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Octopath Traveler 2 Finally Comes to Game Pass for Its Xbox Launch

A role-playing gem finally comes to Game Pass.

key art from Octopath Traveler 2
Square Enix
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Up until now, one of Square Enix’s best modern series has been strangely hard to play. In 2018, Octopath Traveler launched on Nintendo Switch, before coming to PC the next year and Xbox One two years after that. Octopath Traveler 2 hit Switch, PlayStation, and PC in 2023, avoiding Xbox entirely. That meant that unless you were playing on Switch or PC, you couldn’t play both parts of the excellent series on the same platform — but that changes now. Starting June 6, the original Octopath Traveler is finally on PlayStation and its followup is on Xbox. Not only that, but both Octopath Traveler games are coming to Xbox Game Pass for the occasion, so you can experience two of the best RPGs in recent years with your subscription.

You don’t actually need to play the original Octopath Traveler before playing the sequel. Both games tell separate stories, each following a cast of eight distinct characters on their own quests. One critique that both games faced is that its eight cast members’ missions, while interesting in their own right, don’t intersect in a particularly satisfying way. Despite that, their individual stories are fascinating on their own and well worth following.

Octopath Traveler 2 is full of interesting characters with their own stories to follow.

Square Enix

The characters are also a huge part of what makes Octopath Traveler 2 so worth playing even if you’ve never touched the original. There were plenty of interesting party members in the first Octopath Traveler, but the sequel is a massive improvement. Given how many characters there are, and how different their personalities are from each other, it’s likely that not everyone will love every member of the cast, but it also means you’re probably going to click with at least one of them.

I was eager to follow Throne, a thief who’s out to win her freedom by assassinating the leaders of the thieves guild, and Temenos, an iconoclastic cleric. Maybe you’ll be more intrigued by the imprisoned scholar Osvald or feral cat girl Ochette. Either way, you’ll have to explore each character’s story to progress, but having a favorite or two in your party makes even those less interesting storylines more fun to see through to the end.

Another issue that a lot of players had with both Octopath Traveler games is that they make grinding battles a near-necessity for finishing the game. That’s definitely true, but when an RPG has a battle system this good, it’s much easier to justify spending hours mowing down cannon fodder to get to the more exciting fights.

There’s a lot of grinding in Octopath Traveler 2, but fortunately, its battle system never gets old.

Square Enix

In Octopath Traveler, each enemy is vulnerable to a different damage type, whether that’s fire magic or attacks with daggers. Hitting an enemy with its weakness enough times will cause them to “break,” leaving them temporarily stunned and massively increasing the damage taken for a short time. Your own characters gain one boost point each turn (unless they spend boost that turn), which you can spend to power up their attacks.

Balancing break and boost is core to Octopath Traveler’s combat. Do you save all your boost points for one devastating attack, or spread them out in the hopes that it ends the battle quicker? Do you use your cleric to heal an ailing ally or have them strike at an enemy with a vulnerability to staff attacks to delay their turn? Because of its complexity, even seemingly simple battles can demand your full attention, turning what could otherwise be mindless grinding sessions into challenging tactical trials.

Each character in Octopath Traveler 2 has their own unique role in and out of combat.

Square Enix

Outside of combat, each character also has a Path ability, which reflects their background. The thief can steal items, the cleric can recruit followers, and the apothecary can just knock them out with sleeping pills. These actions also change between day and night, so even taking a nap at an inn can have strategic consequences. These abilities make the world feel more alive and gives part members more distinct identities, so even those who aren’t your personal favorites still have a role in the story.

I’d be remiss not to mention that the Octopath Traveler games also look and sound beautiful. Their HD-2D graphics style blends old-school pixel art with modern visual effects, and Octopath Traveler 2 in particular has one of the best soundtracks in recent memory (I’m still a little peeved that it didn’t get a Game Awards nod last year).

Now that both Octopath Traveler games are on Xbox Game Pass, it’s a great time to check out a series you may have overlooked. And if you only have time to play one 60-plus hour RPG right now, don’t feel bad about skipping to the sequel. It improves on everything that made the original great — and trust me, you don’t want to miss out on the real best soundtrack of 2023.

Octopath Traveler and Octopath Traveler 2 are available now on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC, and included with Xbox Game Pass.

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