Bravely Default II - Launch Trailer - Nintendo Switch
Who it Caters to
Bravely Default 2 caters to all those who enjoy a classic JRPG and have dozens of hours to spare, fine-tuning their characters and looking for hidden items and bosses. Although this is the third game in the saga, coming after Bravely Second and Bravely Second: End Layer (we could count Bravely Default: Fairy's Effect as well, a mobile-only title), Bravely Second 2 is not a direct sequel and features a brand new cast, so it's the perfect opportunity for all newcomers to explore the franchise's lore. Honestly, recommending Bravely Default 2 is very straightforward: do you like old-school role-playing games? If the answer is "yes," then you will definitely enjoy what Bravely Default 2 has to offer.
What to Expect
Did you know Bravely Default is considered a Final Fantasy spin-off saga? At least it started that way but, through the years, it proved itself as a JRPG powerhouse of its own, taking everything we love about the genre and combining it with a unique combat system. That's right—this game feels like every other big JRPG, in a good way, but it's the combat system that keeps you pushing forward and trying new things. We all love a "from zero to hero" story, with a little bit of "hero of the prophecy" thrown in, right? Bravely Default 2 checks all the right boxes when it comes to JRPG tropes, always putting a twist to it just to keep things interesting.
Bravely Default 2 features 3D environments and character models, but also 2D scenery with a watercolored style. Some of them are amazing, full of detail and truly breathtaking, while others look poorly rendered and make you feel like you're playing a cheap indie game from the early 2000s. Honestly, this being a Switch exclusive could be way more optimized and polished, with more streamlined textures, but it's far from being a bad-looking game. In fact, we encourage you to play it on a TV if possible, since that—contrary to other Switch games—seems to help a bit. The worst part of it is the map overview, with serval regions that are too empty to be inviting, but battle backgrounds come closer in that infamous ranking. But hey, don't let these rather awkward graphics put you off: it's not hard to ignore all these small details, and Bravely Default 2 is a fantastic game despite its flawed visuals!
Another reason to play Bravely Default 2 is its solid, magnetic score. There are too many catchy tracks to make you feel bored or tired, and epic scenes—and trust us, there are a lot of these—benefit from such a marvelous soundtrack. Not only the music selection is neat, but also the use of sound effects in battle. Sure, combat mechanics can be refreshing, but we all know it's music and sound effects that bring a good fight to life. Last but not least, we have the voice acting, both in English and Japanese. For us, it's the JP version—as in most JRPG—that does the trick, but we're so happy to see that the EN version is also of excellent quality. The only uncomfortable thing about the Japanese voice acting is how weird the protagonist (played by Shunsuke Takeuchi) sounds compared to his 3D chibi model. We can't deny it took us a while to process this cute teen and his deep, charming voice!
Bravely Default 2 is a textbook Japanese role-playing game with turn-based combat, dungeon-like segments, dozens of sidequests, and obligatory boss battles. In this adventure, you are Seth (although you can change the protagonist's name), a sailor who died in a shipwreck and came back to life thanks to the mysterious powers of the Wind Crystal. Amnesiac and in poor shape, Seth was found on the coasts of Halcyonia by Gloria and Sir Sloan, the very owners of the Wind Crystal. After giving our guy some time to sleep and regain strength, Gloria reveals herself as the princess of a fallen kingdom. She must find 4 elemental crystals before they end up in the wrong hands, and since Seth is grateful and has nothing else to do, he agrees to help her. That same day, Seth also meets Elvis and Adelle, a black mage and a freelancer mercenary who join Seth and Gloria's party.
As you can see, we start the game with 5 main characters, but only 4 of them are playable. In reality, our party can only have 4 people: Seth, Gloria, Adelle and Elvis, with a supporting character that can either attack our enemies once per turn or help us with some valuable items to heal or revive us—this is extremely necessary because while you try to figure out Bravely Default's signature combat mechanics, you'll die a lot. Don't feel bad about Sir Sloan abusing those Phoenix Downs during the prologue!
So, how does this Brave/Default mechanic work, really? Well, it may be hard to explain in words, but it's not that hard to understand after a few battles. In every other turn-based game, you can only perform an action per turn: attack, defend, use an item, etc. In Bravely Default 2, you can perform up to 4 actions per turn, sacrificing your BP and rendering your character useless for the following turns. For example, if you want to perform 3 actions this turn, you can do so by activating the 'Brave' mechanic, but then you need to skip 2 turns before participating again. Also, you could "save" your turn by using the 'Default' mechanic, which increases your defense and gives you a BP point you can then use as an extra turn; if you use the Default option3 times, you will be able to perform 4 actions in your following turn, without skipping turns—well, you actually did skip 3 turns by using the Default action, but at least you also increased your defense.
Did an ally die? You can sacrifice your future turn and then revive them and heal them in your current active turn. Is there an enemy who could kill you with their next attack? Maybe you could eliminate them before they get to hit you by sacrificing future turns and attacking them more than once. The enemy has too many stacks of Default and your attacks won't be powerful enough? Well, then try to time your Defaults yourself, unleashing a devastating multi-attack after surviving theirs. As you can see, it's a high-risk/reward mechanic with endless possibilities!
There's a lot of strategy to the Brave/Default system, but there are many other things to take into account. If you want to deal even more damage, then you can't ignore the vulnerabilities system, composed of weapons and elemental skills. All enemies are vulnerable to at least one type of weapon (daggers, blades, bows, axes, etc.), and some of them are vulnerable to magic or physical attacks, regardless of the items you have equipped. In addition, all foes are also vulnerable to an element. The easiest way to discover these weak spots would be using a Magnifying Glass on a specific type of enemy, or—a cheaper option—using a basic Freelancer skill that fulfills the same function. If you don't have access to that, you could also experiment with a little bit of everything, as once you discover a vulnerability by chance, info will also remain available every time you face that same kind of monster. Be careful, though, as most enemies can also counter specific attacks to compensate for their vulnerabilities!
There's even more strategy involved! Once you find each of the 4 crystals, one of your characters will be able to perform a special skill every now and then. Seth will unlock his early on, with Gloria being the second one to obtain it. But instead of focusing on the 4 crystals, you should care about Asterisks, which allow you to unlock new jobs. There are over 20 available options for you to discover, although some of them are secret. Each job/class will grant you both active and passive skills, as well as a new outfit, but you can have a secondary job to enlarge your skillset. Time to analyze all synergies, don't you think?
As for the game flow, you can talk to people, trade and accept sidequest in the cities (there's a casino minigame in Savalon, for example), or grind for experience points and money in the outskirts, where you can move freely from an overview perspective. Some asterisks are locked behind story bosses in maze-like places where you can't save unless you find special portals, adding difficulty to an already complex endeavor.
If we're being honest, brute force won't take you far in Bravely Default 2. If you're a completionist, then you might need over 100 hours of dedication to prepare your party to find and defeat every secret boss out there. Are you ready for such a challenge?!
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Bravely Default 2 is a majestic JRPG in every way, with a story full of genre tropes but slowly turns into something else, making great use of the Asterisks and the combat system as a whole. We truly enjoyed every minute of playing it, and although we know not all of you will agree with us, we love how challenging it is. After all, that's what makes all boss battles more rewarding and all jobs worth leveling. We just wish it had better graphics, even more so considering it's a Switch exclusive and not a port, but at least it's not that bad as other JRPG in the eShop. Bravely Default 2 is more than recommended!
Extremely fun combat, with several jobs for you to explore.
From the soundtrack to the voice acting, this game sounds really good!
Too many secret things to discover, so there's always something to do.
Textures and 3D models could look better...
Difficulty is all over the place, so you really need save frequently and do a lot of grinding and fine-tuning.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Bravely Default was good, but we dare to say Bravely Default 2 lives up to the hype of a franchise that keeps surprising us. Not all games manage to integrate all gameplay elements into the narrative, and definitely not all games offer you so many things to try and discover while grinding before your next big battle.
In our opinion, all JRPG fanatics must try Bravely Default 2!
Author: Rod Locksley
Hey! I'm Rod, and when I'm not watching anime or playing video games I'm probably writing about them, but I'm also a graphic and web designer, and I even published a comic book and worked like 4 years for a well-known MMORPG. Curiously, my favorite series are quite different from each other, so I'm still trying to understand what I really like in an anime...