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Persona 3 on PC: What are the chances?

(Image credit: Atlus)

Persona 5 remains PS4-bound for now, but after decades of PlayStation exclusivity, Atlus' RPG juggernaut has finally come to PCs in the West. In June, Persona 4 Golden's "surprise" release marked the first Atlus RPG on Steam (and also removed one of the last reasons to own a Vita, outside a zombie apocalypse).

Persona 4 Golden's PC version leaked a few days before the official announcement, with tweets, a SteamDB listing, and Denuvo support page all spilling the news. But what's especially interesting is what this release might mean for the future of the Persona series on PC, and how those leaks point towards the potential for a Persona 3 port to come next.

While Atlus hasn't confirmed it, Persona 3 looks like it might be destined for a PC release too. As Persona 3's Akihiko would say, "I've been waiting for this"—here's what we know so far.

What’s the deal with Persona 3?

Persona 3 was actually the fourth series entry (Persona 2 came in two parts), first released on the PlayStation 2 in 2006. While each Persona game's story is self-contained, they retain common themes. Earlier entries often get passed over when talking about the Persona series, and that’s because of Persona 3—this is the game that established the life simulation mechanics that have come to define Persona and set it apart from so many other JRPGs. 

Events unfold on a day-by-day basis as you attend school and take exams while also defending your world from a mysterious threat known as Shadows. To do this, each party member utilises the power of Persona, a manifestation of their inner psyche (P3’s summoning method famously has the cast firing a gun-like object called an Evoker at their heads).

Our protagonist can form friendships with other characters and get into romantic relationships, creating bonds that become your strength. Make enough bad decisions or neglect your friendships and bonds can reverse, especially if you start dating multiple people. You can't decline romantic relationships in P3 once some bonds reach a high enough level, so know what you're getting into.

(Image credit: Atlus)

Is there any proof that it's coming to PC?

Atlus recently sent out customer surveys that include several questions about Persona. More specifically, it asks how likely you'd be to buy a P3 remaster/remake. 

Surveys aren't a guarantee, but we have a bit more to go on than that. Before Persona 4 was announced for Steam, Twitter user SabiiWabii (now deleted) tweeted that Persona 4 was coming to PC, and Persona 3 was in the works as well. There's not much proof beyond Sabi's statements but considering Golden's port was legit, there's some weight there. At the least, we know Atlus is gauging interest in a port through its survey.

We also know that Atlus considers P4G's Steam launch a success, thanking players for "enthusiastically" making it so. There's certainly a business case for Persona 3 PC, particularly when it's currently only available on old platforms. Even if Sabi's tweets were fake information, a Persona 3 release just makes sense. We'll have to wait for further details but right now, I remain optimistic that we'll see it again soon.

What's the likely release date for Persona 3 PC?

Unfortunately, we really have no idea. It's possible Atlus has been working on a Persona 3 port concurrently with Persona 4 Golden, but it's also possible Atlus and parent company Sega decided to see how well Persona 4 sold on PC before committing to more ports.

Persona 4 Golden was only the second Atlus game to come to Steam. The first, Catherine Classic, released in January 2019, about a year and a half before P4.

How does Persona 3's story unfold?

It takes place in Iwatodai, seeing our nameless protagonist enrolling at Gekkoukan High School. Within this world exists an unusual phenomenon called the Dark Hour, one that most humans remain unconscious during, outside a select few. Moving into a school dormitory, the protagonist soon becomes involved in a Shadow attack during this hour, awakening to his Persona in the process.

Joining your fellow students as part of the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad, you'll investigate this Dark Hour with SEES and the mysterious tower that appears with it, Tartarus. There's no separate dungeons to explore within P3, just different levels of Tartarus that open up further after each major boss fight. 

(Image credit: Atlus)

What's the combat like?

Tartarus can be explored with four SEES members. Combat is turn-based, but only the protagonist is directly controlled by players. To control your teammates' actions, all you can do is issue tactical orders. Each member has a melee attack but Personas also bring their own skills, allowing elemental spells or support moves.

There are hundreds of different Shadows within Tartarus, all holding their own damage resistances and disadvantages. The protagonist can uniquely equip multiple personas, so a diverse move set is key. Hitting a shadow's weakness knocks it off balance and if all enemies are down, an all-out attack can be initiated for heavy damage.

P3 uses a standard EXP system but experience isn't shared with the SEES members you don't take into a fight, so it's wise to frequently rotate them. Party members will get fatigued over time, including the protagonist, so be careful, as this makes you susceptible to falling ill and will impact studies. 

There are actually three different versions of Persona 3

Atlus loves releasing expanded versions of its games, and Persona is no exception. Unlike P4 and P5 though, there's no definitive edition for P3 and each release has different content.

Persona 3 FES, released just a year after the original version on PS2, brought several gameplay updates but prominently included a new 30-hour epilogue called "The Answer." You play Aigis, a robotic SEES teammate designed as an anti-Shadow weapon. The expansion is notoriously hard to beat but brings some additional closure to P3's ending.

Persona 3 Portable, released in 2011, was scaled back to fit the PSP and removed P3's anime cutscenes, 3D environments and The Answer. But it introduced big gameplay changes, including a female protagonist with her own social links and full control of your party in battle. 

(Image credit: Atlus)

So which version are we likely to get on PC?

We can likely rule out the original version, as FES supersedes it. Sabi's tweets mention Portable, though they also acknowledge this is unclear.

Instead of a straight port of either iteration, I hope Atlus will release a definitive version on PC, combining Persona 3 FES's expansion with Persona 3 Portable's controllable party members and female protagonist. But that's pure wishful thinking at this point.

Will it be a full remake or a port?

We can only speculate, but if Golden's PC release is anything to go by, an enhanced port looks more likely. Even without a top-to-bottom remake, it should be the best way to experience Persona 3.

Persona 4 Golden runs at an unlocked framerate and at high resolutions that crisp up its PS2-era graphics. For Persona 3, we'd expect similar treatment, but the version Atlus decides to base this port off of will make a big difference.