Octopath Traveler 2 Interview

We think Octopath Traveler II is a fantastic RPG, and so we were delighted to be given the opportunity to interview two of the game's key developers. Director Keisuke Miyauchi and producer Masashi Takahashi were kind enough to answer our questions about the sequel's improvements, its development, and why the first game isn't available on PlayStation platforms.

Push Square: Firstly, can you give us a brief overview of what Octopath Traveler II is all about? What did you want to achieve with this RPG sequel?

Masashi Takahasi, producer: We were absolutely delighted that the first Octopath Traveler was a big hit and so many people played it! Although we were very grateful for that success, it honestly did put a lot of
pressure on us in terms of the second game.

When we released the original Octopath Traveler, I said that it was “a battle against people’s memories of pixel games they had played in the past”, but this time round it was very much a battle against the first game that we created. We aimed to evolve the formula rather than change it, keeping as much of what people liked from the first game as possible and trying to fully realise all the things that we were unable to do in it.

Octopath Traveler 2 Interview

The first Octopath Traveler isn't available on PlayStation platforms, but its sequel is. Why did you decide to make Octopath Traveler II a multiplatform release?

Takahashi: Of course we have heard all the Octopath Traveler fans out there asking for a PlayStation release and the team also wanted to challenge ourselves to try to get the game on as many platforms as possible. Apart from that, we made the decision internally after observing the sales of other titles.

Have you thought about releasing the first game on PlayStation?

Takahashi: We did look into it. However, we wanted to focus all our efforts on developing Octopath Traveler II and this also links in to your next question about whether you need to have played the first game to enjoy Octopath Traveler II or not.

To reduce misunderstandings about this, we decided against trying to align a PlayStation release of Octopath Traveler with the release of Octopath Traveler II.

Octopath Traveler 2 Interview

Do you think players can dive into Octopath Traveler II without playing the first game?

Takahashi: Yes, I very much do think they can dive into the series from Octopath Traveler II. Octopath Traveler II is set in a completely new world and is not linked to the story of the first game in any way, so players can be reassured that they can start from Octopath Traveler II without missing anything.

As implied in the title, this is a game about travelling and enjoying a journey. We felt that it was essential to set the game in a completely new world in order to give the player that feeling of excitement and anticipation when exploring it, wondering what lies down the next path or who could be living in the next town.

Time has passed very quickly, and it has now been five years since the first Octopath Traveler came out. I am sure there are still people who will not have played the first game, as well as those who did play it but have already forgotten the story, and this was why we deliberately did not have any links to the story of the first game. So, I can confidently say that fans of the series and new players will enjoy the content of Octopath Traveler II without needing to worry about events that had happened before.

Octopath Traveler 2 Interview

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.

Octopath Traveler 2 Interview

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!

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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.