"Well then, let's do the first step: Knock all the enemies down, and do a Hold Up!"
Hold Up is a game mechanic in Persona 5. It allows the protagonist to choose between an All-Out Attack or a Negotiation by having the protagonist and the Phantom Thieves of Hearts surround the Shadows and point their guns at them.
To initiate a Hold Up, the party must Down all foes by targeting their weaknesses or by critically hitting them. A Hold Up is automatically initiated, after which the protagonist has the following options: All-Out Attack, Talk or Break Formation. Bosses and mini-bosses cannot be negotiated with. Choosing to Break Formation lets the current combatant resume battle in a One More.
A Hold Up will not trigger, even if all enemies are Downed, if the protagonist himself is Downed or suffering from an ailment, or is the only combatant that isn't Downed or ailing. Raising Futaba Sakura's Confidant such that she unlocks Position Hack can cause the battle to begin with a Hold Up, even if it was an enemy ambush.
"Remember how I taught you Hold Ups and All-out Attacks? I'll teach you their practical use now. There's another use for Hold Ups besides simply defeating enemies."
Similar to previous Persona games, this is the same special attack that can be initiated when all enemies are downed. Choosing this option cause the current non-Downed teammates in battle to join the protagonist in a team attack that deals massive Almighty damage to the enemies. As a bonus, should this attack kill all enemies, a special conclusion screen appears called a Finishing Touch where a party member is highlighted with a special background and dialogue. The character selected depends on which character scored the final downing hit.
For example, if Morgana downs the last enemy, he will be highlighted, even if he did not down all of the other enemies himself.
"Shadows are beings born from people's hearts, so naturally, they can talk too. In other words, you can communicate with them. Get it? If you talk to them when they're cornered, they might offer money or items since they don't want to die. In fact, talking has a better chance of scoring something great, as opposed to just offing them."
The protagonist can demand that the Shadow give him some money in exchange for their freedom. The money depends on the enemy's level, but is higher than defeating the Shadow itself. Additionally, the protagonist's currently equipped Persona also determines the payout, with higher luck yielding greater totals. They can also request an item as well, which is fixed, though enemies may grant them rarer items. If the protagonist has a Persona in their possession that matches the Shadow being negotiated with, the Shadow will be more obliging and will offer better items or more money. If Futaba Sakura highlighted an enemy with Treasure Skimmer at the beginning of the fight, the scanned enemy will always give a rare item when the protagonist asks them for one. Should the protagonist choose these options, all other enemies during the Hold Up also leave, but they do not give any extra money or items if they were not defeated.
If the protagonist has the Toranosuke Yoshida Confidant at rank 2 or higher, they can attempt to ask for more money or items after their initial negotiation ("You can do better than that."), which can cause the Shadow to give another sum of money or a duplicate of the item received. The protagonist can extort a Shadow endlessly with no upper limit. However, there is a chance for this to fail, causing the shadow to either summon reinforcements or get a free attack. If the protagonist downs the enemies again, they can restart the same Negotiation chain for more money and items if possible.
Boosting the Toranosuke Yoshida Confidant to rank 3 and 5 also gives the protagonist the chance of acquiring even more money or a rarer item respectively. ("Show me the money", "Show me the goods") Choosing that option will immediately end the battle instead of allowing the protagonist to extort almost endlessly, but also poses no risk of angering the Shadow.
Attempting to talk to Shadows affected by ailments can have different effects. Frozen, Shocked, Sleeping or Confused Shadows will be unable to hold conversation, forcing the protagonist to choose another option or Shadow to speak to. Attempting to negotiate with Shadows afflicted with other mental ailments may result in them curing themselves of said ailment before starting conversation.
Mid-bosses can be talked to, although attempting to make them offer anything will have no effect (The mid-boss will simply refuse any offers angrily) and the protagonist is forced to All-Out Attack it.
"I-Is that the Shadow from earlier!? Don't tell me... Did you take in the Shadow's appearance and powers as a Persona!?"
- Timid Shadows prefer Kind answers, are neutral to Serious answers and dislike Playful/Ambiguous answers.
- Irritable Shadows prefer Serious answers, are neutral to Playful answers and dislikes Kind/Ambiguous answers.
- Gloomy Shadows prefer Ambiguous answers, are neutral to Kind answers and dislike Serious/Playful answers.
- Upbeat Shadows like Playful answers, are neutral to Kind answers and dislike Serious/Ambiguous answers.
If the Shadow likes their answer, a yellow musical note appears. If they are neutral to the answer, they will have blue sweat drops. If they dislike the answer, they will have red anger marks. The protagonist either needs to answer their second question with a positive response to acquire them as a Persona, even if they get a disliked response on the first one. If the protagonist answers their second question with a neutral answer, they will give him an item instead of joining. If the second question is answered with a disliked response, the Shadow will attack them, causing the negotiation to fail. If the protagonist gives a Shadow an unfavorable response, and if a teammate has at least a Rank 4 in their Confidant with the protagonist (6 for Goro Akechi), they have a chance of stepping in and helping the protagonist retry at negotiating. Having Ann Takamaki's Confidant at Rank 7 or higher lets her use Sexy Technique, which may cause the Shadow to behave as if it had been given a favored response.
There are a few conditions where a Shadow will join without needing to negotiate.
- The first is to have the Shadow's corresponding Persona registered in the compendium. When that happens, the Shadow can be recruited without negotiation. If the protagonist attempts to negotiate for anything else, they will offer to return to their side before starting negotiations. The protagonist always has the option of refusing to reclaim the Shadow.
- If the Shadow is the last enemy standing and is low on HP, it will beg for mercy and can be recruited without any questions. The other negotiation options will also work normally. Timid Shadows are more likely to beg for mercy, while Irritable Shadows will almost never beg for mercy.
- Treasure Demons will always join without asking any questions.
- Having Toranosuke Yoshida's Confidant at rank 8 or higher will, on occasion, allow the protagonist to automatically talk the Shadow into joining them. ("Join my cause.")
- Having Shinya Oda's Confidant at rank 3 or higher will unlock an option to fire a warning shot during negotiation by pressing Square. Doing so will consume ammo, but has a chance of getting the Shadow to immediately be recruited. It can also startle the Shadow enough to retaliate or flee.
The protagonist can only obtain Personas of Shadows that are equal or lower level than the protagonist. Attempting to recruit a higher-level Shadow, even through it begging for mercy or the "Join my cause" dialogue option, will instead cause it to give an item and flee. Only by maxing out Yoshida's Confidant will the protagonist be able to recruit Shadows of any level.
Sometimes, if a Shadow Downs a party member and leaves them weak enough without being knocked out, the party member will be taken hostage and negotiations will begin. The Shadow can ask from anything ranging between items, HP, SP and money. Appeasing the Shadow will end negotiations and let battle resume, but refusing any of its demands will cause the hostage to instantly be killed.
It is possible to use the Thieves Guild to instantly end a negotiation, allowing easy access to the "Competent Negotiator" trophy without losing resources.
Having Ann Takamaki's Confidant at rank 5 or higher may let her use Crocodile Tears, which lowers the magnitude of the Shadow's demands.