In Persona 3, Social Links played a vital role in the creation of Personas: Fusions were allotted bonus experience and maxing out Social Links enabled players to unlock powerful Personas. The Social Link system returns in Persona 4, with significant enhancements designed to improve game play experience.
The Social Link system in P4 allows players to build relationships with ALL of their teammates, not just the girls. The stronger your relationships are, the more events you’ll experience. And depending on their ranks, teammates might jump in front of a critical hit for you when you’re about to die in battle or perform a support attack to finish off an enemy you weren’t able to kill. Also, certain conversations will occur in the dungeons according to the events that took place the last time you hung out with that character, providing a much stronger incentive for developing closer bonds with your party members.
Another improvement involves the Protagonist’s relationships with the fairer sex. Simply maxing out your Social Link with the ladies won’t automatically make you their “special someone” this time around. As you increase the ranks of your relationships, P4 gives you the option to be either “friends” or “lovers” with each character, triggering different events and conversations later in the game.
There are also changes to how you level your Social Links, as well as new factors that affect how quickly your ranks are increased. For example, going to sleep early enables you to have dreams about the characters you have a relationship with, making you closer to them. Also, there are certain days in the game when you can make your lunch to take to school the following day. You can then choose a character to share your food with. Both of these features allow you to strengthen your Social Links faster. However, these actions will come at the expense of another activity, which of course makes time management all the more important.
All in all, Persona 4 adds a lot more depth and complexity to the entire Social Link system, in addition to integrating it far more effectively with the other aspects of the game.
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