8 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting Octopath Traveler II

The cast of Octopath Traveler II is seen sitting around a campfire.

Picture: Square Enix

In many ways, Octopath Traveler II might feel like a fairly simple turn-based RPG, but when you factor in the eight characters’ original mechanics, the non-linear storytelling, and how unapologetic it can be to throw yourself in the deep end, there’s a lot of complexity under the hood. Whether it’s prioritizing recruiting party members early or getting the most out of certain systems, here are some tips to get you started Octopath Traveler II travel.

General PSA: You won’t miss any content by starting with one character

The first decision you make Octopath Traveler II is which of the eight playable characters you want to play first. This has a few ramifications in that it will act as an anchor point for your introduction to its world, and will determine the initial set of weapons, abilities, and special skills you’ll have at the beginning of the game. Each character has a story introduction that takes about an hour to complete, but the first one you play through sets a certain tone for the beginning of your journey. But when you recruit the other seven characters in the game, you’ll also get a chance to hear their origin stories. So while choosing your first character is a big decision, don’t worry about missing out on any story content along the way.

Agnea's character profile is shown, breaking down her talents and powers.

Screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku

New characters do not scale to match the level of the old ones

There is a lot of page content to do in Octopath Traveler II, but it is probably wise to prioritize gathering the entire party as early as possible. While some RPGs will ensure that your party’s levels are roughly the same as you battle through the world, new characters in Octopath Traveler II will start at level 1, regardless of what level the rest of the group is at. Because of this, it’s worth hearing each character’s origin story when prompted upon first encounter, as it will both give you some context as to who this new party member is, and give you an opportunity to level them up a bit against enemies they are scaled to combat. Fortunately, if you make a point of recruiting characters early, they’ll probably level up pretty quickly and catch up to characters you already have with minimal grinding.

The origin stories are both narrative and mechanical intros, so do them as soon as possible

When I first started Octopath Traveler II, I didn’t play through the origin stories when I recruited new party members, but instead planned to play them by visiting a tavern and choosing to listen back to an old story later. I was busy and tunnel-visioned playing through Partitio’s story, which I chose when I started the game. But when I finally got to listen to stories for new characters at the tavern, not only was it helpful to finally invest in more stories, but it helped me contextualize how characters like Agnea and Castti’s original mechanics, such as asking for information from a local or charming them to help us, can be helpful. So while you may not be immediately interested in a character upon first meeting, it’s still worth interrupting your quest to hear their story, as it will enrich your overall experience with both story context and knowledge of the game’s systems.

A menu in Octopath Traveler II appears with options to view scenes from Partitio's story from the journal.

Screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku

Re-watch previous cutscenes to refresh your memory of the story

Man, more RPGs should let you do this. Because Octopath Traveler II focuses on eight anthology stories, it can be easy to lose track of threads as you play and zigzag through the chapters of different characters. Fortunately, the game has a handy feature that can help you refresh yourself on major events, characters, and motivations: rewatching cutscenes. To do this, pause the game, go to the Journal tab and find the character whose story you need an update on. Here you can read summaries of each chapter’s scenes, or watch them in their entirety. Many RPGs keep track of things through quest logs and codex entries, but Octopath Traveler II allows you to re-watch an entire story straight from the pause menu, and given its structure, it’s a welcome addition worth taking advantage of when returning to stories throughout the game.

Turn up the game speed

Octopath Traveler II is a beautiful game, but you don’t want to lose any of the visual style by making the matches go a little faster. During a battle, press the Start/Options/+ button and it will speed up the battle animations. This is especially useful during stretches of grinding, as it will cut down on the time spent on each battle encounter, and since it still shows all the gorgeous animation, you’re not really losing anything by flipping the switch.

Partitio is seen standing with a group of workers who ask if he has any work for them.

Screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku

Prioritize recruiting characters that can fill gaps in your arsenal

When you choose your first character, it will not only set you on a certain path for the story, but it will also play a big role in what abilities and weapons you have in the early game. For example, if you choose to start as Agnea, your early fights will be with a dagger, and that’s the enemy’s weakness you’ll most easily exploit. But as is the case with every character, one party member can’t hit every weak point on their own. As you find new additions throughout the world, you’ll naturally find teammates to fill in those gaps, but some characters can help make up for those gaps by bringing NPCs along for the ride for a limited time. Agnea and Partitio both have abilities that allow you to recruit NPCs you meet on your travels as temporary companions, complete with their own abilities and weapon sets. You can see these before you hire them, so you don’t want to go in and spend resources just hoping that a potential recruit can accommodate your shortcomings. It’s a good strategic play to recognize which weapon weaknesses you can’t hit (or maybe only hit with one character who might need some help covering your bases), and either starting with those characters or recruiting them early will help you exploit weaknesses otherwise you wouldn’t be able to without party members you have yet to meet.

Ochette and her companion are seen over the corpse of a dead monster.

Screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku

Take the guesswork out of finding weaknesses

Lots of games in Octopath Traveler II Start with some guesswork and poke as you try to expose your enemy’s weaknesses across elemental and weapon damage. This can take a few turns depending on what characters you have and is a game of elimination. However, certain characters have abilities that can help you remove some of the mystery. Two characters in particular, Ochette and Osvald, have abilities that can reveal weaknesses early on, so you can start using them to deal extra damage, tear down defenses, and hit enemies. Ochettes is more precise and a little limited relatively, but is still useful. As a hunter, Ochette is able to summon a companion that you choose at the beginning of her story. Whether you choose lājackal Akalā or her malamaowl Mahina, Ochette will have an ability that reveals weapon weaknesses or elemental weaknesses respectively. Osvalds is not limited to either weapons or elements, as a scholar he can use Analysis, which reveals both an enemy’s HP as well as a weakness. Having at least one of these two on your team at all times will shorten matches because you won’t be spending early turns figuring out which weak spots to hit.

A battle between a group of monsters and Partitio, Hikari, Castii and Agnea is shown with Agnea preparing to attack.

Picture: Square Enix / Kotaku

Stagger your breaks and use BP strategically

The core strategy i Octopath Traveler IIThe battles are to attack weaknesses and take down the opponent’s defenses. These are called Breaks, which will stun an enemy for a turn, causing any subsequent attacks to deal additional damage. Each enemy has a certain defense level shown by a numbered shield icon, with the number showing how many times you have to hit a weakness before their defense will break. On top of this, when each character reaches a new turn, they will receive one BP point which allows them to make one more attack in a turn per point spent. As tempting as it may be to spend more BP in one turn to break an enemy’s defenses, stunned enemies take more damage than regular enemies do, so sometimes it’s worth spending more time using single attacks in one turn to slowly break down defenses and then use BP to unleash several stronger attacks while an opponent is stunned. Breaking defenses is one of the key parts of being successful in combat Octopath Traveler IIbut doing a lot with the short amount of time it gives you is the difference between chipping away at enemy health over a long period of time and doing chunks of damage very quickly.

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