Disclaimer: there are some minor spoilers about gameplay, but nothing about the story is included.
So after now playing Bravely Default for around 35-40 hours, I have a few things I want to bring up about the game for those that are interested. I will also be referencing differences between the actual game and the demo, so hopefully everyone has at least played the demo once through. If not, its not a big deal, but its a good reference point in some cases. First, I want to say that the overall gameplay is GREAT! It feels ALOT like older Final Fantasy games, but it definitely brings some things new to the table.
Brave vs. Default
The biggest piece is the ability to go “Brave” or go “Default”. For those that have played the demo, you know what I am talking about. This adds a whole different mechanic to the game as you start with a single move every round, but if you so choose, you can build up moves, or go “negative” and prevent yourself from attacking until you are back to having a move. Simply put, you can go Brave three times to get 4 attacks with one character if you feel you will wipe the enemy out, but if the fight goes another round due to a miscalculation, you are waiting on your BP (battle points) to get back to positive before you can do anything again with that character. Default makes it so you can save up your BP at the cost of not doing anything, but going into a defensive stance. Most boss fights require you to go default from the start as they have a huge amount of HP that depends on the difficulty you are playing at. There is one particular fight which comes in the form of a streetpass or also called a Nemesis, that completely depends on you timing your Brave/Defaults perfectly. So far the bosses in-game seem to be easier than the Nemesis fights, but I think that was the intention. The Nemesis fights have a chance to drop items that give permanent stat bonuses. Another feature added to the main game that is NOT in the demo are the sleep points. You gain one point every 8 hours your 3DS is in sleep mode (yes you can’t turn it off at night but can be in sleep mode). These are huge as they allow you freeze time during a battle. This comes in handy if you are about to see someone get taken down while the enemy is pelting him. Just put it into sleep mode before your character is KO’d mid-combat and you can heal up. I found this to be EXTREMELY handy in the case of a healer being KO’d at the start of your turn. You can put use a sleep point to resurrect them, and then allow them to heal themselves during their actual turn. Normally, you would revive them, and have to wait a turn before they can do anything.
Other Battle Mechanics
The best things they introduced in this game are encounter rate slider, auto fighting, and speed up/down fight speed. If you want to grind, you really don’t have to waste a ton of time doing it. Just slide the encounter rate up to +100%, run through your commands once to turn on auto commands (so it can remember it), and then turn the fight speed to max. You can grind through fights faster than any other JRPG has allowed before. One other perk to this is that you can turn off encounters completely. This may seem stupid at first as you can’t level up, but it allows for easy exploration of dungeons before taking on a boss. It also allows you to get back to an Inn to completely heal if you so choose, and not have to worry about those pesky random encounters on the way. There are some other settings too like turning on/off exp gain, job point gain, and money gain, but I think they added most of these for those psychos that want to try to do a run-through at the lowest level possible. Recently, I did find a use for turning off experience gain, though. You can actually turn it off to grind on mobs without worrying about degradation of job point gains as you level. There are so many possible ways to set-up the game that the options are endless. This makes it very likely that you may try another playthrough to challenge yourself if you feel up to it.
There 26 (I believe) in total, and you only start out with one. You get more as you beat bosses to get their astericks which then gives you the ability to use their job. The really cool thing is, you can start with one job, let’s say monk. Progress enough so that you get the support ability of Knuckles Lore, which gives all knuckles automatic S ranking. Normally, only certain classes get S ranking with knuckles, but with this support ability, you can switch to a thief class and still use knuckle weapons with S ranking. This makes it possible to mix and match gear on classes, and play weird styles with certain jobs. Rankings work in such a way that S is the highest which gives a 200% bonus to attack power, defense, etc depending on the gear. It lessens by 20% each grade level. You only start with the ability to use one support point, but gain more as you play the game. Some support abilities cost 2 support points so you have to be more careful about using them. I have two support points in my game so far, and I have suited one character to have “Damage Dispersion” which splits damage up to all characters when this character is targeted, and I also put HP +10% on them. Equip a taunt ring on this character, and you have a “tank”!!
Norende Village/Special attacks
It may seem weird that I combined these two, but it will make sense in a bit. In the demo, Norende Village was a little mini-game where you put villagers on tasks, and build up your town to get other gear/items from the traveling salesman. This is still the same in the actual game, however, you can also build up buildings that provide a way to customize special attacks. Special attacks are attacks that can be used once a certain condition is met for a specific weapon type. An example would be that you need to “Brave” 10 times with a sword equipped to be able to use “Hack and Slash”, and 20 times to use Air Splitter. Bows require exploiting element/family weaknesses with physicial attacks a specific number of times. Each has its own set of special attacks that can only be unlocked through leveling up the “Special Move shop” in the village. As you level it up, you get more moves. There are also shops that give parts to the special moves such as choosing elemental type of the move, bonus damage from move, etc. These can only be obtained through leveling up other shops. Note that they do not cost anything to use the parts/moves, and once you unlock them, you are free to use them on any character as you please. They also gave the ability to customize/name your moves, and even put text for what you want your character to say when it performs the move. This is cool for others to see when they take your streetpassed character and use them in their game! Like all Nintendo games, they don’t like profanity, but there are ways to make it work if you want . For those that did the demo, the max level was level 4 on all shops. In the actual game its 10 and there are a TON more shops to do. The easiest thing to do is just leave the 3DS on all the time, and let your villagers do their things. You can focus on one shop to make it build faster, and then once they are freed up, move them to another task. Just as a warning, I have all shops at level 8 and some at 9 now, but they are 90+ hours to level. It will take some time, but keep up the streetpasses to get more villagers and you should be done in no time!
There is plenty more I could touch on with this game, but overall I am loving it! If you are on the border of buying the game and have not played the demo, I would suggest playing the demo. The story has nothing to do with the actual game, and you will be surprised to see some things reappear in the game that were in the demo such as the main map! You even get bonuses that transfer over to the main game such as up to 20 villagers. The bonus items they give are nice for about 5-10 levels but easily lose their luster after that. This game is definitely worth the $40 in my opinion.
Final note: if you decide to do the downloaded version of the game, it is around 26k blocks or 3.5Gb. Make sure you have a card big enough to handle it or just buy the physical copy!