Ever since it was announced, Bravely Default 2 would have definitely been hyped up and looked forward to by many. I will have to preface this by saying that I am completely unfamiliar with the first games, but at least 2 takes place in a new continent with new characters. Unfortunately, this does mean that any references to the previous cast would be lost on me. Well, no point in me rambling about it too much, let’s head into the game.
WELCOME TO EXCILLANT
When you compare it with the 3DS titles, it’s obviously gotten a big upgrade in the looks department; Gloria’s dress has much more details than Agnès had on her sprite, just to pick at one. There’s these subtle touches to the little 3D models too, like how they’re bowed on the overworld if they’ve fallen in battle, Seth taking out a lantern when night falls, and more expressive sprites in cutscenes.
When you’re in towns, there’s a panorama view where you can check out the entire layout of the city. It makes for really good wallpapers, if you could remove the dialogue bubbles. Revo’s work on the soundtrack would be something you’d want to loop or just have in the background as you work.
For the speedrunning enthusiast, you can skip through all the scenes, and have up to 4x speed in battles! I’ll be personally looking forward to all the any% runs in the coming months.
Something annoying about starting up the game is that you’re not given immediate access to the options menu. You have the option to play the game in English and Japanese dubbing, so I went straight to Japanese where I could of course, as the certified weeb preference. Sometimes I feel like I’m getting motion sick when I run around in the towns specifically, but that might just be myself. There’s no option to turn off any bloom / motion blur besides depth blur, so if you’re especially sensitive, I’m sorry to report about that. What it does have is one-handed controls!
Last but not least, difficulty levels are from Casual, Normal and Hardcore. I played on Casual, as I didn’t start familiar with the battle system. I still do think it’s suitably challenging if you’re not used to it. If you’re coming from the previous game, or from the demo, feel free to bump it up as you can change it at any point.
EN GARDE! EXPLORATION
Well, it’s time to head out into the world! I’ll cover the exploration first, since many might already know and made their opinions on the combat. Fret not, I’ll talk about it after. The overworld can be considered “kinda” “open world”, as you roam the map dotted with monsters both day and night. You can cut the grass for items and cash money, so I spent an embarrassing amount of time making
Seth Haurchefant play lawnmower and I got quite a few things out of there. The grass regrows, so the urge to cut everything down is strong…
But anyway, the same thing applied from the previous game: day will see less monsters roam, and they’re also less powerful, and night will see more baddies and are likely to pulse red, indicating they’re more powerful than you. Beating them gets you an underdog EXP bonus, though, so weigh your options. Weaker monsters will scoot away from you for an easy indicator of where you should stop grinding. You can strike a monster’s sprite: if you land a hit on them with their back facing you, you’ll get both a bonus starting Brave Point, as well as a turn advantage. I feel like the range on the strike might be a little awkward, so it’s something to get used to. The dungeon areas have the save point, and quick travel portals, too.
You’ll fairly quickly unlock Expeditions, which can last up to 12 hours once you send it off. You’ll get various items, like JP / EXP bonus orbs, for the busy people who can’t spend too much time grinding, but would of course like to progress through the story anyway. You’re supposed to get better stuff with online connectivity, but don’t quote me on that.
Your party and your guest members will trail behind you on the overworld, which is cute. For the most part, the “walking” speed should be good enough, as I feel the running speed can make it hard to control and you might “slide” around. The game also has auto saving, though the game will recommend you to save often anyway, which you can at any time on the overworld.
EN GARDE! COMBAT
As is the series hallmark, you have your Brave and Default “stances”:
- Brave, where you can take multiple actions in a turn. If you have negative Brave Points, you will be unable to act until you reach 0 again
- Default, where you defend and gain Brave Points
I have to be honest, I didn’t like how the system worked when I first tried the demo of Bravely Default. “Why can’t I do anything for a turn,” I whined. After having played Octopath, I thought it could have been the Break / Boost system, where you can get Boost Points over time too, with effectively only one turn downtime at most after a Boost. It’s something else to get used to, but I very much like how it works in 2.
You can get special moves with certain conditions to fulfill, but besides that, the game is essentially like a regular turn based JRPG. Enemies naturally have their weaknesses, which you can check at any point during battle once you’ve discovered it. Enemies likewise can Brave and Default, and can also go into the negatives, so that’s something to take advantage of.
As a turn based RPG, you also have your turn gauges, and enemies that intend to act will have exclamation marks. However, for whatever reason, the gauge and indicators are only rough gauges to who goes next, or whether the enemy will act. Why is there a need for this pseudo-randomness? I can see it’s meant to be an additional layer to strategy, but it just seems unnecessary.
Besides your four main party members, you can also be accompanied by guest party members who you cannot control. Their turns are likewise as “random” as yours. I would like to hazard an assumption that the AI is pretty good, like how my first guest member healed once my party members were at half health, resurrected them with Phoenix Downs (that were not from my stash!!!) and attacked every other time.
As you would be aware, you would get more job options through Asterisks. You have both a main job that you will gain JP for, and a sub job where you’ll get access to the skills you’ve unlocked. At certain JP levels, you can also equip up to five passive abilities. When your party members die, they don’t get any EXP or JP, alas. You’re encouraged to chain battles together – as indicated by a blue aura – to farm up JP.
Just one more thing, you’d wanna gear up of course. They have their own weights, and characters have proficiencies with weapons. Not as easy as just slapping on the shiniest thing you can find. Yahoo.
INTO THE WORLD AND BEYOND…
Of course I’m not gonna talk too much about the story since that’s half the fun of the game. For those of you lore enthusiasts and already in love with the characters, they get even further banter through Party Chat, which can also include your guest party members. They’re not voiced, and if you’re not sure how they work, think of them like Tales series skits.
For someone who had really been unsure about the whole battle system, I got into the rhythm into it but yeah, I’d rather still stay in Filthy Casual mode. All in all, I do like the game, with just a hitch in the slightly questionable combat details. But hey, don’t let that stop you from enjoying the game. I know I did.
For early purchases, you can get your own Bravely Default A4 clear file. For those in Asia, you can get your copy here.
Bravely Default 2
Funny how you start off with the Wind Crystal bearer in trouble again... but fate has bound you Heroes of Light together, and it will be a journey to remember.
- Obvious graphical upgrade
- Expeditions allows some wiggle room for busy people to play this RPG
- Unnecessary pseudo-randomness in battle
Moving forth bravely, not much defaulting here