Undeniably the smash hit of Summer 2018, Octopath Traveler is a delightful collection of characters, JRPG mechanics, and enticing puzzle-like battles. Perhaps the most prominent feature of this gorgeous game, though, is the unique abilities held by each of the game’s protagonists. Broken into Nobel and Rogue categories, each character possesses a path action that allows them to uniquely affect the world around them.
The Guide and Allure path actions that allow a player to recruit various NPCs throughout the game. When summoned in battle, these NPCs provide multiple benefits to your party, attack enemies, and take damage in place of their summoner, either Ophilia or Primrose.
If you choose to start with either character, Guide and Allure can add some much-needed muscle (as neither is very strong physically). The stronger an NPC’s strength rating, the harder they hit. But strength shouldn’t be your only consideration.
As your party grows, NPCs can supplement abilities your current line-up may lack — especially when it comes to enemy weaknesses. For example, if your party lacks H’aanit or Tressa and you come up against an enemy weak to arrows, consider recruiting an NPC with the Flurry or Arrowstorm abilities to break your foe’s shields. This is also true for elemental weaknesses. Cyrus is a master of fire, ice, and lightning, but not dark. Recruiting an NPC with the dark spell Tenebrae Operie will fill that hole.
Pro-tip: Try and recruit NPCs with Sorcerer-level (Latin-sounding) spells — Tenebrae Operie (dark), Glacies Claudere (ice) — as they do the most elemental damage and strike three times.
And then there are just some that are overpowered or fun to bring along. Here are the absolute best NPCs to recruit and summon in battle while you traverse the world of Osterra.
The Luckless Sellsword in Noblecourt is a hapless mercenary, but a terrific addition to your party when recruited. When summoned in battle, he can strike opponents for around one-thousand damage, strengthens your active party, and debuffs each enemies’ physical and elemental defense. This allows a player to worry less about weakening foes, and instead allows them to save up BP and party buffs until this NPC creates the perfect opportunity to unleash a barrage of attacks.
Beyond being one of the best summonable NPCs in the game, the Luckless Sellsword is also a quest giver. After his fellow mercenaries betray him, he asks your party to track down his former allies and gather the loot they stole from him. This sidequest will require you to travel to Atlasdam, Goldshore, and Duskbarrow to Challenge or Provoke specific NPCs. This lengthy journey is worth it, however, as the Luckless Sellsword will reward you with 6,500 Leaf (Octopath’s currency) and the Venturer’s Helm for your help.
Hiding away in Therion’s starting area — the cliffside town of Bolderfall — is one of the best recruitable NPCs in the entirety of Octopath Traveler. Before recruiting this character, you’re going to need to jump through a couple of hoops, however. On top of bringing either Ophilia or Primrose into your party, you’ll also need to have either H’aanit or Olberic defeat the NPC blocking the entrance to the old man’s home. Once recruited, you’ll find this recluse to be a valuable asset as his regular attacks strike all foes for around two thousand damage and his special Guillotine attack devastates a single enemy by striking for a massive six thousand points of damage (especially helpful when farming the Cait-type enemies for experience).
Analyzing this NPC also provides an interesting bit of world building as well. It seems as though this elderly man used to be a sellsword and travel around the world with seven other companions. If this journey really is a cycle that a group of adventures is destined to embark on once every generation, does that mean that one of the eight protagonists will show up as a summon if Octopath gets a sequel? We can only hope.
Found in the back of the Goldshore Cathedral, this Cleric is a terrific character to recruit and summon in the beginning and middle sections of the game. While her attacks are not the strongest, her ability to restore 1500 health and twenty-five SP is extremely useful in boss fights and more difficult encounters. It’s also pretty handy, as characters that specialize in attacking multiple enemies at once – like H’aanit and Cyrus – tend to burn through SP rather quickly, making this effect a very welcome source of recovery.
On top of this character’s utility in more difficult fights, their recovery ability is advantageous when grinding for levels. As Ophilia is the only character in the game that can heal the entire party without consuming items, it’s easy to over level her while neglecting other characters. By having Primrose summon this Cleric in battle, you can fill Ophilia’s slot with any protagonist that might be a few levels behind and not have to worry about your HP dwindling.
In the humble town of Cobblestone, there is a man who loves his cows. Known as the Courageous Cowherd, this man takes pride in raising his cattle and their pristine condition. He loves their majestic form, the healthy sheen of all of their coats, he even loves there dung and will hurl it at enemies when summoned in battle. While some characters in fantasy settings choose to battle bandits and monsters with things like swords and spears, the Courageous Cowherd takes the clearly superior route of throwing clods of cow poop at anything foolish enough to attack him.
Further establishing his status as the greatest NPC in all of Octopath Traveler, the Courageous Cowherd’s weapon of choice even manages to revitalize dying crops and farmland drained of nutrients. In the Fertile Fields sidequest, the player needs to buy or steal some prodigious dung from the Cowherd to save a kindly farmer’s harvest; although the Cowherd surely would have given his life-saving cow excrement away if merely asking for it was a choice. He may not be the most powerful NPC in Octopath Traveler, but this scat slinging superstar is easily the most beloved summon in the game.
Both of Tressa’s parents are recruitable once you complete her first chapter and either Primrose or Ophilia are in your party. Both make for solid early game summons, Tressa’s mom is easily the superior of the two. Not only can Marina attack a horde of enemies simultaneously with arrows, but she also inexplicably has a Minnesotan accent that would put even the most Midwestern of moms to shame.
In Tressa’s story, she leaves her childhood home to venture out into the world and make a name for herself. While this story is great by itself, wouldn’t it be great if her mom tagged along for a bit of this journey? With Ophilia’s Guide ability or Primrose’s Allure ability — if you want to lay the ground for some spicy fanfiction — you can make this cute “what if” scenario a bit more cannon. Video game moms have to deal with a lot, and it’s really nice that Octopath Traveler gives Marina a chance to travel with her daughter for a while at least.
Remember, NPCs are summonable a finite amount of times before they go home (or if you choose to part ways with them). However, they can be recruited again so think of them as a ninth party member. You can see the full list of Octopath Traveler NPCs here.