Persona 3 Portable: 9 Combat Tips

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  • Better Equip New Recruits Before Bringing Them Into Tartarus
  • Keep Training All Your Party Members
  • Split The Party To Gain More EXP – If Everyone Is Strong Enough
  • Pay Attention To Your Team's Condition
  • Analyze Enemy Weaknesses Often
  • Use The Skill Cards You Receive
  • Make Up For The Party’s Element Gaps With Your Larger Stock
  • Leave The Floor If Death Is Coming
  • Turn Off Party AI For Direct Control Over Battles

While there’s definitely a lot to do around Tatsumi Port Island in Persona 3 Portable, it’s no secret that the primary mechanic in Persona is going through dungeons and kicking Shadow ass along the way. The premise is simple: build the best team, level them up, and make quick work of all the enemies lingering inside Tartarus.

But if this is your first venture into the world of Persona, or you’re just looking for a little help you get started on the right foot, we’re here to help! Below, you’ll find a few handy battle tips to use in P3P.

This guide may contain slight spoilers for the story of Persona 3 Portable.

Better Equip New Recruits Before Bringing Them Into Tartarus

While you initially enter Tartarus with only Yukari and Junpei directly at your side as fellow combatants, as Mitsuru and Akihiko wait in the entrance, you’ll eventually unravel several different party members.

Each time someone new joins the team, be sure you’re chatting with them a bit before you head into Tartarus together.

There are several instances where, if you talk to someone when you see them in the Lounge at Iwatodai Dormitory, they’ll occasionally tell you more about their Persona.

Everyone has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, which they’ll tell you during conversation in the lounge, but they’re all just as eager to fight.

Unfortunately for you, despite the moxie, they join the team wearing their regular outfits, which don’t offer much in the way of protection or power-boosting inside Tartarus.

Before bringing them into battle, it’s a wise choice to buy them some new equipment first.

As new people join your group, Officer Kurosawa seems to almost anticipate this, as the police station always has gear for anyone on the team, even if they’re just joining you.

You never know when someone might force their way onto your team, so it never hurts to be prepared if you can afford it.

Keep Training All Your Party Members

Riding the coattails of our last tip, it’s never a bad idea to train party members you’re not using.

It’s pretty easy in a JRPG like Persona to fall into the trap of keeping the same party with you as you climb through Tartarus, especially as the characters you’re not regularly using lag behind in levels.

They don’t all have to be super powerful, but you’ll do well to train everyone, even if only a bit.

The reasons for this are plentiful. First, if you have a strong teammate, but they’re weak to an element used in the fight ahead, it may not be the best idea to bring them. Letting enemies exploit weaknesses will result in them earning a free bonus attack, and you’re aiming to keep your damage taken to a minimum.

Additionally, there will be times when you get back to the dorm at night as another character leaves for the night. When this happens, that person is not available to bring to Tartarus, which can really scramble your plans if you’ve been grinding with them and now need to use someone weaker.

Finally, won’t happen too often, but there will be times when at least one of your party members is decided for you. When this happens, no matter how much you try, you can’t kick them off the team.

For example, Yukari demands to take part in the Full Moon Operation battle against the Hierophant and subsequent Lovers bosses. Frustratingly, the Hierophant uses electric magic, to which Yukari is weak.

If you’ve omitted Yukari from your main party by that point, she’ll be dramatically under-leveled for the fight, resulting in an easy target for the enemy.

The widest spread of strengths and abilities you can give your team, the better!

Split The Party To Gain More EXP – If Everyone Is Strong Enough

When you’re inside Tartarus, you’re able to bring up a command menu with your navigations expert, who can instruct the party to do several different things. You can ask them to fight shadows they find, or simply explore the area.

There are many benefits to splitting the team. When you have fewer teammates in a battle, you’ll come away having earned more EXP for fighting alone. Especially when combined with Shuffle Time cards that grant additional EXP, this can help you level quickly!

The downside to splitting the team, though, is that your teammates regularly get pulled into battles, and they may not be strong enough or have the right elemental magic to deal with the shadows.

Because of this, it’s important that the team is a high enough level before you make the decision on splitting up. If a teammate is hit by a shadow, they fight alone.

Of course, you can jump in to help them by hitting the shadow is fighting. This brings you into the battle as it currently is and can easily save your teammates from fainting.

Not only will they run around leveling on their own, but your team can also collect treasure chests to bring the goods to you when you go to the next floor, and they can even find the stairs or access points for you, too.

When this happens, your navigations expert will ask if you’d like to leave or continue to explore the floor. Doing this can help you find the stairs in a level of Tartarus in seconds!

However, you’ll be warned if you’re trying to leave for the next floor and someone is still battling.

Choosing to move on while they’re preoccupied with fighting removes them from your current team. They go back to the entrance of Tartarus, and you move on minus one teammate.

If you have several levels to get through before reaching the floor you need, and the team can handle splitting up, it’s a good idea to ask them to explore.

As long as nobody is fighting when the stairs are located, just use the stairs right away. You’ll miss some loot along the way, but you can climb floors of Tartarus in minutes like this.

Pay Attention To Your Team's Condition

The mechanic didn’t carry over into newer entries in the Persona series, but Persona 3 Portable makes players contend with character condition.

There are four possible conditions in which you may find your protagonist and teammates: Great, Good, Tired, or Sick.

By being in Great condition, you’ll deal more damage to the shadows you’re fighting. However, just remember that, while condition is pretty easy to alter in the real world, it can be hard to improve condition once you enter Tartarus.

No matter what, your team will get tired after a while in Tartarus. Dungeon-crawling is busy work, and your teammates warn you when they become Tired by commenting on their exhaustion out loud.

Keep an eye on the status menu in the submenu, from which you can always check the team’s status. This is especially wise before choosing to go to Tartarus, as you may be planning to use a character who could do with a night off.

As everyone gets Tired, it may be wise to leave Tartarus at your earliest convenience. Tired teammates don’t fight as well, so even if you do push on, it’ll be something of an uphill climb.

However, if you’re not ready to leave when the team grows weary, offer them a Yawn-B-Gone. This will remove the Tired status without leaving Tartarus to rest, so be sure to keep a stock if you’re planning a longer expedition.

Analyze Enemy Weaknesses Often

Very early into exploring Tartarus, you’ll be taught how to have your nav person analyze enemies. This will take them a turn to do, but by asking them to analyze what’s in front of you, you’ll be able to learn their affinities and weaknesses without ever making an attack of your own.

This will help you and the team consistently be prepared for battle, as there are more shadows as you climb Tartarus, which can make it tough to keep track yourself. When in doubt, ask Mitsuru or Fuuka.

Once you’ve analyzed an enemy once, your team keeps the knowledge forever. Be sure you’re keeping your index of enemy info current with the analysis.

It’s important to note that you can’t analyze Full Moon Bosses.

When you’ve pinpointed a weakness, exploit the element to which the shadow is weak. This knocks combatants down and offers you a free bonus shot at them, so be sure you’re exploiting weaknesses wherever possible.

Fuuka Has More Advanced Skills Than Mitsuru

After you’ve rescued Fuuka during the second Full Moon Operation, she joins SEES and takes over for Mitsuru as your navigation person. Her Persona is not ready for combat, but it is excellent at detecting things throughout Tartarus.

Once Lucia, Fuuka’s Persona, levels up to Lv. 32, she’ll be able to offer additional info with the skill, Third Eye.

Not only can you then see the enemies’ info in the analysis tab, but when choosing your attacks, you’ll be able to see on the game’s UI whether the attack will hit or not.

Fuuka can tell you if the attack you’re about to select will be blocked, repelled, or drained, so be sure you’re checking the reticle when choosing your target, as an X layered into the UI when aiming at them means the attack will not deal damage.

Use The Skill Cards You Receive

Skill cards are items collected in a number of ways that can teach any Persona the skill listed on the card. Using skill cards does not factor in a Persona’s affinities, meaning you can teach any skill to any Persona using skill cards.

This makes them an excellent way to cover party weaknesses, if you need to give one of your Personas an attack of an element to which your team doesn’t currently have access.

Skill cards can be for damage-dealing, healing, or support skills, meaning you truly can find just about anything.

The only caveat is that only you can use your skill cards. They cannot be given to your SEES Team to use on their Personas, so keep it in mind when planning your strategies.

You can obtain skill cards in a few ways, such as by:

  • Trading for them at the Shinshoudo Antiques shop at Paulownia Mall.
  • As gifts from Personas who have leveled up.
  • From chests in Tartarus.

Make it a habit to check out what cards you have fairly regularly, as you never know what new kinds of attacks you could learn with them!

Make Up For The Party’s Element Gaps With Your Larger Stock

While not a new mechanic to the Persona series, your protagonist’s ability to carry up to 12 Personas is once again in Persona 3 Portable, and it’s still something you’ll need to consider when fusing and buying Personas for use in battle.

When fighting with the other members of SEES, you’ll have access to your teammate’s physical and magic attacks, meaning you can use them to hammer elemental weaknesses.

After you’ve assembled a team at the entrance to Tartarus, consider which skills your teammates have, and what elements on which you may be lacking coverage. Then, use your ability to carry multiple Personas to plug gaps in your coverage.

The cool part about the Compendium is that you’ll always find what you’re looking for, since your protagonist doesn’t need to specialize like their teammates do.

Use your friends to cover as much ground as you can for the battles ahead, and then use your own wild car ability to make up for it. By doing this, you’ll have options for exploiting any weakness you may be presented with during your battles, so be sure to bring a wide spread!

Leave The Floor If Death Is Coming

Longtime fans of the Persona series are no strangers to The Reaper, and you should know before you venture into Tartarus that The Reaper is once again in P3P.

If you’re not familiar, The Reaper is a super-tough optional boss fight you can pick inside Tartarus, but we can’t advise enough that you make the decision to engage carefully.

If you're intending to complete all the Velvet Room requests for your attendant of choice, beware that fighting The Reaper is one of the tasks.

In P3P, The Reaper is a Lv. 99 shadow who is strong against all attacks except Almighty.

In addition to its wild defensive skills (with a cool 10,000 HP when you fight it), it knows -dyne skills of every element, both the single and multi-target versions.

It can also use Fire, Ice, Elec, and Wind Break to destroy any strength you may have had against these elements.

Thankfully, with The Reaper being an optional fight, you’ll receive a warning before it spawns.

Mitsuru or Fuuka will warn you that they sense Death approaching, and after this, you have about 30 seconds before they radio again to tell you that Death has spawned on the floor.

Once it arrives, you’ll hear the rattling of chains, which get louder the closer it is to you. It can engage your party either collectively or individually, and if it corners an individual teammate, they’re usually as good as fainted.

The Reaper cannot approach the party on the stairs to the next floor, making them something of a safe zone away from The Reaper, as shown below.

Note, however, that he does wait for you right outside the stairs, so you'll either have to leave or fight him, without much wiggle room.

Use this exploit if need be to heal or regroup before fighting The Reaper if you intend to.

There are a few tells that The Reaper will spawn soon. They are:

  • Hearing the announcement from either Mitsuru or Fuuka.
  • Arriving to a floor with:
    • No shadows.
    • More shadows than normal, and they’re all golden shadows.
    • Red shadows that denote super-strong groups of shadows.
  • Choosing a card in Shuffle Time that pulses with a black curse symbol on it.
  • The Reaper de-spawns as soon as you leave your current floor and will not follow you upstairs. If you’d like to find The Reaper on a higher floor, you’ll have to trigger its arrival again.

    Turn Off Party AI For Direct Control Over Battles

    While there’s definitely an enjoyable kind of merit to setting the members of your party to act freely during assaults in Tartarus, if your teammates aren’t performing up to snuff, you can always assume direct control over your team.

    This will allow you to act as each of the four members of your team, offering control over whichever of the three other characters you set to direct controls when in the Tactics menu.

    This can help you in a number of ways and ties into our tip about using your own stock to fill gaps in the party’s affinities coverage. By taking full control, you can choose when to use your teammates attacks, which can prevent them from autonomously making some silly mistakes.

    To have a say in every single move your party makes, set everyone to direct controls. If you don’t do this all the time, it may be wise to at least do it during boss battles, as they’re generally significantly tougher and have higher stakes for losing.

    Experiment with a mix and find out what works best for your playstyle!

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