A beginner new to the world of Shin Megami Tensei V (SMT5) or the series in general could definitely use some tips for how to survive and thrive, and this guide is here to provide you exactly that. If you are looking for tips on how to stay alive during exploration, how to build / spec your Nahobino, or how to find all the Miman, this SMT5 guide is everything you’ll need to play this challenging Atlus RPG with confidence.
Shin Megami Tensei V (SMT5) beginner guide tips for newcomers
1. Build for either Strength or Magic with Nahobino: Do not grow his stats evenly.
In Shin Megami Tensei V, the game will automatically assign a few new stat points to Nahobino at level up, so the game itself will ensure he grows evenly to an extent. However, you will always receive one extra stat point at level up that you can assign yourself, and you should use it to specialize in something.
You should either build Nahobino to use Physical skills or various magic skills. This is the most crucial of the SMT5 beginner tips in this guide. If you choose Physical skills, you should pump a ton of points into Strength and many points into Agility to increase hit rate. (Landing critical hits grants you more turns, which grants you more control over a battle, and the opposite is true of missing attacks.) You should also buy all five Physical Mastery Miracles as they become available to get “+9” Physical bonuses. Meanwhile, if you choose magic, you should pump a ton of points into the Magic stat. Whether you choose a Strength or Magic build, you should also probably buy all five Almighty Mastery Miracles as they become available to get “+9” Almighty bonuses, because Almighty skills are extremely powerful, can’t be reflected, and come in both Physical and Magic-based varieties.
I personally chose a Magic build for a few reasons: Nahobino could exploit elemental weaknesses for higher damage and guarantee more turns, Energy Drain is a great self-sustaining Almighty Magic skill, Almighty Magic skills like Megidolaon are effective in all situations, and only needing to focus on Magic meant I had plenty of time leftover to pump a ton of points into Vitality. Vitality is another important stat just for surviving heavy attacks.
Keeping in mind you can eventually reach level 99, you probably should stop manually feeding points into a stat once it gets to 60 or so. Just use basic math and some common sense. (That being said, I got scatterbrained, went way overboard, and sent my Magic soaring to 70 before I stopped.)
2. Skills for buffs and debuffs are invaluable. Status effect skills often are not.
In some RPGs, inflicting status effects is crucial to getting the edge, whereas in others, they’re virtually useless. In Shin Megami Tensei V, status effects are situational in their utility at best. Off the top of my head, I remember one Abscess mini-boss with a Thoth where exploiting its Sleep weakness every turn was vital, and sometimes inflicting Seal is useful so that a demon can’t use powerful healing magic. Otherwise, there was never a time I recalled status effects being a crucial part of strategy. That means that, typically, you should probably de-prioritize status effect-centric skills when deciding which skills to keep on your demons or Nahobino.
Conversely, skills for status buffs and debuffs are invaluable for winning many of the boss battles in SMT5, and this is another one of the most important beginner tips in this guide. The game has skills that buff and debuff attack damage, defense, and accuracy, and SMT5 does not discriminate between “physical versus magical” for these effects. That means, for example, that if you debuff attack power (with Tarunda, Matarunda, or Fang Breaker skills), it will debuff physical attacks and magic attacks.
Past a certain point in the game, I made sure to bring demons that could at least decrease enemies’ attack power and defense to every boss fight. This is because bosses hit really hard, and they sometimes have a ton of HP. You might run out of MP before you’ve killed the boss if you haven’t kept its defense debuffed. Although, for nasty bosses like Loup-garou, you may want to prioritize debuffing accuracy instead just to stay alive.
As the endgame approaches, you will gain access to the Support skills Luster Candy and Debilitate, which both have high MP cost but buff all party stats or debuff all enemy stats respectively. These skills make an incredible difference in endgame boss fights, so make sure to bring both of them. Additionally, bosses in Shin Megami Tensei V surprisingly don’t have excessive access to the skills Dekaja and Dekunda, which remove most enemy buffs or most party debuffs respectively, so you will rarely have to worry about your hard work being totally erased.
3. You don’t need to fight everything you see. Sidequests are a great alternative source of experience.
Level grinding is seldom a good strategy in Shin Megami Tensei, because the skills and demons you bring to a fight are much more important than your level. But you do need to be at certain levels to fuse new demons, so level does matter to an extent. However, you shouldn’t worry about fighting every demon you see in Da’at. In fact, I ran right past most demons — focusing instead on exploration, destroying Abscesses, and completing sidequests. Sidequests are a great source of large experience for sometimes not a lot of effort.
If you’ve fully explored an area, completed every feasible sidequest, and still feel underleveled, then you can always go back to the highest-level demons you’ve encountered and grind those particular battles until you’re at their level. It’s much more efficient to fight this way anyway, instead of fighting a bunch of demons of similar level that yield more marginal experience. I found it’s seldom necessary to be much higher-level than the strongest demons in an area. The one exception is probably at the end of the game, where a bit of grinding (and the Mitama-drop item Gospel, which grants automatic level-up for Nahobino) is advised to hit level 78 or thereabouts.
4. Be strategic with how you spend Glory on Miracles, but don’t hoard it forever.
You will accumulate a lot of Glory as you play SMT5, through finding Miman, finding treasure chests, and (see below) defeating Mitama. Glory is the currency you use to purchase valuable Miracles unlocked from destroying Abscesses. (Check out our list of all the Miracles in Shin Megami Tensei V for more info!) You won’t always have enough Glory to spend on all the Miracles you see, which means you should be strategic about which ones you select. You should also be able to — albeit in a fuzzy manner — predict what types of important Miracles might be on the horizon, and you should set aside some Glory for those as well.
That being said, there is a lot of Glory to find in SMT5, so another beginner guide tip is to not become a paranoid hoarder. Definitely focus on need-to-have Miracles over nice-to-haves, but the “budget” will allow you a nice-to-have here and there. So just go for it. Empowering Cheer I, which recovers half of max HP and MP at level up, is extremely convenient for example, so grab it. (Empowering Cheer II is honestly really unnecessary though.) Most Miracles that boost the Magatsuhi Gauge are great too, for boss fights.
In the final area of the game, I ended up with well over 1,000 Glory because I was so paranoid that maybe there were still more Miracles left to find, but I finally had the good sense to spend (… most) of it. Don’t be like me.
4. Always fight Mitama for fast experience and fantastic items.
To borrow from Dragon Quest: Mitama are the Metal Slimes of Shin Megami Tensei V. They appear rarely and at random (but typically in set areas), but if you get the drop on one, you can earn a ton of experience and obtain rare, highly valuable items by defeating it. Encounters can include upward of four them as well. Thus, an obvious SMT5 beginner guide tip is to fight all the Mitama you find!
The trick though is that they are always weak to one specific element, and the weakness is completely random. If you guess wrong, they’ll probably just run away and you’ve lost your chance. So don’t guess. Use the item Spyglass, which will explicitly tell you a given Mitama’s weakness. Then use the corresponding magic or an item to kill the Mitama, which is usually possible in one hit. The Mitama will grant you huge experience according to the difference in level between you, and you can also get items like the aforementioned Gospel. You can also get items that auto-level up demons (Grimoires) or grant free Glory, among other things. Mitama are the best.
5. You can buy the locations of all the Miman if you need them.
A major part of the fun of playing Shin Megami Tensei V is searching every nook and cranny for the cute little Miman, who grant the valuable currency Glory. You absolutely shouldn’t skimp out on this, but if you miss a few, that’s okay. That’s because you will always find a Demon NPC near the end of each major section of Da’at that will sell you the location of every remaining Miman for a flat flee. It’s always expensive, and there are always 50 Miman to find in each of the four areas of Da’at. It’s totally worth the cost to grab all 200 though, because the rewards Gustave gives you are sometimes fantastic and the Glory itself is so useful.
In the first area of Da’at, the Miman location seller will be near the Tokyo Diet Building. In the second area, the seller will be at a high, isolated vantage point northwest of the North Shinagawa save point. In the third area, the seller is slightly southwest of the Otemachi save point. (Climb the red platforms nearby to find it.) And in the fourth area, the seller is south of the large southeastern crater area, on the other side of the wall. Travel southwest from the Asakusa save point to find the path to it; if you find the red platforms, you’re on the right track.
6. Don’t waste macca on party HP/MP recovery. Use Tennozu Isle for fast recovery.
Shin Megami Tensei V gives you regenerating green, yellow, and red orbs all over Da’at to keep your health high, and obviously you should take advantage of them. You can also spend macca at save points on HP and MP recovery, but it’s a waste of money, especially when you have precious little of it at the beginning. So in the first area of Da’at for example, there is a building knocked over southeast of the third save point that has a good amount of green and yellow orbs, so return there liberally for quick healing. (You can save and reload your game if you’re really desperate for a lot of orbs fast.)
However, the second area of Da’at begins at Tennozu Isle, and it is the best location in Shin Megami Tensei V for heavy, easily accessed healing. This is one of the smaller beginner tips in this SMT5 guide for sure, but it’s also so convenient — so listen up! When you first teleport to Tennozu Isle, the bridge directly in front of you — the one perpendicular to your path — has a ton of orbs on it. There are also a ton more orbs directly underneath that. And from there, you can head north along the path for even more green, red, and yellow orbs.
If you still need more yellow orbs after that, take the north path until it wraps back around a building. Go to the other side of that building, where you will see a hillside that lets you leap into the higher floors of the building. That spot where you leap has yet another couple yellow orbs, and inside the building is another yellow orb if you somehow still need it. You should definitely be at full power at that point, for free. I returned to Tennozu throughout my entire run of SMT5, and if I needed to build the Magatsuhi Gauge as well, I would attack underleveled enemies from behind (and then immediately run away from them to repeat the process) and take advantage of the Forestall Miracle.
So there you have it: Shin Megami Tensei V beginner guide tips large and small to help you conquer Da’at and become an SMT5 expert. Good luck out there!