Creating your party in Bravely Default II is less about the characters you use than it is the jobs with which you equip them. It’s a smart strategy to always have basic healers and damage-dealers on hand, sure, but when it comes to my party, I don’t foresee ever not having at least one Beastmaster in the wings.
I unlocked the Beastmaster last week, several hours into my Bravely Default II playthrough. While it felt bad to rip the class-providing Asterisk crystal from soft-spoken, animal-loving Anihal after her boss battle (a story for another time, perhaps), any lingering guilt I had was obliterated as soon as I shifted main character Gloria away from her duties as a White Mage to the more offence-oriented archetype.
Beastmasters, which debuted in Bravely Default II, are exactly what they sound like: masters of beasts. During battle, they are capable of capturing monsters for later use with special, job-specific skills, and every ensnared enemy increases the job’s functionality. If used effectively (or, in my case, obsessively), the Beastmaster alters the dynamics of every battle by emphasising the trapping of as many monsters as possible, rather than killing them outright.
As with most of the game’s jobs, I jumped into the Bravely Default II menu to check out the Beastmaster right after it was unlocked. While its on-paper description and skill progression didn’t grab me, I was quickly smitten with the Beastmaster’s potential after giving it a go in a few random battles. I set about adding every orc and killer bunny rabbit I could find to Gloria’s virtual petting zoo, each one giving her a new skill or spell to utilise in future battles.
Gloria quickly became the most powerful, dependable member of my party. While fighting Bernard in Chapter 1, for example, the hordes of Minotaurs I captured in the dungeon leading up to the battle allowed her to deal thousands of points of damage every turn, thanks to their brutal Pound attack. Depending on the monster, the Beastmaster can also provide access to skills I’ve yet to encounter with any other class, like the Fresh Foliole’s Aerora wind spell, useful for hitting weaknesses the Black Mage can’t, and the Restless Souls’ Disembody, which inflicts Stop for several turns. I’m sure future jobs will have parallels to these useful abilities, but for now, the Beastmaster is proving to be useful in expanding my tactics.
But of all the Beastmaster’s talents, I was most struck by its ability to turn Bravely Default II into Pokémon. Capturing monsters early on is a balancing act of depleting their HP as much as possible without killing them. The weaker they are, the easier they are to trap. Levelling up the Beastmaster with continued use, however, unlocks skills like Mercy Strike and Mercy Smash which, much like False Swipe in the Pokémon series, never kill targets but rather leaves them at 1 HP, providing the perfect chance to add them to your arsenal. Most of the time, turning an opponent into an ally is simply a matter of giving the Beastmaster multiple actions with the Brave mechanic, hitting a monster with a couple of these safe attacks, and then capturing it all in the same turn.
Bravely Default II is, by all accounts, a massive game. I’ve already spent 12 hours exploring its world and have yet to complete Chapter 1. With all its intricacies, the Beastmaster job is a perfect microcosm for the Bravely Default II experience, an example of how just one class can open up endless possibilities in party-creation and strategy refinement. And hey, even if the Beastmaster loses some versatility later on, the cute, furry outfits it bestows upon the main characters should at least provide a morale boost during tough battles.