Sixty hours later, I still love watching these numbers increase.
Like many other JRPGs, Bravely Default II it’s extremely long and extremely grind, but the game is also full of little touches that occasionally accentuate the boredom with glee. One of them is the level-up screen. After killing a multitude of enemies, you can see the numerical rewards they left behind sucked into your party, making them stronger and unlocking new abilities. The game illustrates this with XP and JP gauges that fill up, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, depending on the loot. It’s good. I’m hooked on that. I couldn’t care less about my characters’ eventual clichéd fates, but I do care a lot about seeing them max out all their meters at this point.
In a lot of the old Final Fantasy games that inspired the Bravely predetermined series, progress may be slow and granular, but Bravely Default II has a number of tricks to “get the most out of” the level-up screen. First of all, you can equip passive skills that increase the amount of JP (job points for leveling up classes) earned from fights. So similar to Bravely second, you can accumulate encounters with enemies using bait. Defeat multiple waves of enemies in a row and a multiplier will double your JP run even more. Before you know it, you’re learning new skills and mastering new jobs in no time – an accomplishment that feels even better when results are elegantly visualized.
There is a long history of JRPGs doing this, but some are definitely more engaged than others. XP displays were common in Final Fantasy games, when encounters were still random and turn-based. Final Fantasy VIIwas always one of my favorites:
Unfortunately, they discarded it in the Redo, where instead, the amount of experience points, gil and skills you gain in each fight only briefly flash on the screen for a moment. Dragon Quest XIIn many ways, the gold standard for resurrecting the old turn-based JRPG formula, it did a lot of things right, but an incredible level-up screen wasn’t one of them. He also just delivered the news via text message with all the pomp and circumstance of an internal newsletter.
the Pokemon The series has also used bars to measure XP after battles, starting with a small pixelated bar on the Gold Y Silver games:
For the most recent releases of Sword Y To protect, you can see how it happens after each fight for each Pokémon in your party. That is progress:
Are these sorts of glorified results pages a cheap hack meant to exploit the older parts of my lizard brian? Probably, but when you sign up to level up hundreds of times over dozens of hours, these things become important and Bravely Default II It elevates them beyond a tabletop formality. The way the camera pans, the way my Warriors of Light twirl and dance while patting each other on the back, it all goes a long way toward giving me what I want from an old school JRPG that otherwise way, sometimes archaic and too familiar. Maybe that’s part of why a month later I’m still grinding everything bravely Default IIgame over.