Octopath Traveler is a surprisingly good game with a challenging tactical combat system and individual character stories that range from dark enough to make you wince to saccharin enough to make you gag. Like any complex RPG, it can be a bit daunting when you first dive in. Here are some tips to help you get started and ease your way.
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There are eight characters in Octopath Traveler and you must choose one of them to start. Each character has a four-chapter story and the character you choose will be locked into your party until you complete his or her story. As far as I can tell, this is the only meaningful consequence that follows from which character you choose at the beginning.
You can follow the character’s individual stories in any order because they don’t intersect. The upshot is that it really doesn’t make much difference which character you start with. Choose the one that looks the most interesting to you or best fits your preferred play style.
Octopath’s eight characters can be divided into three categories. More detailed information about the eight can be found here.
- Damage dealers: H’aanit a Hunter, Olberic a Warrior, Cyrus a Scholar (Mage)
- Healers: Ophilia a Cleric, Alfyn an Apothecary
- Specialists: Therion a Thief, Tressa a Merchant, Primrose a Dancer
Olberic, Cyrus, Ophilia and Therion are pretty much archetypes of their class. Alfyn can craft potions during battle but the crafting system is not well explained. Tressa is specialized for acquiring gold. Primrose is a support character with a very useful offensive spell. H’aanit is the most versatile character in the game. The more sophisticated you become with Octopath’s combat system, the more valuable she gets.
Gathering the eight characters
You are free to begin adding characters to your party after you finish the first chapter for your starting character. You can add the characters in any order you choose. Each character has their own starting city and you can fast travel at any time to any city you’ve already visited.
Speaking to a character when you arrive in their city will start the first chapter of their story. The story begins with the new character alone and progresses to a boss fight at the end of the chapter that involves the whole party. Once you start a character’s first chapter, you have to finish it before you can enter a different area on the map.
You can have at most four characters in your party including your starting character. As noted above, your first character is locked in, but the others can be swapped out whenever you visit a tavern. You may be tempted to put off picking up more characters once you have a full party of four. Resisting this temptation would be good. Get them all first.
Skills, Path Actions and Talents
Each character has their own unique combination of Skills, a Path Action and a Talent. Characters begin with two Skills and can purchase more with job points. All the active skills are available from the start but the cost for each skill increases dramatically with each one you buy. Passive skills are acquired once the character has four active skills. They unlock automatically but are not automatically assigned to the character. The passive skills can be very powerful. Don’t forget to assign them.
Each character has a Path Action that lets them interact with NPCs in special ways. For example, Therion the Thief has a Path Action called Steal that lets him steal items from NPCs. Other character’s Path Actions let you add NPCs to your party, gather information needed to complete side quests, or challenge NPCs to duels.
Every character also has a Talent that’s useful in battle. Sometimes the Talent and the Path Action are designed to work together. For example, Ophilia’s Path Action let’s her add an NPC to the party and her Talent lets her bring that NPC into a fight. Other Talents can be very powerful during a fight. H’aanit’s Talent that lets her capture enemies and then use them against her foes is a good example.
More information about each character’s Path Actions and Talents can be found here.
The combat system revolves around breaking enemies so you can hit them with massive damage or prevent them from doing massive damage to you. Enemies are vulnerable to specific types of ranged, melee or spell attacks and you have to hit them with their vulnerabilities to break them.
Vulnerabilities are shown in a row of boxes beneath an enemy which are X’ed out when you meet the enemy for the first time. Attack with the right kind of weapon or spell and the X in one of the boxes is replaced with the vulnerability’s icon. Boxes for previously discovered vulnerabilities will be filled in if you meet the enemy again.
When you first encounter a new enemy, you’ll want to discover their vulnerabilities as soon as possible. Attack skills that damage all enemies is a quick way to find out if every enemy on the board is vulnerable to a particular type of attack. It’s recommended that you buy these skills early when the cost for each skill is cheap.
There’s a shield with a number in it to the left of the row of vulnerability boxes. The number tells you how many times you have to hit an enemy’s vulnerability to break it.
Breaking an enemy prevents them from attacking during the combat round. It also can disrupt powerful attacks that bosses take several rounds to prepare. Well-timed breaks are an essential defensive tactic. Attacking a broken enemy also inflicts substantially more damage.
You can maximize the effects of your breaks with boosts. Each character gains one boost point after every round of combat. Boost points can be spent for extra attacks. Up to five boost points can be gained and they can be spent whenever you wish.
Timing your boost attacks is the key to winning battles. One attack that uses three boost points can break an enemy with a shield value of three. You can then do massive damage if you follow the break with a three-boost attack from one of your heavy hitters. It’s all in the timing.
There’s enough here to give you a good start in Octopath Traveler, but it’s not the whole story. There’s a lot more to discover once you’ve moved on to the character’s second chapters. Howewver, by the time that happens, you won’t be a beginner anymore.
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