About to start your intergalactic journey in this beautiful new remake? Here are some tips and tricks to help you overcome the odds!
By Duncan Heaney

STAR OCEAN THE SECOND STORY R is here at last, and it delivers everything you could hope for in an RPG. The combat is fast-paced and fun, the characters are full of personality, the story gripping, the music incredible, and it’s all presented with a stunning 2.5D art style that fuses characterful pixel art with beautiful 3D backgrounds.

In short, it’s the full package - a fully featured adventure that contains a galaxy’s-worth of things to see and do. We can’t wait for you to dive in and start exploring it yourselves… but perhaps you want a little leg-up when you do.

To help you get started, we’ve put together a few tips and tricks for the combat, character customization and world exploration. Follow this advice and even the most malevolent monsters won’t be able to stand in your way!

Combat tips

The combat in STAR OCEAN THE SECOND STORY R is intense, and some enemies may surprise you with their speed and aggression. Here are some tips to ensure you control the battlefield.

ABB - Always Be Breaking

Each enemy in the game has a shield value above their health bars - if you can whittle this down to nothing, you will ‘Break’ your foe. This stuns them and makes them susceptible to extra damage - this is your opportunity to get in some big hits. What’s more, a Broken enemy will also drop tons of spheres when you hit them, which makes it easier to earn Bonus Gauge.

In other words, try to Break your targets whenever you can. Consider equipping special arts that focus on Break damage - while they may not have the raw power of some other attacks, these skills will let you stun foes much more quickly than standard attacks!

Don’t spam dodge - wait for the opening

Dodge an enemy at the perfect time, and you’ll phase behind them - the perfect opportunity for a counterattack.

Be careful though - mistime a dodge and the enemy will Break your character, leaving them unable to move and taking extra damage. Try to be precise with your dodges - the enemy will flash red as it attacks - that’s your cue. If you’re early, don’t spam the button - just back off and be ready for the next attack.

Blocking or taking a hit is preferable to being Broken - you’ll be surprised at how quickly even simple early game enemies can take you down when you’re in this state.

One more tip on dodging - watch your positioning. Sometimes a dodge may take you into the middle of a horde with your back to a foe. In these cases, be ready to dodge again, or move out of the gaggle and regroup if you’re worried about getting overwhelmed.

Use your special arts freely

Your special arts use MP, so you may feel compelled to save them for when you may need them. So, here’s the tip: don’t do this.

Your special arts are there to be used. MP is easily refilled at the end of battles and even with a well-timed dodge. Get used to using your special arts in combos or experimenting with the different spells at your command.

While early enemies are easily dispatched with a few swings of a weapon, later foes will have much chunkier HP pools, more aggressive behaviors and require more strategic thought to take down. Get used to working your arts into your combat strategy from the start and you’ll be better prepared for the tougher challenges down the road.

Adjust AI characters behavior to your liking

While you should feel free to use your arts as needed, you may feel different about the AI-controlled characters.

If you feel that your companions are burning through their MP a little quicker than you’d like, you can adjust their behavior in the Tactics menu. If, for example, you’d prefer Rena focus on healing arts rather than aggression, you can do that. Or, if you want to conserve your party’s MP, you can tell them to stop using spells and special arts and focus on basic attacks instead.

Play around with the Tactics menu to find a strategy that works for you. Remember that you can change this at almost any time, making it easy to change up your battle plan on the fly.

Use items

There are lots of different items to use in STAR OCEAN THE SECOND STORY R, and they exist to give yourself an edge in battle. For instance, there are items that restore HP and MP, and cure status effects in an instant, while other items provide buffs for you and debuffs for foes. There are even items that deal direct damage to enemies.

However, note that items have a cooldown time, so while they can be very powerful, you should consider timing very carefully when using them - you don't want to get caught out and unable to use one when you need it.

Play as everyone

While you start the game as either Claude or Rena, you’re not limited to controlling these two characters. You can also take control of the other party members and use their own special arts in battle.

While you can play the game as your one chosen hero, it’s worth taking some time to play around with these other characters to see what they can do. You’ll be able to dig into their special arts to find out how best to utilize them, replenish HP and MP, get them out of trouble and more.

The AI is very capable in STAR OCEAN THE SECOND STORY R, but it’s still no substitute for the human touch. Plus, you may find a whole new combat style you fall in love with!

Tweak your secondary partner’s Assault Actions

Assault Actions let you bring in a party outside of the active party to use an ability of their own. When assigning secondary party members to Assault Action positions, remember that you can use the Special Arts/Spells menu to tweak what they do.

Bear in mind that despite the ‘Assault’ in the name, actions don’t always need to be offensive. Characters with support spells, like Rena’s healing Faerie Light or Angel Feather, can be just as valuable as something that causes lots of damage.

Character development tips

STAR OCEAN THE SECOND STORY R gives you a massive amount of control over how you customize and develop your characters. It’s an enjoyably free-form system that lets you build the party that you want, so consider these tips as suggestions rather than hard and fast rules. Ultimately, it’s your team, your choice.

Focus on upgrades that suit the character

When spending Battle Points (BP), we recommend prioritizing combat skill upgrades that make sense for the character’s role in battle. For example, a symbologist like Celine will benefit most from skills like Hasten Speech and Trance, which make for faster, more reliable spellcasting. On the other hand, a front-line fighter like Bowman will get much more out of skills like Sidestep and Power Burst.

BP can also be used to improve Special Arts and Spells. There are many benefits to this, such as increasing the number of hits or area of effect of a certain skill, so try improving different skills to see what works best for you.

It pays to specialize

In general, it’s best to specialize with characters than go for a jack of all trades, master of none approach.

Consider which areas you want your characters to specialize in and focus on those things. For example, making one character super-specialized in Crafting means you can yield much greater rewards than if they’re a little experienced at a lot of things.

You can upgrade specific skills within each specialty, but it may be more efficient to use the ‘Switch Upgrade’ function of the IC/Specialty Skills submenu to upgrade multiple relevant skills at once.

The IC mechanic doesn't just enhance the gameplay of STAR OCEAN THE SECOND STORY R - it's extremely useful too. Using IC can make your adventure less taxing, give it extra depth and more - be sure to give it a try.

Determination is a solid first skill purchase

It’s entirely up to you how you spend your upgrade points - there’s no ‘wrong’ choices. But if you’re struggling to decide where to start, we found it beneficial to level up the Determination skill first. This lowers the costs of all other skill upgrades, letting you upgrade faster. It essentially pays for itself!

General adventure tips

Finally, we’ll offer up some general tips for traversing the beautiful world of STAR OCEAN THE SECOND STORY R.

Explore the world thoroughly

This one might seem a little obvious, but it bears reiterating - don’t be afraid to go off the critical path and explore. The world map is massive, with chests and secrets all over the place, so take a look around to see what you can find. You may end up with new gear, valuable items and more.

In a dungeon, that reliable ol’ philosophy of ‘go the other way to the quest marker’ is present and correct. Poke around all the nooks, crannies and dead ends and you’ll no doubt find some useful stuff.

Check for Private Actions

In every town, you can press a button to activate ‘Private Action’ mode. This makes the party go their separate ways and opens up opportunities to have private chats with them.

These Private Actions strengthen the bonds between characters, but they’re also fun, charming and help you fall in love with these characters even more. Many of our favorite interactions in the game are in these moments, and they shouldn’t be missed!

The Fast Travel menu will show you available Private Actions in each town, so it’s easy to keep track of where they are. Some will also be marked with an hourglass. In these cases, they will disappear when the story progresses past a certain point, so be sure to see these as soon as you can so you don’t miss out.

Don’t sleep on the Bunny Call Super Specialty

If you want to get around quickly (and in style), you should get the Bunny Call Super Specialty. This awesome skill summons a rideable Bunny into the field, which lets you traverse the field much faster than your stubby little legs.

Bunnies can also travel across types of terrain that are otherwise inaccessible, such as mountaintops and shallow water, so they can significantly enhance your exploration of the World Map.

Plus, they're adorable.

Fish to your heart's content

You can use the “Fishing” specialty anywhere there's a body of water - and it's worth taking the time to cast your line.

Fish that you catch can be exchanged for items, and some great rewards can be obtained by catching different types of fish. You can also catch other valuable things, such as healing items or equipment, which will come in handy during your adventure.

To catch lots of different fish, be sure to try lots of different areas. The simple controls mean it's quick, easy and satisfying to do. Also relaxing - it's good to take a break now and then to enjoy the scenery.

Don’t be afraid to change the difficulty

Finally, STAR OCEAN THE SECOND STORY R has three difficulty settings: EARTH, GALAXY, and UNIVERSE. If you’re struggling with a particular battle, or just want to relax and enjoy the story, don’t be afraid to set the difficulty to EARTH for an easier ride.

Alternatively, if you think the game isn’t putting up enough of a fight, set the difficulty to UNIVERSE and experience intense, challenging battles.

The game is designed so that you can play your way, so choose the option that makes the game most enjoyable for you.

We hope these tips and tricks help you overcome the challenges of Planet Expel and beyond.

STAR OCEAN THE SECOND STORY R is out now for PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam.

A free demo is also available to download now. It lets you play the game for three hours or until you make your way to the exit of Krosse Cave - whichever comes first. Progress carries over to the full game too! Find out more in our blog:

Finally, to stay up to date with news and information about the game, be sure to follow STAR OCEAN on social media: