Bravely Default 2 has been criticized for being a safe sequel, but it’s still a great game that proves sequels can tread old ground tastefully.
The original Bravely Default on Nintendo 3DS was a return to form for JRPGs that incorporated everything the classics did right, combined with modern quality-of-life features. The genre was quickly growing stale, and Bravely Default reminded JRPG fans why they enjoyed this style of gameplay so much in the first place. Nintendo ended February 2021 with the release of Bravely Default 2 on Switch, and many players feel that, ironically, it’s too safe a sequel, despite its improvements.
JRPGs were in their prime during the PlayStation and SNES eras, when Final Fantasy reigned supreme. Square, now known as Square Enix, developed loads of important games, like Dragon Quest, Chrono Trigger, and Secret of Mana. Nintendo’s Earthbound eventually received the love it deserved, and Final Fantasy 7 is one of the most well-known turn-based RPGs of all time. However, the genre lost its luster over the years, and Bravely Default’s new combat system made it an important game for RPG fans.
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Despite their confusing naming schemes, Bravely Default 2 is the follow-up to Bravely Second: End Layer, which makes it the third main game in the Bravely series. Bravely Default 2 stars a new cast in an entirely new setting, so players aren’t required to familiarize themselves with the plot of its predecessors, but its gameplay is extremely similar. Players collect new jobs from the bosses they defeat and use them to customize a team to their liking, recover the crystals of the elements as they go. The original Bravely Default was praised for shaking up the genre when it needed it most, while Bravely Default 2 has been criticized for playing it safe.
Bravely Default 2 Is A Safe But Good Sequel
Bravely Default 2 ultimately takes the formula laid out by its predecessors and makes only minor tweaks to what worked well there. Enemies now roam freely on the map instead of being random encounters. The new Wight and “chance of being targeted” stats add extra depth to the combat system, and each character has their own turn gauge to determine when they move. There are multiple effective methods for farming JP in Bravely Default 2, as there are for getting other useful gear, and there are more drawbacks to creating various kinds of builds, which makes gameplay more engaging. These changes are small, but they refine what worked in the first game.
One of the most common complaints about Bravely Default 2 is its story, which once again focuses on a quest to hunt down crystals of the elements. However, this mainly serves as just the motivating factor for why the protagonists are on an adventure in the first place. The bulk of the enjoyment is found in their frequent interactions with each other and their comments about the terrible situations they find themselves in. Each chapter’s individual stories are complete and entertaining from beginning to end. Sure, it’s not the most original concept for a JRPG tale, but there’s still plenty of interesting plot twists players might not see coming.
Bravely Default 2 isn’t the first time a sequel has failed to innovate but still had distinct strengths. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was criticized for replicating Ocarina of Time‘s formula more closely than any Zelda since, but the game is now respected as an extremely competent Zelda title, even if it didn’t take any real risks. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is considered one of the best Mario games, despite its extreme similarity to the original. Bravely Default 2 also takes what worked about the original 3DS games and adds subtle features that enhance the overall experience, while letting the core of the franchise shine brighter than ever. Revolutionary ideas are always more than welcome in the games industry, but games like Bravely Default 2 prove not every sequel needs to reinvent the wheel to achieve greatness.
Next: How Long Bravely Default 2 Takes To Beat
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