Two Smart Ideas In The Bravely Second Demo Make JRPG Grinding Less Tedious

Two Smart Ideas In The Bravely Second Demo Make JRPG Grinding Less Tedious

Always searching for JRPGs that respect my time, I've made some happy discoveries in the demo for the upcoming 3DS game Bravely Second. I shouldn't have been too surprised that the demo has some player-friendly features.

The game's 2014 predecessor, Bravely Default, already let players lower (or raise) the frequency of random encounters on the fly. Unfortunately, the original game also required players to replay major sections of the game up to five times before getting a proper ending. That's player-hostile, huh?

The downloadable demo, which serves as a standalone prologue to next month's full release of Bravely Second, has these two player-friendly ideas that enliven its turn-based fights:

Two Smart Ideas In The Bravely Second Demo Make JRPG Grinding Less Tedious

I'll make it to a third victory here. My best streak is seven.

"Bring It On!" Battles - Many JRPGs will suck you into a random battle against weak enemies even if your party's characters are so powerful that they can swat those enemies into dust in one turn. This wastes your time. Bravely Second's designers, however, have found a way to turn this cliche into a compelling, strategic situation. Sure, you are uber-powered enough to beat one set of enemies in one turn, but can your four-person party beat a second wave in one turn? Yeah? How about a third? In the demo (and presumably in the game), you will be offered the chance to summon a second wave of enemies, if you wipe the first out in one turn. Do the same to the second wave and you can call in a third, a fourth and so on. You fail if you lose the fight or, more likely, if you simply need two or more turns to beat the newest wave of bad guys.

Each successive one-round battle adds a multiplier to the experience and money rewards you get at the end of the battle, so stacking your one-round wins is worthwhile. It's also difficult to stack them, because your party will likely dwindle the more waves you summon. Many of the best attacks available to members of your party will cost them a "brave point" and make them ineligible until a second turn of a given fight. Since you're trying to wipe out each enemy wave in one turn, a character who is down brave points can't be used and will leave you with fewer and fewer party members eligible to attack in the next round.

You follow? This turns what would be a mismatch waste of the player's time in other RPGs into a series of increasingly tricky battles that require shrewd party management. They pay worthwhile rewards, too.

Two Smart Ideas In The Bravely Second Demo Make JRPG Grinding Less Tedious

An Encyclopedia That Expands As You Beat The Same Enemies - The first Bravely game, like many RPGs, includes dossiers on the enemies you defeat. The Bravely Second demo betters that by filling out more of the entries as you defeat more of the same kind of enemy.

Your first encounter with an enemy will add a nice drawing and some basic info about the evil creature to your "bestiary." Subsequent encounters gradually unlock a conversation that your party members have about that type of enemy. This bit of enemy-focused banter fleshes out your party's personalities and riffs on the game's good enemy designs. More importantly, it provides a trickle of narrative reward, a welcome bonus, given that RPGs basically have to keep making you fight the same goblin/harpy/undead/etc grunt enemies in battle after battle. You might as well get an unfolding mini-story tied to each enemy for your efforts.


I bailed on the original Bravely Default after six hours because I didn't want to deal with a game that has such a severe amount of late-game grind. That game had a fun battle system, great art and some funny writing, but time-waste design elements like forcing players to repeat the same stuff over and over again aren't for me.

I have, however, happily played more than six hours of Bravely Second's demo. It's mostly like the last game and even brings back some old characters (one of whom is now a... sexily dressed pope, of course). It lets you sample some of the game's available jobs, go on a few quests, fight a boss and have some good, free fun. I recommend it even if you don't plan to get the full Bravely Second game next month. Whether you do or don't, the demo won't waste your time.


Comments

    Nice preview of a game that's been out for a month here. (Obviously a US article - it's not out until April 15th there.)

    I played the first BD until the point where it started repeating. I've put 60-odd hours into the new one so far. A couple of points Re: the article:
    (1) Any attack (not just the ones that use extra brave points) uses at least one BP. When fights chain, anybody who has made an attack in an earlier round is removed from contention, unless you're lucky enough to start the fight as "brave" (and therefore get an extra BP bonus). That means that each chained fight usually needs to be won solo, because anybody who has done anything in a previous round cannot attack in the first round of a chained fight. Chaining therefore becomes a matter of figuring out how to win each round with as few people as possible, while still leaving sufficient firepower for later.

    It really is a nice mechanism, however, as it adds an element of strategy where you withhold some attacks hoping the rest of your party can win that round. Done properly, you can get 4 rounds in, although sometimes a mix of elemental weaknesses make it pretty difficult.

    (2) The bestiary is nice in principle, but generally the main point of interest is the enemy's elemental weaknesses, which you can check with the level-1 Freelancer skilll "Examine" or a Magnifying Glass item. Once you've done this once, you always know the HP and weaknesses of subsequent enemies of the (exact) same type. I barely look at the bestiary.

    The new game is also a bit nicer to social maladroits gaming in isolation, as it provides several bot "friends" to fill in for the friend-based functions.

    Last edited 27/03/16 3:43 pm

    'The World Ends With You' called, they want a mention for having the same feature 10 years in advance.

    Completed the game a bit back (and having 100% file on BD1), and I have to say that time spent grinding in it was genuinely rewarding. I found myself trotting along through the story with standard encounters on up to probably Anchiem, then I found myself getting into a dungeon that I was at about the right level for, with enemies that I could gib in one turn with easily exploitable elemental weaknesses or low enough health that it didn't matter and getting to the adventurer, saving then bumping up the encounters to 100% and battling till health was lowish, resting, saving then doing it again till I was about 10 lvls over the recommended level.

    (I am aware that that paragraph is a god awful affront to anyone with a grammatical bone in their body)

    Benefits of this rest, grind, save repeat is that the pg income is pretty great, if you have catmancer and attack item plus, and you have moon base developed enough to buy higher level attack items you are in a position to dish out some fairly incredible AoE damage off items alone.

    Providing you don't get an enemy strikes first round, you can also burn SP to keep your chain going, giving you the potential of a brave round to start the cycle all over again. I also recommend not fighting more battles than would be required to put you at 999jp, which is the maximum from any one reward screen, any more generated are wasted.

    Grinding to about 10 levels above the recommended bracket for that dungeon will generally also allow you to switch off battles entirely for 2 or 3 story segments (a visit to a town and a trek to a dungeon plus a boss or similar chain of events) giving you a chance to play the story. once you hit a dungeon where you are at the lower end of the recommended level bracket, find the adventurer, 100% encounter rate then grind away again.

    The encounter frequency setting and chain battles are great and proven ways to make grinding easier, but they are obvious admissions that there is a problem with grinding and the game's design in the first place. The Bravely series' strength is its job system so why not base the encounters and rewards around that more than a battle based experience/JP system?

    There are many games that have implemented similar systems in the past but the difference is that they either reduce or remove the need for grinding or they sufficiently disguise it as a believable part of the game world. Bounties, enemies visible on the map, repel items, cheat shops, material based upgrades, levelling by frequency of use and other techniques would have all been better ways of making it more interesting for the player without making it so obvious that the grind was a recognised problem they just put a bandaid on.

    I found grinding levels in Bravely Second to be more annoying than the first game because of the Bring It On function. Bravely Default let you wrack up more JP than the 999 cap with its unscathed bonus. You have to pay attention Bring It On battles to maximise JP which is incredibly dull compared to set and forget of Bravely Default.

    Final Fantasy Type-0 did this

    finished the demo. Great game! made me remember why i love/hate RPGs.

    My record for the Bring It On is 18 waves

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