In recent months everyone has come to know the game sensation called Genshin Impact. Even on mobile, the game feels like a console game with a strong resemblance to The Legends of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The monetization is comparatively light, and its Battle Pass is introduced relatively late into the game’s progression.
What if I told you there is another game with a similar approach?
Let’s take a closer look at オクトパストラベラー 大陸の覇者, Octopath Traveler – Champions of the Continent.
Note: The game is so far only released in Japan. Mobile games also tend to evolve, so it’s important to note that this blog post’s contents are accurate at the time of writing but might be outdated as updates roll in.
What is Octopath Traveler?
Octopath Traveler was originally released on Nintendo Switch in 2018 and clicked well with retro JRPG fans. It features 8 main characters that have their own stories to clear but whose paths intertwine and form a bigger story. Battles feel similar to pixel art era Final Fantasy games but come with a weakness exploitation twist. Players need to use specific attack types to break the enemy for a turn to deal more notable damage.
Exploration and battle screenshots from Octopath Traveler on Nintendo Switch.
Art is done in so-called “HD-2D”. Backgrounds are mainly 3D objects with pixel art textures, and characters are pixel art sprites. It is essentially how one might remember what old games looked like through the rose-tinted lens of nostalgia.
What about Octopath Traveler – Champions of the Continent?
Octopath Traveler – Champions of the Continent is a prequel to the original game described above. It takes place in the same world, and when clearing different side stories, players can encounter the original heroes. The battle system is essentially the same as the original, with slight adjustments made to make it work for 8 characters instead of 4.
This time instead of 8 main characters, there were 64 at launch, with new additions popping in every couple of weeks. Each character represents one of 8 weapon types and one of 8 elements. Sometimes it is wise to focus on specific elements and weapons when building a team, but at other times a diverse team can help more. Characters also have their rarity ratings from 3 to 5 stars, which affect their max level and available skills. Early on, all characters are viable, but a solid team of 4 stars or better is necessary towards the end of the current storyline.
So what makes Champions of the Continent game so special?
The reason Champions of the Continent stands out from the masses of mobile games is because it pretty much plays like a premium console game.
The exploration is not simplified in any way. The world is yours to explore with hidden roads, bosses, and treasure chests. Towns have plenty of NPCs to interact with. Characters with yellow boxes have items you can buy or take a risk and try to haggle the price down. Red boxes mean the NPC can be fought for the items and a blue box means you must beg for the item with a certain success rate depending on the item.
Initially, three stories revolve around three different antagonists. Players can choose the order they want to clear these stories. After clearing all of them, the game opens up more with one storyline leading players forward. The exploration and sidequests are still there, of course. Many of the playable characters have their own storylines available to discover after reaching far enough in the main story.
There are no social features. No friends to add. No leaderboards. No guilds. No PvP. No co-op. Nothing.
Character gachas and the possibility of continuing the battle with premium currency after losing are the only monetization mechanics the game has. New gacha banners with new characters pop up every now and then for those who want to collect all of them and have the most diverse options available for team building. Once you have a character, you can keep on pulling from gacha for duplicates for faster upgrading, but you can also farm the same shards from boss dungeons once a day if you are not in a hurry.
How has Octopath Traveler – Champions of the Continent succeeded?
The game initially jumped to Top Grossing rank 5 when it was released but has been slowly descending in ranks toward the 50s. Of course, there are notable spikes when new gacha banners and characters are announced and slightly bigger spikes up when they are released. Overall the trend is down, which is to be expected with this light monetization.
Once you clear all of the stories, there’s not really much to do aside from character collecting and grinding up levels, so you are prepared to take on new content when it comes. During the little over 1 month since release, there hasn’t been anything significant released, so it’s hard to predict how the game will do in the long run.
Update roadmap was released in the in-game news to set expectations for players about what is yet to come.
The roadmap shared in the game shows new storylines and towns opening mid-December and early February 2021. The more interesting additions feature-wise will be rolling in starting mid-December with “Nameless Town,” where players help NPCs build a town. Rolling in later seems to be some sort of Tower mode, Nut (exp item) farming and Sheeps, but what these will mean remains to be seen. Endgame players can expect very difficult tournaments against NPCs in February.
Whether these updates manage to keep the retention high remains to be seen. GameRefinery users with access to the Japanese market can follow the evolution of this game’s feature set in our service here.
It is interesting to see games like Genshin Impact and Octopath Traveler – Champions of the Continent pop up with their very premium game approach. Will there be more of these kinds of games with a heavy focus on the enjoyability and depth of core gameplay with only light monetization? It remains to be seen, but we have two solid examples of how they can be made.