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16 things to know before starting Octopath Traveler 2

There are lots of things that the game doesn’t tell you that will help you on your Octopath journey

Agnea and Hikari listen to a musician in the moonlight in Octopath Traveler 2 Image: Square Enix

Octopath Traveler 2, the beautiful retro-styled JRPG, is now available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and 5, and Windows PC. The game brings over lots of elements from the first title, but adds some quality-of-life changes and new systems that even veteran players will have to figure out.

Below, I list out 16 (yes, that’s eight times two on purpose) tips to help you navigate the gigantic world in Octopath Traveler 2. There’s a lot to do in the game, so let’s get started.

Your first character choice is permanent until you beat their story

When it comes to selecting your first character, choose wisely. You will have to keep them in your party until you finish their storyline. Picking the “wrong” character won’t put you at a big disadvantage, as you can collect the remaining seven characters pretty quickly and easily.

Since you’ll be forced to keep your first-pick around for a while, you should make sure to make an educated decision on who to pick.

Pay attention to the color of enemy names

Unless you use a Scholar’s “Analyze” ability, you can’t see how much HP an enemy has, but you can estimate it by reading the color of the enemy’s name. When you select who to attack, the name of the enemy will be displayed at the bottom of the UI. If the name is white, it’s still very healthy. If the name is yellow, it’s about halfway to death. If the name is red, it’ll die soon.

Three different instances of a bird enemy in Octopath Traveler 2, all with different colored names, denoting how much HP it has left Graphic: Julia Lee/Polygon | Source images: Square Enix

Focus on one enemy at a time

This tip is a bit situational, but since broken enemies — enemies with no shield up — take more damage, it’s better to focus on one enemy at a time, breaking their shields and then unleashing tons of damage. I struggled more against bosses when splitting the damage on the additional enemies the boss would summon, but succeeded easily when I focused on one at a time.

If you have the ability to burst down multiple opponents at once with skills that hit multiple enemies, you should use them, especially against small fry.

Break bosses while they’re charged up

You know when you play a JRPG and the enemy charges up and you normally defend the next turn to avoid taking massive damage? You can do that in Octopath Traveler 2, but you can also break their shield to cancel the attack entirely.

Take a look at the turn order at the top of the screen and do the math. If you can break the boss before its next turn, you should definitely do so. If not, you should heal up and defend.

Pay attention to the danger levels

This might seem obvious, but the recommended levels for specific areas are recommended for a reason. While you can likely cheese through a boss if you’re a bit underleveled, you should try to have your entire party at that level. If you’re taking a lower-level character through a boss fight just to leech some EXP, be careful — if that character ends the fight with 0 HP, they won’t gain any EXP anyway.

Prioritize equipment over character levels

Even if your Hikari is at level 50, he won’t deal much damage if he doesn’t have appropriate gear. This game mainly uses the stats attached to weapons more so than stats gained from leveling, so make sure that your gang is geared up before taking on a tough boss.

Use your latent abilities wisely

Latent abilities are a new feature in Octopath Traveler 2. They’re special skills that you need to fill a gauge to use. (Think of a Limit Break from Final Fantasy.)

Some latent abilities should be used immediately, like Agnea’s (the dancer). Her latent ability allows you to turn a single-target attack or buff into a multi-target one, so you should definitely use hers to spread buffs to your party to deal lots of damage to multiple enemies. On the flip side, Temenos’ (the priest) ability allows you to break a shield regardless of if your attack hits a weakness, so you should save that for when the enemy has a shield up.

Memorize the order of weaknesses

The bar below enemies that display weaknesses are in a static order every time. This means you can use the known weaknesses to figure out what the others are. The order is: Sword, Spear, Dagger, Axe, Bow, Staff, Fire, Ice, Lightning, Wind, Holy, Dark.

A string of weapon types and elements from Octopath Traveler 2 over the map, in the order listed above. Graphic: Julia Lee/Polygon | Source images: Square Enix

For example, if you know the enemy is weak to Spear and Fire and there’s an unknown weakness between those two, you know that it’s either Dagger, Axe, Bow, or Staff. If you notice that they’re weak to Spear and have an unknown weakness to the left, then it’s also definitely weak against Sword.

Use day and night to your advantage

Not only can your party members use different abilities on NPCs depending on the time of day, but some members have party buffs that activate at specific times.

For example, Throné (the thief) buffs up the party at the start of battle when it’s nighttime. That said, if you’re running with Throné in your party, you can swap to nighttime before you take on a boss to give yourself a little extra help.

The trade-off is that stronger monsters come out at night, so you’ll definitely need the boost when running around in the wilds.

Running attracts more enemies

If you’re looking to avoid enemies, don’t run. If you want to attract them to grind, sprint around. Running around the maps with enemies attracts more. Combine that with the above tip to create a good combo for grinding levels: run around at night.

Osvald, the scholar, also has an equippable ability that lowers the encounter rate, so make sure to toggle it on and off as you want to avoid or attract enemies.

Take all the items you can from NPCs

Using Throné’s Steal or Agnea’s Entreat abilities, you can take items from townspeople. Both skills rely on your level in comparison to the respective townsperson’s. Agnea can’t take items if the person is higher level than her, and Throné’s chance to steal is lower if the person is too many levels above her.

All that said, you should be taking everything you can from NPCs, as they have valuable equipment, healing items, and other useful tools. You especially want to look out for items designated by a star-shaped icon. These items are used in side quests and it’s nice to have those items on-hand right away when starting a side quest.

Read the skill tooltips when using BP to power up

As a rule of thumb, don’t expect BP-charged skills to land extra hits. Powering up your normal attacks when BP allows you to multi-hit, but this isn’t the case with every skill. For example, most magic spells will hit harder when charged up, but they don’t hit multiple times.

However, some skills, like the hunter’s Precise Shot will fire off extra shots when charged up, which is extremely useful when facing a boss with a chunky shield. The tooltips will tell you how many hits the move will do when you use BP, so make sure to read them.

Temenos from Octopath Traveler 2 charges up a magic skill that will hit more when you use BP Image: Square Enix via Polygon

Do the math when you’re facing hard bosses

Yes, in Octopath Traveler 2, math will often save you. If you’re facing a boss and you have turns for three characters before the boss has three, don’t give up hope. Carefully parse through your skills and use your boosts wisely and you might be able to break that big shield before the boss has a chance to decimate your party. Take advantage of skills that slow the enemy or bump up your characters’ turns as well to help you get an edge.

Don’t forget about buffs and debuffs

If you were the type to never use “moves that don’t do damage” in Pokémon, you need to grow out of that, especially in Octopath Traveler 2. I know that in the above tip, I said that you might be able to break that big shield when things look rough, but the keyword there is “might.” If you can’t, you want to be prepared. Debuff the enemy with attack-reducing moves and beef up your party’s defense just in case. This way, you won’t even have to worry if that boss hits your party 12 times in a row, as they’ll all be standing by the end of the attack flurry.

Consider focusing on three or four characters at once rather than all eight

The game is a bit harder (and significantly slower) if you’re actively trying to juggle leveling eight characters at once. You should unlock all eight (if you want), and then focus on a few at a time. Then you can swap in some of your lower-leveled characters and level them up quickly in higher-leveled areas.

Gearing up eight characters at once is also expensive, so limiting your focus will help give your wallet — and your poor merchant — a breather.

Magic never misses its targets

If you’re blinded or fighting an enemy that’s hard to hit (like the rare monsters, Cait and Octopuff), rely on magic to get you through. Magic spells never miss, and even if your elemental attack is low, any amount of damage is higher than 0. You can also use elemental soulstones to do damage in a pinch.

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