Persona on PC is a bit of a mess. We did get Persona 4 Golden recently, but are still missing things like Persona 3 and Persona 5, even though we got it’s sequel: Persona 5 Strikers. In keeping with tradition, ATLUS has decided to omit those and give us Persona 4 Arena Ultimax instead. Having played it now though, I can’t say I’m complaining.
Okay, so let’s start with what exactly this game is. Persona is usually a JRPG series, but this is a fighting game and it’s one developed between ATLUS and the prestigious Arc System Works – who brought us classics like BlazBlue and Guilty Gear. This game plays a lot like those two, but does so while incorporating a ton of elements from Persona and honestly, it’s a bit brilliant how it all works out.
Each character has moves of their own, but also has their persona with unique moves on top of that and the game basically revolves around combining these two to build up some nasty combos. It is a very cool mechanic and, while complex on paper, I managed to pick it up pretty quickly and had a lot more fun with the characters here than the same ones that were included in BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle.
And of course, given the developer, the base combat is some incredibly polished stuff – before you even get to the extras like personas or super moves. It’s fast, fluid, responsive, and way more fun than I thought it was going to be if I am being honest. Maybe it’s because I am just coming off of playing Phantom Breaker (which is far clunkier in comparison), but this one just feels good to play. It has that perfect blend of move variety, gameplay mechanics, and audiovisual feedback to give the combat that unique Arc System touch and it makes for some very satisfying gameplay.
Content-wise, there’s also a good chunk to play through. You’ve got arcade mode, score attack, lessons, training, challenges, and this RPG-like endless mode called Golden Arena. In that one, you basically fight to earn XP to level up a certain character’s stats and even unlock abilities for them. There’s stat distribution, partners that offer unique abilities and effects, and yes, even boss fights. It’s nothing too complex, but it’s a nice touch over the “endless mode” that we usually get.
The story is also notable – both for its length (around 18 hours of VN scenes and fighting) and its insane entry barrier. Not only is this game a direct sequel to Persona 4, but Persona 3 as well and you will get spoiled on major plot points for both if you just jump in right here. I would speak on the quality of that story – but I am going to be honest, I have not completed either Persona 3 or 4 and don’t want to be spoiled myself, so I did not play through Arena’s storyline. If anything, this is yet another reason for ATLUS to bring Persona 3 to PC so that I could actually play it – lest I be forced to bust out the old PSP.
And outside of those modes there’s also the usual versus and multiplayer modes. At launch, the game is not going to have rollback netcode, but the devs have announced that it will be implemented in an update sometime this summer. A bit odd that they didn’t just do that right off the bat, but at least there is official confirmation. I was unable to test the netcode as it is because I played before release, so hopefully it’s at least decent enough to hold out until summer.
That’s pretty much all I have to say about the gameplay and content. It’s a solid fighting game all around, bunch of stuff to learn and master, yet still not this massive wall to get into. It looks great with that flashy Persona aesthetic, has that similarly great music, and also runs just fine and I had no technical issues whatsoever. I will note that while I did play at 1440p, the game is actually locked to 1080 internally and only scales up from there – disappointing to see that they didn’t up the internal resolution there.
So yes, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is a fairly easy recommendation to make. If you are a fan of any of Arc System Works’ previous fighting games, then you’ll likely have a lot of fun here. Persona fans too or even just fighting game fans in general. The story might be lost on that latter group, but the gameplay, the characters, the mechanics, all of that is incredibly polished and this is definitely one that will be on my fighting game rotation for a while. Now please just give us Persona 3 and 5.
Quote: Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is an easy recommendation to make for fighting game fans. Solid gameplay, a bunch of cool characters, very polished mechanics – Arc System Works does it yet again.
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax retails for $30 USD on Steam, but you can get an official Steam key for 15% off using my Gamesplanet partner link. It is also available on PS4 and Switch.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.