Link) as in P3. In P4, you can read books on Sofa (gain various Social Stats), craft model (gain Diligence) which can then be displayed on shelf, or doing translation/etc. job on the desk.

- You can accept job offer via the notice board on Central Shopping District (North) to gain additional income, social stats. There are some Social Links that are triggered via the jobs too, e.g. Temperance, Devil, and Death as you progress.

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If you had played P3: FES and is now playing P4, you will be able to recall some of the memories back in P3: FES. Among them are:
#Summer School Trip
- During the school trip in September, both first and second year classmates are making the trip to Gekikoukan High School, which is the highschool where the story took place in P3.

- Both the headmaster (still the same one as in P3 and like giving speeches that make people yawns) and Chihiro welcomed your class in the entrance of Gekikoukan High School. The way that Chihiro presented her welcoming invitation speech is so flawless that you wouldn't actually think that she was once a timid person and always struggling with words. Here you will see that Chihiro had become a much more matured and are not the timid person anymore. Guess what, she is now the President of the student council. During the conversation when she was handling the school trip schedule flyers to you, she did mentioned that she was once a timid person and was afraid to talk to guys. However, she managed to overcome it (thanks to the protagonist in P3 in which you will know more details when you had maxed the Social Links with her in P3). She also mentioned that the speech was actually prepared by the former president of the student council, which is undoubtedly Michiru Kirijo.

- On the first day of the school trip, your class attended a lecture taught by Mr. Edokawa. In P3, this is the lecturer who gives long speeches and dragged a stretch of words about myth, sorcery, magic, witch, fortune telling, ancient magical history, etc. In P4, he mentioned about the past history of Japan. The dialog, however, had been cut short. Still, it still feels long to me.

- In the second night, your party spent their night in Escapade Club in Port Island. You could actually hear the ending theme song for P3 playing behind the background.

- At their final day of the school trip, your party visited Hagakure Ramen shop. The ramen master and the TV are still there, as it is in P3.

#Pink Aligator
- This is actually the story written by a dying young man (teenager which is around the age of the protagonist that had an uncurrable genetic disease in P3: FES). The story is written to reflect his own life. While engaging the Social Links with the guy in P3: FES on every Sunday, he will mention the story bit by bit until he left the entire storybook to you upon maxing his Social Links. As you had guess, he died eventually. Below is a summary of his story that I managed to recall.

As most story begins, "Once upon a time, there was a aligator. However, that aligator has a distinctive pink skin. It was very hard for him to go hunting for food because his prey would have seen him from a distance far away due to the color. Meanwhile, there was also a bird who can't fly. One day, both of them met and eventually they become close friends. The bird will always perched at the back of the pink aligator. In one fine day, the pink aligator was so hungry and fell asleep. While asleeping, he accidentally ate the bird. As soon as he realized this when he woke up, he tried hard to spit it out but it was all too late. From that day onwards, the pink aligator always cried and eventually he died. As a result of the amount of tears shed for that bird, the area soon becomes a lake in which all animals in the forest will hang around after he died. However, no one knows what makes the lake as it is today". The sorrowful music along with this compelling story really make this scene memorable.

#Tanaka, the Businessman
You might recall him as the one that you initiate the Devil Social Link with. He is typically known as a selfish businessman. In P4, he is on a television show every Sunday and you can buy products from him.