Bravely Default 2 -- Here Are My 10 Takeaways from Playing the Demo
Bravely Default 2 is my most anticipated title of the year, and playing the demo left me with some thoughts about what we'll see from it.
With zero notice, Nintendo released a Nintendo Mini Direct at the end of March, featuring updates on many anticipated titles. One such title just happens to be my most anticipated game of the year, Bravely Default 2, and with that news came a surprise playable demo.
After the Direct, I went “directly” to the eShop and downloaded the demo and spent a few hours playing through it. Here are the main takeaways from my time with it, much of it very positive.
To Brave or to Default, That is the Question
Fans of the previous two entries on the Nintendo 3DS will feel right at home with Bravely Default 2. The series’ trademark Brave and Default battle commands return, allowing players to either spend future turns all at once and leaving them vulnerable, or saving turns up for later use. It’s a brilliant system whose simple premise adds far more depth and strategy to your typical turn-based RPG combat. It feels just as good playing it now as it did when I first picked up the first game and experienced it for the first time.
A Painted Wonder, Now in HD
The painted cities and landscapes of the original Bravely Default were beautiful on the small dual screens of the 3DS, but now with them finally being able to be displayed on an HD display or TV, they indeed are stunning. While we have only gotten a small taste of what is in store in BD2, if the city, island, and dungeon we did get to explore are any indication of the quality, then we are in for a real treat. The shimmering and ever-so-slight distortion in the city instantly helps you feel the stifling heat of the desert town. The painted backgrounds add so much character and charm, and I can’t wait to see what this new world has to offer.
A New Cast for a New Age
What I find most appealing about Seth, Adelle, Elvis, and Gloria–the heroes in this tale–are how different they seem to be from the previous cast. I love Tiz and crew, but knowing that I get to meet these brand new characters on this fresh adventure just has me giddy with excitement. I feel that there will be more depth to the characters; Seth, for example, is a sailor that washed up onshore. That alone offers much more space for character backstory than an innocent shepherd boy who loses his family. I wonder what skeletons these characters have in their closets and what sort of foes they will be facing off against!
Studio REVO is Back, and it Shows
For me, the most significant blow in quality between Bravely Default and Bravely Second was the soundtrack. While still good, the soundtrack of Bravely Second just never seemed to have the same grandeur or impact that that Default had. That is why one of the hypest moments from the Default 2 reveal was that studio REVO was back to make the music once more. Playing the demo, I will happily admit that on more than one occasion, I just sat my controller down and enjoyed the music. The small taste in the demo was enough to fill me with the same pulse-pounding epicness that the first game did, and I can’t wait to hear the rest of the tracks.
Missing Battle Settings – Gone for good, or just not ready for the demo?
Players were initially surprised when Bravely Default gave players the option not only to toggle battle speeds (one of, if not the first RPG to offer the feature, which is now far more common), but also giving you control over the encounter rate, and whether or not you would gain experience, job points, or money from battles. This control lets everyone tailor their experience to fit their unique play style. Going back to the Bravely Second demo, these features were present there, so I find it strange that in the demo for Bravely Default 2, these more precise controls were absent.
With battles no longer being random as the monsters are now roaming the open landscapes, the lack of options over resource gain is brow-raising. I’m hoping that these options will be present in the final game and are only not yet functioning; if not, I will be somewhat disappointed. I loved that these toggles gave me the option to max out my job classes–and earning all the class skills–without worrying about dramatically over-leveling my characters in the process. I would even love to see the encounter settings return too, perhaps just adding more or fewer monsters to the maps that you could run into. It made it great for grinding!
Just Hold On A Second…Oh, wait…
It looks as though players will no longer be able to utilize the power of the Bravely Second: the mechanic, not the sequel to the first Default game. This Bravely Second ability allowed players to instantly take a turn during combat by spending points accrued while their 3DS systems were in sleep mode. By pressing start, you could pick a character to pull off an emergency heal, a wicked super attack, or even summon a friend. During the demo, there wasn’t a single mention of this ability (or even hinted at), so it remains to be seen if it will be making a return. I, for one, hope it does: it saved my butt once or twice and was restricted enough that it didn’t become overpowered or spammable.
The Missing Explorer – Save points have gone the way of being generic
The crimson-wearing adventurer I have come to love since the days of Final Fantasy: 4 Heroes of Light that I told my stories to is strangely absent in the demo of Default 2. I found using a character for the save point just added to the already overflowing charm of the games, and to see that the savepoint was replaced by a generic glowing object in the demo was a bit of a bummer. I doubt that this point will warn me when things are about to get dangerous or sell me goods. However, I’m keeping my hopes up that the explorer will be swapped in for the release version.
What Needs Improvement
When’s It My Turn?
An alteration to this new game’s battle system is that you no longer assign all of your characters’ turns at once. In the last games, you gave commands to all of your characters, and then they acted, then all of the enemies would act. This time around, however, the turns of enemies and allies are mixed, and you don’t assign commands until that specific character’s turn is up. What would be helpful to go along with this change, though, is if Default 2 utilized some manner of turn-order graphic, similar to that found in Final Fantasy X, that will give players information on whose turn is next. This would be exceedingly important in planning strategies during challenging boss fight encounters.
Where’s My Auto-Battle?
Where oh, where has my auto-battle gone? Oh, where or where can it be? This is similar to my worry about the battle settings, but I find this one to be much more worrisome. I can live, albeit begrudgingly, without the battle settings, but if the auto-battle toggle has been removed with Default 2, I’m going to be mad. You are given a choice to replay your last commands you gave a character; that’s great. But why do I have to tell them to replay it every single time their turn comes up? This is where auto-battle came into play in the previous games. Set it to auto, and from the moment all battles start, it would just keep replaying the same commands that you assigned them last. It was perfect. They already have a repeat command in the demo, and the repeating function was, once again, in the Bravely Second demo: just let me make everyone keep doing it without my input. Still, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this will be in the final release.
Let’s Cut the Introductions Down a Bit
There were two main issues that I had with the demo. First was the missing auto-battle option, and the second was how long it takes for you to get into combat. After the battle whoosh happens, you see your team of heroes stepping up into position followed by the enemies. In the first Default, the time it takes for you to gain control over your party is roughly three to three and a half seconds. In the Default 2 demo, this almost doubles, taking six seconds, and yes, I did time them both. This isn’t a loading screen either: it is just characters walking up and squaring off against one another. This needs to be sped up: keep it more in line with the times of the previous games, please.
Bravely Default 2 was and still is my most anticipated game of the year. That’s saying something in a year that just keeps getting crammed with more and more S-Tier RPGs to steal my time. After completing the “story,” maxing out each of the characters’ levels, mastering all their jobs, and completing all the side quests available, the demo has only reinforced in me how much I have missed this series and desperately needed a new game. While the demo isn’t without its flaws, it is just that: a demo. I love this approach that Team Asano is taking with releasing an early demo to get feedback on. Octopath Traveler showed how much of a benefit that feedback can be, and I can see this only results in a better end product here as well.
I eagerly await news on the release date and still pray to all the crystals that Nintendo will grace us with an HD Switch remaster of Bravely Default and Bravely Second one day, too.
Bravely Default 2 is coming to Nintendo Switch sometime later this year. You can download and try the demo yourself, which is free on the Nintendo eShop.