Octopath Traveler II
Image: Square Enix

In a recent interview with Famitsu (kindly translated by the folks over at Nintendo Everything), Octopath Traveler II developers Masashi Takahashi (Producer) and Keisuke Miyauchi (Director) talked about how the game's HD-2D visuals have been improved, stating an aim to make "art that would be picture-perfect no matter when you screenshotted it".

It's no secret that Octopath Traveler's visuals struck a chord with fans worldwide, with the artistic style subsequently implemented in games such as Triangle Strategy and Live A Live. Takahashi and Miyauchi know that gamers harbour a sense of nostalgia for older pixel art games, and so aimed to take Octopath Traveler II's visuals beyond the "rose-tinted" affection that fans have for older titles.

Here's the full interview segment, courtesy of Famitsu and Nintendo Everything:

We talked about HD-2D a bit earlier, so I’d like to ask about the graphics in detail. When you say “pixel art with higher density and size,” I am reminded of Super Nintendo games released late in the console’s life… Would this game’s graphics be similar to Chrono Trigger’s, for example?

Miyauchi: Yes. Last time, we had in mind an inclusive nostalgia that many people hold on to, but we thought that not much would change if we used the same method again. We needed to expand the scope this time.
By envisioning the beautiful pixel art scenery they drew back then – the trial scenes in Chrono Trigger, for example – we aimed to raise the bar of expressiveness with HD-2D by making art that would be picture-perfect no matter when you screenshotted it.

Takahashi: Octopath Traveler was released, then came Triangle Strategy, and then Live A Live… Several HD-2D games have been released, but of course Octopath Traveler is still the original, and I think Acquire was its parent. When we first started talking about aiming for Super HD-2D, we had a lot of debate about what kind of graphics would be best.

Miyauchi: Yes. After Octopath Traveler came out, I was invited to host a few talks about technical matters, and what I talked about regarding art was that everyone has rose-tinted glasses on for old pixel art. Things from the past tend to look prettier in our head, after all.
And by now, I think people have rose-tinted glasses on for Octopath Traveler as well. Therefore, we have to make something so pretty that it surpasses what people see through those glasses. That was partially our goal.

If we are talking about presentation, unlike the last game that only had a top-down view, it seems this time a variety of camerawork arrangements have been prepared.

Miyauchi: Yes. It’s processed differently internally as well, since while we used scripted events last time, this time we used the Unreal Engine’s features, doing things like we would for a 3D scene.

Takahashi: Really, last time it was like a battle between Octopath Traveler and nostalgia for Super Nintendo games, and this time it’s a battle against nostalgia for the previous game. I think I finally understand after listening to everyone here today.

This time the characters all appear to be taller, and I wonder if this is also a new attempt relating to presentation.

Miyauchi: If we only increased the resolution of the background, the characters would look strange, and we also thought that it would be nice to be able to express emotions in story events.
But the main reason is for battles. Increasing the characters’ height changes the presentation in combat a lot. While last time we reused the same animations to some extent, this time there are different animations for every skill, so you can say we upped everyone’s height to facilitate that.

The camerawork during battles has changed too.

Miyauchi: Yes. We made things flashy when they should be, and kept some things the same from last game when appropriate, and I think we managed to make the presentation very varied.

You can check out exactly how Octopath Traveler II's HD-2D visuals have improved in the announcement trailer below; you'll notice the more varied camera work on display along with the "flashy" battle presentation. The game itself will launch on Nintendo Switch on February 24th, 2023.

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Are you looking forward to Octopath Traveler II? What do you make of the improved visuals? Tell us in the comments below!

[source nintendoeverything.com, via nintendoeverything.com]