Octopath Traveler II looks incredible, but can it create its own identity?

Not every sequel needs to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes a simple refinement makes for a great job. For every game that mixes things up like Breath of the Wild, there’s another one like A Link Between Worlds that takes a more subtle iterative approach to the standard formula. After playing the first few hours of Octopath Traveler II, we realized that Square Enix’s latest HD-2D project was more in line with the latter. Everything you loved about the original 2018 Octopath Traveler is here and perhaps better than ever, while some things you didn’t like could have been changed or adjusted.

All of the original eight classes are back, but each has been slightly overhauled in both storytelling and mechanics to give you something new. For example, the Scientist class still plays a magic spell professor, but where Cyrus was a suave academic trying to find a missing library book, Oswald is a bitter and broken prisoner on a single-minded mission to avenge his family. murder. Here and there you can see some similarities between the two, but Oswald is a completely different beast.

Such similarities and differences also extend to the skills each class uses. Dancer Agneya, for example, can still use majority the same buffs that made Primrose such a powerful support member, but new skills like the ability to move another team member’s action up the timeline give her some interesting and new strategic utility.

Meanwhile, the story remains largely decentralized and we’re very curious to see how the fan base reacts to this unique structure a second time around. The developers have made notable efforts to create a greater sense of party cohesion and introduce more organic and multiple examples of party interactions, but it’s still a very convoluted tale of eight people pursuing their own goals and storylines.

Based on what we’ve seen so far, this kind of storytelling seems to work well and that the plots are overall more engaging than the previous installment, but keep in mind that we were also big fans of the polarizing story. original game. At the very least, we expect people to be as divided about the story of Octopath Traveler II as they were about the first game.

One of our favorite additions has been the introduction of the day/night cycle, which has more impact than you might think. Some environments will change drastically in between, such as the quiet ruins along the path of a country road, turning into a bustling black market as night falls. The day/night cycle also affects combat, with stronger enemies appearing after sunset to make it easier to grind, while some characters get useful passive buffs that only work at night. So there isn’t much difference between day and night, but here we are definitely recalling the recurring “dark world” mechanic from the Zelda series. So far, this seems like a welcome change that has added new depth to the adventure.

Another benefit of the day/night cycle is that it doubles the amount of gorgeous scenery you can gawk at. great art style on display. Octopath Traveler was pretty eye-catching when it came out, but this new release clearly reflects all the lessons Square has learned from developing other HD-2D games in the interim and evolving the technology. New lighting and particle effects help infuse sprites with an extra dose of realism, while a more dynamic camera allows for interesting cinematic touches. Watching the camera pan around sharply just before you launch a strong attack. never getting old.

So far, we have been very impressed with what we have experienced with the Octopath Traveler II. The combat is deeper, the graphics are better, and the class system is showing signs of some key changes that we want to explore further. This is Octopath Traveler on steroids and we think fans of the original for the most part will be thrilled with what the team has put together here.

But at the same time, there are times when the Octopath Traveler II seems to be playing too cautiously and following in the footsteps of its predecessor too closely. It’s good to double down on what works, but it remains to be seen how far the Octopath Traveler II will go in establishing its own identity, as the early hours can sometimes feel quite familiar.

Octopus Traveler II 5
Image: Square Enix

In any case, the Octopath Traveler II is at least comparable to the original in terms of workmanship; it seems to be generally better do what the original game intended, but we’ll be sharing our final opinion on that with you soon.

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