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Bravely Default 2 Shows How A Sequel Is Properly Done

B Default 2 Title Screen
Courtesy of Square Enix

Bravely Default 2

Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: February 26, 2021
Available as: Digital and Physical

Bravely Default 2 Sets A New Switch RPG ‘Default’

Released in February 2021 as one of the year’s first AAA titles, Bravely Default 2 is the third game in the Bravely series, although as the name suggests, it’s an entirely new story separate from the first Bravely Default. The original was released in Japan in 2012 with an expanded release the following year. In February 2014, the North American release based on the expanded version was released simply as Bravely Default and a direct sequel, Bravely Second, was released two years later, making Bravely Default 2 the first title in the series for almost five years.

There are many similarities between Final Fantasy and Bravely Default as the latter began life as a spin-off of the first game. When it began to take shape as a life of its own, Bravely became Square’s newest RPG IP in almost a decade. Several items including ethers and phoenix down as well as the naming conventions of certain spells are borrowed from Final Fantasy. The gameplay mechanics are entirely different, offering a new twist on turn-based combat.

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Bravely Default 2 - Nintendo Switch Direct Capture

Bravely Default 2 Begins, As Most RPGs, On The Beach

The game begins as a wayward sailor who survives a shipwreck named Seth, who is rescued by an elderly man and a young princess named Gloria. Upon his stay, he realizes that he was washed away in a new location far from any which he has seen. Seth eventually befriends two other travelers, a smooth-talking black mage named Elvis and a wandering thief named Adelle. Together, they are on the path to finding four crystals, uniting them to save the world from calamity.

The plot bears a resemblance to the original Final Fantasy in that the Warriors of Light are a group of four chosen to retrieve the crystals and prevent the world from turmoil, although the four party members selected in the original Final Fantasy cannot change their jobs once selected. In Bravely Default 2, thanks to the asterisks, each of the four members can change their jobs at any given time, while also having a sub-class of their own. 

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Bravely Default 2 - Nintendo Switch Direct Capture

Bravely Default 2 Allows A Customizable Party

Each job has its strengths and weaknesses, including the default “freelancer” job which can restore health and MP to other allies. This alone would prove invaluable to a black mage job that depends on using MP to fuel the source of its magic. Another difference that stands apart from Final Fantasy is the titular “Brave” and “Default” system, making battles fast-paced compared to other turn-based RPG titles.

Every turn, each character can choose to spend “BP” or Brave Points, which are used to allow additional actions to take place within a single turn. Characters can spend up to 3 BP each turn, giving them four actions in succession, ranging from four attacks, four different black magic spells, or a combination of skills. However, if characters do not have enough BP to fulfill the number of actions required, they will be in the red, which means that they will have to wait the number of turns corresponding to the number of BP they owe until it returns to 0.

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Bravely Default 2 - Nintendo Switch Direct Capture

Defense and Offense Goes Hand-In-Hand

For example, if Seth has no BP in the turn he decides to spend 3 BP, he will have to wait for three turns under normal circumstances before he can act again. This means the enemy can then attack the player for that amount of time, leaving them defenseless and unable to act. To prevent this, the character can Default, which will pass their turn and put up a defense. This also means that the character will gain bonus BP, meaning that less BP is required until they end up in the red.

It becomes a sort of a dance between managing your BP and paying attention to your opponent. Players who want to end battles quickly may spend all of their BP, including the points they don’t have, in hopes that it is enough to finish the foe off. Players who anticipate a huge attack or are expected to play the long game can instead opt to build up points, at the expense of not attacking the foe. The high-risk and high reward system is what the Bravely series is built on, meaning that a little bit of strategy will mean the difference between easy and swift battles versus death within the blink of an eye.

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Bravely Default 2 - Nintendo Switch Direct Capture

Players Can Go Into Bravely Default 2 Fresh

Overall, the bonus of not having the requirement of playing the previous Bravely titles ensures that newcomers of the series can jump right in without worrying that they are missing something important by not having played the other titles. The Unreal Engine 4 build gives a level of detail that the original birthed on the 3DS could never reproduce while still keeping the artistic designs of the original intact. Character models are soft and rounded, making the older characters appear youthful though there’s a sense of underlying realism that prevents the characters from looking “chibi” or super-deformed. 

Maybe one day I’ll take a larger scope in Bravely Default 2 as the gameplay was enough to keep me interested. Fast-paced turn-based combat in RPGs is always welcome to me as someone who has grown up with the Grandia series, and Bravely Default 2 delivers.

Bravely Default 2 is now available on the Switch. A PC release is expected later in 2021.

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