(Almost) always go for the weak spot
As in past Persona games, combat revolves around discovering and exploiting your enemy’s weak spot. You should always go for the weak spot in combat, unless your foes are so much weaker than you that you can one-hit them with physical attacks. It can be tempting to try to save SP in random battles, but each time you needlessly draw out a battle is another opportunity for your main character to take a critical hit and to face a game over, potentially losing progress and wasting time.
Stat buff and de-buff skills aren’t useless
During average combat encounters you’ll almost never have to use skills like “rakunda” and “tarukaja,” which raise your allies’ stats or lower enemies’ stats. They can be invaluable during boss fights, though, especially as your teammates level up and gain souped-up versions that affect multiple allies or foes at once.
You can change party members at any time
As soon as The Phantom Thieves grow to more than four members you have to start juggling who’s in your combat party in dungeons. Luckily you don’t have to be at the entrance or in a save room to do so — you can do it right from the “stats” section in the pause menu by hitting square with teammates selected.
Buy SP accessories from the doctor
Ranking up your social link with Takemi, the awesome back-alley doctor, has some real benefits. At some point she’ll start selling accessories that let you regain SP — Persona ability points — every turn in combat. They’re expensive, but since there’s actually no way to buy SP recovery items in the game, these are invaluable for grinding dungeons. Equip one to your main character and consider the other party members as well.
Don’t horde SP recovery items
While you can’t purchase SP recovery items like soul drops and coffee, you will get a fair amount of them from combat, chests, and other sources. Use them in dungeons when you need a little extra push to make some progress. It’s possible to complete some dungeons in one sitting, though they get extremely long toward the end, and it can be worth it to not use up additional time slots.
If it seems like you’re going through your SP recovery items too quickly, rank up your bond with Sojiro, so you can make coffee and curry whenever you’re in the Leblanc cafe.
Let Mementos requests stack up
Early in the story you’ll unlock the randomly generated dungeon, Mementos, where various characters will send you to deal with more personal metaverse targets. Don’t rush in every time you get a request, but let them stack up so you have three or four every time you go in (don’t worry, they never expire). Battling through Mementos takes up the entire day, after all, and you want to be efficient.
Keep an eye out for Tetraja
Some Persona skills are more useful than others. “Tetraja” can block a one-hit-kill skill once for your entire party. It’s highly situational, but once in a while — like during a fight with a boss that likes to spam one-hit-kill moves — you’ll be glad you have a Persona with it equipped.
Rank up your party members’ social links
There are benefits to ranking up any confidants, but none more so than your fellow Phantom Thieves. The benefits during combat — from teammates automatically healing status ailments to taking a killing blow for you so you don’t have to face the “game over” screen — are invaluable.
Register your Personas
Every time you capture or fuse a new Persona it will be automatically registered with the twin wardens in the Velvet Room. However, you want to manually register Personas whenever you return to the Velvet Room after a long time questing with the same Personas. They’ll register at their current level and skills, which you’ll be thankful for if you ever choose to re-summon them. Make sure to tap triangle to compare the registered version with your current version.
Know how to interrogate Personas
Persona 5 features a new way to recruit new Personas: Negotiation. After downing all enemies in combat, you can have a conversation in which you have to choose the correct responses to gain the Persona’s trust. Despite how it may seem, this process is not random: Check your enemies’ personality type — it’s next to their name — before entering the interrogation. “Upbeat” Personas like jokey responses, “timid” ones like when you’re kind, “irritable” shadows prefer serious responses, and “gloomy” Personas like when you answer vaguely.
Experiment with fusion
Even if you don’t care about getting the specific Personas with the exact skills needed for the twin wardens confidant, it can still be rewarding to experiment with Persona fusion. Whenever you gain a few levels in combat try returning to the velvet room and making some new Personas. The “fuse by result” option can make this easier, especially when you select to “sort by level.”
Don’t be precious with your Personas
You’re making a mistake if you get too precious with your Personas — i.e. if you love a Persona so much you’re loathe to use it in fusion. A Persona may have great skills that you hate giving up now, but if you never fuse with it, its power will eventually be outstripped by your foes. You can always re-summon it from the twin wardens if you’re not satisfied with your newer Personas.
One final tip
Take your time
Whenever you’re stressed out about what to do next, take the loading screen’s advice and “take your time.” You’re likely to spend around 100 hours in Persona 5 from start to finish. Enjoy it.