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Glen-i

Bravely Default II (2020)

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16 hours ago, Jonnas said:

@Glen-i I was going to get it at launch, but my country's going through a very serious lockdown right now (likely until mid-April at the earliest). I don't want to order things online, and this is not a game I want digitally, so I'll wait until I get an opportunity to go into a store. Patience is an annoying virtue, but it's the one I have.

You should know, the scenario in the final demo was somewhat different to the one in the initial demo. Same place, pretty different events. I have no idea which one the game proper decided to go with.

I am delighted to hear that the sidequests don't appear on the map, for reasons that I repeatedly mentioned last year. The absence of a mini-map I'm somewhat okay with (the dungeon from the demos works better when you actually need to figure out paths and openings), but whether it's a good thing or a bad thing depends on the general dungeon design quality of the game.

Yeah, I should clarify that I don't necessarily find these changes bad. It's just something I couldn't help noticing after the 3DS entries.

That said, when you're in a town, there'll be a blue speech bubble above those who have a side quest and once accepted, the game will then put markers on the map telling you where to go. (These can be turned off, if you want)

Spoiler

Call it Beastmaster all you like, but I know you just rebranded the Hunter job from Octopath Traveller!

You can't get past me with that!

EDIT: Oh right, the Thief asterisk fight kinda kicked my butt last night.

So he has a chance of countering attacks? OK, I can deal with that.

Oh wait, did he just counter me because I healed a party member? And he counters with a painful HP stealing move!? That's just mean.

I'm sorry... Did he just counter me because I used Default!? And he stole my BP this time!?

Holy hell, this is Chapter 1 and it's utterly brutal!

Real talk though, every asterisk seems to have counters and it's getting kinda annoying to deal with. It's like everyone is the Swordmaster Job from the first game!

Edited by Glen-i
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I'm on Chapter 2 now. A simple change in strategy made the Thief fight a lot more manageable. I stopped bothering with Default and just spammed the Freelancer's Body Slam whenever possible. That move is really useful! It's a physical attack, but it doesn't count as a weapon attack, which I've noticed some bosses are resistant or even immune to weapons. Focus on learning that.

Holy hell, "Unshakable Will" is an absolutely amazing passive ability that grants immunity to 7 status effects!

It's like having two thirds of a ribbon! And it only takes up one slot! Bonkers!

Spoiler

That ability made the Red Mage fight a complete breeze.

This job has gotten quite a tweak. It no longer has a mixture of Black and White magic, it has it's own unique spell list instead, covering Aero and Stone spells, so having a Black Mage sub-job will give you a larger list of elements to play with.

The Red Mage is also interesting in that it's new gimmick is that any spell they cast now has a chance of inflicting status effects, which status effect you inflict depends on which element you cast. (That might have been annoying to fight against, if it wasn't for Unshakeable Will blocking all that nonsense)

Add to that, the fact that you can still get Revenge (25% chance of getting 1 BP when taking damage) and I think this job is a remarkable improvement!

 

Edited by Glen-i
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On 01/03/2021 at 7:12 AM, Glen-i said:

 

EDIT: Oh right, the Thief asterisk fight kinda kicked my butt last night.

So he has a chance of countering attacks? OK, I can deal with that.

Oh wait, did he just counter me because I healed a party member? And he counters with a painful HP stealing move!? That's just mean.

I'm sorry... Did he just counter me because I used Default!? And he stole my BP this time!?

Holy hell, this is Chapter 1 and it's utterly brutal!

Real talk though, every asterisk seems to have counters and it's getting kinda annoying to deal with. It's like everyone is the Swordmaster Job from the first game!

This was in the final demo, albeit with Anihal, which made the fight somehow more difficult as it went on. I was hoping this would be a demo-only thing, as it does feel super cheap.

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Blatant Octopath Traveller Theft #2: Olberic's Level Slash move is in this. Got exactly the same name, does exactly the same thing.

Shout "MY BLADE IS UNBENDING!" when used for maximum effect!

Anyway, every time Adelle gets a status effect/debuff and responds with "What the!? You suck!", I immediately crack up! Something about the delivery just kills me every time!

@Jonnas, yeah, he's not the only one. Just fought a boss who sometimes countered defaulting by raising their own BP. To be fair, it wasn't nearly as bad, because I still kept my BP and she wasn't the main source of damage in that fight. Much more manageable.

But the Thief Fight is definitely a weird difficulty spike so far.

Edited by Glen-i
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Think I'm coming up to the end of Chapter 3.

Gotten quite a few more jobs, a lot of which have been getting some interesting tweaks.

None of them are actually new if you've played Bravely Default... Kinda... But I'll spoiler it anyway.

Spoiler

Salve-Maker makes a return, which is interesting, seeing as it was dropped in Bravely Second. It's a lot more conservative this time around, what with the inherent chance to not use up items. I still don't like using items though, so probably won't use it anymore than I did in the first game.

Speaking of jobs that were dropped in Second, Spiritmaster is back, even if it is in name only. It's very different. Kind of a mix between White Mage and the Spellcraft ability from Second. It's a lot more limited than Spellcraft though (Not surprising, that ability was bonkers good!).

Dragoon is what you'd expect, but with an interesting twist. If a Dragoon uses Jump, they drop down a lot quicker than if it's used as a sub-job. However, the more a Dragoon's equipment weighs, the more damage it deals. Simply put, Dragoons do more damage with Jump, but other jobs can stay in the air longer, which makes it easier to evade attacks.

And finally, there's Swordmaster, which has gotten insane buffs! Simply because it mixes the Swordmaster job from the 3DS entries with a certain job from Second! A certain job that happens to be one of my favourite. Some of the utter nonsense this involves is permanent counter stances or attacking twice in one turn for no cost what-so-ever. And that's before we get to what happens if you actually dare to spend some MP! This job seriously has the potential to be one of the best in the game!

The plot's dynamic has changed a bit now. Certainly didn't see that coming!

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God, I hate Minus Strike!

I knew it was only a matter of time, and it's still as cheap as ever!

Luckily, I've been preparing for this for quite a while now. I'm going Freelancer on this boss! It's the only way to even hope to survive it.

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I'be been playing this and Catherine for a bit. This one a bit more. Finished the prologue.

Ugh I hate when games give you the option to play with the original voices, but then don't give you a normal way to start the game with this option.

This game's pretty hard, but I'm enjoying the combat (never played the previous game). Fight with Horten went terribly, but I managed to beat him nonetheless, thanks to Sir Sloan who kept reviving and healing teammates while I was out of those items, and thanks to changing all my guys to freelancers, as most of the time they needed an extra hit. I didn't do this specifically for the fight, I just thought there was maybe some merit in grinding freelancer levels, there are some useful passives.

Then immediately after the opening credits, I died to a normal enemy.

Spoiler

One of those big guys walking around. Thought I could take him just as before, but Sloan wasn't around, and I was out of items. So this didn't go well.

Those counters were annoying yeah. Not sure how to deal with that yet, maybe by giving the melee fighters a magic sub job.

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6 hours ago, Sméagol said:

This game's pretty hard, but I'm enjoying the combat (never played the previous game). Fight with Horten went terribly, but I managed to beat him nonetheless, thanks to Sir Sloan who kept reviving and healing teammates while I was out of those items, and thanks to changing all my guys to freelancers, as most of the time they needed an extra hit. I didn't do this specifically for the fight, I just thought there was maybe some merit in grinding freelancer levels, there are some useful passives.

The sooner you get Body Slam, as well as JP Up and Up, the better. Trust me on this.

Freelancer is a pretty crap job at first, but master other jobs and a mastered Freelancer will get stat boosts for every other job they've mastered. This is broken beyond belief!

I got one shotted by a boss I referred to in my previous post, so I went back with 4 Freelancers and completely destroyed it!

Of course, I still had other jobs that needed to be mastered, so I went back to other jobs afterwards, but put in the effort and you'll have a great job for breaking past boss difficulty spikes.

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1 hour ago, Glen-i said:

The sooner you get Body Slam, as well as JP Up and Up, the better. Trust me on this.

Freelancer is a pretty crap job at first, but master other jobs and a mastered Freelancer will get stat boosts for every other job they've mastered. This is broken beyond belief!

I got one shotted by a boss I referred to in my previous post, so I went back with 4 Freelancers and completely destroyed it!

Of course, I still had other jobs that needed to be mastered, so I went back to other jobs afterwards, but put in the effort and you'll have a great job for breaking past boss difficulty spikes.

I was specifically looking at the 2 JP up abilities yes. They're very typical abilities that work better the sooner you get them, and even one of the in-game hints mentioned it.

On the other hand the game is strongly suggesting giving your characters the first jobs you get for the typical party composition. I haven't looked into this, but I suspect a main job will boost stats for the corresponding skills? And it feels a bit weird having 4 freelancers walking around haha.

But for now I think I'll just continue this way. Or then again, maybe I'll have a look at Elvis' skills to see if there's anything I immediately want for a desert area.

Edit:

Out of curiosity, how did your fight with Horten go? Like I said mine went terribly even though I did defeat him. I didn't prepare myself despite knowing a boss was probably coming up. If I did, I would maybe have changed back the main jobs, but looking back I think that freelancer ability (stand ground I believe) helped out a lot.

Edit:

Oh and one more thing, what's your stance on the boat exploration? Feels like cheating, then again it also feels it also doesn't feel tacked on. Not sure, but I think you got a key item for doing the exploration in that first sidequest.

Edited by Sméagol

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2 hours ago, Sméagol said:

Out of curiosity, how did your fight with Horten go? Like I said mine went terribly even though I did defeat him. I didn't prepare myself despite knowing a boss was probably coming up. If I did, I would maybe have changed back the main jobs, but looking back I think that freelancer ability (stand ground I believe) helped out a lot.

Edit:

Oh and one more thing, what's your stance on the boat exploration? Feels like cheating, then again it also feels it also doesn't feel tacked on. Not sure, but I think you got a key item for doing the exploration in that first sidequest.

Pretty straight forward, but I've played both of the 3DS entries and the Monk job is very similar to those games, so I knew what to expect.

If I remember rightly, I had everyone as a Freelancer then, with everyone sporting White Mage sub-jobs (except Elvis, because he already had Black Mage at level 3, so I used that)

I knew Sloan was gonna be doing most of the damage, so I focused on just keeping my HP and MP topped up with Treat and used Cure if whole party healing was needed, while throwing in an attack or a spell if I had a turn free.

As for the boat feature, it's not as useful as you'd think. The bosses are really hard in this game, so every little helps. (Then again, you apparently get better rewards if you're able to go online, which I can't do reliably. So your mileage might vary)

2 hours ago, Sméagol said:

On the other hand the game is strongly suggesting giving your characters the first jobs you get for the typical party composition. I haven't looked into this, but I suspect a main job will boost stats for the corresponding skills? And it feels a bit weird having 4 freelancers walking around haha.

My advice would be to stick with it until everyone is at Level 12 Freelancer. Then start experimenting with other jobs.

If you hold it off, it'll be more difficult to work with Freelancers due to tougher enemies.

As for the bolded, not quite. Each job tweaks stats when set as your main. (Black Mage would increase Magic Attack, while lowering Physical Attack, for example) But this doesn't actually directly affect skills.

So yes, the Magic Attack boost would help Black Mages do more damage with spells, but if you were to choose a main job that has even more Magic Attack (And those do exist) and then choose Black Mage as the Sub-Job, you'll do even more damage than a Black Mage could.

After you're done with Freelancer, try and master some other jobs as often as possible. You already know that each job has a speciality, but getting to Level 12 will unlock a second speciality. The majority of these are really powerful!

Edited by Glen-i
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36 minutes ago, Glen-i said:

My advice would be to stick with it until everyone is at Level 12 Freelancer. Then start experimenting with other jobs.

I intend to for the most part, though by now I've done what I said I would, have a look if there's something useful I can unlock quickly. I've changed Gloria to a white mage so I could unlock raise as the next spell, which sounded too useful to me to delay. Cura also sounds useful, but I'll save that for later. I had Elvis learn Blizzara, en Adelle Inner.. something, so he has another option for healing and more stuff to use MP on. These were all the next spells in line, so I didn't need to level much, and I've changed them back to freelancers. I really like Addelle's monk outfit though! But I remember that from the demo.

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Welp, Final Boss beaten. Here are some quick thoughts on non-plot stuff. (Seeing as I'm probably the only one here who has seen the plot at this point)

- The Brave and Default system is still as fun as it was on the 3DS. The shift to a more ATB (Like Final Fantasy IV) style is an interesting dynamic change that kept things feeling fresh.

- While I would say the jobs in this are more interesting to work with than the original game, Bravely Second's jobs are way more imaginative, subvertive and fun. There are hints of some of them in this game, but so many are left behind, that it's noticeable.

- Holy crap, the music is so good! That Final Boss music is just unadulterated hype! Massive kudos to Revo on that front.

- The biggest stroke against this game is the sheer amount of bosses that can counter certain actions. At first, I thought it was a cool idea to keep you on your toes. "Oh, this boss counters physical attacks, I should switch to a more magic based party." But sooner or later, you start seeing bosses that counter a wide variety of actions. The Thief asterisk fight is a startling wake-up call, as you're punished for attacking it, defaulting, healing, or applying buffs. And that kinda sets the tone for the rest of the game, there's no real method to avoid these, so you just have to deal with having bosses wail on you multiple times in one turn. It gets more manageable as you get more jobs, but it's still very annoying.

- I think the difficulty of this game is too high, even on casual difficulty. I'm convinced that the game expects you to exploit the sheer power of a late-game "4 Freelancer party" to even see the credits. It's going to be a tough ride for newcomers to the Bravely Default series. If you're interested in jumping in, try and play the first 3DS game first.

Anyway, I messed around a bit on New Game + and got a good laugh from an early moment.

Spoiler

The game actually ends if you beat Adam in the fight that you're supposed to lose in. Cracked up when the battle results showed up and Elvis said "Wait, did we actually win!? Is it over!?"

A quick one minute cutscene later and the credits were rolling, except really, really fast! I'm convinced that's a nod to Chrono Trigger.

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I get mad Stanley Parable vibes from that screen.

"Stanley defeated the evil Adam, despite the fact that this completely ruined the plot. Stanley most likely did this because he's so arrogant, that the thought of losing at anything fills him with existential dread, and that's very concerning..."

I very much enjoyed BD II, despite it's flaws. It's a good, if difficult, RPG.

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Main plot might be done, but I've been tackling the many optional fights that this game offers and one of them dropped a weapon that was unbelievable in how utterly broken it is. It leaves me with no doubt in that it's meant to be one of the best weapons in the game.

Spoiler

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Vanguard Passive Abilities!

Equipping it grants the two passive abilities you can get from the Vanguard job without spending a single skill slot! And then I got another weapon, which does the same thing, except with the four Swordmaster passive abilities!

This is completely insane! Dual wielding these swords and using the skill slots available means that Elvis:

Is immune to all status effects.

Has a 30% chance of increasing attack by 1-3% for the rest of the battle whenever he takes damage. This can stack multiple times, so the more it gets activated, the stronger he gets!

Reduces damage taken by 30% until his next turn whenever he performs an attack.

Reduces damage by a further 50% at all times.

Takes damage on behalf of another character if they are close to death, automatically defaulting when doing so.

Protecting another ally in any way restores some MP and also gives one BP. (Yes, he does that a lot, he's the damage sponge in my team)

Has a 50% chance of countering any attack that hits just him.

The more BP he has, the more damage he deals with regular attacks and counterattacks.

Does not get a penalty from dual wielding weapons.

Does 30% more damage when doing a critical hit.

Doubles Max HP during battle, which ignores the 9999 HP cap.

Has a 33% chance of performing a second attack whenever he does a normal attack.

And in the very unlikely scenario where Elvis dies, he does an extremely powerful attack to every enemy just as a final middle finger.

Simply put, my strategy has boiled down to having Elvis adopt a counter stance, power up said counter stances so that he steals BP off of anyone who hits him and then use one of the Sub-Job abilities to protect everyone in the party, meaning the enemy has almost no choice but to hit Elvis, in which case, he only takes 20% of the damage, recovers any MP he spent, gets a BP, counters twice (50% chance that he whacks them three times), steals another BP off of whoever hit him, and might get powered up a bit from taking damage.

This just snowballs into absurdity as Elvis gets all his BP back by the time his next turn comes around, and then I do it all again!

This isn't even taking into account the fact that Gloria is keeping him alive with little difficulty, while Seth and Adelle are piling on the damage!

Repeat until my inevitable victory.

The mind boggles at what I can accomplish if I can get some more of these bonkers weapons on the other party members! I kinda have to find out how much I can break the game at this point!

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I've finally gotten a copy! This game feels like comfort food in all the right ways, and so far I'm liking it a lot. Gonna need a couple more chapters to see if it falls into the same traps as the first one, but so far I'm optimistic. I will say right now that I'm loving these new side-quests at least. They bring some mundane bits of character and worldbuilding that were lacking in the first BD.

I do have a question though: are these big bad optional monster fights missable? Do they go away, I mean? I managed to go around that axolotl-looking thing and nab the treasure chest, but the monster itself is way out of my league. Will I get the opportunity to fight it in a later chapter, though?

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41 minutes ago, Jonnas said:

I do have a question though: are these big bad optional monster fights missable? Do they go away, I mean? I managed to go around that axolotl-looking thing and nab the treasure chest, but the monster itself is way out of my league. Will I get the opportunity to fight it in a later chapter, though?

Nah, don't worry. Nothing in this game is missable.

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So, I picked this up again after months of inaction, and reached the end of Chapter 1 (well, close to it. I'm already moving towards the next town, and have yet to see "Chapter 2" pop up). My takeaways, compared to the Prologue:

  • The difficulty has picked up a bit. I thought I'd be disappointed after the pushovers from the prologue, but no, Anihal still kicked my ass several times, and the optional asterisk fight gave me trouble as well. Meanwhile, Bernard was oddly easy (despite all the reports of him being super difficult), but I think that's just because I happened to accidentally use the most optimal setup and strategy on my first try;
  • The job skills are... very weirdly balanced. First, they're learned surprisingly fast. I'm barely past Chapter 1, and I already about to learn Firaga and JP Up. I'm also gaining some oddly broken skills here and there, already (Defensive Offence being the most notable one). And none of them take more than 1 skill point to use? Meanwhile, the more recent jobs seem to have adequately balanced skills on the whole, which makes the occasional overpowered ones all the more apparent;
  • Beastmaster is super fun to use. I thought it would be gimmicky (and it kind of is), but the fact that you can capture monsters as a secondary skill... and anybody in your party can release them, regardless of who captured it? Fantastic. I hear Octopath Traveller did this class first, but it gels really well with the Brave mechanic;
  • Music keeps getting better. Love the ditty from the "Mansion"-type dungeons. Voicework keeps getting better too, with more and more accents showing up (and I'm appreciating the in-battle quips more, too);
  • B&D is fun. Considering the similarities to Tetra Master, I appreciate the much clearer and fairer rules;
  • The plot - both the main story and the sidequests - keeps surprising me, positively so:
Spoiler

I said this before, but I really like how asterisks are properly part of the plot, now. I never liked how they were handled in the first game, but this one plays around a lot with the concept. Not only do we still have the villains who embody their asterisks in interesting and meaningful ways (like Anihal and Bernard), but we also have characters who just - surprise - grab an asterisk out of nowhere and turn into a boss (like Castor and the Halcyonian Minister). And in the middle, we have small-fry goons (Dag, Selene, Orpheus) who go on to become recurring characters after they were stripped of their asterisks.

And damn, this game managed to surprise me several times in this chapter! First, we had an unexpected boss in the vase sidequest (totally expected a rematch with Dag and Selene), with a very wholesome ending to the whole thing instead (with character development for our silly villains).

But right after that, not only did Castor's betrayal come out of the blue for me (I totally fell for the red herring known as Dromed), he just shanks Bernard in cold blood! This took a sudden dark tone, and the flashback we'd get with him murdering his father then doubled down on this. Definitely not the conclusion I expected, but man, it was effective. I'm kind of excited to see what's next!

  • Finally, the scenery and monsters still look very good, but the humans... still super silly, with only a few exceptions that look good in this style (like Bernard). However, I did notice that whoever directed the cutscenes does a good job in obscuring these uncanny faces during the more dramatic/ominous moments.

So yeah, I'm pretty dang pleased with the game so far, and I'm liking it quite a bit more than the first one. I just hope the job system doesn't get overly simplistic by the end, because that's the only yellow flag I'm seeing right now.

Edited by Jonnas
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The little subplots that each town has are a real step up from the first game. A lot more interesting on that front. Chapter 3 was a particular favourite of mine.

 

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