Persona 5 is awesome. And if you talk to any Persona player, they’re all going to have their takes on who the best party is, and who the best confidants are. This is my take.
Like most JRPGS you have more characters than you have spaces for them. In general, your party should consist of you (mandatory), your healer of choice, a physical bruiser, and a fourth member of your choice. In earlier dungeons (as you gain members) your fourth member should often be your newest teammate because there will coincidentally be several Shadows that happen to be weak to their element. In Mementos and later dungeons, use who you see fit and remember that (though the game doesn’t make this explicitly clear) you can change out members any time in the stats menu when you’re out of battle, or in battle if you sufficiently level up your relationship with Hifumi (more on that later). Futaba will only be mentioned in Confidants, because as your Navi she never directly fights.
Without further ado!
Morgana – Your introduction to the Metaverse and your prototypical White Mage/Healer. He has a huge SP pool and gains access to all the HP and resurrection spells your party will need. While Wind is a comparatively weak element in terms of strength and few monsters are weak to it, few resist or drain it meaning that you can almost always do at least SOME damage with him if he isn’t needed to heal and physical shots are out. What cements him as my choice for Healer, however, are his skills that for a relatively modest HP fee give you a physical attack with a high chance to get a Critical strike. These are invaluable for getting a Hold Up in times where you can’t hit a weakness (often earlier in the game) or the Shadow simply has none. He is a bit of a glass cannon though, so if there are a lot of electric based Shadows around, you may want to swap him out for a back-up. Grade: A
Ryuji – One of the two physical powerhouses in the game, and he has the highest HP pool of any character. Always try to keep him leveled up because sometimes a party of you (magic), your healer, and your two heavy hitters is a good way to go. My main issue is that Lightening based attacks can sometimes inflict Shock. Shock can transfer to your party which can be a pain. Grade: B
Ann – Sorry, Persona. Despite your love of gratuitous fanservice, you forgot to make her useful enough to keep her in your party once your options open up. Her element of Fire isn’t that useful in most dungeons – just make sure your Protagonist has a Persona with a fire spell on him and that will take care of most Fire needs – and later on weapons are a better source of inflicting status impairments on Shadows. There are also better back-up healers. She’s purely a situational party member for me, especially once Makoto joins up. Grade: C-
Yusuke – Your other physical powerhouse. He’s not quite as strong as Ryuji, and his HP pool is a little smaller, but he makes up for it in a) style and b) because the status effect of his Ice attacks (Freeze) is an invitation for a free Technical shot if you can connect a physical blow on the same Shadow on the next turn. I also like his physical attack options a bit more than Ryuji’s. It’s a coin-flip, but he’s my personal go-to. Grade: B+
Makoto – A solid back-up healer (with useful status impairment healing skills to boot) and more importantly, access to Nuclear skills which can be very difficult to come by. She tends to be my main backup healer when I don’t use Morgana. Grade: B
Haru – The Psi attacks almost never go out of style as a lot of enemies are weak to it, so be sure to either keep Haru in your party or make sure your Protagonist has some on him. She also has some good status heals, though she isn’t as strong a back-up healer as Makoto. She doesn’t seem to be as much of a damage dealer as Makoto though if using regular attacks (a necessary SP conserving move) so she’s still often on my bench. Grade: C
Akechi – By the time you gain access to his Bless and Curse skills, you’ve already probably picked up Persona(s) with access to the skills, and realistically, you’re still best off developing them from yourself for Reasons. Also, it’d been nicer to have them a hell of a lot sooner too. Grade: C
Who you hang out with is up to you, but some definitely have more advantages than others. Here’s who I think is worth leveling up. As I mentioned, Futaba will be on here, but your other party members won’t. For the most part, your main party members all offer the same bonuses. I’m going to try to finish my game maximizing Ryuji because I’m so close to wrapping that up, but there are just too many other better choices out there to focus on your (supposed to be closest) friends. I’m not including the four confidants that you level up automatically through the story because you don’t have to make it a point to hang out with them.
Must Level – These are the ones that (to me) provided the most benefit to my party. As an added bonus, I found that tended to have some of the best Confidant arcs around (well, except for Mishimia anyway)
Hifumi Togo – I wish I had started out her story sooner! Her abilities give you special moves in battle including the ability to escape from battle instantly (even when surrounded) to changing your party members while in a fight. Needless to say, your life becomes a LOT easier once you level up with her. Get on it as soon as you can.
Futaba Sakura – She becomes available fairly late in the game, but it’s very worth while as her abilities will save your ass when an enemy strikes first on more than one occasion. Her ability to cast buffs and/or heal you in battle comes in pretty handy as well.
Yuuki Mishimia – Absolutely start working on this as soon as you can. He boosts XP gains and can also make it so your party members on the bench can gain XP even when not in battle. This is vital for keeping your party close in level, which is always a smart move in JRPGs.
Tae Takemi – The more you level, the more access to health and SP boosters and accessories you get. Level her up higher and you get them at a discount. You NEED those SP replenishing bandages and this is how you get them.
Sadayo Kawakami – She’s important to level because she buys you time in school to work on other things (reading books to boost social skills, make infiltration tools, etc), does your laundry while letting you go out and do other things, and if you max her out, lets you go out in the evening, even AFTER being in the metaverse which is a huge time saver which all the time you can get is precious!
Maybe Level – These are the ones that can provide SOME benefit to you based on your play style, but shouldn’t be as high priority as those above.
Ichiko Ohya – If you get spotted a lot by Shadows she’ll help by help bringing their awareness down. It’s not the most useful, but if you start getting desperate and are frantically looking for a Safe room so you can get out of dodge which means you’re escaping a lot of battles (which also brings awareness up), this can be of help.
Sojiro Sakura – Although the Kindness bonuses for hanging out with him are nice, the truth of the matter is that the SP bandages can really offset the need his curries. If you dedicate yourself to leveling him up in the early game before you get those bandages, though, he could be helpful. It’s just hard to recommend prioritizing him.
Ryuji/Ann/Yusuke/Makoto/Haru – All have bonuses for leveling them. Most of them are the same. Pick one or two and focus on them because you won’t have time to level them all. I’m going to try and max out Ryuji and Ann in this play through and maybe focus on the others in a New Game+
Don’t Bother – These are ones who just don’t provide enough benefits to justify the time sink involved. The only real benefit is for the persona fusion boost that you also get when level up with them.
Munehisa Iwai – You can’t unlock him until you reach Guts Level 4. You can’t get Guts Level 4 until fairly deep into the game unless you neglect all your other status (which I don’t recommend). The biggest issue is that by the time you unlock him, you’re probably using a higher quality gun than what you have unlocked the ability to modify which means you’ll nearly need to max him out to be of any use. Combine that with the fact that gun effectiveness seems to go down as the game goes on (at least in my Easy/Normal mix playthrough) that I wouldn’t even recommend focusing on gun upgrades as much as I would your melee weapon – if you’re just trying to down an enemy, a shot from a low-level gun will still do the trick if they’re weak!
Shinya Oda – You can’t unlock him until about 3/4 of the way through the game, and you did see what I just said about the effectiveness of guns, right? Unlocking him does add some neat animations and the chance to get some free shots in, but when you’re only taking off 20 points off a Shadow that has 500+ it doesn’t really seem worth it.
Chihaya Hifune – She’s expensive to unlock and her readings feel pricey for what you get. Unlocking Kawakami’s skills means you can get your social stat boost simply by using that time to work on them. You can use a Wiki to preview future abilities of your Shadows or your Confidants. Gifts, taking them to a hangout they like, or having a Persona of their arcana will help boost your affinity with a Confidant instead. I regret putting time into her.
Toranosuke Yoshida – I don’t think I ever even formed a bond with him. I feel like this is a Confidant that would best be served for completionist players trying to form bonds with otherwise hard to get Shadows. More casual players though, can safely pass on him.
Justine & Caroline – Again, another Confidant for completionists. I don’t doubt this is necessary for super high level fusions, but for more casual players…not so much.
Phew! That’s a lot 🙂 What about you? Who do you like/dislike/ignore? Lemme know!