Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is the sequel to the fighting game spin-off of the Persona franchise, Persona 4 Arena, but it’s so, so much more than just an update. Characters from both Persona 3 and Persona 4 are thrust into a fighting tournament, which continues the story after the conclusion of the RPG Persona 4. This story is canon for the Persona franchise, and takes place almost immediately after the conclusion of P4A, which itself is just a few weeks after the end of Persona 4.
P4AU picks up where the original Arena game left off, with six new players joining the P-1 Climax tournament. The new characters include Persona 3 and 4 favorites Junpei, Rise, Yukari, and Ken & Koromaru, along with series newcomers Sho Minazuki and Sho Minazuki. (it’s confusing, I know. But the story explains it.) There are also three DLC characters: Adachi, Marie, and Margaret — Adachi even has his own story! Story mode is also retooled to be more streamlined for the two major arcs (P3 and P4 story). Plus, in addition to the Adachi story DLC, we’re offering the original story as DLC too.
But P4AU doesn’t just end at Story Mode. There’s also an Arcade mode, Score Attack mode, online and local Versus mode, and Golden Arena mode, which blends RPG elements into the fighter, where you can pick your own skills to augment your fighting style! The Score Attack mode has been completely reworked with five difficulty modes for a variety of challenges at any skill level. We also added a quick match restart option, something a lot of players have been clamoring for since the first P4A! Oh, and the PlayStation version has an exclusive online lobby system, where players can pick an avatar and hang out in a virtual arcade to set up matches.
As for the game itself, P4AU is a combo-heavy, anime-style fighter from Arc System Works and ATLUS. If you’re completely new to Persona fighting games, or it’s been a while since you played P4A, there’s an in-depth tutorial in the game, which we highly, highly recommend. Mastering the skills in the tutorial is the basis for really excelling in online versus matches. Training mode is essential too — not only finding a main character and learning all their moves, but getting used to Ultimax’s situational difficulties and how each character can respond to them is key to really improving your gameplay in P4AU. Plus, if you’re lost, check out any of the P4AU vids on Twitch or YouTube!
There are a lot of new elements in P4A Ultimax. First, with all returning characters getting their auto-combos reworked and the brand new characters to learn, there’s a lot more room for discovering and creating combos in P4AU at all levels of play. The overall change in P4AU versus P4A was to give P4AU a much higher degree of risk vs. reward gameplay. Joining the skill-boosted moves from the original P4A are skill-boosted supers – super moves that use additional meter to deal extra damage. A properly timed SB super could be the difference between winning a match and leaving an opening for your opponent’s comeback.
The biggest additions in P4AU are the playable shadow versions of most of the characters. Shadow versions typically do well in the hands of more advanced players or P4A veterans, since they trade a lot of their survivability (the Burst skill) for the new Shadow Burst – a mode that slowly depletes the SP meter, but lets them chain together supers that aren’t chainable with normal characters. This also means newer players should be very mindful of shadow characters, since one Shadow Burst can easily turn the tide of battle. Heed my words: fear Shadow Chie’s God Hand combos. You’ll find out why soon enough…