Best early game party combinations in Persona 3 Reload

Best early game party combinations in Persona 3 Reload
Images via ATLUS and Sega

Written by 

Jaimie Ditchfield


7th Feb 2024 12:50

You’ve just started Persona 3 Reload and you’re trying to decide how to set up your party. Some of you may be sitting there thinking, 'How do I use this Junpei guy effectively?'.

Don’t worry, we’re here to help, as in this guide we’re going to break down some of the best early-game party combinations in Persona 3 Reload.

To qualify for 'early game', we’re focusing exclusively on the opening hours of this massive JRPG, so the party members we’re focusing on will include Makoto (the Protagonist), Yukari, Junpei, and Akihiko. Let’s get started!

The protagonist is your wild card, literally

Persona 3 Reload Tartarus
Click to enlarge

In each instalment of the Persona series, the protagonist is usually the only character with the ability to swap out their Persona, making them an extremely diverse character to use in combat.

Essentially, you'll be able to flip roles instantaneously and fill gaps when required. This means you'll need to have Personas that can use damage types you might not have access to for a few more hours or so, and buffs that can support your other teammates.

Your starting Persona, Orpheus is a fine enough Persona for a little bit, but as soon as you unlock Persona fusion, you'll quickly learn that there’s more out there to use, so we’re going to share three of the best to use.

Apsaras – Level 3 Priestess Arcana

Apsaras Persona 3 Reload
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Apsaras is a recognisable face in the Persona and wider SMT universe. She’s a Persona with the ability to use Bufu, a single-target Ice Attack, which many enemies on the earlier floors of Tatarus are weak to and can learn Sukunda to lower an enemy’s evasiveness.

The only downside to using this Persona is her weakness to Slash damage, which unfortunately means enemies can down you with Basic attacks. However, she’s one of the earliest Personas with access to an Ice Attack, so it’s up to you if you want to take a risk or two.

Alp – Level 6 Lovers Arcana

Alp is a very good Persona for utility, she has access to Garu, a wind-type attack, and Mudo, an instant kill dark elemental attack. Like Apsaras, she gains access to Sukunda, and she can even heal a single-party member with Dia.

Her weakness is ironically Ice, which can put her in a tough spot when facing enemies with access to Bufu, but her Wind Resistance can come in handy early on. Overall, she’s an excellent addition to your army of early-game Persona.

Nekomata – Level 5 Magician Arcana

Nekomata will likely be the first Persona you find with a multiple-target attack in the form of Maragi, which deals fire damage to all enemies. She has no notable weaknesses, which gives her good utility in defensive play, and she can even deal physical damage with Cleave. Overall, a solid option for early play.

Yukari Takeba – Persona: Io

Yukari Persona 3 Reload
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Yukari is one of your initial party members and the first character you meet in Persona 3 Reload. Her Persona, Io, is built around dealing Wind-elemental damage, and supporting the party with a series of healing-based abilities.

Her playstyle focuses on supporting the party with her piercing damage from her arrows, using Wind skills when vulnerabilities are detected, and making sure she’s healing the party in dire situations. She can be an asset during the earlier sections of the game, especially when you encounter the first boss fight at the trainyard.

Junpei Iori – Persona: Hermes

Junpei Iori Persona 3 Reload
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Junpei joins your party at the same time as Yukari and is focused on dealing physical and Fire-elemental damage. He has an extremely high strength stat as you progress through the game and has access to Cleave, which deals light slashing damage to one foe.

Additionally, at level 16, his Persona, Hermes, learns the ability to boost an ally’s defence through the Rakukaja skill. For the most part, Junpei will be your damage dealer, so make sure to support him with other characters with buffs on your party and debuffs on enemies.

Akihiko Sanada – Persona: Polydeuces

Akihiko Persona 3 Reload
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Akihiko joins your party on May 23, shortly before the second boss of the game. Despite being a later addition, he grants the party access to electrical-based skills, though you might have already grabbed a Persona for your protagonist with similar output before this point.

Akihiko is a mixed attacker with some great debuffing skills, especially Tarunda at level 16, which decreases the damage of a single enemy. The best way to play here is to ensure that you’re dealing electrical damage to enemies that are weak to it and that you are aware of the current buffs and debuffs at play. Also, he’s weak to Ice, so watch out for that!

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That should hopefully give you a better understanding of how you should play the early game in Persona 3 Reload. As you progress through the game, you'll get access to more unique Personas for your main character, and additional party members with further ways to customise your overall playstyle.

Make sure you visit our Persona 3 Reload homepage for more guides like all of the classroom answers and how to beat the Big Eater Wilduck Burger Challenge.

Jaimie is a freelance writer who can't seem to shut up about Nintendo games. In addition to studying Games Journalism and PR for three years, he is persistent in spreading his love for The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. Since finishing his degree, Jaimie's work has been published on Nintendo Enthusiast and Zelda Universe.

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