A screenshot from Octopath Traveler

Check out these 6 Octopath Traveler tips to guide you on the right path

© Nintendo/Square Enix

The Switch's next great JRPG is one tough cookie, so you'd better get clued up with these tips before taking it on.

With its large cast of playable heroes, branching storyline and massive quest, Octopath Traveler is every JRPG fan's dream come true. It's a Square Enix title which unashamedly harks back to the '90s glory days of the company, taking inspiration from seminal titles like Final Fantasy VI, Secret of Mana and Vagrant Story.
While there's a lot here that has been seen before in the past, Octopath Traveler has its own unique hooks, too – the battle system being one of the most notable. Whether you're a grizzled veteran looking to reclaim your love of the genre or a total newbie who wants to see what all the fuss is about, we've compiled some handy tips to get you on your way.

1. Don't worry about which character you select first

Octopath Traveler is unique in that it has a large cast of characters to play as, rather than a single hero. One of the first choices you'll have to make when you boot up the game is which of these individuals to play as first; while this might seem like a difficult choice, it's vital to remember that no matter which one you pick, you won't miss out on the story. You'll hook up with each and every other character along the way and experience their first steps on the journey, too. When you meet with another character it's possible to entirely skip their opening introduction scene, but we'd advise against that – you'll be missing out on vital plot and character development.

2. Use the talents of your team

The cast of Octopath Traveler don't just come with their own unique tales to tell – they're also blessed with talents which will help you on your way. For example, the merchant Tressa is able to barter with townsfolk to acquire special items, while the healer Ophilia can ask non-player characters to join your party for brief periods, calling upon them for vital assistance during battle. When you're in a town don't forget to use these skills whenever possible – simply tap the Y button when you're stood next to an interactive NPC and you'll be presented with a list of all the available skills at that moment in time. Just be wary of using the 'Scrutinise' skill too much – there's a danger your reputation in the town could be impacted, and it costs a lot of gold to restore it.

3. Know your enemy, and their weaknesses

Enemies in RPGs usually have weaknesses, but in Octopath Traveler this concept is taken to a whole new level – if you hit them with the wrong weapon or spell, the power of your attack is dramatically lessened. When encountering a new enemy you'll need to probe with each weapon type to see which one they're weak against – should you be successful, you'll notice that the weapon icon appears below the enemy itself, for future reference. Next to this is a shield icon which has a number in it – this is the number of times that the particular monster needs to be hit with a weapon (or spell) before they enter the weakened 'break' stage and are stunned. Stunning enemies becomes vital later in the game, as it not only prevents them from attacking you, but also means that all weapons and spells will do massive damage, even ones they're not weak against. You may find that one of your weaker characters has the weapon needed to break your enemy's defence, thereby allowing your tougher units to wade in and cause complete carnage.

4. You've got boost power

Enemy weaknesses aside, Octopath Traveler's battle system appears to be pretty straightforward, at least on the surface. However, the Boost system really changes the way a confrontation flows and offers an amazing degree of tactical depth. Basically, every turn your character earns a single Boost Point, up to a maximum of five. By tapping the R shoulder button you can power your character up (the limit is three times, despite the fact you can have five Boost Points in storage) to make their actions more potent. For example, applying boost to a standard attack will allow your character to rain multiple blows on their opponent. Likewise, a boost-assisted spell will be more powerful, be it an offensive one or a healing spell. When you use your Boost Points you won't gain one on the next turn, so there's a risk and reward mechanic in play here; do you stack up your Boost Points to unleash a deadly attack – but also open yourself up to incoming blows – or do you slowly but surely chip away with single-boost blows? Finding the right approach is all part of the fun.

5. Know when (and when not) to heal

Given the large amount of damage enemies dish out during combat, it's a given that you'll occasionally need to patch up your party to make sure they don't go dying on you at the wrong moment. You can do this with consumable items which vary in strength, as well as healing spells which can be made more effective using your Boost Points. However, should you be low on items and Spell Points, it's worth keeping in mind that when a character levels up, their health is automatically maxxed out. If you know that a character is close to getting the experience points required to hit the next level, hold off on expending valuable healing items on them and instead use your Boost Points to upgrade their defensive posture – when the battle ends, they'll level up and find themselves restored to normal.

6. Prep for boss fights and don't be afraid to grind

Grinding has been a common part of JRPGs since they became a thing, and Octopath Traveler is no exception. You'll often find yourself hitting a metaphorical brick wall when tackling some of the game's tougher dungeons, with boss fights proving to be particularly taxing. Thankfully, a few minutes here and there taking on random enemies works wonders for increasing the power of your party, as well as raising the necessary gold required to update their weapons and gear at the nearest settlement. As you move around the map you'll notice treasure chests hidden off the beaten path; while these usually contain pretty basic items, it's worth getting yourself into the habit of opening them as the additional steps will result in more enemy encounters, which in turn means a stronger party by the time you reach the stage's boss.

Octopath Traveler is hitting Switch on July 13, 2018.