Persona 4 Golden on PC. Got any spoiler free tips/tricks for new players?

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Mortimer

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#1  Edited By Mortimer

Persona 4 Golden came out on PC. I figure there must be about a million hours of experience with this game collected here on GB (and that's only counting the ER...). Therefore, I feel like there might be a whole lot of tips of the "things I wish I knew on my first play through"-nature among the GB populous.

So. Let's have it. Keeping things related to mechanics or story broad-strokes, do you have any pointers for people only just picking this game up on PC?

Here's a list of tips so far:

TL;DR

  • Don't use a guide for story/social stuff.
  • Learn to manage SP in dungeons.
  • Experiment with fusing new Persona.
  • Shuffle Time and Full Sweep is your friend.
  • You can tune the difficulty manually.

Not gameplay related, but check out Kaldaien's SpecialK patch for the game. They've done great work in fixing other poor PC ports, and there's some significant improvements to be had here.

Combat/dungeons:

  • Learn to ration your SP (spirit points). Running out is usually what forces you to leave a dungeon, which will end the day.
  • Use items, rather than SP, for healing. Save SP for weakness-hitting spells.
  • Invigorate, a skill certain Persona can get, regenerates your SP and is potentially OP if used right.
  • Some skills use HP, not SP, as resource. They can be a powerful and efficient way to avoid spending SP in combat, especially when combined with healing items.
  • You can change Persona once per turn in combat, even after attacking and getting a "1 more".
  • On rainy days, there are special enemies and items that show up in dungeons.
  • Try to hit shadows in the back to initiate combat with advantage. At the very least you should land the first blow, so as to not let them get advantage on you.
  • Don't leave dungeons to the last day.
  • Consider clearing dungeons as soon as possible. This leaves you free to do all the other stuff at your leisure.

Persona:

  • The key to farming Personas is getting "Shuffle Time": The "All Out" attack you get when all enemies are knocked down increases (guarantees?) the chance of getting a shuffle if you end combat with it.
  • "Full Sweeps" during "Shuffle Time" are amazing. Look out for cards marked "draw more". If you manage to draw all the cards you're dealt during ST, a "Full Sweep" guarantees you'll get ST after your next fight, with two extra draws. You can keep this rolling if you strategise your drawing well. You see where this is going.
  • Persona learn skills from the Persona you use to fuse them. Use this to tailor a Persona's spells.

Social:

  • Don't stress over trying to maximise S.link levelling and events. "Perfect runs" are a thing, but don't use a guide on your first play through. Just follow the story and events the way you feel like. There's NG+ for the stuff you missed.
  • It might be a good idea to prioritise your party member S.Links, as they provide direct combat buffs.
  • When doing a social link, keep a Persona of that Arcana on you. This will increase the number of points you receive towards the next S.link level.
  • Don't neglect your social attributes. Knowledge, expression, understanding etc. all gate certain progress points in side quests and other events. E.g., the courage needed to go to the shrine at night.
  • You can sometimes find your party members hanging out around the gas station, if you're bored of an evening.
  • If any of your maxed social links ask you to hang out in January, it's worth doing.
  • The only social link tied to a special ending is [spoiler contains an early game character name] Marie, who is unique to P4 Golden.
  • There's dating sim stuff? :jeffu

Pro tips:

  • Explore the boss room after a fight. There might be good loot.
  • Don't upgrade your weapons constantly. Wait until the upgrade is more significant.
  • You can tune the difficulty to your liking, and tweak individual aspects like exp gain, damage done/taken, combat retries etc. Find it in the System menu. This was previously a NG+ feature, but is available from the start on PC.
  • Soda machines are one of the only ways the game lets you buy SP regen items, and the machines run out each week.
  • On rainy days, the shop has a discount on healing items.
  • Always check the fridge.
  • Never cast Bufu.

Special thanks to: @krelmoon, @facelessvixen, @christopherson329, @zeik, @undeadpool, @north6, @imhungry, @stordoff, @yyninja, @someoneproud

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Humanity

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Don’t cast bufu, that’s all I can say.

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christopherson329

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Big tip is when you are doing a social link, be sure to have a Persona of that Arcana on you. It will increase the points you get towards the next level. Also, always go explore a boss room after you have beaten it, there is typically a good item left behind

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Mortimer

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@christopherson329: I'm having a chat with Igor about fusions and social links now and holy crap what have I gotten myself into.

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EricGames

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I've never played a Persona game before either; Is there anything I need to know plot/concept wise going in? I know nothing about it but other than it's a JRPG and appears to have a high level of weird, which are things I'm usually down with.

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Zeik

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#6  Edited By Zeik

The main tip that comes to mind is don't stress out about which S. Links or activities you need to do when. There are optimal ways to play, but it's very unlikely you'll max every S. Link on your first playthrough, so just accept that you won't and do them in the order you desire. That being said, it's not a bad idea to give priority to party member S. Links, since they provide direct combat buffs.

@ericgames said:

I've never played a Persona game before either; Is there anything I need to know plot/concept wise going in? I know nothing about it but other than it's a JRPG and appears to have a high level of weird, which are things I'm usually down with.

It's a pretty much entirely stand-alone story. There's nothing you need to know from other games to understand what is going on.

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Tap soda machines you can only buy 5 cans at a time per week and each can only revives 10 spirit points each but it is one of the only ways the game gives you to turn yen into spirit points. Spirit points expenditures are the only limiting factor in dungeon exploration and you want to spend the least amount of you limited time in dungeons as possible. Ideally you would only go into a dungeon on rainy days with nothing else going on. There are specific shadows and items that only show on rainy days, the item shop in town has a discount on healing and status items on rainy days. If possible use items to recover hit points to save your sprit points for spell casting. There are Persona that learn the passive skill invigorate that will recover you main character’s spirit points each turn this is one of the only other ways to recover spirit points and you can abuse it to break the game and march through dungeons in one day. The key is to only cast spells with the main character that has a invigorate spell equipped and try not to cast more spirit points than you recover per turn. There are three levels of invigorate in the game but you will start to see Persona with Invigorate 2 early in the game. Most shadows have some sort of element weakness that will knock them down and chains of attack’s can knock down the whole enemy’s party causing an all out attack to open up usually ending the combat in a victory and unlocking an shuffle time event which is how you pickup new Persona. Playing the Pokemon collection and fusion of Persona well is key to being able to exploit shadow weaknesses and plowing through the game. Last point the only real action element of this game is battle advantage you have to wack the shadows in the back to gain initiative and a free set of turns. If you miss and the shadows hit you first the enemy has a full set of turns to attack and early in the game this can result in a quick game over. There is also a neutral where neither party has advantage when you don’t quite nail the hit on it. The only other mechanism to worry about are the main characters attributes as not having enough knowledge, courage, diligence, expression or understanding will limit your interactions with the rest of the gameplay outside of the dungeon which is standard visual novel fare. There is plenty of time to max out everything in one play through in the golden version.

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Mortimer

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krelmoon

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I say it’s standard visual novel gameplay but the Persona series is probably the first visual novel/RPG to be translated to English. And even in 2008 when Persona 4 came out originally they were not common.

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north6

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#10  Edited By north6

@mortimer: You shouldn't drive yourself crazy trying to do everything, you won't be able to, so use no guides. The sooner you acknowledge this the more fun and surprising the game can be, the less you feel you're missing out on stuff.

As long as you know the rules around when you have to get shit done by, you are fine. No faster way to make that game not fun than reading "the optimal way to play". Assuming you're playing on normal you should be fine.

*edit* - Ok Christopherson's tip is good. Do that.

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FacelessVixen

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Try to limit your dungeon trips and focus on social links and and side quests. You should have plenty of time to max out most of the social links and finish the side quests on the first run. And, unless I'm getting this confused with being overpowered from New Game+, you can steamroll though your dungeon visits if you're willing to get the characters and personas to pretty high levels (the max is 99) and in turn earn thousands if not millions of Persona dollars, which will give you more time for social links and side quests.

A bit more about social links: dating sim elements are a thing. Persona 3, 5, and the original Persona 4 got into some relationship stuff as well, and Golden expands on what P4 did. Take that for how you will. I will neither persuade or dissuade you from making certain choices in that regard. Either way, you'll get some content.

Multiple endings are a thing. Not that I do this personally, but rotating saves might be a thing to do so you can get the ending that you want.

And, there is some New Game+ exclusive stuff.

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Undeadpool

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SP throttling is the main way the game forces you to leave a dungeon/makes it so you can't one-shot everything, so be aware of your SP consumption and start to ask yourself questions about whether or not you NEED to hit every enemy's weakness every time, or if you can get through combat without using any spells.

Other than that, really: just have fun and take your time. The New Game+ (or second playthrough) lets you keep all your social stats (Guts, Proficiency, etc.), so you'll have a ton more time. Also you can tweak the difficulty to keep enemies strong, but give you more XP/money, which can help reduce grind while maintaining challenge.

Try to avoid using a guide or falling into "perfect running" the game your first time through, the characters and moments are a lot more enjoyable if you fall into them organically rather than trying to keep a spreadsheet of everything you MUST do.

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imhungry

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#13  Edited By imhungry

@undeadpool said:

SP throttling is the main way the game forces you to leave a dungeon/makes it so you can't one-shot everything, so be aware of your SP consumption and start to ask yourself questions about whether or not you NEED to hit every enemy's weakness every time, or if you can get through combat without using any spells.

On this note, the physical attack skills that cost HP to cast might seem counter-intuitive but once you're in the mid-game and you start getting access to some of the stronger multi-target physical skills, they're among the best ways to efficiently clear random encounters without spending too much SP.

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Sweep

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#14 Sweep  Moderator

Always check the fridge

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Take your time, it is a long game and it should be savoured, if you try to play quickly you will burn out.

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stordoff

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@mortimer: There's not really a lot you need to read; the game is pretty good at telling you what you need to know (like popularity leading to intimacy, for instance), so you can just jump straight in without worrying about it too much. Ultimately, unless you're trying to do everything, you can probably find to do the things you want to do without planning it out in advance. I can offer these tips regardless, but none are make or break:

Each of the dungeons can be completely in a single in-game day. That should be your goal if you want to maximise the time available for other activities. Probably won't be doable when you first come to the game - you eventually get a feel for when it's best to use SP to kill quickly or to take the damage and heal later, or when to use physical attacks/weapons vs SP, or what sort of questionable situations you can get yourself in without it being a party wipe, but you can only get there through experience - though you should at least be thinking about SP and how (and when) to avoid using it. It'll pay off over time.

As a counter-point to that, don't leave dungeons till the last day - they're sometimes longer than you think, and you can trap yourself in some bad situations (not having enough time/SP to get it done). The game does have a way out of getting you this though, even if you don't have a backup save, so it's not going to ruin a playthrough.

Don't constantly upgrade your weapons - a few points more damage doesn't make that much of a difference, and you'll drain your cash unnecessarily compared to upgrading when it'll be more of a jump.

If you find yourself with some free time, look for your party members hanging out near the gas station (from about mid-game onwards). You can "think about the future" to learn bonus skills.

If any of your maxed social links ask you to hang out in January, it's worth doing.

One of the social links keeps a weird schedule - you sometimes need to look for him at night as well as during the day, so he's easily missed.

If you want to see The Golden epilogue, you need to max the Marie social link. None of the other social links matter as far as endings are concerned, and if you keep the core message of Persona 4 (Reach Out To The Truth) in mind when making decisions, you'll probably reach the True End without needing a guide.

No Caption Provided

This is more of a challenge playthrough, but I figured I may as well mention it here anyway: one counter-intuitive strategy for Very Hard I like is to always stick with your starter Persona, and try and avoid a good number of the fights. It puts you in some rough situations, and for about the first quarter of the game you're generally one wrong move from dead - you have to make the call that it's often better to leave characters knocked out rather than letting the enemy get another turn, and you face at least one boss that casts what you are weak to - but there's a turning point. By about halfway through, by funneling all of my stat increases, skill cards, and EXP into a single Persona, I was so monstrously overpowered (even having deliberately avoiding grinding for the entire game) that I was literally running to the top of the dungeons because I was dealing about twice as much damage as anyone else in my party and could tank just about anything enemies could throw at me.

but rotating saves might be a thing to do so you can get the ending that you want.

Having watched the ER first, that always feels so wrong. "One save, dude" (I'm still doing this in P5R).

Though technically, it is a good idea :p

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FacelessVixen

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@stordoff said:

@facelessvixen said:

but rotating saves might be a thing to do so you can get the ending that you want.

Having watched the ER first, that always feels so wrong. "One save, dude" (I'm still doing this in P5R).

Though technically, it is a good idea :p

Yeah I'm a one-save boy myself. But with a game as long as this, but also where my emotional investment is exceptionally high compared to most game, seeing alternate scenes on YouTube doesn't have the same impact as experiencing them in your own playthrough.

[context reliant/referential spoilers]
...especially scenes that are related to Valentine's Day. Some of those are really sweet, and some of them really make you feel like an asshole; like that one moment in particular of which I will never see on any of my playthroughs because god dammit that one is rough, especially if you're a member of the church.

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@facelessvixen said:

seeing alternate scenes on YouTube doesn't have the same impact as experiencing them in your own playthrough.

I mean, you could always just play it again :p I tend to just find myself picking a different way through on subsequent playthroughs, and I don't worry too much about missed scenes after that - if they didn't come up in my playthrough(s), they're (probably) not that important (to me, anyway).

Which one is this? I think I've seen most of the scenes related to Valentine's Day, but the one you mention isn't coming to mind.

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@stordoff: As a fan of Bruce Lee movies, that was as subtle as a way that I could phrase that without crossing over into another dimension.

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#21  Edited By yyninja

Enjoy your time with the game and don't feel the need to fully optimize every single day. I made the mistake of following a non-spoiler walkthrough and it made the experience a lot less fun knowing the perfect things to do and say.

Around 2/3rds into the game, there will be a series of choices which may lead to the bad ending. The game will ask you to save before then and I strongly recommend you do!

To access the Golden exclusive dungeon you will need to get the good ending and also max out Marie's social link by the end of December.

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someoneproud

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Been a while since I played it but I remember I'd always clear the dungeons as soon as possible and spend the rest of the month working on social stats/social links.

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Mortimer

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Thank you all for the great tips. I'll collate some of the recurring ones in the OP so they're easier for other people to find.