In just a matter of days, Persona 5 Strikers will finally be out in the wild. This is a game fans in the west have been super thirsty for, as its localization came much later than anyone expected. The review embargo lifted this week, so the press is full of takes. Check out our review too!
So we’re in a weird period between release and review now, meaning it’s not super safe to talk about it further. But there is one question we can talk about.
Does Persona 5 Strikers Require Persona 5?
As you may have heard by now if you’ve been following Persona 5 Strikers, this game (titled Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikers in Japan) is heavily story-based. It even takes place after the events of Persona 5, to the tune of around six months.
What makes this notable is that unlike the original Persona 5, which hit the PlayStations 3 and 4 in 2017, Strikers isn’t a JRPG. It’s a Musou.
Musou games are better known in our region as “Dynasty Warriors.” Those epic scale battlefield brawlers typically set in a romanticized version of Chinese history.
The series has gotten more and more into IP crossovers in recent years, starting with Mobile Suit Gundam and now touching unexpected properties such as The Legend of Zelda.
So, Persona 5 Strikers is more of an action RPG, which by all intents and purposes is canon to the Persona 5 universe. As a series Persona is still growing, with number 5 being the most successful individual entry to date.
Persona 5 is even part of the PlayStation Plus collection on PS5. You know, if you have one yet. But not everyone who sees Strikers is going to have played all the way through the first game, as it can take over 100 hours just to see the ending.
And when a new game in a growing brand comes up, people are more likely to jump into the new one than go backwards. So how necessary is knowing what goes down in Persona 5?
The answer is a little complicated. Persona 5 is a pretty wrapped-up story that doesn’t leave a whole lot hanging out in the air. The case is closed, the Phantom Thieves are officially disbanded and the hero has gone back home. In terms of the timeline, there’s a huge break that helps the story come off as a fresh start.
It’s six months later, it’s summer vacation time, and some of the crew aren’t even in college anymore. The characters you play as are just as likeable as they were the first time, and Strikers does a fine job establishing who most of them are. And since Persona 5 was a resolved story, all the situations are new, and many of the key players are new.
So the main plot won’t be hard to follow. What you’re really missing out on is lore. Knowing the rules of this world, what the characters mean when they talk about the Nav-App or the Metaverse, things like that. There’s also the occasional returning character who wasn’t a huge part of Persona 5’s main plot, who show up specifically to nod at returning players.
What About Persona 5 Royal?
In Japan, a new version of Persona 5 came out following the release of Strikers. This is Persona 5 Royal, a pseudo equivalent to prior titles in the series like Persona 3: FES and Persona 4: Golden. It comes with a lot of little tweaks, changes and quality of life adjustments.
It also includes not only additional story content, but new characters. The ending of the game is extended by a few in-game months, leading to a similar ending that carries a different kind of weight. If Royal was how you jumped in, there will be some stuff you have to adjust to.
Persona 5 Royal didn’t exist when Strikers came out, so nothing extra that happened “exists” in that world. This mostly concerns two characters: Takuto Maruki and Kasumi Yoshigawa. For the most part these characters are only a major part of the story when the new stuff kicks in. That said, they’re both present and weaved into the rest of the game.
It’s hard to say what does and doesn’t constitute a “retcon.” In terms of the timeline, the events of Strikers and Royal don’t interfere with each other. Royal extends the gameplay by an extra semester, but still ends in December like the original.
So six months later totally works, and the way Royal’s story plays out doesn’t override anything. So really all you have to deal with is pretending the bonus stuff doesn’t exist. It’s weird to approach something that way, but them’s the breaks.
What will be interesting going forward, is to see if Atlus continues the Persona 5 universe. And if it does, what that means for the presence or lack thereof of certain characters and events.
Strikers does have a new character of its own in a manner of speaking, but the good news there is Sophie (she’s on the box so don’t you spoilers me!) could still exist as she appears if the Royal canon is retroactively canonized into Strikers somehow.
For me, it was a bit frustrating to move from Royal to Strikers, because it was hard for me to digest the creators totally contradicting some of their work only a matter of months after. Strikers and Royal were pretty close in Japan, so as a writer myself it just makes my brain rattle around a bit.
But if you look at it in a bigger picture kind of way, there’s really only a few holes that are now unplugged. It’s nothing major, and if you didn’t play Royal you won’t feel like you’re missing anything.
And as long as you’re okay with not having the other bits of lore context as you jump in, you really don’t need to play either to enjoy Strikers. Granted, we strongly recommend it if you have the spare time for it, as the context is quite useful when it comes to getting the most out of both games.
But if you’re just here for the Musou you’ll be fine. If you have Serious Opinions on the matter, let me know! At Prima Games we love takes.