Like many, I’ve been playing a lot of Octopath Traveler over the past couple of weeks and have been having a blast with it. While the general consensus is that it is worthy of praise (I’m in that boat), there are wildly varying opinions on what we could see next from the team. Some people are hoping for Octopath DLC, whether it be utilized for bringing all of the characters together in a more traditional narrative sense or just for the sake of additional meat on the content bone, remakes/remasters of beloved JRPGs of yore in an Octopath-ish aesthetic, or an entirely new IP with a framework based off the Octopath format in some way (mainly graphics, I’d wager).
Back in the first few hours of my Octopath playthrough, I was in the crowd very much hoping for DLC. After all, more of a good thing is a good thing, right? Well, fast forward to 45 hours in and my opinion has changed quite a bit on the subject. There are a couple of major reasons why I believe most forms of DLC for Octopath Traveler would be a bad move for Square Enix, and today, I will be sharing those with you.
“The Product Version Is A Finished Product”
That heading is a quote from Octopath producer Masashi Takahashi. Although you could argue that it was merely a marketing stunt and that any developer would say that in order to capitalize on the externally-facing concept of a finished, quality product, you’ll likely find yourself agreeing with the statement the further you get into the game.
Consider this: the game was clearly designed with eight distinct, unrelated stories in mind despite everyone helping each other out “just because.” Wishing for an interwoven narrative is one thing, but asking for one in the form of DLC tacked on to the end of the given experience would be impractical, if not impossible, to implement. If the narratives contained within Octopath were designed from the ground up in any way to facilitate such a shift in plot design, you would have seen pieces of it somewhere in the first four chapters of each character already. You can’t very well transition from a “solo party” experience spanning four chapters to one that finally brings everyone together. How would you explain the first 60+ hours of your shared adventures that were absent of any explicable reason for the companionship?
Don’t take that as me bashing Octopath Traveler, as I gave it our SwitchRPG seal of approval in my full review. But I learned early on to accept it for what it is in terms of narrative, and have since solidified that belief based on how each character’s story has played out. Okay, forget about an interlocking narrative for a minute. How about just more individual, character-specific content? I don’t feel like Octopath has set itself up for any believable room for extended content beyond the base game.
Without spoiling anything, each of the character’s stories are more or less resolved by the time you complete their chapters. I suppose there are a few lore tidbits that could be expanded upon, whether it be in a narrative pre-game or post-game sense, but they’d likely feel weak at best. The post-game dungeon explores some things a tad further, but is really unnecessary in the grand scheme of things. I did enjoy a lot of the story content in Octopath Traveler, and arguing against more of it might seem a bit odd. I just don’t see it being possible for any kind of DLC to add enjoyable, meaningful story content with how the game chose to handle what we have already.
Not every successful game needs the Final Fantasy XV treatment in relation to DLC. I’d much rather see any new ideas or the new-found bandwidth the team has put into an Octopath 2 (without the same characters), a new IP, or a remake of an older title. I think our very own Phillip Pinyan put it best, his thoughts being that the whole formula behind Octopath may have very well been an experiment to gauge interest on the concept for use in future titles. And with the massive success of Octopath, I would say that we are very likely to see similarly presented games in the future.
JRPG veterans are all too aware of the questionable port/remakes we have received over the years from Square Enix. Once again referencing Phillip, he puts it as “Square Enix not really knowing what they want to do with their older titles”, and that’s exactly how it appears. If you need examples, go look at Final Fantasy V, VI, and Chrono Trigger on Steam, all of which began as mobile ports with sprites that manage to look generic and uninspired in comparison to their original forms. I don’t think you will find anyone who likes the new design better than their classic counterparts. If Octopath has proven anything, it is that people still desire that retro look, right down to each individual pixel. Can you imagine any of the aforementioned games under the guise of the Octopath graphics engine? If you can’t, I suggest you check out Firestream’s Project Final Fantasy 6 article for some serious eye candy.
The only type of additional content I could envision being both an asset and making sense with the game’s design would be a NG+ and/or some some form of harder difficulty, and I don’t think anyone would be against those kind of features. If anything, it probably came as a surprise to many that these features weren’t already in the game in the first place. I don’t know how probable the procurement of something like this would be, as many might be upset if they were to charge for it since it is a pretty common feature in more modern JRPGs. But I would gladly get on board with something like that even if a small purchase was necessary. Regardless, I’m very curious to see the next steps taken by the Octopath Traveler team, whatever they may be.
How do you feel about the producer’s “no planned DLC” statement? Do you think we will still see some? If so, how will they go about it? Or, are you of the same flock that would prefer they focus their attention on other things outside of Osteria?