The best starting character in Octopath Traveler II

The first choice is always the hardest

Octopath Traveler II is finally upon us, delivering more classic JRPG goodness like its predecessor. That said, if you’re new to the series, you might feel overwhelmed the second you start a new game.

Just like before, Octopath Traveler II follows the individual stories of eight protagonists. While you can eventually recruit everyone to your party, your lead character will be locked to your team until the late stages of the game. In other words, you should pick a protagonist you’ll enjoy using. For many, this will start and end with selecting whoever has the most appealing design and backstory. I recommend this first and foremost!

That said, if you don’t have a clear favorite, the next best option is to pick a character who will be helpful in every situation. Hitting enemy weaknesses to break shields is an essential element of combat in Octopath Traveler, so the ideal protagonist should cover a wide range of attack types. Additionally, a strong attacker will help you progress through the early game easier while you assemble your party. With this criterion in mind, two heroes in Octopath Traveler II stick out as more appealing than the rest. Let’s take a look.

Screenshot by Destructoid

Pick 1: Hikari

Octopath Traveler II has no “true” protagonist, but Hikari comes awfully close.

Sharing the Warrior class that Olberic donned in Octopath Traveler, Hikari is a powerhouse. Right out the gate, Hikari can deal major damage with swords and polearms. He can buff his attack power with the move Abide and by breaking enemy shields, so he’s remarkably self sufficient. You’ll want Hikari pushing damage as much as possible, but he also has utility in Enervating Slash. This clears all positive effects on an enemy while inflicting damage, allowing Hikari to keep pressure on enemies who buff their defenses.

The above qualifies Hikari as prime protagonist material, but we’re just getting started. Hikari’s Challenge Path Action works like Olberic’s, except Hikari can learn up to five skills from defeated opponents. This is huge, as it gives our Warrior massive versatility and access to damage types he’d lack otherwise. Additionally, Hikari benefits especially well from the new Latent Power battle mechanic (think Limit Breaks from Final Fantasy 7). When his Latent Power gauge is filled, he can use one of three powerful special moves with no SP cost. Not only does this give Hikari major damage potential for bosses, he can cut through random battles extraordinarily fast.

Even if Hikari can’t find use in a battle between all these options, he can still draw attacks to himself with Incite. On one hand, you can use Stout Wall to increase Hikari’s defense and treat him like a dedicated tank. Alternatively, you’ll gain access to the move Vengeful Blade, enabling Hikari to counterattack and deal guaranteed damage to enemy shields. You really can’t go wrong with this pick.

Screenshot by Destructoid

Pick 2: Ochette

Ochette is a great protagonist in many of the same ways Hikari is. As a Hunter, she’ll have early access to skills like Precise Shot, Cleaving Blow, and Thunderbird for bow, axe, and lightning damage respectively. Her passive abilities are also great for exploration, since Heighten Senses will trigger more preemptive attacks and More Rare Monsters will, well, attract more rare monsters. This ostensibly includes foes like Caits and Octopuffs, both of which give huge amounts of EXP when defeated.

The unique draw of Ochette, however, is her Capture/Prepare talent. Like H’aanit in Octopath Traveler, Ochette can capture wild monsters and summon them in battle. However, in Octopath Traveler 2, there is no limit on how many times you can use a monster (unless otherwise noted). This makes Ochette incredibly versatile and customizable, especially since monsters don’t require any SP to use. Do note, however, that you can’t choose who a monster will target.

By using Ochette as a protagonist, you’ll have more opportunities to pick which monsters will join her roster to help her achieve her full potential. She also has better Path Action synergy with the characters on the eastern continent, so pick Ochette if those characters interest you.

Screenshot by Destructoid

Pick 3: Castti

If you’d prefer a main character that’s more balanced, give Castti a serious look.

As an Apothecary, Castti’s base moveset fills multiple party roles. For physical damage, Castti can inflict single target axe damage with Poison Axe and group-wide hits with Sweeping Cleave. If physical attacks don’t cut it, she can also throw Icicle at foes to deal ice damage. Meanwhile, if your group needs healing, Castti has you covered. Healing Touch heals and even revives a single party member, while Replenish Health grants healing over time. Rounding her kit out is Rehabilitate, which clears a party member of status ailments while providing immunity to them for multiple turns. Feel free to lean hard into these moves in random battles, as Castti’s passive ability Vigorous Victor will allow her to recover a significant chunk of her HP and SP upon victory.

That said, what makes our Apothecary really stand out is her signature ability Concoct. Like Alfyn in Octopath Traveler, Concoct lets Castti mix certain ingredients to do anything from heal the party to inflict elemental damage. The sheer range of effects possible with Concoct are staggering and guarantees that Castti will never be dead weight. Additionally, her Latent Power allows her to mix ingredients without depleting them from your inventory, so spam this ability often.

On top of all this, Castti has access to the path action Inquire. Obtaining information from NPCs is key to several secrets in Octopath Traveler, and Inquire is one of the best path actions to serve that purpose. All in all, you can’t go wrong with Castti.

Screenshot by Destructoid

Honorable Mention: Partitio

While I don’t think Partitio is an ideal main character, I would be remiss if I didn’t give him a shout as an ideal companion to get first.

Partitio is a Merchant, meaning most of his abilities revolve around money. His kit is similar to Tressa’s from Octopath Traveler, so he won’t carry you singlehandedly through hard battles early on. Still, there are some serious highlights. Arrow of Fortune is a strong single target bow attack that awards bonus JP, allowing your party to learn skills at a faster rate. Ember is a fire elemental spell, which can help Partitio break enemy shields for your team. The main attraction, however, is Donate BP. Like the name implies, this lets Partitio give his BP to a fellow party member, enabling them to fully boost their attacks more often. Use this to massively increase the damage output of your party’s lead damage dealer!

Additionally, Partitio quickly learns the passive ability Grows on Trees. Like in the first game, this will increase the amount of money you win in battles. So not only can Partitio fill a unique support niche, he’ll passively provide money to buy stronger equipment earlier in your adventure. If your starting protagonist begins their adventure near Partitio, consider that another point in their favor.

Timothy Monbleau
Guide Editor - Timothy started writing community blogs for Destructoid in 2012. He liked it so much he decided to write articles for the site professionally. His love for RPGs and the Ys series will endure forever.