Octopath Traveler begins with the unique requirement to choose between eight different protagonists. While all of them will eventually meet up and become one big family, your first choice will define your initial playstyle.
There’s also a lot to consider beyond that choice. This guide will help you get on your feet in the first few hours so that the next 40 will be a breeze.
Choose a character you’re the most comfortable with
After the first several hours of any given adventure, you’ll start wandering the world map and meeting new party members, at which point the game opens up and becomes more like a traditional Japanese role-playing game.
To ensure those inaugural moments aren’t a slog, you’re going to want to pick someone who works with your personal playstyle.
The simplest way to break down the two archetypes of all eight heroes is to categorize them as mages and warriors. Alfyn, Cyrus, Ophilia and Primrose fit into the former category. H’aanit, Olberic, Therion and Tressa slot in the latter. There are a few exceptions (Alfyn and Tressa straddle the line between both), but that’s generally the type of play they slot into.
Mages are glass cannons (strong but vulnerable to damage) and warriors are a little more hardy with higher HP counts, more defense and access to better armor or weapons. To better get a handle on which exact character to choose first, read our Octopath Traveler character guide for a more detailed breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses of each individual hero.
Buy a few cheap upgrades immediately
Characters start with a barebones loadout that you can upgrade immediately with a bit of thrifty spending.
The first thing you need to do when you gain control of your character is explore the small town. Each setup is very similar in that you’ll have access to a tiny village, complete with errant treasure chests, some of which are hidden behind structures. Explore every screen you’re allowed to explore without being told that “you can’t go there” by an in-game prompt. Depending on your starting hero, you’ll gain equipment, items, money or some combination of all three. Take Therion the thief — a poison dagger is available right away in the initial zone.
After that first errand, head to the equipment shop, denoted by a shield and sword logo. Buy the cheapest weapon and armor upgrade you can find for a small bonus, and you’ll still have plenty of money left for items. Speaking of which, here’s a quick list of essentials.
Your item shopping list:
- X7 healing grape (restores HP)
- X2 herb of healing (poison)
- X2 herb of awakening (sleep)
After your shopping list is complete, you can splurge on extras. Characters generally don’t start with accessories. Two are cheap from the get-go.
Breaks and boosts rule combat
Octopath Traveler is governed by two main combat principles: breaks and boosts. Here’s a detailed breakdown of what both concepts entail.
In each turn in which a character acts, they’ll earn a boost. Think of it like a temporary power-up that’s cached as a bright dot near your character information list. You can spend three boosts in any given turn, and party members can stock five boosts at the start each. After that, it becomes a use it or lose it situation. If you decide to boost, no boost meter will appear on the subsequent turn.
Given this information, the gears in your head might be turning just thinking about the implications of boosting. For easy battles (also known as trash in JRPGs), it’s efficient to just burn all three boosts at once so you can whittle down weaker opponents and move on to the next fight. For boss battles, choosing when to boost is extremely important and can swing the tide of the encounter.
To use boosting to its fullest, you need to understand how the break system works.
Conveniently located below each enemy is their weakness bar, as well as a shield icon with a numerical value inside of it. Enemies might be weak to axes, fire magic or any number of offensive attack categories. If you attack an enemy with their weakness and deplete the numerical shield value, you’ll break them for that turn, stunning them.
To maximize your damage, you can actually time boosts with breaks. If an enemy boss is charging up an attack that takes multiple turns to use, breaking them with their weakness will shut that move down. Alternatively, you can whittle down an enemy’s weakness without boosting, then unleash a huge boosted attack to break them, allowing yourself an additional turn to recover with an item or healing spell while they’re stunned.
One more thing that pertains to weaknesses: Notice those arrows next to the basic attack prompt in combat? You can swap weapons with a press of the left and right D-pad. Since each enemy is weak to a different weapon type, it’s very important that you choose the right tool for the job.
Once you hit midway through level four (it’s not quite at level four — you’ll need to get a little higher), you’ll unlock skills. These additional abilities can add some extra utility to your kit and usually play to each individual character’s strengths.
Whatever the skill might be, you’ll want to work it into your break and boost rotation. If a skill allows a party member to do more damage next turn, save it for when that character has three boosts available.
Our Octopath Traveler character guide has a full rundown of which skills you should pick up first.
Don’t forget to heal and save often
Octopath Traveler is modeled after old school JRPGs, and there’s some baggage that comes along for the ride: namely, a real game over screen if you die during combat. Save and heal early and often.
Don’t risk coming into a battle with half health. You might get taken by surprise (a random event where an enemy troop attacks first) and get hit by four attacks instantly.
Save every time you see a save journal (denoted by a quill pen). Once you’re out of the safe haven of the first chapter, you might wander into a dungeon where enemies do more damage than your entire health bar. You don’t want to lose an hour of progress even if you’re grinding levels in an area you think is safe. If you’re going to hunker down and spend a lot of time in an area, make sure it’s near a save point, and periodically pop in to retain your file.
Fast travel back to safe havens
If you find yourself in a pickle with no healing items and little to no health in a dangerous area, you don’t need to accept defeat. Press the minus (-) button to bring up the menu and select a town to fast travel to. (You can even do this in a dungeon.)
With that in mind, most dungeons feature a traveling peddler near the end of them, so press on if you see the item bag icon on your in-game radar (located in the bottom right side of the screen).
If you’re lost, the map will guide you
If you skipped through an explanation screen here or there, you can access it again from the semi-hidden tutorial section of the main menu, under the miscellaneous heading. It’ll educate you on the basics of breaks and boosts, as well as character-specific talents and skills.
But the real secret is that Octopath Traveler keeps track of every main questline both in the journal menu and on the world map. If you’re lost, just head to the world map and look for an icon of your character’s head. It’ll not only give you a clue as to the region that will trigger the next part of that character’s quest, but it’ll dish out a recommended level range.
Alternatively, the journal will spell out each hero’s story on top of the next zone you’ll need to visit. With map icons and a fast travel system, you’ll never lose your way, even if you return to the game after an extended break.