One of Octopath Traveler’s defining features is the ability to play through the stories of different protagonists. How difficult is it to involve so many main characters in one game? How do you approach that kind of storytelling?
Keisuke Miyauchi, director: When making an Octopath Traveler game, we first start by working out all the details of the world it will be set in. This includes things like the overall nature of the era it is set, what cultures and civilisations exist in the different geographical regions and what kind of people live in that world.
After working out these little details, we look at what kind of stories could realistically take place in the different regions of the world we have built. This approach means that even though we are dealing with eight main characters, we have successfully managed to write grounded stories for them all.
If we were to write stories for each character in a completely free and unrestrained way, with any themes that we liked, it could easily lead to an unmanageable mess of narratives, with overly heroic tales that would just not happen in the world or stories that feel too much like part of a bygone age.
Have you made any improvements to Octopath Traveler II’s gameplay and combat, compared to
the first game?
Miyauchi: First of all, we have made switching between day and night possible using a single button press. It is a really simple mechanic, but really fun to use in its own right, so I would love for players to try that out. The transition between music tracks is also seamless and feels great, so I would recommend taking a look at that too.
In terms of playing through the story, the previous game structured each character’s tale in a fixed format over four chapters, but in Octopath Traveler II, each character’s story is structured differently, and it feels like you are playing a completely different RPG in each one.
In battle the new ‘Latent Power’ mechanic means that lots of different developments and outcomes can occur during the flow of combat, especially in the boss battles. This also means that the bosses use an even greater variety of attacks and increases the depth of tactical thinking in how you fight and how you select your party.
And lastly, do you have any advice for new Octopath Traveler players? Any hints or tips?
Miyauchi: Octopath Traveler games actually let you “cheat” a bit. You will find more and more of
these little ways to stack the deck in your favour as you explore the side routes, trying out field commands on different NPCs, and delving into the sub-dungeons (for example, you can discover potent weapons or unassuming townsfolk who actually hide great power).
So I would recommend that you don’t just follow the main story and enjoy exploring off the beaten track as much as possible!
Have you been playing Octopath Traveler II? Would you like to see the series continue? How about playing the first game on PlayStation? Set out on another adventure in the comments section below.
Thanks to Takahashi-san and Miyauchi-san for taking the time to answer our questions. Special thanks to Michael Bryant and the team at Square Enix for making this interview possible.