Following last week’s Nintendo Direct, where Nintendo of Europe head Satoru Shibata gave a detailed look at Bravely Default which was followed by a playable demo being released on the Nintendo eShop (which if you haven’t already downloaded, you should), you probably already know a fair bit about how battles are conducted in Square Enix’s new 3DS role-playing game. For those of you who might not know, or who haven’t really explored everything the demo has to offer though, in our third instalment of Brave Friday, we will be exploring the battle system of Bravely Default, including its revolutionary Brave/Default options, as well as the different job classes and how they can be mixed together.
The first pair of features worth mentioning are the two that the game takes its name from. Producer Tomoya Asano has previously stated that Bravely Default means “have courage and renounce the promises and responsibilities that are expected of you“. Roleplaying games that feature a turn-based battle system have been in decline in recent years (unless your name is Pokémon), possibly because some people felt it was becoming stale (even later Final Fantasy games have adopted a different system). The Brave/Default system lives up to the game’s name, as Bravely Default has the courage to take what we would expect from a traditional RPG and change what we would expect from the genre, making even the standard turn-based battle system feel remarkably fresh.
At first, the Brave/Default system might appear to be little more than gambling, with players using up a turn to select the “Default” instead of attacking or using an ability to build up their “Brave Points”, with the only immediate trade-off being a slight defensive boost. These “Brave” points can then be spent to allow that specific character to move multiple times in a turn, so on the surface it may look like you are simply betting that your party will be able to survive long enough to pull off a consecutive string of devastating blows in a critical moment. You can also risk everything by using the Brave option to drive your Brave Points into the minuses, meaning the character cannot attack until their points hit zero again. However, there is much more to what many might shrug off as a mere gamble – the timing of you choosing to Brave or Default can turn the tide of battle in a critical moment. For example, when using a character with a job class dedicated to healing, it might be worth building up your Brave Points towards the beginning of a battle (and boss battles in particular), so that if you get in a tight spot, you can revive and heal multiple characters in one turn. If you think you’re getting close to beating an enemy, or just want to speed up grinding for level ups, you can also max out the “Brave” option as a short-cut to strike multiple hits and hopefully end a battle in a single turn.
Brave and Default may sound gimmicky at first, but you’d be surprised at just how man possible strategies they add to the game!
A new feature for the enhanced version of the original game, which the international release is being based on, is “Bravely Second”. While your 3DS is in sleep mode and the Bravely Default game is the active software, you will accumulate “Sleep Points” over time (with a maximum of three a day). In battle, you can press the “Start” button to use a Sleep Point and temporarily freeze time, allowing you to strike your opponent multiple times! While the amount of SP you can gain naturally is limited, if you need more you can purchase “SP Drinks” from the Nintendo eShop, which automatically give you three points.
A fan favourite return from the likes of Final Fantasy V (SNES) is a customisable job system. Unlike recent RPGs where characters have set roles to play, in Bravely Default, you have full control over which of your four characters becomes any one of twenty four jobs. These range from RPG classics like Black Mage and White Mage, to even things like Performer and Vampire. Obviously, the stats and abilities of a character depend on which job you give them, but what really separates Bravely Default from recent games is that the customisation doesn’t just end there. When a character changes a job, you are also allowed to select an ability from another job class. For example, you can have a Swordmaster with the Performer’s Power of Love ability, which raises my party’s physical attack power for 4 turns, or a Red Mage with the Black Magic ability, allowing it to use Level 5 and 6 spells that the Red Mage class normally can’t.
Unlike Fire Emblem: Awakening which also had a job system, Bravely Default is completely open – any character can be any job and a character’s normal level and job levels are two separate things. That means that unlike in Fire Emblem, your stats will still continue to increase even when you’ve hit the maximum job level (which is 14 for each job).
So with a large number of classes and the ability to mix and match abilities, there are many possible combinations to customise your characters with in Bravely Default!
What’s a role playing game without flashy special moves? Well, not to worry as Bravely Default has them too, but in usual Bravely Default fashion, has mixed things up a bit. Each of the game’s seven weapon types possess three “Deathblow” moves which can only be activated if certain requirements are met in battle. What’s more is, these “Deathblow” moves are fully customisable – you can select their name, the message that is shown when they are used and even the effects of the moves!
In our previous article, we mentioned the StreetPass side-quest where you have to rebuild Norende Village – one of the many shops that can be built there is one dedicated to customising your Deathblow moves!
Bravely Default is very much a game about customisation and personal freedom. To this end, the game also allows you to manipulate the enemy random encounter rates, bumping them up to as high as 200% or as low as 0% (the latter being especially useful if you’re trying to run back to town with a severely injured party). You can also change the difficulty of the game at any moment you like, giving you complete freedom and flexibility!
There are now only two weeks until Bravely Default is released in Europe! If you haven’t already, please head over to the Nintendo eShop and download the demo now, or pre-order the regular edition from GAME or the Deluxe Collector’s Edition from ShopTo.net! For our American readers, the game will be released on 7th February, 2014. To quote Nintendo of America’s Bill Trinen: “This [Bravely Default] is an epic adventure from Square Enix, a company that knows epic adventures.”
And for those of us just joining us, here are links to the previous Brave Friday features: