Octopath Traveler has taken a new position for Japanese role-playing games with its engaging HD-2D style and branching storyline. That mark as Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent has carried the franchise to cell phones and tablets, a new prequel brings the story of Orsterra to mobile devices.
The new mobile Octopath Traveler launches today, July 27, on both iOS and Android devices. To learn more, we spoke with three key members of the development team: global producer Hirohito Suzuki, composer Yasunori Nishiki, and scenario writer Kakunoshin Futsuzawa about the franchise’s move to mobile.
We talked about the free-to-play mechanics, the spread of the HD-2D art style, differences in the combat system, and more. We also took a look at whether the characters or locations from the original game might influence this new game, and what players can expect from the three branching stories as they play.
This interview was conducted through email.
Why was mobile the platform of choice for GameSpot: Return of the Octopath Traveler? What does the platform provide for this experience that the console/PC does not?
hirohito suzuki: Hello, this is Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent Producer Hirohito Suzuki. Thanks for having me!
The mission of the team is to take Octopath Traveler to as many people as possible. For this, we have decided to release this game as a free download for mobile devices, which has evolved into the platform with the largest player base.
That said, we aim to provide the same experience as a console or PC game with a mobile device, not what a mobile platform provides for this experience that a console/PC does not. As such, unlike a typical mobile game, there are no social elements, nor do we intend for limited time events for the most part.
I hope you enjoy our Octopath Traveler title which can be played on mobile device.
The game’s combat system doubles the number of heroes on the screen at once. What went into the player’s decision to increase the hero count, and how did this choice affect the combat system?
Suzuki: The inspiration behind this was because of the large cast of characters, and I wanted to give them a moment to shine together.
The unique thing about the battles in this title is that players will be using characters located in front or behind. BP will accumulate for all eight party members, so players can enjoy faster battles than in the first game.
Additionally, there are abilities that activate depending on whether your character is placed as a front or rear guard, so it makes for strategic combat as well.
What kind of free-to-play elements will be included in Champions of the Continent? How will they affect the player experience?
Suzuki: The title’s basic gameplay is free. We’ve adjusted it so that players can access the first ending of the main story, which is about 60 hours of content, plus for free.
The characters added to the player’s roster will be largely up to luck, but it would make me happy if players could enjoy the process of figuring out how to make the best use of the characters available to them.
Explain how in-app purchases are implemented. How important are micro-transactions to Champions of the Continent and what types of purchases can players make?
Suzuki: Basically speaking, players can cast a summon from the bridge and unlock characters if they choose to do so. In this game, the characters’ abilities may provide an advantage when advancing through the main story and combat material, but they are not necessarily mandatory. However, if you want to go deeper into the landscape of a favorite character, you have to get to play that character.
How challenging did you find it to design a “free-to-play” ecosystem without relying heavily on using real-world currencies? Do you think you have achieved the right balance in this regard?
Suzuki: As mentioned earlier, the game aims to bring Octopath Traveler to as many people as possible and so the adjustments we made allow for basic gameplay to be free for everyone. Because of this, unlike normal mobile games, we made sure that approaches like ecosystem or business model don’t overwhelm the game system.
As a creator this decision was very hard to make, but my aim is that people first play this title for free and love the game, then based on that, they can choose to purchase from their desire to collect. His favorite character.
The game’s art style has become a sub-genre of RPG in its own right, with Live as a Live and Dragon Quest III Remaster being notable upcoming examples. Are there any other games in Square Enix’s library that you want to get the HD/2D treatment?
Suzuki: This is completely my personal opinion, but I’d love to see some pixel art in Final Fantasy titles HD-2D. Octopath Traveler was heavily influenced by them, so I’m sure they’ll turn out to be amazing.
However, as a producer myself, I also want to think about making new games in the HD-2D genre, not just focusing on remakes.
How does your creation process change when working with mobile titles? Have you found any limitations in writing the music for this game, or is the process the same as in the previous game?
Yasunori Nishiki: I think it can be said that music production for recent mobile games has no differences or limitations from console games. However, some implementations that may place a heavy load on the device’s CPU, such as interactive music, or long pieces of music/high fidelity music file formats, can cause problems with download capacity, and may be affected to some extent by limitations. Huh.
Of course, if a mobile game is meant to offer a different gameplay experience than its console counterpart, the way music is made should change to follow suit; However, our concept for this game was to provide our players with a gameplay experience that does not fade when compared to console games. As a result, I made sure to retain the feel of the first game even for the music.
The soundtrack to the previous game was widely praised upon the game’s launch. Do you find some sort of pressure for this sport trying to recreate that success, or are you seeing it as your own challenge?
Nishiki: The first title depicts the story of the eight protagonists and each of their journeys and so the music was composed to focus on that aspect. The story of the game revolves around evil but charming villains; As such, music is made with them in focus.
Of course, I felt a kind of pressure that I couldn’t disappoint those who thought so much about the first game, but I also remember how I could present these charming villains with music.
In fact, I was able to incorporate different musical styles that I hadn’t used in the game before, so it was a great opportunity to experiment.
Additionally, because it’s a live-service title, I wrote the music in the beginning without knowing how the story would end, so it was pretty thrilling as well (laughs).
How does Champions of the Continent fit into the full story of Octopath Traveler? We know it’s a prequel, but how long are we running back?
Kakunoshin Futsuzawa: The game takes place a few years before the events of the first game. The same towns and characters will also be referred to. Those playing the Octopath Traveler game for the first time can still enjoy this game without any problems, but those “travellers” who have experienced the game before may enjoy the journey a little more.
How, if at all, the characters from the original game – whether they are playable heroes or NPCs – will factor into this story? Will we see any familiar faces on our journey?
Futsuzawa: Sometimes characters can appear as friends or sometimes they can stand in the way of your journey. I’m afraid I’m unable to go into details, but many characters from the first game will definitely appear, so I hope you look forward to seeing them again!
The story so far revolves around three characters in Herminia, Titos and Auguste. Will we see these three stories intertwined, and if so, how widely?
Futsuzawa: These three are the “ultimate evil” so to speak. The story takes place in the vast land of Orstera, but given the sheer evil—and the three of them, at that—there’s no way these three wouldn’t be connected in some way.
The Octopath Traveler series includes the stories of many different people, and so I am very careful about these characters, their stories, and how they connect to each other. That’s all I can share for now, however, I’d love for you to visit the world of Octopath Traveler and experience how the stories are a little different and deeper than in the first game.
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