Bravely Default 2 is a gorgeous and glorious return for the series | Hands-on preview

by on February 9, 2021

After the Bravely Default 2 demo dropped, fans were quick to point out various issues they had with it, such as the harsh difficulty and the lack of clarity when fighting enemies. These concerns were more than justified, and to the credit of Claytechworks, they headed back to their virtual studios to rectify the problems people were having. I’ve been more than excited to finally get my hands on Bravely Default 2. and after playing a preview of it, I can’t wait to play the whole game. These issues are apparently fixed, and the pure joy of exploring the fantasy realm of Excillant made me so happy. Whilst I’ve only seen a small fraction of BD2, I can happily say I’ve fallen in love with it.

As the tale begins, the various elements of the continent are in disarray, caused by the theft of the crystals that help to keep them in line. The wind crystal is in the hands of Princess Gloria, but as for the rest of them, it’s anyone’s guess. As Seth, you wash ashore as your boat capsizes (thanks to the roaring waves caused by the crystals), lost and alone. Princess Gloria and her guardian Sir Sloan find you on a beach and help you to a nearby inn, and from there your adventure starts to take shape.

Bravely Default 2 battle

Whilst revisiting the beach, you bump into two travellers: Elvis and Adelle. I instantly fell in love with Elvis, mainly due to his charming Scottish accent, but as a scholar he’s on a quest to decipher a book handed to him by his former mentor. Adelle has been employed by Elvis to help them on their travels, but there’s already and interesting relationship forming between the two. It isn’t long before you form a party and set out to recover the stolen crystals and reimpose balance to the land. The dialogue is a lot of fun, with much of it voiced. Seth’s importance to the story is great, and thanks to his honourable personality, I grew to like him quickly. Princess Gloria has a heart of gold, and can also hold her own in a fight, whilst temporary party member Sir Sloan is a bona fide badass.

You’re introduced to your complete party early on. The Heroes of Light soon set off to find the crystals that are flooding cities and raising temperatures across the continent. Characters such as Sir Sloan will join your party, but the base four, Seth, Princess Gloria, Elvis, and Adele, remain the same. As I’ve only played the prologue and first few chapters, I’m yet to see all the new Jobs on offer or how they work, but what I have seen so far makes me excited to try them all out. As you level up your Job, you unlock special abilities relating to each one. You don’t have to stick to them either as you can switch them in or out when you want.

Bravely Default 2 dungeon battle

I unlocked new Job paths for each character, but will save the surprise for you. One thing I did make sure was that I was able to split various roles across my party so I had all bases covered. Seth became the muscle, whilst Gloria acted as a healer. Adelle was used as a fighter alongside Seth, whilst Elvis was able to use ranged magic. A cool feature of Bravely Default 2 is the option to select sub-Jobs so that their abilities can be used. With Gloria, her prime focus was on restoring health to the party, but she was able to discovery enemy weaknesses or forage for items as well.

Combat is a lot of fun, and the risk and reward mechanic can be a matter of life and death if you make the wrong decision. If you choose to use Default on a turn, you’ll store an action, but not be able to do anything on that turn. When it rolls back around to you again, you’ll now be able to do two actions by selecting Brave to unleash two attacks, heal two party members, or mix and match with all your various abilities. However, if you store an action and the enemy knocks you unconscious, all your careful planning will go to waste. This did happen a few times in the early stages, but as I became used to how my party fought together, it happened less and less.

Bravely Default Sir Sloan

I was able to harness this mechanic to do great things in battle, especially against the tougher enemies. Of course, this works both ways. Your enemies can also use the Brave/Default mechanic, with some storing upward of three or four attacks if not defeated. If this happens, you’re as good as dead, so it’s really important to focus on those monsters if you want to come out of it with your lives. They all have weaknesses, whether it’s fire, water, a bow, or a blade. These variants make each fight feel unique, always keeping you on your toes as you encounter the menagerie of creatures that inhabit Excillant.

With the short time I’ve spent playing Bravely Default 2, I’m in love with the world and the Heroes of Light. There are plenty of actions available, and with the Asterisks I’ve found, I’ve been able to improve many facets of my strategy on the fly. I’ve jumped into a few dungeons and some difficult paths in my time with it, and whilst I have struggled here and there, it’s always been because I’ve made a silly mistake that could have been avoided. The Jobs system is excellent, and I can’t wait to unlock more. The story is enjoyable, if a little unoriginal, and the characters already hold a place in my heart.

Bravely Default 2 looks gorgeous. The style of the cities and towns resembles the hand-drawn style of Octopath Traveller. Even when in combat, the variety of monsters and the way they look are completely different, ranging from goblins to fire lizards, and brutish ogres. Each enemy has a particular elemental attack as well as a weakness, and the vibrant battles look amazing on the Switch. Flashes of light and stylish animations keep things exciting. I’m so hyped to dive deeper into the incredible world that Claytechworks has created.