Persona 5 Beta Builds Uncovered

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UPDATE 1/21/24: Added credits to zecoxao for decryption, updated link to new non-corrupted 2015 dump, linked to decompiled code

On January 18, 2024, a treasure trove of new information about Persona 5’s development surfaced. Several discs containing development builds of P5 for PS3 (and some for PS4) were sold at a private auction and later uploaded to Archive.org.

Although many of the discs were reportedly physically damaged, a Hidden Palace user known as Frostwolf managed to dump the data. @TailsGuy92 and @notnotzecoxao on Twitter helped decrypt the dumps and get them uploaded to Archive.org. It’s worth checking his feed if you’re curious about the unique contents of these builds.

The Initial Discoveries

Three builds of note have been shared so far:

Of particular note are the February and December builds, which contain functional official debug tools used by the development teams. They run directly on the PS3 as part of the game and are accessible from a fully functional debug menu.

There is an ongoing effort to translate parts of the menu to English in order to make them more useful to modders and dataminers. You can see the work-in-progress open source contributions here.

Some exclusive features include battle encounter editing, field debugging, model viewing, physics editing, and EPL/EPD/EPT (particle/embedded texture) editors. While many of these formats already have fan-made open source editors, none of them are quite as robust as the tools that run in the game’s engine itself.

It Goes Even Deeper

Being an earlier build, the December one has even more leftovers. Unfortunately, the first disc that got dumped had 400 MB of missing sectors, but a second, fully successful dump of an identical disc is currently being uploaded to replace it. The new dump has been uploaded!

The location of the 2014 EBOOT

Dataminers have already found a shocking discovery in the 2015 build– in the swordtrack folder of one of the CPKs, an EBOOT.bin for an even earlier Jun 13, 2014 build of the game was found. This executable actually contains symbols, which can be used to map names to functions found in the game’s decompiled code.

Although much has changed between the 2014 executable and 2015 dump, let alone contemporary retail versions of the game, this decompilation effort may still lead to significant improvements in modding tools by providing more context to reverse engineers.

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The Event Editor in the 2014 executable found by DniweTamp

By patching the code to stop looking for missing assets, enough of the 2014 executable is usable that additional debug features can be observed. Many of these are tests for the game’s graphical systems (strangely featuring updated models of Nanako, Yukari, and Yu Narukami), but also include an Event Editor, Field Layout Editor, and Field NPC Editor.

It remains to be seen how useful these features are, and if they will also receive translation patches, but anything is possible at this point. For those that want to try out the new EPL editor in the 2015 build, there’s an extremely tiny dev environment that removes any non-essential assets to booting the game. Just extract it to your RPCS3 directory, enable the patches and right click to access the menus.

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