In the case of Persona 5 Royal, the ending is an interesting case. Royal, in and of itself, is just a DLC expansion on top of the base game Persona 5. As such, the original ending of Persona 5 is also present in Persona 5 Royal. The interesting thing about this game is that the DLC story is locked behind some requirements.
In the game, there is a mechanic called confidant ranks. In essence, the confidant rank is how close Joker, the protagonist of Persona 5, is to the confidant. These confidants range from his teammates, The Phantom Thieves, to special people who aid Joker, like Iwai, the owner of the airsoft shop. By spending time together with these confidants, Joker’s confidant rank with these characters will grow. These confidants, just like the Personas themselves, are based on the Tarot Cards.
In Persona 5 Royal, some extra confidants were added to the game. Those being the Councilor, Faith, and Justice arcana. For the remainder of this article, these confidants will be referred to by their arcana to avoid spoilers. First, to unlock the third semester, or the DLC story, of Persona 5 Royal, the Councilor must be raised to rank 9 by November 17 in the in-game calendar. After reaching rank 9, the story progression will automatically max out the confidant at rank 10. Once this requirement is complete, access to the third semester will be ready after the final boss of the original game is defeated.
Now, this presents our first special condition of Persona 5 Royal. In the case that you didn’t max out the Councilor confidant, the game will end normally as it did with the original release. The game will end as if the DLC story never happened. This is the first possible ending.
The next ending in the game will be after completing the DLC story. If you only maxed out the Councilor confidant, an ending will be played. However, there is a true ending that can be unlocked if other confidants are raised to the max as well. For the Justice confidant, the bond must reach rank 8 also by November 17. As with the Councilor, this rank will automatically be raised to 10 during the story. For the Faith confidant, it must reach rank 5 by December 5. If these three confidants are maxed out, then a special, “true” ending will play.
Persona 5 Royal also features some unique game over screens, as well as some bad endings. When it comes to the game over screens, it has to do with a core mechanic of the game. In Persona 5 Royal, the game runs on an in-game calendar. During certain timeframes, Joker must complete his task, or else he risks losing and getting a game over. In the first half of the game, Joker is talking to an attorney, which means prior to the present time, all events that are happening before the interrogation is technically a flashback. As such, if Joker misses a deadline during the flashback portion of the game, it shows a special cutscene where Joker gets arrested. This conflicts with the proper timeline, since in the present time, Joker has already completed these tasks by that point.
Now, the unique bad endings are more intriguing. After catching up to the present time, the attorney interrogating Joker asks a series of questions that he must answer. One of those questions involves selling out his teammates, the Phantom Thieves. If the player decides to sell out his friends, this slip up leads to Joker’s death.
The second bad ending is revealed when the true final boss is revealed. In this scene, Joker is once again asked questions. After a brief conversation, Joker is offered a deal. If he accepts the deal, Joker will never be able to defeat the final boss, which leads to the collapse of the world.