Building relationships with your allies is a main component of Persona 5. These characters are called confidants (series fans previously knew them as “social links”), and the better you get to know them, the greater your rewards. But who should you focus on?
From a story perspective, you are free to pursue whatever characters you find most interesting. However, from a purely practical standpoint, a handful of confidants offer big benefits that you should obtain as soon as possible. Many other confidants offer solid rewards, but if you want to optimize your progression (and learn about some cool characters in the process), these are the relationships you should prioritize.
Note: Beyond the revelation that the following characters eventually become confidants, this is a spoiler-free list that does not reveal information about the characters' personal arcs.
Sadayo Kawakami (Temperance)
Time is of the essence in Persona 5. How you spend it (and who you spend it with) helps shape the story and progression, so you want as much time as possible. However, when you spend the afternoon dungeon-crawling, you also lose your opportunity to do anything that evening (you are supposedly too exhausted). When you max out the Temperance confidant, you are able to get that time slot back, which adds up to a ton of extra activities, stat boosts, and relationship bumps over the course of the game.
Chihaya Mifune (Fortune)
The best thing about this confidant is Chihaya ability to boost your relationships with other confidants. When you reach level seven in the Fortune arcana, she is able to remotely raise your affinity with any other confidant. This costs some money, but more importantly, it doesn't take time. So, if you aren't able to advance to a new level with a particular character, you can visit Chihaya and give that relationship a boost. That could push it up to the threshold of leveling up, so you can go visit the other character right away to take advantage of the increase and deepen your bond.
Left to right: Yuuki Mishima, Chihaya Mifune, Sadayo Kawakami, Tae Takemi, Hifumi Togo
Tae Takemi (Death)
Advancing the Death arcana is your key to obtaining healing items at reasonable prices. At level seven, you get a 50% discount on the various items in Tae Takemi's shop – but the most important ones are the SP Adhesive. These automatically restore some SP in combat, and since that resource is tied to your ability to exploit enemy weakness and heal your party, having it regenerate a little every turn means you can delve deeper into dungeons and grind longer.
Hifumi Togo (Star)
You get three key abilities from forging a deeper bond with Hifumi Togo. At level one, you are able to use Joker's turn in combat to swap out current party members for back-up party members. At level nine, you no longer have a turn delay when you choose to escape from battle – it happens instantly. Level 10 is kind of like level one, except any character can swap on their turn, so you don't need to wait for Joker. These abilities give you more flexibility in battle, and make it easier to get out of bad situations.
Yuuki Mishima (Moon)
Unlike the other the entries here, the Moon confidant doesn't give you any rule-breaking abilities, but you shouldn't neglect Yuuki Mishima. As you progress through this arc, you earn passive bonuses that boost the experience points earned by your active party and back-up party members. By the end, the boost is significant, and everyone is earning the same XP regardless of whether or not they fight in a battle. When you're steeling yourself for the late-game challenges, this keeps you a step ahead.
For more Persona 5, you can read our review and watch our episode of Grind Time focused on the game.