What To Know Before Playing Octopath Traveler

Octopath Traveler is a throwback to classic Japanese RPG with a few modern twists. If you grew up with games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI, you’ll probably love Octopath Traveler. It brings with it the wonderful nostalgic tropes of the genre — including turn-based combat, side-quests, character classes and many traditional items — but it re-introduces these concepts with some fancy modern tech and design elements. Oh, and it’s out right now on the Nintendo Switch.

Square Enix has had a crack at these retro-style RPGs a couple of times already, with titles like I Am Setsuna and Lost Sphear, but Octopath Traveler feels a little different to those games. For one thing, it’s a far grander adventure and it arguably has a stronger unifying vision behind it. An apt comparison might be something like SaGa Frontier, where multiple divergent storylines were featured (by the way, if you haven’t played SaGa Frontier, you’re missing out on some great classic gaming).

Given the influences on display here — and the fact that Octopath Traveler introduces some of its own unique elements, or puts a different spin on existing ones — you’ll find there’s quite a lot to learn here. Also, Octopath is a pretty long game with plenty of content. So, before you sink 40+ hours into the experience, let’s get you started with everything you need to know (and everything I wish I’d known) before playing.

Your first character pick is permanent

When you start Octopath Traveler, you’ll have the opportunity to choose a main protagonist. Right from the start, you can choose to begin the game with any of the 8 main characters. However, the character you choose initially will always be the core member of your party — as you explore Orsterra, you’ll come across the other 7 characters, and you’ll be able to add them to your party as well. But you’ll be able to rotate them in and out as you please.

Although each character is fundamentally different in terms of background and story, they can all be roughly broken down into two major archetypes: mage or warrior.

For the record, Alfyn, Cyrus, Ophilia and Primrose are mages. H’aanit, Olberic, Therion and Tressa are warriors. There’s a bit of a grey area here (Alfyn and Tressa straddle the line between mage and warrior), but this is a good rule of thumb to apply when thinking about who you’ll want to start with.

As you might expect, mages are essentially glass cannon type builds and warriors are a little more harder with higher HP, greater defence, and access to stronger armor and weapons.

Buy a few cheap upgrades immediately

Characters all start out with a pretty barebones loadout; importantly, it can be upgraded almost immediately with a bit of thrifty spending.

After your very first errand, head to the equipment shop (which is denoted by a shield and sword sign out the front). Buy the cheapest weapon and armor upgrade you can find for a small bonus; you should still have plenty of money left for other stuff (like consumable items).

Speaking of which, your item list should also include some Healing Grapes for restoring HP as well as some Herbs of Healing for use against poison. You’ll also want to consider stocking up on Herb of Awakening to recover from the sleep status effect. Whatever funds you have left can be used for picking up additional accessories, which can confer additional benefits (like, for example, a greater chance of dodging or making a critical hit).

editor at unpause.asia. purveyor of video games, tech and other geeky things

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