I’ve definitely neglected my Xbox Game Pass sub as of late. I can easily count on one hand how many of the top-quality games on the service I’ve delved into over the past six months, as the holiday season AAA rush ensured I had more than enough on my plate. During this time I, in classic Aaron fashion, forgot to cancel my sub, leaving me out of pocket with little to show for my pennies. Fortunately, the incredible Persona 3 Reload has swooped in to save the day.
While Xbox-exclusive sensation Palworld kept me busy for a few days in January before repetitive boredom set in, it’s Atlus’ latest addition to the list of best RPG games that has truly vindicated my forgetfulness. I should preface this by saying that Persona 5 Royal is my favorite game, so the fact that Reload has gotten me in a chokehold should come as no surprise. With that being said, it more than deserves its flowers.
When the critic scores first began to roll in for P3R my hype grew like the Grinch’s heart on Christmas. But while Persona 5 Royal had me doing my best Cindy Lou impression, Reload’s narrative is far less cheery the deeper you get into its ~60-hour runtime. Yet, P3R is no less charming, nor less exhilarating from a gameplay perspective.
There are some great points of familiarity in Reload for P5R players, too. Many of the systems and quality-of-life offerings that arrived after 2006’s original Persona 3 are present here, making it a much more approachable experience than it was back in the day. For the most part, combat is identical to P5R’s, leaving Reload’s incredible cast as its biggest differentiator.
Though I outright refuse to rate the monetary value of a game based on its runtime, it certainly helps that Reload is absolutely crammed with content. You won’t find the fluff present in many oversized RPGs here, and the tightness of this experience makes it all the more impressive considering its length. You most likely won’t complete all of the relationship sim-like social links in the first playthrough, so there’s a ton of replayability here, too.
As such, Persona 3 Reload is one of the best Xbox Game Pass games. It’s a wonderful, approachable JRPG that will take you much more than a weekend to play through. Yes, you can probably no-life it and see the credits roll for the first time within a week, but you’ll miss out on the journey. For me, being able to use the next full moon as a natural ending point for a long session is perfect, and it allows me to take my time to get to know each of the social link characters properly without feeling compelled to skip their cutscenes.
Persona 3 Reload, as with the rest of the series, is meant to be savored over time, and that’s the sort of experience Xbox needs to keep Game Pass subscribers ticking over from month to month. Though the likes of Hellblade 2 will undoubtedly cause a spike when it arrives in May, I expect this won’t take long to taper off.
The fastest-selling Atlus game to date, Reload has also managed to take Persona 5’s baton and run with it – the developer has clearly found its winning formula. Though Persona 5 Royal was, annoyingly, taken off the Xbox Game Pass games list back in October, I fully expect the Phantom Thieves to return at some point to pick back up from where the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad leaves off.
For more of the latest Persona 3 Reload news, check out why the Persona remake machine could have more in store for PS5 and Xbox. Additionally, read up on why this Persona 3 Reload DLC leak answers the biggest question we have about the RPG.