Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Bravely Second Demo First Impressions

I'm kind of late to this, for reasons I won't go into in this post.  Bravely Second's demo has been out for a while now, and just like with Bravely Default's demo, there's rewards that transfer to the full game.  This time around, though, it's an unlimited-use "special" demo, which is how all 3DS demos should be, to be honest.

I have played all the way through the demo, so unless I forgot something, this is everything I noticed.  The vast majority of my impressions will be those coming from someone who's used to Bravely Default.  So, comparisons abound.

Upon getting through all the intro and exposition and stuff (which I paid attention to, but won't be discussing here), I noticed some things right away.  Mostly small interface or feature tweaks that just make life easier, but there's some bigger things as well.  Here's a mostly unorganized bulleted list of what I've noticed.
  • You can save your party setup to a "Favorites" list, and easily recall a specific setup.
  • In a similar vein, you can save your Auto mode battle setup to one of three Command Sets, and recall those on a whim.
  • There's now a menu that pops up when you press R, that lets you select what Auto mode will do, as well as change the encounter rate.  Un-burying the encounter rate option is really nice, since you want to be able to change it on the fly and it was a few levels deep in menus in Bravely Default.
  • Most use of the touchscreen seems to have been made optional, from the looks of it.  One of the characters, Magnolia, has a moon village that "needs help", which means rebuilding and upgrading in a similar fashion to Norende.  Its screen seems to be fully navigable without the touchscreen, which includes a popup menu that lets you zoom to specific points of interest, that pops up when you press right on the d-pad.  The only thing you could do in Norende without using the touchscreen was leave Norende.
  • When selecting equipment, little arrows appear on the tabs on the touchscreen, indicating if the currently selected piece of equipment affects something on that tab.
  • Ability icons are now more indicative of the general category that the ability belongs to.
  • You can now earn SP while actively playing the game, instead of just while the system is in sleep mode with the game running.  You still earn SP at the rate of one every 8 hours, though.
  • In battle, when selecting your action or its target, you can automatically Brave and use that action on that target multiple times by pressing either L or R.  L adds a Brave, R subtracts a Brave.  R also will take you from zero to three Braves, so if you plan on using four actions, just select your ability and hit R.
  • When you Examine an enemy, you can see their current HP and life bar for the rest of time, instead of only during that one battle like in Bravely Default.
  • There's a new consumable item, the Magnifying Glass, that has the same effect as the Freelancer's Examine ability.  So now you don't have to sacrifice another job or job command just to bring Freelancer along for the sole purpose of being able to Examine.
  • Enemies have stat variants, wherein their model is rendered either larger or smaller, and their stats are either increased or decreased, respectively.  I find it to be a nice touch, and more realistic.
  • If you finish a battle in one turn, you can press L to immediately get another battle.  Your BP and health and whatnot carry over from the previous battle, which is a point of consideration.  You can chain this as long as you're able to, and I imagine there's probably going to be a setup available in the full game tailored towards doing exactly that, but it's an all-or-nothing thing.  You get a bonus multiplier that increases as you win battles, but if you lose or run, you get nothing.  You can choose not to fight another battle by pressing B, at which point you'll get your rewards with whatever multiplier you'd gotten to.
  • In addition to the usual pre-battle bonuses of either side getting a Brave point or first attack, there's now "Enemies lurk in the shadows..." that forces a second fight when the first one is done.
  • There's an in-battle reference for the elemental and family weakness icons.  I know I've gotten confused about them in the past, particularly the family icons, so I find it quite useful.
  • The interior maps now have shading to indicate altitude, and the paths you take can and will cross over other paths.
  • When selecting support abilities, the game provides a concise description of the ones you have equipped on the screen just before where you actually select them, which saves having to go into the selection screen, select each one, and press X.
  • Ability descriptions also now specify things in a slightly more standardized manner at the bottom of the description, which includes the number of turns the ability stays active for, if applicable.
  • In the menus, similar to Bravely Default, there's a character on the lower screen who provides guidance on your current task.  This time around, though, you can press L to ask for more in-depth guidance.
  • The main protagonist seems to be named "Yew", and one of the tutorial screens does make a pun based on that.  Sorta like a certain name pun in Bravely Default that the game never actually calls out, but a little more noticeable right away.
  • The journal this time around is Yew's Diary (and the cover has a giant U on it).  The only accessible part in the demo is the Bestiary.  Filling it out now involves fighting a predetermined number of each enemy, which slowly unlocks character dialogue about each monster, and then finally some more encyclopedic details.
  • If the Exorcist job's specialty in the demo is available as a support ability in the full game, things will get very stupid very quickly.  Basically, you'll want it stapled to your support ability list if you're using MP a lot.  I know I've said nothing could possibly be overpowered in a singleplayer game, but this is pushing it.
  • Other than the improvements and a few purely graphical changes here and there, the interface elements are mostly identical to those found in Bravely Default, giving a familiar environment right away.
  • The option to continue after saving seems to be missing, so after saving you have to manually back out of the save menu.
  • In the demo, they decided to give everyone a non-removable costume that always sets their costume to the Freelancer costume, presumably to make you buy the full game to see the job outfits, but neglected to do so for Magnolia, so you can use her to preview them, or at least the female versions of them.
  • The apple enemy is the pinnacle of enemy design.  My exact words upon seeing one for the first time: "Wait, what?  I'm fighting an apple. lol"
I had a lot of fun with the demo.  The new jobs it lets you try out are interesting, and it's nice to see some new and tweaked abilities on the returning jobs.  If you plan on getting Bravely Second when it comes out, download and play the demo now to get those play bonuses in the full game!

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