Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent, newly obtainable on cellular, is a worthy sequel to the unique 2018 Switch role-playing sport. I had anticipated a watered-down fight system and a menu hell like many different gacha video games on cellular gadgets. Sq. Enix proved me mistaken. Champions retains the visuals and music that made Octopath a novel title in a area of fairly RPGs, and its streamlined fight is an enormous enchancment over the grindiness of the unique sport. Octopath is even higher on cellular than it ever was on the Nintendo Switch.
In 2018, Sq. Enix launched the unique Octopath Traveler on the Nintendo Switch. Set in the identical continent of Orsterra, Champions is a prequel, happening some unspecified time frame earlier than Octopath. Whereas the protagonists of Octopath do seem in some sidequests, the narrative is centered round a band of merry adventurers who’re united by the holy ring carried by the primary “chosen,” your first participant character (who’s randomized by the gacha). It’s an attention-grabbing tackle the primary sport’s narrative system, the place eight characters occurred to hitch up collectively for causes that had been much more tenuous. Whereas there are sidequests centered round every of the characters, the principle marketing campaign focuses on three themes: wealth, fame, and energy. Every primary questline revolves round toppling a tyrant who exemplifies a type of qualities. The adventurer group may also accumulate factors in every of these qualities, which have an effect on NPC recruitment and resource-gathering.
Critics typically praised the primary Octopath sport’s artwork type, fight, and music, however some discovered the development to be grindy and the story to be uninteresting. So I used to be a little bit nervous once I discovered that Champions was a cellular sport. Many gamers who’re used to premium console titles usually discover the cellular grind too irritating to endure. After years of taking part in video games on cellular, I’ve an infinite quantity of endurance, however even I keep in mind feeling that Octopath Traveler was a bloated time sink. I used to be ready for Champions to exacerbate the unique downside.
I used to be additionally involved about how effectively the Octopath artwork type would adapt to a cellular sport. The character designs are whimsical and successfully faucet into the nostalgia many gamers really feel for the 16-bit JRPGs of the ‘90s, however they aren’t precisely sexy or eye-catching. Except for dancers, the characters put on pragmatic garments in earthy colours. I couldn’t see myself obsessing over fanart of Octopath characters the best way that I did with Caenis in Destiny/Grand Order or the dragon woman Ch’en in Arknights. By the point I began Champions, I barely remembered what the Octopath Traveler characters seemed like.
These had been the issues I had earlier than truly taking part in the sport. Eight hours later, these issues largely forgotten, I spotted that Champions is my absolute favourite option to play Octopath Traveler. The auto-travel operate, the place you flick the display screen to auto-run throughout the panorama, feels intuitive. There are buttons to stack each character’s strikes directly, which makes abnormal battles go by lots quicker. If I solely encountered a few weak enemies, I might end the battle with two faucets.
Champions additionally introduces the idea of reserve celebration members within the again who might be swapped out and in at will. If somebody received hit by a standing impact, I merely caught them within the again line and used the reserve celebration members. Benched characters additionally get better each well being and SP (mana). Since as much as eight characters are current in each battle, it’s simpler to unfold expertise factors round to extra characters.
In each video games, fight principally revolves round concentrating on enemy weaknesses so as to break their shields. Doing so was difficult within the unique sport. A number of enemies in the identical battle usually had completely different weaknesses (reminiscent of Polearms, Daggers, or Fireplace), and boss battles grew to become excruciating when bosses would change their weaknesses. In Champions, nevertheless, with my celebration divided into two rows, I might organize my frontline to interrupt enemy shields with multi-hit fundamental assaults on the primary flip, after which use my backline of highly effective characters to pummel the enemy’s well being on the following flip. I marveled at how Champions managed to make Octopath really feel much less grindy by making very small tweaks. It didn’t must be an overhaul, and the fight nonetheless works equally to the way it does within the Switch unique.
However wait, there’s extra! The impression of standing results is now tremendously diminished, a savvy choice that lets Champions eliminate stock administration solely. I might receive equippable weapons and armor, however I now not needed to juggle restoration or standing ailment gadgets. I didn’t have to consider the distinction between Herb of Readability and Herb of Awakening, which was a very hellish expertise once I completed Octopath final yr. The NPC summons system has additionally been simplified significantly. Now not are summons tied to particular characters—now you can briefly recruit folks by preventing or paying them, no matter who’s in your celebration. These is perhaps unhappy modifications for RPG followers who take pleasure in managing their inventories or enduring the implications of standing situations, however they gave me a extra fulfilling RPG expertise.
Champions can be trustworthy to the gorgeous visuals, soundtracks, and tales that made Octopath Traveler so memorable within the first place. I felt so peaceable and relaxed as I traversed by the HD-2D panorama to the sound of Octopath Traveler’s energetic soundtrack. And I didn’t have to fret about character enchantment—I beloved each single individual I recruited by the gacha system. The return of Octopath’s character-focused quest system allowed me to develop hooked up with the characters at my very own tempo. Whereas some RPG followers may really feel that Octopath characters aren’t morally grey or advanced sufficient, I like how humble, relatable, and genuinely likable the characters are. I’m used to recruiting highborn nobles, legendary warriors, and even gods in different gacha video games. And despite the fact that the solid consists of as much as 80 playable characters, the writing makes every of them distinctive and likable in a down-to-earth method. Quite than every thing being extremely high-stakes and intense, I spent plenty of time merely serving to folks feed their youngsters or determine their analysis mission. Characters in each video games are motivated by altruism or an inherent appreciation for worldly wonders, somewhat than revenge or spite. It was enjoyable to look at characters fret over small misunderstandings or easily-resolved human struggles. I really like JRPG melodrama about secret bloodlines or no matter, however generally I simply wish to chill with individuals who have regular human foibles. Champions fulfills that area of interest completely.
The extra streamlined Champions expertise allowed me to return to my sport each time I felt prefer it, and I didn’t must relearn a sophisticated system so as to progress. It strikes the proper steadiness between approachable sufficient for many who have by no means performed Octopath Traveler and trustworthy sufficient for many who need Champions to be a direct follow-up.
Whereas cellular gacha video games usually have a foul fame for being a money seize, it’s clear that the builders of Champions put very cautious thought into designing a turn-based RPG that feels good to play. And lots of the new fight and quest system redesigns are supposed to enhance the single-player expertise somewhat than the monetization side. The new options, the best way that the themes intersect with gameplay programs, and the relatable characters make Champions a vastly improved single-player expertise in comparison with its predecessor.