There’s been a lot of confusion about the structure of the upcoming Switch role-playing game Octopath Traveler, namely surrounding the game’s eight main characters. Allow us to clear things up.
Octopath Traveler, which comes out Friday, unfolds in an entirely non-linear fashion. From the beginning, you can pick one of eight characters—the knight Olberic, the merchant Tressa, the apothecary Alfyn, the dancer Primrose, the thief Therion, the cleric Ophilia, the scholar Cyrus, or the hunter H’aanit—to be your main protagonist. Each of these characters has their own story, and you can’t remove them from your party until you beat that story, but aside from that, this choice doesn’t matter much. You can see all eight stories in a single playthrough.
So let’s say you pick Cyrus. After beating Chapter 1 of his story, you’ll see a map that looks something like this:
What that means is that you can go around the world recruiting the rest of these characters by completing their Chapter 1s. You can (and should) get all eight, although you can only keep four of them in your main party at a time. As you recruit them, you’ll get the option of skipping their intro sequences, although you’ll have to go through a simple dungeon and beat a boss before you can finish each Chapter 1.
As you unlock each character, you’ll open up their second chapters, which are sprinkled across the world map. You can go do them in whatever order you’d like:
When you beat a character’s Chapter 2, you’ll unlock their Chapter 3, and so on and so on. It’s up to you if you want to do all of the Chapter 2s at once, or focus on just a few stories at a time until you finish them. But the level gates are steep, and characters who aren’t in your active party won’t gain experience, which makes progression a lot more complicated than it should be. (There is level scaling in the game, but as far as I can tell, it’s only for the first chapters as you’re building a party—after that, the “recommended level” for each new Chapter remains static.)
The optimal way to play is likely to pick your four favorite characters and stick with them, but Octopath Traveler allows you to be flexible. Want to maintain a rotating cast of equally powerful characters as you plow through each story one chapter at a time? Go for it. Want to try to solo the game as Ophilia? Probably a bad idea, but hey, you do you.
We’ll have much more to say about Octopath Traveler in our full review, which you can expect on Thursday morning.