Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Bravely Default Beaten... Again

When I got my New 3DS and system transferred to it, I bought a digital copy of Bravely Default on the Old 3DS for the purpose of manipulating StreetPass stuff, as well as sending a second Nemesis and Friend Summon.  You know me, though.  I'm a completionist.  There's no way I'd be satisfied with getting the Norende development screen available and leaving it at that, is there?  Well, you'd be right.  I played through the whole game again, this time purposefully taking a different strategy.

My end-game team the first time was the whole Vampire/Swordmaster -aja spam team that was basically unstoppable.  However, one of the things that makes Bravely Default great is that there's multiple answers to the same puzzle.  I decided to model my party after traditional RPG character archetypes, where the usage strategy isn't quite so intertwined as everyone has their own distinct set of abilities, different from everyone else's.

I ended up with Tiz as a Ranger/Spell Fencer (the "ranged character" archetype), Agnes as a Spiritmaster/White Mage (the "healer" archetype), Ringabel as a Black Mage/Salve-Maker (the "mage" archetype) and Edea as a Templar (the "melee" archetype).  Edea's Job Command is a point of contention, actually.  I wanted it to be Knight, and was debating about whether Templar/Knight was better than Knight/Templar, but I needed the ability to Examine things and her setup was the most easy one to change to include Freelancer.  Thankfully, the Magnifying Glass item in Bravely Second fixes this little snag and makes Freelancer less necessary if you want to Examine everything in the game.

Their support abilities are minimally intertwined.  Edea had Hasten World, and everyone other than Ringabel had Black Resonance.  Everything else was slotted for the purpose of that character's setup.  Tiz had Precision and Frenetic Fighting, Agnes had Healing Lore and Holy One, Ringabel had Pierce M. Defense and Post-Battle MP, and Edea had Helm Lore and Two-Handed.

Given a party where everyone has a set task they perform, it's reasonably straightforward how each character is used.  Tiz uses Sword Magic on his bow and shoots things.  When not using an elemental Sword Magic, he uses Sword Magic Drain to heal himself with each attack.  Agnes heals the party, buffs the party with Enigma and/or Fairy Ward, and tosses Fairy's Aid on Ringabel from time to time.  Ringabel throws Giant's Drafts at the entire party, inflicts elemental weaknesses on enemies and various other buffs on the party with Compounding, and blasts things down with magic, occasionally using Drain to heal himself if Agnes is unable to do so for one reason or another, or as insurance that he'll live through the turn.  Finally, Edea provides the party with Rampart, uses a Blood Blade as an item to gain Sword Magic Drain (and then immediately unequips it because of Two-Handed), and hits things with Desperation when she has the chance.

It worked quite well for the vast majority of the game.  The Vampire asterisk fight was always a point of contention, and the boss gauntlet of Chapter 8 was a major difficulty spike that saw me using Special Moves and SP like crazy.  The final boss was balls easy, though.  It used its ability that separates one character from the rest of the party, rendering them only able to use Friend Summons, on Agnes, which kinda sucked but I dealt with it.  It wore off rather quickly, and I was back to business as usual.  It was really just a matter of working my way through its health all four times due to the things and the cutscenes and whatnot.  It actually felt like a nice, relaxing part of the game compared to Chapter 8.  I was more surprised than anything else when it finally died, I was about to check its health when the death cutscene played.

The Adventurer, however, was a different story.  Like Chapter 8's boss gauntlet, I had to figure out the right sequence of things to do.  Fairy Ward right away, examine the Adventurer, Edea uses Rampart and attacks the fox with Desperation whenever she has spare BP, Tiz blasts down the fox, Ringabel blasts down the Adventurer.  Sword Magic and Fairy's Aid were mostly pointless due to the fox's use of Dispel, and curiously, I got hit with Blind THROUGH FAIRY WARD on several occasions.  Not sure what exactly happened there.  Only Tiz and Edea cared about the Blind effect, so they just used Eye Drops on themselves so Agnes could concentrate on healing.

The fight was more of an endurance than anything else.  Try to keep all my defenses up, keep everyone alive, have Agnes use Rejuvenation on a regular basis, watch the Adventurer's health, and keep killing the fox over and over.  When the Adventurer's health gets to around the fox's max health, examine the fox and try to keep their health as close to the same as possible while blasting both of them down.  I ended up at an absolutely perfect spot where they were about 1000 health apart.  They died on separate turns, the fox first, but luckily Tiz was fast enough that he was regularly going before the Adventurer had a chance to revive the fox, and he did so and finished the fight.

I still love the game.  Anyone who says the last half being a tad repetitive makes it a bad game is ignorant.  Story is important, yes, and if you pay attention to it, you'll see not only the reason for the repetition, but why it continues for as long as it does, and why the party goes along with it after figuring out what's going on.  Look at the big picture and it makes perfect sense.  Mechanic-wise, the game is phenominal, and Bravely Second is set to improve on that by fixing a lot of little fiddly bits here and there.

Speaking of Bravely Second, it comes out in the US in two days.  I've had my copy preordered on Amazon for a while now.  Not only did I burn my free 30-day Prime trial to get a pre-order discount and free two-day shipping, but I timed it strategically so that the Prime trial runs out the day after the game arrives.

I still fully plan on doing the Bravely Default SCIENCE! posts.  Getting them done before I get my grubby little hands on Bravely Second isn't looking like it'll happen, but with two copies of the game beaten now, I have a very easy way to test multiple things.  Heck, I still need to update my Friend Summon on my Old 3DS, it's still sending that Rapid Fire I sent a long time ago.  I'm theorycrafting a setup for Divine Light, but it obviously needs testing, so I guess I'll do that.

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