Collecting the various demons of Shin Megami Tensei has long been a staple of the series. Each creature has its strengths and weaknesses that the player can take advantage of, giving combat greater depth. Shin Megami Tensei IV took this concept a step further with the Skill Affinity system, a mechanic that influences the power of each skill. This system has a spiritual successor in Shin Megami Tensei V called Skill Potential, which functions in much the same way.
While this newest installment in the beloved series is considered a good entry point for newcomers, the combat of Shin Megami Tensei V can be a bit overwhelming due to the sheer amount of mechanics at play. Understanding the nuances of Skill Potential will give players a much-needed edge and could be the difference between mastering the many demons of Da'at or becoming another casualty on their destructive path.
The skills of Shin Megami Tensei V are separated into 11 types: Physical, Fire, Ice, Elec, Force, Light, Dark, Almighty, Ailment, Healing and Support. The protagonist, as well as every demon, will have skills that fall under one of these categories, the strength of which is determined by the Skill Potential for its associated type. For example, the Hydra has a Skill Potential of +3 in Fire. Because of this, associated skills such as Fire Breath will also have a +3 next to them. These same affinity skills will have greater power and cost less mana to cast.
Conversely, Skill Potential can have adverse effects. The Hydra has -4 in its Ice Skill Potential, so any skills in that category will be weaker and cost more mana. This makes it very important to avoid skill types with low Potential, as they will be detrimental in combat. Keep an eye on the affinity of every demon; a team with a nice balance of different Skill Potentials will improve the odds of surviving in the wastes of Da'at. If you find yourself stuck on a difficult boss, be sure to figure out its weakness and stack your party with demons that are strong in that particular Skill Potential for better odds.
Players will also come across Essence, which are used to transfer skills from one demon to another. Keep in mind the Skill Potential of the demon that will gain a skill through Essence Fusion, as a mismatch will result in wasted Potential. Other items to look out for are Sutras, which increase Skill Potential by one in their respective type (a Fire Sutra will increase Fire Skill Potential, for example).
Lastly, there is the Magatsuhi Guage, which fills up during battle. Once the Magatsuhi gauge is full, players can access powerful Magatsuhi Skills that deplete the gauge once used. Fortunately, you don't need to worry about Skill Potential when executing these moves since they are powerful enough on their own and won't be affected by a demon's affinity.
While the Skill Potential system may seem like a lot when layered on top of Shin Megami Tensei V's other mechanics, it offers players a unique way to interact with the common damage types amongst monster-collecting JRPGs. With these tips, you should be better equipped to take on stronger demons and discover how each of their Skill Potentials can change the game.
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