If you’re like me, you snagged Persona 5 on release day and got to work on stealing hearts. One thing you may have noticed is the sheer volume of decisions to keep track of, from combat to social interactions. Further, not a lot of it is explained very well (if at all), and is left up to the gamer to tease apart. One of the major points of the game is the Hold-Up mechanic, which can be overwhelming at first. If properly understood and utilized, this can go a long way to aiding your band of Phantom Thieves in completing their quest.
What is a Hold-Up?
If you haven’t made it too far into the game yet, you might be wondering what I’m talking about. A Hold-Up occurs when you’ve knocked down every enemy you’re up against(minus the ones you’ve already killed in that individual battle) by exploiting each of their weaknesses. Once all enemies in a fight are stunned (unless this scenario occurred by killing a non-stunned enemy), your group will rush forward and brandish their different ranged weapons, announcing “This is a Hold-Up!”. At this point, as the leader, you have 3 options: All-Out Attack, Break Formation, and Talk. If you’ve ever played a Persona game before, you’re familiar with this mechanic; however in Persona 4, your only two options were All Out Attack or Break Formation. All-Out Attack will engage a powerful attack against all enemies on the screen, Break Formation continues the order of your individual turns, and Talking will allow the protagonist to try and negotiate with an enemy. Negotiations can be tricky and confusing, as they’re never explained well unless you delve into the tutorials section of the game on your own.
Negotiation and its Consequences
When you choose to speak with an enemy, you get to decide which enemy you’d like to actually talk to, and you have 3 courses of action from here: Lend Me Your Power, Give Me Money, or Give Me An Item. By going down one of these routes, you’re actually not giving up as much as you might think at first.
Upon a successful negotiation, combat ends, and you’re brought to your standard results screen. “But wait, what about my experience and money from the fight?” you might be wondering. This is the key to efficiently utilizing the mechanic: Enemies that you’ve already defeated in a battle count towards your experience and money. The enemy you negotiate with counts towards your experience, but not your money. All other enemies who were knocked down during the time of negotiation flee and do not count towards your rewards. For example, if you fight 2 Pixies and a Succubus, kill one of the Pixies, then knock down the remaining Pixie and Succubus, and negotiate with the Succubus. Then your results screen will give you experience for Pixie A and Succubus, money for Pixie A, and nothing for Pixie B.
Lend Me Your Power
Obviously gathering multiple Personas and switching on the fly is the driving point of combat in Persona 5, not to mention the benefits they give to social interaction bonuses when developing Confidants. To gain a new Persona, you have 2 options, you can fuse multiple existing Personas in your group, or you can convince them to defect to your side during combat. The latter is accomplished through the “Lend Me Your Power” option in negotiation. There are three very important things to note if you choose to pursue this mid fight: you MUST be of equal level or higher to the enemy you’re trying to capture otherwise they will give you a cheap item and flee, if you fail your negotiation then they get to take a turn despite the current order, and finally, the responses that work during negotiation are directly dependent on the type/attitude of the Persona. Both the level and attitude of the targeted enemy can be found next to their name in the upper left corner of the screen when deciding which request to make.
There are 4 different types of attitudes among the various Persona in the game: Upbeat, Irritable, Timid, and Gloomy. When it comes to negotiation, Persona are pigeonholed into a single category, which responds positively, neutrally, or negatively to different answers to their questions. There are 4 different types of answers you can give during a question: joking (think sarcastic), serious, kind, and vague. When you give an answer, the Persona will give a visual cue on how it feels. If you see music notes (similar to when you gain personality points), you answered positively. If you see sweat beads, you answered neutrally. If you see red anger marks, that’s negative. See the following table for how each attitude group of Persona responds to each answer. One thing to note, if you’ve already captured or fused a Persona before and are trying to re-capture them, you do not need to negotiate, instead select “I didn’t ask for this”.
Give Me Some Money
Money is extremely important in Persona 5. You need it for weapons, activities, items, meals, and more. You can work for it by obtaining a part time job, or you can utilize the Hold-Up system to extort Persona for money. This option will always give you more than if you’d simply killed the Persona, but it does end the battle. One way to utilize this is if you’ve found yourself in a tight spot late in a dungeon, and worry about finishing off a difficult opponent, you can simply down them and ask for money to obtain more cash and still gain the experience. However, as previously stated, if any other opponents are still alive during a fight, and you ask for money, you get nothing from them. No experience, no money, no items.
Give Me an Item
This option works nearly identically to the previous option. A Persona will give you an item, then flee. You still get experience as if you defeated the enemy, but now you get no money from it. If any other enemies were alive at the time you asked for an item, they disappear without a trace. I’ve found the items are frequently not worth the opportunity cost of asking for money.
Utilization of Hold-Ups
Hold-Ups serve a wide variety of uses, from farming cash (which allows you to limit the days you need to work a part-time job in your social time, giving back days for activities), to ending fights where you might be over-matched, to gaining new Persona. The best way to utilize Hold-Ups is to kill all but one enemy, target its weakness, then ask for money. This gains all the experience of all enemies in the fight, and maximizes the money from the fight as well. The only thing you potentially give up in this situation is SP or a firearm round or two to hit the enemy’s weakness. Over the long haul, this can pay dividends, and net you a substantial amount of currency more than if you’d just killed off every opponent. My very favorite use for this mechanic is after reaching the end of a palace with HP, SP, and bullets to spare. I’m essentially playing with house money at that point, so I can double back to previous areas of the palace and farm currency and experience with the remaining HP/SP/Bullets by downing enemies and extorting for money. This also allows me to not have to worry about spending cash on pulling out Persona from the compendium when I’m interacting with Confidants, and reduces a lot of stress in being strapped for cash.