Bravely Default 2 is a perfect unbalanced mess

There are plenty of games that I feel upset about being underrated or overlooked. Games like No More Heroes or Fatal Frame. But one of the games I really wish hit it big would have to be Bravely Default 2. Mainly because I feel like a lot of JRPGs could learn from it. Especially when it comes to the combat system!

When describing the combat of Bravely Default 2 I would say it’s broken and unbalanced. The player is given so many options and tools to make their party crazy over powered and exploit so many different things. And that’s why it’s so perfect!

If you are unfamiliar though, Bravely Default 2 is a JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) with classic turned based combat. The main goal of the series was basically to make a classic JRPG but modernize it in many different ways. So to put it simply, Bravely Default is a JRPG series that learned from the games that came before it. The games are actually published by Square Enix, the creators of Final Fantasy. In fact, I’d say the Bravely Default series is specifically meant to be a modern take on the old Final Fantasy games. Something it does very well! The games are based on the classic job system of older JRPGs. You have your Black Mage, Fighter, Knight, White Mage, Thief. All the classics really! But Bravely Default also introduces it’s own original Jobs. Things like Salve-Maker and Arcanist. But where the series really gets unique with it’s Jobs is with the fact that you can technically have two on a single character! You can give your character a Primary Job, which will allow them to access that Job’s skills and will base their overall stats on that Job, and a Secondary Job, which will allow them to access that Job’s skills but it won’t affect their stats. As you can imagine, this gives the player a lot of freedom when it comes to choosing how their party will be. And while the original Bravely Default gives you a lot to work with, it’s with Bravely Default 2 that it really gets crazy!

Bravely Default 2 very much wants the player to try out every Job and see what they have to offer. Leveling up each Job is pretty quick, especially later in the game. Not only that, you can see all the skills a Job can offer right after you unlock it. Meaning you can plan ahead if this particular Job would fit well in your party. Another great thing is how quickly the game gives you these Jobs. You are constantly unlocking new ones. Each new area of the game you travel to will generally have four or five new Jobs to unlock. How you unlock these Jobs is by beating a boss that already has that Job. Which is perfect because it lets the game show you how the Job is used and you get first hand experience on how they work. That, and it makes every boss fight that much more exciting since you know you’ll be unlocking an all new Job from it!

Jobs don’t just have combat skills, by the way. Most have passive skills as well. And these passive skills aren’t tied to the Job in anyway once you unlock them! You can use a passive skill unlocked from the Red Mage despite having your Primary Job a Monk and your Secondary be a Thief. Meaning you are given that much more freedom with how to customize your party. There were plenty of times I had characters level up certain Jobs just so I could use one of the Job’s passive abilities and nothing else. And the game was more than happy to allow that!

Now, if you have played any JRPG with customization even close to this, you can probably already see how this could lead to some broken strategies and party set ups. But let me tell you, we are only getting started… Let’s talk about Job ‘Specialties’!

Job Specialties are basically two unique passive skills that only work if said Job is a character’s Primary Job. One of them you have from the start of the Job and the other is unlocked when you’ve maxed out the Job’s level at 12. And unlike the skills, the second Specialty is hidden until you unlock it for the first time. Which goes give for some great build up for what is almost always a game changing skill! For instance, let’s look at the Red Mage’s Specialties. The first one is Nuisance. Basically, whenever one of your spells hit there’s a chance of it inflicting a status aliment, such as Poison or Sleep, depending on the spell. Not bad! If you’re lucky you might be able to hurt the enemy that much more. But how about the second Specialty? That would be Chainspell. Which makes it so after you cast a spell, any spell, you cast that spell again with no draw backs. There is no additional cost of MP, you don’t need to use an extra turn, you just use the spell again. It could be the strongest fire or ice spell in the game and you would do it again with no draw backs! This can destroy even tough bosses a lot of the time! And this is one of the earlier Jobs you unlock. And again, the game just let’s you do this. It’s not hard to get a Job up to level 12. There are even some items that will give you instant experience so you don’t even need to grind a lot! And guess what? This is actually one of the more tame Specialties in the game! They only get more broken from here.

Now, I bet you’re thinking that there is some balance in the fact that to use a Job’s Specialties you need to have it as your Primary Job. And you’d be right! But this is Bravely Default 2, and you are going to learn that anything in this game can be broken and worked around… Case in point, remember the passive skills I mentioned earlier? Yeah, there are some that let you use your Secondary Job’s Specialties… Meaning you can get two sets of Specialties! This completely changes some Jobs by basically allowing you to combine two Jobs into one. Something I did in my game was that I used this to combine the Shieldmaster and Swordmaster Jobs. The Shieldmaster is all about keeping the party protected by having crazy high defense stats and the ability to literally shield the party from most things. To balance this though, it’s not great at attacking. Not only would attacking cost turns you could be setting up defenses, the Job just really doesn’t have great stats or skills for it. The Swordmaster though is the opposite! It has great attacks and is even built around attacking when it isn’t that character’s turn through counters. So! What happens when you combine the two then? Well as you can imagine, suddenly you have a wall that protects the party from most attacks and attacks right back when they get hit! And when you’re protecting the whole party, you are getting hit a lot… And keep in mind that the Shieldmaster and Swordmaster are just two of the 22 Jobs in the game. The combinations are insane! And the game encourages you to find ways to break the game through this! This isn’t even touching on some of the crazy powerful skills. Some of which can literally kill bosses in a single turn.

All of this makes for such a fun and creative way to set up your party. I’m sure there are so many ways to make a stupid powerful party that didn’t even cross my mind. And that’s the kind of freedom Bravely Default 2 not only allows but embraces. It’s so refreshing to have a JRPG that wants you to go crazy instead of trying to restrict the player to keep things balanced just for the sake of it.

You may also be, understandably, wondering if the game can be challenging or difficult with you being able to break it so easily. And while I could argue that it doesn’t need to be challenging and that successfully removing the challenge from it is fun already, the game does actually manage to still be tough. How can it possibly do that when they player can make such crazy unbalanced and over powered parties? Well isn’t it obvious? Just make the bosses more unbalanced!

Now on paper that probably sounds bad. A boss that’s super over powered and unbalanced and can do things like counter moves that aren’t even attacks sounds like terrible game design. Something like that in other games would be game ruining. But not for Bravely Default 2! You see, bosses so unbalanced only start appearing later in the game. Well after the player should firmly understand that they too have the ability to be unbalanced! By making the bosses also work with that logic, the game is telling the player to break it. The developers want players to think of exploits and insane strategies. The game is designed to be unbalanced and free and that’s why it’s amazing! You could even argue that because the bosses also become horribly unbalanced just like the player, the game is weirdly balanced now. After all, if everyone is unbalanced doesn’t that balance things out?

The developers of Bravely Default 2 realized how easily their game could be broken and exploited. Something I’m sure all JRPG developers come across when designing their combat. But instead of pulling back, instead of limiting the player and their options, they embraced it! They realized that the freedom and creativity that came with being unbalanced made the game that much more fun. This is something I wish other developers would learn from. Don’t be afraid of letting players find exploits. Give them that freedom. Sometimes it will be more fun than anything balanced!

And if there’s one thing you take away from this post, please let it be that you should play Bravely Default 2! Seriously, it got super overlooked and the game deserves so much more praise and attention. I didn’t even talk about the other amazing aspects of the game like the music! If you don’t believe me just go look up the soundtrack. The music in both Bravely Default and Bravely Default 2 is so good…

But those are just my thoughts! What are some of yours? Have you ever enjoyed a game because it’s completely unbalanced in someway? Did this maybe get you interested in playing Bravely Default 2? Please say yes. Be sure to let me know!

And thanks for reading the post! If you enjoyed it, feel free to leave a Like or share it with a friend. Any interaction is appreciated so don’t be shy!

One response to “Bravely Default 2 is a perfect unbalanced mess”

  1. […] read more about that crazy mess of a perfect combat system though, I have another post all about it right here! The point is that the driving force to keep playing Bravely Default always came from seeing all […]

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