Thursday, April 3, 2014

A More In-Depth Look at Bravely Default

So because I play console RPGs the way I do, in an incredibly grindy manner, I've been going nowhere story-wise and instead focusing on upgrading the village of Norende all the way.  Doing so fills out the shop that's available at save points, as well as providing a pool of items for the village to select from and randomly gift to you.  It only amounts to a slow trickle, but still, a slow trickle of free items is never a bad thing.  Overall I see no reason why I shouldn't get it done as early as possible.

The places that give you weapons and armor simply unlock that equipment in the save point shop.  You still have to actually buy the items, which involves having the money to pay for them.  Predictably, the higher-end equipment is expensive enough to prevent you from easily buying it early-game and just stomping the rest of the game.  If you wish to do that, you'll have to crank the encounter rate up and farm money for a while.  Given the prices of some things, you'll be doing that for an eternity.  Or at least, so long that even I probably won't do it.

However, some of the Norende shops are different and provide a much more immediate benefit and boost in power to your party.  The Special Move shop unlocks the three special moves for each weapon.  The Parts shops unlock special move "parts" that you can use to customize the special moves.  Each character can have a separate setup of parts on the special moves for each weapon, making for a ton of customizability.  You can adapt them to make them work for the enemies you're fighting through currently, and then every few battles you'll have a special move come up that can completely pwn some faces.  Also, some of the special move parts are simply straight upgrades to damage, HP recovery, MP recovery, bonus BP, etc.; and in general you'll only want the highest available level of that upgrade.

Though it's only cosmetic, you can also rename the special moves and change the dialogue each character says when using special moves.  Combine this with the job system, though, and you can really make your own fighting style, complete with the custom names and dialogue to complete the whole thing.  This text does get sent to other players when you use the "send" option in battle, so when they summon your attack, they'll see your custom name and dialogue.  The social aspects of the game can help tremendously and should not be overlooked.

The Brave and Default options in battle affect your Brave Points, or BP for short.  Certain special move parts can affect your BP, opening up a wide range of possibilities in battle.  Also, each random encounter has a chance of having an effect such as "Enemies strike first!", "Allies strike first!", "Enemies get +1 BP!", or "Allies get +1 BP!" applied when triggered, further changing the tactics you have at hand when it works in your favor.

All of this put together means that Bravely Default is a very technical and tactical RPG, even though on the surface it looks pretty much like any other JRPG.

Stuff I just flat-out didn't mention before:

You can get Nemeses via StreetPass or by sending Net Friend Invites.  They show up in Norende and defeating them gets you extra stuff.  They tend to be high level and quite the difficult fight, the lowest level one I have is level 20 and I'm not quite ready to face it yet.

Yet another social feature of the game is Abilink.  You can borrow abilities from your friends by linking their characters to yours.  Seems kind of interesting.  To be honest I've been under-utilizing the social features of the game, because I kind of had the impression that they were something you should only lean on in times of dire need.  They seem to be more of a thing that the game intends you to use much more regularly.  That said, I don't have anyone's friend code yet, so I only have the AI Friend that the game creates and modifies randomly to simulate a friend updating their own data and sending it to you via StreetPass.

The only glaring negative I've seen in the game thus far is that MP recovery items as a whole are rare, overpriced, and underpowered.  I don't know about you, but I'd like my mages to actually be able to cast their spells on a regular basis, and being able to refill their MP while out in the field is essential to that.  Some people around the internet suggest that MP recovery is considered "overpowered", but as rebuttal I offer this argument:

It costs significantly less than the price of a single Ether to simply turn off random encounters, run back to town, and stay at the inn.  Staying at the inn fully recovers everyone's HP/MP, instead of just recovering a small portion of the MP of the character in question.  After staying at the inn, you can then run back to where you were and turn the random encounters back on.  This essentially makes travelling to the inn and back from anywhere in the world a free action, to borrow a Dungeons and Dragons term.  Being that setting the encounter rate is a thing in this game, I consider that to be far more powerful than simply being able to recover my mages' MP in a dungeon somewhere.  Therefore, the game should have reasonably priced MP recovery items, as well as MP recovery items that remain relevant in later portions of the game, and the lower-power ones should be much more common than the higher-power ones.  Besides, if limiting how much I can cast spells is desired, then why do I have almost 200 MP when my only spells thus far have a maximum cost of 5 MP?  It'd make more sense to knock an entire power of 10 off of my max MP if you wanted to put a better limit on it.

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