Persona 5 is one of the most popular JRPGs of the modern era, packing a compelling character-driven story, turn-based combat system, and a confident sense of style. Technically, it’s an intriguing game: basically, it’s a PS3 game at its core with assets and technology built around the 2006 Sony system, but eventually released in 2016 on PS3 and PS4. An extended re-release dubbed Persona 5 Royal was released a few years later on PS4, loaded with new content, gameplay improvements, and visual tweaks. After a three-year wait, this version of the game has finally been released on non-PlayStation platforms, including current console versions and the much-requested Switch port. So how can this PS3 derivative game be scaled up to PS5 and Series X and is the Switch version everything it should be?
Persona 5 had a bit of an odd load. It was only developed with PS3 hardware in mind, but after missing a few release dates, it ended up shipping on PS3 and PS4 in the fall of 2016, as one of the last major titles to hit Sony’s seventh generation system. Models are stylized but low-polycarbonate, environments are boxy and use basic baked lighting, and texture resolution is poor. The PS4 version of the game benefited from a 1080p display resolution and user interface, but left everything unchanged – a very abstract transformation of PS3 code.
With Persona 5 Royal, you feel that Atlus tried to make the game better suited to the hardware of the last generation. Some of the most outrageous decorations in the original game are replaced with HD originals. New artwork decorates many of the game’s buildings and streets. Depth of field has been added in certain parts of the gameplay, while 2D elements are redrawn with smaller text and new overlays. Lighting and color hues have also been reworked, with the updated game having a brighter and more stable look. These are the differences that are easily seen only in side-by-side comparisons, but the improvements are there. Of course, it’s still the PS3 title at its core – which makes it a perfect fit for the Nintendo Switch.
The Switch’s translation of Persona 5 Royal is already a complete, integrated version of the game without any core cuts, which means the same structure, style, and gameplay for the other console versions are there and true. Technically, there are aspects to be commended as well: load times are still mercifully short and short animations effectively mask them, and despite the significant reduction in file size, the animation scenes are largely devoid of visual artifacts.
However, I came away with mixed feelings about the end result. There are a few major issues here. First, the accuracy of the texture has received great success across the board. The Switch uses texture assets derived from the Royal Edition, but they deteriorate significantly relative to their presentation on PS4. At worst, the results can look a bit distorted and in some cases we get missing physical properties. This also has a detrimental effect on the game’s baked-in shadow, all of which leads to the conclusion that the port isn’t quite there with the PS4 version. Not only that, the display resolution has been lowered. In docked mode, the game is rendered at a resolution of 1440 x 810, just above 720p. Mobile gameplay has been scaled back to just 960×540.
Persona 5 is a game that relies heavily on raw pixel counts to solve fine details, such as the thin lines that surround character models. It offers a high-contrast aesthetic without any kind of image processing, and even lacks simple post-AA, so antialiasing and other visual shortcomings are clearly displayed. At 1080p the image quality is somewhat marginal indeed but at 810p the image looks quite chaotic. It’s not too bad, but I was expecting a stronger result here: Essentially, Persona 5 Royal is still a PS3 game at heart, and many of the seventh-gen efforts are working at 1080p in TV play on the Switch.
|Control unit||3D resolution||UI accuracy||performance|
|converts||810 p / 540 p||1080p / 720p||30 frames per second|
|Playstation 4||1080p||1080p||30 frames per second|
|PlayStation 4 Pro||2160 p||1080p||30 frames per second|
|Xbox One S||900 p||900 p||30 frames per second|
|Xbox One X||2160 p||1080p||30 frames per second|
|PlayStation 5||2160 p||2160 p||60 frames per second|
|Xbox Xbox X||2160 p||2160 p||60 frames per second|
|Xbox S||1080p||1080p||60 frames per second|
But it’s the portable mode that really disappoints. At 540p, Persona 5 Royal offers about 56 percent of its 720p full screen resolution — and it shows. Expect a blurry, imprecise solution with clumsy handling of distant details. This is a far cry from the 720p I was hoping for. Atlus has at least opted for a two-line scale here, unlike some other recent lower-res Switch versions, so borrowed items aren’t unnecessarily marked. And the UI seems to accurately show console output in both modes, so it tends to look much cleaner than 3D content. One plus point? All 3D elements run at 30fps without any issues at all, so at least the performance is consistent.
I’ve been disappointed with the Switch, but the results are getting better as we upgrade to a more capable set. In terms of basic visual features, it’s just about what you’d expect – basically, we get the PS4 version displayed with different pixel numbers. There are no obvious differences in texture quality, shadows, spacing, or antialiasing. But the higher resolution greatly improves Persona 5’s image quality, and there’s a big spread here. The PS4 offers 1080p picture quality as mentioned earlier, as does the Xbox Series S.
These are all fairly straightforward – but there are two exceptions. First, the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X get 4K in 3D, but you miss out on the 4K UI, as you get the same 2D graphics in 1080p as the PS4. And the Xbox One S only counts at 900p for 3D content, and it appears to have a UI at 900p as well, which seems weird and inappropriate given the age and visual complexity of this game. It looks like a 1080p display will be within the capabilities of the Xbox One, despite its limitations in more demanding software.
There is a big difference in resolving the base image when stacking the controllers side by side. Persona 5 does not have anti-aliasing of any kind, so increased rendering resolutions greatly improve presentation consistency. Details that look barely cohesive on the One S are crisp and sharp on the One X, for example. However, even at 4K resolution, there are still a lot of jagged edges and image splitting at fine details, such as character outlines and highlights. The performance is at least at very good levels. To break it down, Persona 5 Royal targets 30fps on the last generation machines and 60fps on the current generation. Just like the Switch, this goal is effectively achieved, as during all my hours of testing I haven’t seen a single drop in frame rate in 3D content on any home console platform. Regardless of the system, you should expect a very consistent experience here.
Persona 5 features a lot of fast animation without any motion blur of any kind, so it can be a bit tricky to follow the complex scenes and attacks in real time on last-generation consoles. Everything has a slightly choppy and choppy look that arguably fits well with the game’s animation styles but doesn’t always feel good when you look at it. Boosting to 60fps on current devices basically solves these issues, with cleaner animations on the move. In 4K60 on PS5 and Series X, the game looks particularly interesting – a sharp, crisp and smooth rendering of Persona 5 that can hold up remarkably well.
There is one last platform you can take a look at: Steam Deck. It looks like Valve’s Linux-based mobile device might be able to give us the best of both worlds – a portable experience that rivals current consoles. And initially, that’s exactly what you can get. Running Steam Deck at 1080p I was able to run the game at maximum settings at 60 fps in the opening sections without a problem with somewhat identical visuals and performance on the S-series. With lower GPU clocks and lower CPU usage.
Unfortunately, once I got into the city areas, I experienced some pretty severe drops in performance for seemingly no reason, without a similar spike in usage or clock speeds. Lowering the resolution or settings had no effect on the test—the drops remained no matter what I tried. Early dungeon sections also showed serious FPS issues. Setting the frame rate to 30fps using the in-game frame rate selector seemed to work fine, but it ended up being better than the SteamOS selector as it incurred a much smaller increase in input latency. Switching the screen to 40Hz is another option for a smoother and more consistent experience. These would be my favorite ways to play on Steam Deck – but I don’t think Deck is well suited for this type of game.
This is because Persona 5 has a sharp and bold color scheme that widely uses pure black. Lots of UI elements and dark 3D content are designed completely in black. Unfortunately, Steam Deck’s IPS LCD screen is rather mediocre by modern standards and lacks contrast ratio to do the technical justice in Persona 5. Dull grayscale tends to dominate the picture, especially in night areas. The Switch OLED ends up producing a more visually dynamic picture in my opinion for mobile gaming, with a bold, dramatic look with beautiful pure blacks. It offers a much lower 3D resolution but has a rendering technology that is better suited for that specific title. It’s not an easy choice, but if I had to choose, I think I’d lean toward the OLED Switch for this game.
In short, Persona 5 Royal is a very fun and unique title that packs serialized, TV-style stories into a single player adventure of over 100 hours. For the original game, this is more of a remix than a hugely expanded title – I beat both and my sense is that there will likely be about 15 hours or so of additional content here, as well as several tweaks and improvements to the gameplay. But this is definitely the best version of Persona 5, now available to play across basically all modern platforms. The game expands somewhat predictably across more capable major console platforms, but those ports don’t seem to translate Persona 5’s PS3-era technology very efficiently, so more power-limited consoles — the Switch in particular — come with compromises. A relatively serious visual for the PS4 version. There aren’t necessarily bad ports here, just a couple that fall short of expectations for recent conversions of 7th generation software.
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