Tobold's Blog
Thursday, April 29, 2021
Bravely Default 2

I must say that Bravely Default 2 is one of the weirder role-playing games that I have played. That is mostly due to the job system, which operates on job points (JP). JP are gained together with XP after every fight, but the mechanics are somewhat different. In a typical RPG there is some incentive to attack level-adequate monsters, as these give you the most XP. In Bravely Default 2 that is still roughly the case for XP, but not at all for JP. You get the most JP if you manage to engage more groups of monsters at once. You can achieve that to a limited extent by using special items, called monster treats. But the far more efficient way is to use the fact that weak monsters run away from you to herd a bunch of them into a corner. For example you can herd all 8 monster groups on the beach where the game starts along the beach into a corner, and that gives you the maximum nimber of JP, over 800 per bunch. You’d much rather do that than get 30 JP for a regular fight against a single monster group.

What adds to this is the fact than only your main job gets JP. But your main job also determines your stats. So if you want to level up a new job from level 1, you are relatively weak, increasing the incentive to herd low level mobs rather than tackling more dangerous monsters. Ultimately the game cycles between two states: You farming low-level mobs for JP until you’re powerful enogh in that job to really use it, and the rest of the game, where you follow the story, do quests, and battle more for XP than JP.

Many other systems in Bravely Default 2 are also not very well balanced. For example you are supposed to search area and dungeons for treasure chests. But those treasure chests usually contain rather mundane loot. And you can get a lot more of the same regular loot with the Freelancer’s Forage command. So if you are chasing weak mobs anyway, why not use the Bravely/Default system and the Forage command to chain something like Forage-Forage-Forage-Attack. Fights take longer, but you come out loaded with loot and useful consumables. A bit further into the game you can learn the Thief job and do something even better, stealin rare items from every monster you meet. Who needs treasure chests?

While Bravely Default 2 has some of the qualities of early Final Fantasy games, and I appreciate the turn-based combat, overall the flow of the game isn’t great. Story boss monsters and the occasional world boss monsters are so much more powerful than the surrounding regular monsters that you actually *need* to be completely overpowered compared to regular monsters in order to tackle the boss. If the regular monsters aren’t fleeing in a panic when they see you, you aren’t ready for the next boss. While in some of the PC complex RPGs that I have been playing lately, like Baldur’s Gate 3 or Divinity Original Sin 2, I had often wished that there were a bit more fights, at least most fights in these games were somewhat exciting. Bravely Default 2 has tons of fights, but few exciting ones. I doubt I will play this for long.

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