What are the Best Characters? How do Breaks & Boosts work? What's a Path Action? These are just a few of the questions we'll aim to answer in this Octopath Traveler Beginner's Guide FAQ.

Square Enix has kindly graced the Nintendo Switch with a brand new JRPG epic – and an exclusive one, no less – with the launch of Octopath Traveler last week. It artfully combines old school aesthetics with modern day trimmings to revitalise one of our favourite genres of all time.

While it's not the most difficult JRPG to get into, those who aren't used to the genre still might feel a little out of depth when they first dive in. That's why we're here though, to guide you through the opening few hours.

Octopath Traveler - What's The Best Character?

There isn't so much a best character in Octopath Traveler, but there are a few that stand out as more friendly to beginners. We'll categorise them below.

Beginner Characters - New To JRPGs

Character Class Strengths Weaknesses
Olberic Warrior - High health, defence, damage
- Pick fights with NPCs (less grinding)
- Taunts
- Can't cast spells or heal
- Limited ranged options
Cyrus Scholar - High damage
- Casts spells
- Can see weaknesses
- Low health and defence
Tressa Merchant - Starts with lots of item
- Casts wind magic
- Can rest to restore health and SP
- Low damage

Intermediate Characters - Played A JRPG Before

Character Class Strengths Weaknesses
Ophilia Cleric - Heals from the get go
- Easy to pick up
- Low damage
Therion Thief - Can steal items
- Picks locks
- Can't heal at the  start
- Difficult opening boss
Alfyn Apothecary - Heals from the get go
- Can create items
- Cures status effects
- Concocting items is quite complex

Expert Characters - Played A Whole Lot Of JRPGs

Character Class Strengths Weaknesses
Primrose Dancer - Casts debuffs
- Can recruit NPCs as party members
- Complex
- Limited offensive options
H'aanit Hunter - Close and ranged attack options
- Can capture enemies as pets
- Can heal
- Quite complex to learn
- Lacks AoE options at the beginning

Octopath Traveler - How Does Combat Work?

While combat in Octopath Traveler seems like standard JRPG fare with its turn-based attacks, using skills, casting spells, and consuming items, there are actually a few fresh mechanics that you'll have to learn if you want to survive the game's many challenges. These are: Breaks, Boosts, and Vulnerabilities.

Attack, Skills, Items, & Defend

Just before we get onto the new features, let's have a quick reminder of the more standard JRPG combat mechanics. After all, this might be your first JRPG!

An attack is a standard strike with your weapon, and the damage is determined by your weapon's damage rating. These are typically your weakest form of attack but cost nothing to pull off.

A skill requires SP points and can perform a variety of different effects, from damaging enemies, weakening them, or strengthening you in a variety of different forms. SP recharges when you rest, level up, or use a particular item.

You can buy items in shops, and their effects are wide and varied. They can heal you, recharge your SP, or cure a negative status effect. Conversely, they can also have negative effects on enemies, from dealing straight up damage to inflicting a negative status effect. When used properly, they can pretty much do anything you can do – particularly when using Alfyn, who can combine items to create entirely new items.

Defending is as the name suggests – for a single turn, you'll receive reduced damage when attacked. So it's best used when an enemy is about to hit you with a powerful attack and you can't break them. Also, your next turn will come around faster following a defend.

Vulnerabilities

As the name suggests, vulnerabilities are types of attack or weapons that enemies are particularly weak against in Octopath Traveler. Typically, you have to strike an enemy with a weapon or skill they're vulnerable against to learn their weaknesses, but certain skills and characters (Cyrus) can make this a bit easier.

When we say weak against, we mean that these enemies will take extra damage from these attacks. Not only that, but strike them with a weapon they're weak against, and you can trigger a break – one of the most vital combat mechanics in the entire game.

Breaks

Breaks are incredibly useful in that they temporarily stun an opponent and allow you to deal far greater damage to them. They're great for interrupting a boss's powerful attack that may take a few turns to charge, and for opening up an enemy to a powerful boosted attack – possibly finishing them off in a single attack.

To trigger a break, you have to attack an enemy with a weapon or attack that they're vulnerable against the number of times depicted on the shield icon to the bottom left of their sprite. If the shield displays a '1', you need only strike them once, while a '4' requires 4 strikes.

Boosts

Put simply, boosts increase the power of your attacks, spells, and skills. Standard attacks, skills, and spells that deal damage will simply have their damage boosted, while buffs and debuffs will last a few more turns when boosted.

To perform a boost, you need boost points. You earn a single point for each combat turn that you do not use a boost. So you can attack, use a skill, cast a spell, defend, or use an item to earn a boost point – provided you don't boost any of these.

You can select the power of your boost too, from x2 all the way up to x4. The damage of the attack or number of turns a buff or debuff will last is boosted incrementally with the power of your boost. 

The maximum number of boost points you can hold at any moment is five, and the most you can use for a single boost is three.

Octopath Traveler - What Are Path Actions?

Path actions are special skills that you perform outside of combat to various different aims. Each character has a different path action they can perform.

Character Path Action Function
Alfyn Inquire Gain knowledge from NPCs
Cyrus Scrutinize Gain knowledge from NPCs
H'aanit Provoke Use beasts to provoke enemies in battle
Olberic Challenge Challenge NPCs to a duel
Ophilia Guide Guide NPCs
Primrose Allure Allure NPCs to follow her
Therion Steal Steal NPC's belongings
Tressa Purchase Purchase items from NPCs

Octopath Traveler - How Often Should I Upgrade My Equipment?

The golden rule here is: as often as you can afford. However, having enough restorative items is arguably more important, as that's what's going to keep you alive for longer in dungeons.

A good rule of thumb is to regularly stock up on HP and SP restorative items (you'll want a solid baseline of perhaps five each), and a few cures for any negative status effects you might face during a dungeon, then spend any excess cash on upgrades.

If you have the stomach for it, you could grind for the cash to spend on the latest equipment upgrades whenever you first encounter them. That would also help you progress faster through future zones.

Octopath Traveler - How Often Should I Heal And Save?

You really want to save and heal as often as possible in Octopath Traveler. While it's not quite as punishing as certain classic JRPGs, it is modelled off them. You don't want to be caught with your pants down, as it were.

Ensure you heal up as soon as your health has dropped by at least half, and save at literally every single opportunity. If you die, it's game over and you can lose a lot of progress if you're not careful.

If you're in real danger, you can fast travel out of dungeons to heal, stock up on supplies, and rest. We recommend doing that over risking getting to the end. Chances are if you're struggling at this point, the boss will wipe you out anyway.

Octopath Traveler - I'm Lost And I Don't Know Where To Go, What Should I Do?

If you're stuck, refer immediately to your journal. This keeps track of all of your primary quests so you can easily see where you have to head next. Alternatively, you can check the world map, which will help you determine where you have to head next, and the recommended level you should be when you get there.