The social link system from Atlus's PlayStation 2 RPG Persona 3 is returning for the next game in the series, Persona 4, which will also be released for the PlayStation 2. The social link system has been noticeably improved for Persona 4, and will have an even more integral role in the gameplay than it had in the previous game.
Using the social link system, the player will be able to build relationships with all of their team members in Persona 4, not just a few of them. Building relationships with your team members will have a direct effect on combat, because in Persona 4 a team member you have a strong relationship with may decide to block an attack aimed at you, or to jump in and finish off an enemy you just attacked. Special conversations may also occur in dungeons according to your time spent with team members in the outside world.
Building relationships with the opposite sex has also changed somewhat in Persona 4. You will now have the choice to become a "friend" or a "lover," rather than automatically a "lover" once a social link had been maxed out. Depending on this choice, different events and conversations will take place.
There will be more ways to build social links in Persona 4 as well. Going to sleep early could trigger a dream about a character you hung out with that day, improving the social link associated with that character. You can also make your own lunch for school and choose to share it with somebody. These types of actions will come at the cost of others, just as in Persona 3, so players will still have to pick their activities wisely to build strong social links.
In addition to social link improvements, Persona 4 will also have a new weapon creation system, direct control over your party members, and more. Persona 4 has already been released in Japan, and will be released in North America on December 9, 2008.