Experiencing Persona Q: Who should you use in your squad?
As a fan of the Persona series, I was ecstatic when I first heard of Persona Q. As time went on and we learned more about the game, I learned that this wasn't going to be like any other persona game. The battle system is different, the gameplay is different, even the dungeon crawling is different, but that didn't deter me from loving this game to pieces. Once I understood how the game was supposed to function, and how to fight through the emotional trauma that is Zen and Rei, I truly began to appreciate this game. With a different battle style in the form of row formation comes new ways to approach the characters to fight with. I started playing Persona Q on the P3 side and have since beaten it and am close to beating the P4 side. In that time frame I've made some conclusions on some characters. While I haven't used everybody I do have strong statements on the Persona users who have bailed me out of many terrible situations in this game on both sides respectively. This is only my opinion and if you have any qualms with my opinion, leave a comment and we can begin a discussion. Now, onto my favorites (so far) in this game.
This particular part will focus on the Protagonists themselves. In my opinion, both characters have different uses depending on which side you start on.
Let's start with the Persona 3 Protagonist. Many people refer to him as MInato Arisato or Makoto Yuki (from the movie) but in this I'm going to refer him as Kozun Oshira because this is the name I used in both P3FES and PQ. Oshira starts with Orpheus, as he does in any version of P3 and was exactly as he was in P3. He starts with fire and is weak to electric and dark just like he does in P3. He's a bit more inclined to use magic than the P4 protagonist and if you like that than you could use him with no problem. In the P3 side you should focus more on him being your go to guy however in the P4 side, I recommend using him in more of a support role. He works better in the front row due to his melee attack being not ranged however I personally used him in the back row as a status enabler. Combining Imprure Reach to increase chances of status ailments and Poison Circle to poison all foes comes in handy to do major chunks of damage per turn. Combine that with Salome's Kiss to attempt to use all three binds at once and Stagnant Air to keep ailments and binds active longer, and you have a strong support character. This idea only gets stronger when Orpheus evolves into Messiah and gives you access to Debilitate, which lowers all of an opponent's stats. Sounds like a strong support move to me.
Persona 4's Protagonist goes by Yu Narukami and Souji Seito in the manga. I named him Rin Megami in my game and in Persona Q to go along with a running joke with my friends (a play on Shin Megami Tensei). Just like in Persona 4, most of his stats are equal most importantly Magic and Strength so he's well rounded. You can use him as a magic specialist or an offensive juggernaut it's all up to you. I personally flip flopped between the two by the end of my P3 side run. As of right now he's lack luster in the P4 side and he honestly is the worst of the two to start out with based only on his weakness to wind and that shadow and their mothers in the second labyrinth uses wind moves. However if you could get passed that's he's still really solid. He gets better when Izanagi evolves into Izanagi-No-Okami and gets the move Heat Riser which will raise all of the stats of one of your allies. He also resists everything that's not physical which is a major plus.
Persona 3 fans rejoice, Akihiko is amazing in Persona Q. If you liked this protein junkies in P3 or even P4 Arena and/or Ultimax then you're going to love him in PQ. He starts with Polydueces and comes with his standard Zio and learns Tarunda early. As time goes on he learns my favorite gimmick in the game, Death Counter. If anybody in his row (the front row) gets hit, he retaliates with a melee attack if he's able to. The ability to chip away every time your front row gets his plus the poison strategy with Oshira will make your life so much easier. He also has an obnoxious critical hit ratio which just improves when Polydueces evolves into Ceasar and he gains Warrior's Title which raises his crit rate even more. Put a Delta Drive and any good physical persona on him and it's game over.
Junpei is the same lovable loser in PQ as he was in P3. There is only one major difference. Junpei is amazing in PQ. He's still an offensive minded fire user and PQ is kind to him with the addition of elemental based physical moves (he starts with Fusion Blast which is a Fire/Bash move). He also comes equipped with Rakukaja and the move Death Chaser which is similar to Akihiko's Death Counter. The only difference is that Junpei uses a follow-up attack when his row attacks as opposed to melee attacks when his row gets hit. The biggest upside to Junpei is when Hermes evolves into Trismegistus. He gains probably the best passive move in the game in the form of Golden Gemini. This means that whenever Junpei uses a physical move, he has a medium chance of using it again for free. Since Junpei uses almost nothing but physical moves, this is a perfect move for him. Nothing's funnier than using Myriad Arrows and watching it used again for free immediately. The proper way to use this ability is to combine Junpei with Yoshitsune. Yoshitsune already comes equipped with Heroic Gemini which is a watered down version of Golden Gemini. His signature move is Hassou Tobi which is the best physical move in the game. It uses 8 medium cut attacks against random opponents. I personally can't wait until I get Yoshitsune in my possession in my current playthrough.
If you remember Aigis from P3, you'll remember her as the mechanized maiden with the ungodly amount of HP. She gets a bit of an upgrade in PQ and makes her case for any team. Aigis is probably the only physical based character that can be used in the back row due to the fact that all of her attacks are ranged. She's a powerful offensive character that can take a bullet for you at a moment's notice. She ultimately gains Life Wall (yes that annoying move that some shadows have) and will take all damage for your party cut in half. Combine that with Swordbreaker which halves physical damage that hits her row and she will be your best friend from the first battle to the final boss. If that's not enough to love Aigis, when Palladion evolves into Athena she gains Aigis Shield (yes she has a cool move named after her. She has a high chance of nulling any fire, electric, wind or ice damage that targets her row. Like I said, she will take a bullet (or a tempest slash) for you at a moment's notice while she dishes out physical damage at will.
I'm not saying this because Naoto's one of my favorite persona characters, but she can come in clutch a lot of the time. At first she seems awkward because she starts with Hama, Mudo and then gets Megido (which costs 54 SP early game) but once you understand her gimmick, she becomes a powerhouse. Combine her with a persona that can do spread damage and hit any weakness and you can cast Megido for free at will (or just crit opponents with her melee attack). She could be used as a half support character and half damage dealing monster with her his SP and Magic stat. You can give her skill cards for media and recarm early and stick patra on her to heal status ailments and makajam on her to mess with your opponent's magic. When Sukona-Hikona evolves into Yamato-Takeru, Naoto gains the ability Powerhouse which will increase her chance of knockdown, which will increase her chance at boost, which means more Megidoloans! Everybody wins! Well except for your opponents.
Zen and Rei
I feel like Zen and Rei could be a staple on everybody's team, at least early game. My first playthrough, I used them through the entire game, even coming in clutch in the final boss battle. However, I noticed that their role changed as the game continued on. They start with Bane Slice which is a physical move that can inflict curse. Just like my recommendation on the P3 protagonist and Poison Circle, any move that can chip away at your opponent for free is always valued in this game. Curse will damage anybody that attacks the opponent as long as they're cursed, so I know the pain of killing yourself because you used a physical attack with a high HP cost the turn your get cursed. They also gain moves that can deal each form of elemental damage. The added bonus is that every attack can splash to another opponent in some way (Frozen Spear his someone in each row, Thunderclap hits all opponents in one row, Cyclone hits opponents in a row at random, and Fire Spray splashes to an opponent next to them at a fraction of the damage). They also learn their own versions of Matarukaja and Marakukaja that's limited to a row. The team will learn mass HP revival, bind removal and ailment removal so they will become the ideal support character by the end of the game. Which brings me back to what I started this with. Zen and Rei are a bit overpowered in the start of the game because of the offensive variety early in the game. As time goes on the only physical move to evolve is Bane Slice into Hex Slice and then Soul Slice and still have a good chance of dealing Curse to it's target. However, the elemental moves don't upgrade so they deal a low amount of damage compared to Soul Slice. This means that by the end of the game, you'll be spamming Soul Slice for the chance to Curse or land a critical hit on your opponent while holding the SP back for support moves when needed. I like the change in strategy because it reflects the change in Zen. He started the game by being offensive minded in order to protect Rei. However, as the game goes on attacks when needed and he uses his support moves to protect not only himself, but his teammates, his new friends.
Finally, we discuss my personal favorite support character. Let me say this, Rise isn't bad, she's just my cup of tea. She fits perfectly into an all out offensive strategy with moves like Spotlight, which gives someone the ability to move first. I just like Fuuka better because she does a great job of keeping your team alive. Healing Breeze is a staple support move in my mind. Use one gauge of the party meter to heal HP for the next three turns is a plus in my book. She gains Healing Tide later which costs 3 gauges for a higher raise in HP recovery, but I like to save my gauges to a more consistent healing pattern. When Lucia evolves into Juno, she gains Fuuka's signature move in Oracle. P3 players will remember this infamous move from either being really good or really bad for your team. This Oracle however is really powerful. For 5 gauges you gain either gain a 50% increase in experience, have your HP fully healed and have status ailments removed, greatly raise attack and defense for a turn, and activate either Matarukaja or Marakukaja. I personally use her for Healing Breeze alone but she can be built for any situation possible.
In conclusion, Persona Q is a complex yet fun dungeon crawling dream with many different combinations of teams at your disposal. I've given you some of my favorite tricks to go through the dungeons. If you guys would like, share your ideas in the comments. I hope this helped your journey through the labyrinths. Happy Travels!