Preview: Bravely Default II is JRPG job system bliss


I don’t know what it is exactly, but there’s something incredibly satisfying about a good job system in a JRPG. Grinding levels is whatever, but farming JP for hours on end to master every job and find the best ways to mix and match their skills? That always hits the spot, and I don’t think it’s ever been as enjoyable as in Bravely Default II.

Case in point: I’ve played some 10 hours so far, and a decent chunk of that time has been just… killing monsters over and over, trying to find the most efficient ways to do so, in order to gather up that sweet, sweet JP. Not because the game demands it—a smooth difficulty curve and a combat system that’s much more about tactics than raw strength means grinding levels is never a requirement, or even an especially effective way of dealing with any challenges.

Rather, it’s simply about the fun inherent in this sort of system. Each new job level comes with some new skill, be it a new attack or spell to use in combat or some useful passive effect. That’s standard RPG fare, but it’s the way a Bravely Default-style (or Final Fantasy-style, if you prefer) job system lets you freely combine different abilities from different jobs that means each new job level opens up a world of new possibilities.

The Monk’s “Bare-Knuckle Brawler” ability—a big boost to your attack stat when no weapons are equipped—is handy as a Monk, but couple it with the Black Mage’s “Aspir”—recover a percentage of damage dealt with basic attacks as an MP—and you’ve got a very effective MP battery despite the mage’s low natural attack power. The Beastmaster’s “Raw Power” gives you an attack bonus until the end of the turn whenever you use the Brave command to take a few turns in one; on a Monk, who already works best by picking just the right moment to go all-in on as many Brave actions at once as possible, the value of Raw Power increases exponentially.

Bravely Default II doesn’t waste any time in letting you get right into this sort of build exploration. New jobs arrive steadily right from the outset, ensuring a new box of toys to play with is never far away. Beastmaster and Bard are among the first new jobs you acquire, despite being more “advanced”, letting you experiment with more creative tactics before you even close the door on the game’s first chapter.

Bravely Default II also makes the act of levelling those jobs as enjoyable as possible—hardly fit to be called a “grind”, even when, in reality, you’re just killing the same monsters over and over again for hours on end.

The Brave/Default system that’s been core of Bravely Default since its inception—which lets you take multiple turns in one, either by saving up turns or borrowing against future ones—means even the most basic, simple battles remain interesting enough. Even when your chosen foes are too weak to pose any real threat, finding the most efficient and effective ways to dispatch them is a game of its own. Bravely Default II adds a nice few tweaks to this system without messing with the fundamentals, like moving away from party turns to individual ones.

A day/night cycle that makes enemies more dangerous and appear in bigger groups after the sun sets adds a layer of strategy to how you actually go about farming those job levels, too. Night’s bigger enemy parties mean more lucrative spoils, but with a higher risk of getting overwhelmed. Fighting chain battles back to back takes the risk even higher, but multiplies your rewards should you win—a returning feature from Bravely Second: End Layer, but with some new items to help make targeted, strategic chain battles a focus.

Of course, there’s a lot more to Bravely Default II than just its job system. It’s got a gorgeous new art style, a captivating story evocative of classic Final Fantasy, and a cast both delightful and delightfully odd—including the most Australian knight you’ve ever met. These are all things I’ll dig into later; suffice to say Bravely Default II is shaping up to be every bit the classic but quietly subversive JRPG that its predecessors were, and then some. But for now, just know that if you love a good job system as much as I do—and even Bravely Default is even on your radar, I’d wager you do—then Bravely Default II scratches that itch better than any game I’ve played in a long time.

Bravely Default II comes to Nintendo Switch on February 26. There’s a free demo available now from the Nintendo Switch eShop.


About Author

Matthew is a writer based in Wellington. He loves all things pop culture, and is fascinated by its place in history and the wider social context.