Annoying Video-Game Helper: Every time you return to the hub, the characters give a voiced reminder if you're missing a Goho-M, have a full sub-Persona roster, or have an un-initiated Special Screening. If you attempt to enter the labyrinth without a Goho-M anyway, you'll also receive a reminder that you'll need one.
Thanks to Schrödinger's Player Character, the female protagonist from Persona 3Portable has been entirely absent from further adaptations and sequels to the game. Her appearance here is her first appearance since the release of Portable. To drive the point further, promo art of the game and her "I'm him and he's me" quote imply that her home universe is an alternate reality to that of the S.E.E.S. cast. For extra points, she is confirmed to play a major role in the story.
The first game having two routes had a somewhat mixed reception from fans, either because they felt it padded out the game or because of disagreements on which was the canon route, which wasn't helped by the fact that the Persona 4 cast was pushed as being the game's default path. Having to play both routes for the full experience made for quite a bit of tedium as a result. The fact that this game only has one route and a clear focus on the Phantom Thieves effectively removes both issues to allow for a more streamlined storytelling and gameplay experience.
A few gameplay issues in the previous game have been streamlined or re-worked:
You no longer need to pay for healing, you are instead fully healed upon returning to the lobby. This doesn't make the game much easier, but it does help you save money.
You now get to choose which skills to overwrite when a party member's main Persona learns new ones, unlike the previous game which would replace Boring, but Practical low-cost skills with Awesome, yet Impractical higher-tier versions automatically.
Not only do a lot of characters here have more SP than before, several bosses now have weaknesses and many magic skills are cheaper to use, mitigating the issues with casters in the previous game.
Breather Boss: The KNS-1000 F.O.Es in A.I.G.I.S are still F.O.Es, but they are much easier than any other F.O.E in the Q series, and you also get to fight them on forced boss encounters. You have to kill them in the overworld to prevent giant security robots from pursuing you in a speed of two squares per player step, however.
Catharsis Factor: For Persona 3 fans, the 3rd dungeon's boss is the closest thing to a proper battle with Shuji Ikutsuki, who was formerly The Unfought. Fans of Persona 5 have relished in the opportunity to beat up Kamoshida again (or at least, someone who looks like him) twice, if you count the Negative Films. You can also pay Kamoshidaman back for the Hopeless Boss Fight earlier in the first labyrinth by beating him up in the first phase, in which he can't fight back.
Complacent Gaming Syndrome: It's very common to see Let's Players on YouTube to have a set party of the four protagonists (Joker, Yu, P3 hero, and P3P heroine) plus Akechi.Why? Rule of Cool aside, the Ultimate Personas of all the protagonists have a very wide spread of resistances and no weakness barring the FeMC's weakness to Curse. Akechi is included because his ultimate Persona loses his Curse weakness, he innately learns Debilitate, and his signature skill can potentially triple-bind an entire enemy row.
Disappointing Last Level: Some players regard the final labyrinth, the Cinema District, as a bit of a letdown compared to the endgame of the previous game, as well as the previous labyrinth. The last dungeon is relatively short and doesn't have many unique mechanics apart from the wind. It doesn't help that unlike Rei in the previous game, Hikari has mostly come to terms with herself by now, so all that's left is to defeat Enlil and save everyone else inside the theaters.
Even Better Sequel: Q2 is widely regarded to be an improvement in many aspects over its predecessor. The gameplay is much more refined, the storyline is more cohesive and better-paced, and the Flanderization of the characters, a common criticism towards the previous game, is generally downplayed.
The Overseer in the 3rd labyrinth. He isn't much of a threat damage-wise, but most of his moveset consists of annoying debuffs, he can endlessly summon KNS-1000s, and has Elec Wall to remove his and their weakness (making the fight take longer).
There's also the Mother Computer itself in the same labyrinth as the Overseer. Unlike Super Kamoshidaman and Yosukesaurus, he doesn't hit particularly hard, but he has several annoying skills that lock down your vital skills or set your party's HP to the one with the lowest HP. This is not the point however, if you have to defeat him you need to hit him with a specific element for a total of 20 times which swap every turn, since he will auto repair himself constantly after a while and that is the only way to make him stop. The catch is he can be hacked multiple times in a turn, so if you don't hit him with a bunch of link skills if possible you are going to waste 50+ turns and tons of resources to fruitlessly stall him.
The first thing that Hikari said at the start of the game is asking if Morgana is a cat. And Morgana is not known for being intelligent. Just imagine what would've happened if he responded with "Why do you have to be like that? I'M NOT A CAT!"
When the Persona users mention having friends, Hikari shuts down; It almost seems like "friends" was one of her trigger phrases. It was later revealed that her secondary school friends all jumped ship when the bullies targeted her for befriending a bullied girl since none of them want to deal with the bullies, and the bullied girl jumped ship herself too.
Hikari's background is pretty much this. While she appears as nothing more than a Nervous Wreck that simply shuts down in front of people, it's being implied many times that her condition is much worse than on the surface; While the Trauma Conga Line is bad enough, it is only made worse by her father accidentally triggering her so that she really considers that her life isn't worth living anymore, then Nagi/Enlil amplifying her negative emotions by letting her watch films of people suffering in a delusional attempt to make her feel better. Judging from that she might be imprisoned there for quite a time prior to the Phantom Thieves' arrival, it's a wonder that how can she sustain this without being Driven to Suicide.
This applies to all of the people trapped in the other Cinemas too, who knows how long they had been imprisoned, and how many had been Driven to Suicide? Remember Hikari isn't the first one to be set there.
When S.E.E.S hears the Overseer's announcement, the Overseer resembles Ikutsuki, who S.E.E.S does not recognize as a villain or enemy of any sort, making them feel awkward until they are assured that he's an actor. Ironically, the real Shuji Ikutsuki is nearly identical to the Overseer in terms of personality.
The definition of "normal" in this game is twisted beyond the usual definition; It doesn't simply mean being the cog in a machine. A more accurate definition of "normal" in this game is withdrawing yourself forever from the world...and Never Be Hurt Again.
The Traitor's redemption in this game is genuine, and his personality is actually getting better from what he was before. However since the memories will be wiped once the Persona users return to the real world, Akechi will not remember anything from this game and his redemption is an all for nothing Redemption Failure.
In one dead end event on the second level of the fourth labyrinth, Yukiko pretends to narrate what is going on. When she narrates Akechi, she describes him as someone holding a "terrible secret." It's a joke, but if you consider what happens in the base game...
A quest in the fourth labyrinth has you bring Marie to get inspirations for her poems by investigating singing flowers. Remember this place is Hikari's personal hell, so what the flowers are singing is probably her mindset. Just compare these songs to the musicals/flashbacks in the actual labyrinth run, they are chillingly accurate portrayals to what you see there:
"My wings are plucked. I yearn for the sky...I know what I am, a tragic effigy..." "No matter what I eat, I'm never satiated. Is it a sin to feel this way?" "This is my sanctuary, hidden from all."note The "sanctuary" is referring to someone's bedroom.
Heartwarming in Hindsight: The P3P Heroine is the only character capable of performing a unison with every member of her own team, including her male counterpart. This can be viewed as her forming a bond with SEES despite them not being the same people she knows, overcoming the issue that had caused her to feel out of place.
FeMC's return to the franchise in this game was announced two months after Super Smash Bros. Ultimate would bring back a long-absent Nintendo female protagonist: Leaf from Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen. The fact that both return in popular spin-offs makes it just that sweeter.
Yukiko and Yusuke have a unison attack together. This is hilarious when you remember Yusuke's voice actor, Tomokazu Sugita, often cosplayed as Yukiko on Persona Stalker Club.
The Phantom Thieves' battle theme is called "Invitation to Freedom". A week after PQ2's Japanese release, Joker got an invitation (or rather stole one) for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
The very concept of a villain keeping people trapped in theaters and forcing them to watch movies in order to break their spirits. Is this a Persona game or Mystery Science Theater 3000?
Just Here for Godzilla: The first game already had a level of this due to having both the Persona 3 and Persona 4 casts, and this game adds on that by including the Persona 5 cast with the former two. But if anyone is interested in this game, chances are it's because the Persona 3 Portable female protagonist is in it.
Memetic Loser: Due to the P3 FEMC being in this game, she is slowly starting to subvert this trope. However, after she was announced for the game, the protagonists of the firstthree (technically two) games are starting to receive this treatment with fans disappointed with the firstthree game's protagonists' lack of representation.
Since Aigis is supposed to be dedicated to the P3 protagonist, jokes have appeared about Aigis having a hard time deciding between both P3 protagonists in this game.
Where is Yosuke's trailer? Explanation Much like previous installments, Atlus decided to release trailers of the characters in the game. After Junpei and Morgana (aka two wielders of the Magician Arcana) being the first two characters to receive their own trailers, many fans thought that Yosuke would receive his own trailer next to round-up the three wielders of their Arcana. However, Naoto was the next character to receive her own trailer instead, leading to jokes about asking where Yosuke's trailer is.
Theodore's Popcorn Costume Explanation After Theodore was shown wearing a popcorn costume in Shinjiro's trailer, it has gone memetic within the fandom.
This image from the artbook featuring Yu standing over an apparently dead Joker went memetic within the fandom due to its morbid nature, and has inspired parody edits.
Perhaps the worst offender is the final labyrinth where Enlil is about to be confronted; Remember that was a threat that can directly threaten even Yaldabaoth and keeps thousands in catatonic depression. Yet, the team just goes on as usual having fun and doing special screenings unlike in the previous game, in which after Rei gets abducted, the atmosphere immediately becomes much darker and stays that way for the rest of the game.
The fourth labyrinth, despite being a perfect hybrid of Adult Fear and Nightmare Fuel, comes off as less serious than Q's reveal when the depressing and dark contents turned out to be reasons why Hikari was so distorted and depressed while the actual person is close to actually recovering from her crippling condition during that point and its purpose is to understand why she ended up there in the first place.
Obvious Judas: Just like in Persona 5, the game's big betrayal can be seen coming from a mile away. By the end of the fourth dungeon, almost everyone's roles in the story are pretty clear; Hikari needs to be worked through her Trauma Conga Line of a childhood, the heroes are there to facilitate her character development, and Doe is pretty clearly working towards helping her out as well. This just leaves Nagi, who has contributed absolutely nothing to the plot other than sitting on her hide and doing nothing. Sure enough, she's the Big Bad.
Older Than They Think: This is not the first time a cinema is used as part of the setting of a Persona game. The PSP release of Persona 2 had the Climax Theater, which is even referenced through Elizabeth's film reel dress. Fitting, considering the Persona-esque plot of the first game.
Teddie, who was one of the worst party members in the last game, got a huge buff here. He now has solid stats all-around and went from being the slowest character in the game to one of the fastest. In a story sense, Teddie is surprisingly more tolerable here than in the first game: his flirting has been toned-down and the game emphasises more of his positive traits like his loyalty to Yosuke. For those who still dislike him, there's a few Take That, Scrappy! moments.
On a more general level, magic is actually good in this game as your characters have more SP than in the previous Qnote In the previous game, you can be at the endgame and some characters will have less than 100 SP at level 99. In this game, they can go well over 200-300SP mid to late game, magic skills are significantly cheapernote For instance, Agilao and Agidyne cost 14 and 32 SP respectively, as opposed to 28 and 46 in the previous game and the majority of bosses have weaknesses to exploit. This makes all magic-based party members a lot better.
While still polarizing amongst the Western fanbase, a lot of fans warmed up to Akechi due to his interactions with characters like Naoto, Ken, Koromaru and Teddie, and attempts to be helpful even while still being mistrusted by the other Phantom Thieves. They also sympathize with his genuine, but ultimatelyfutile, attempts at redemption. Helping things is that he also is around for the entirety of the game, allowing him more chances to endear himself to players.
Sequel Difficulty Drop: The game has a lot of Anti-Frustration Features that makes it easier than Persona Q. This time, you recover all HP and SP if you return to the central hub. You are free to visit any floor of any movie, whereas in the first game, you could only choose the first or current floor (or, if you completed it, the final floor).
In the first Q, you could only perform an All-Out Attack if at least 3 party members were in Boost by the final turn, regardless of whether or not you knocked every enemy down. Here, an All-Out Attack triggers as soon as all enemies are down, just like the mainline Persona games. This makes battles much quicker if you know how to exploit the enemies' weaknesses, and also makes difficult battles far less tedious.
Requests from Elizabeth are now divided into selectable side missions that take place within already completed labyrinths instead of being a task you complete during the main quest, making them much easier to keep track of. Characters specified for these missions also receive bonus experience, giving you more opportunities to level up party members that you may have neglected and making character management less of a pain.
Sacrifice Fusions can now bestow experience to main Personas, relieving some effort of Level Grinding for the game's enormous playable cast.
This is inverted with the main boss fights, however, which are much harder than those of the first game.
Rare Shadows are much easier to hit and are far less likely to run away from you unless you take too long.
Exiting the labyrinth during a special screening does not reset the mission, meaning that you can pick up where you left off if you want to save, change party members, or get some supplies if you get stuck.
Subbing vs. Dubbing: The fact that the game doesn't have any English audio naturally ignites these sorts of debates. Fans of the dub who enjoy the performances are quite disappointed that it isn't being offered this time (especially considering Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight, a spinoff released over a decade after its base game, received a full English dub), while others argue that it wouldn't be feasible to bring back every voice actor from all three previous games (especially for a spinoff title that, outside of Japan, is releasing so close to the end-of-life for the 3DS), or prefer hearing the voices in Japanese.
At one point in the Junessic Land dungeon the group are forced into a situation where they have to use live bait as a distraction to sneak past a carnivore dinosaur. BOTH of the dialogue options for Joker imply his first idea is to use Teddie.
Continuing from Persona 5, the player has some options to be rude to GoroAkechi. The most notable one being in the beginning of the game where after he suggests marking the stairs on the map, you can either ignore him or tell him to stop making suggestions.
A subtle one, for those who despise the harem route from Joker's home game: Upon beating the Fourth Labyrinth boss, Hikari will thank you for everything you've done, and one of Joker's dialogue options is him saying he happily helped herbecause she's a cute girl; naturally, Hikari becomes flustered at this. All of the female Phantom Thieves very slyly call him out for being a potential sleazebag, and even the P4 and P3 heroes indirectly hint that he'll be in for a world of pain if he goes that route. Not helping is that Joker gets nervous at the accusations and doesn't apologize, giving the impression that he's not above philandering.
The Mother Computer has Denial, which prevents all party members from using certain skills. If that skill is a healing skill or one you need to hit the boss's weakness to progress with the "hacking," then you're in trouble.
Doe can have the aptly named Infinite Despair, binding your whole party's strength, magic, and agility, which can very easily be game-ending if you didn't have any management in reviving your characters or choosing the targets for Hikari's Cheer.
Ticket Request #32, "Let Your Fists Do the Talking", is ridiculously hard if you attempt it as soon as it's available, as it flat-out requires you to defeat an F.O.E. that you technically aren't even supposed to be at a high enough level to fight at that point in the game.note Mr. Bear in the fourth labyrinth if you are wondering Unless you're either overleveled or if you wait until later on, jumping into this quest without proper strategy means you're more-or-less screwed.
Ticket Request #36, "A Frolic in the Flowers," can be incredibly frustrating, since Marie only gives you vague clues about where to look for the second flower.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Aside from their first and final interactions, both P3 protagonists rarely talk with each other, removing any chances for them to discuss the differences of their respective worlds. It doesn't help that S.E.E.S. (like the Investigation Team) was effectively put on the shelf after the third labyrinth and the P3P Heroine's Unison involves all members of S.E.E.S. except her male counterpart.
After being constantly shafted from otherPersonaspin-offs and the anime movies, fans were beginning to lose hope that Persona 3 Portable's female protagonist would ever see the light of day again... And sure enough, come this game, she appears as one of the returning characters.
To a lesser extent, many were surprised to see Kamoshida in the first PV, due to the previous game in the series notably lacking any characters that weren't Persona users, Velvet Room attendants or Original Generation.
Much unlike Rei from Persona Q, even from the moment you meet her, it's quite clear Hikari has not had the best life. And the fourth film shows exactly how she hasn't. If she tries to help somebody to get out of an unjust situation, they turn on her back and assist the very people who made the unjust decisions, and when she tried to pursue her own dream she gets a backlash in the face. All of these events accumulate into extreme depression and transformed her into a borderline suicidal shut in, which is further amplified by her Living Emotional Crutch father who was the only person that she had a good relationship with asking her the trigger word in the exact phrasing, ignorant on how she would feel, causing her to suffer from hallucinations of people telling her that she is abnormal and believing that her father thought of her that way. Nagi ignorantly eating her memories and the last part of her positivity out by showing her movies made of pure negativity was the last straw. While the game only states that she wanted to discard her self, her issues are so horrendously crippling that you can easily imagine her getting Driven to Suicide.
Akechi also feels secretly lonely since he's the only one of the Phantom Thieves who isn't friends with them (other than Joker trying to get to know him). This is best highlighted during Akechi's segments with Shinjiro, Koromaru, Ken, and Teddie. Also, according to the PQ2 artbook, he ends up valuing the friendships he made in the movie world so much that he doesn't want to leave.
The P3 Heroine as well, due to feeling isolated from the S.E.E.S. group. Having been separated from her version of S.E.E.S., she distances herself from the P3 Hero's group, even though it's clear she wants to be friends with them too.