Thursday, August 21, 2014

Game Time: Bravely Default, Mount and Blade: Warband, and more...

Howdy folks! It's your favorite sleepless nerd!

Unless your fans of Wil Wheaton, I hear he doesn't sleep much. And he's much better at the whole nerd thing.

But anyways! In between raising a baby, I've managed to sneak in a little bit of time playing some titles that are either new-ish or new to me, and I wanted to give a quick report. Later on I might try for a longer piece on Guardians of the Galaxy (or maybe not, that's kind of old news now), and I've also been reading a slew of comics that I haven't posted about yet.

Bravely Default

The Party
I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm a huge fan of RPGs. I especially love turn-based ones, possibly because I like to take my time doing just about anything. Bravely Default's titular feature is the Brave/Default system, which is a relatively interesting twist on the turn based mechanic. Every action costs a certain amount of Brave Points. By using "Default," characters defend on their turn and earn an extra BP, which can be done up to three times (I'm uncertain if this ever changes, I'm not super far). Using the "Brave" option, you can spend extra BP on a single turn to take more or bigger actions. The interesting component here is that you can spend BP you don't have, allowing your character to go to -4 BP. The trick is that you only regenerate 1 BP per turn, and that character is useless until their back to 0. Enemies are also able to use the same system.

This makes random encounters generally pretty easy -- spam Brave on every character, they get four attacks in a row and can generally wipe anything out in one turn. For bosses, however, it becomes a gambit -- when you're low on health and not sure if you should try an all out attack and hopefully kill the big bad, or play it safe so you can defend and heal and keep whittling away... I believe there are more combos as you get later in the game, but up to chapter three, it has stayed fairly mundane.

Character classes are run on a job system, similar to a Final Fantasy Tactics -- any of your four characters can learn a different class on a whim, as long as you've unlocked it. There seems to be a decent amount of jobs, which is good. There are a couple of points where Bravely Default has twisted this system as well. Each character can use skills from their current job and the skills from one other job they've learned. And they can use support abilities from any jobs that they've learned them in. This helps to create diverse characters and promotes switching jobs often. There is a feature, called "Abilink," that allows you to pair up your character with one of your 3DS friends accounts, which gives them access to any skills that player has learned in the chosen job. At first I thought this was pretty interesting, but it almost makes developing classes pointless if you've got friends (as I do) that have all abilities unlocked for all jobs...

Speaking of friends helping you in game, you're also able to "summon" them if they've uploaded an attack to the internet. To upload an attack, you choose the "Send" option and then make an attack -- it's stored on your profile until you record another one, and players can use it as a one-off until they record another (and you download it again). This is another thing that can trivialize the game -- I tested it on an early boss and defeated them in the single attack...
Orcs must die, amirite?

The game has gone a long way to be more accessible to new players and to promote connecting to others. And these features are completely optional. So I don't have any reason to complain, but I do wish there was a different method of player interaction that didn't feel game-breaking. But I appreciate what they've done with it.

As far as I am, the story has been typical JRPG fare, with four magical crystals you must save/restore and everything. The player cast, which you meet all four very early, are actually pretty interesting. And cutscenes are voiced... though I can't stand several of the characters' voices. I believe the story changes things up midway through the game, but I can't speak to that just yet. The art style is basic and a bit spartan in places (character models and faces, there are no anime-quality scenes, and you don't actually enter shops, just open the front door...), but it works and doesn't detract in any way from the overall game.

I'm definitely enjoying the game and very happy to see someone attempting to revitalize turn-based combat, instead of settling for the same old story. If I'm blown away by the story, I'll come back and post an update, but for now I'm confidant in giving this an 8/10 as is.

Well... That went on longer than I thought! I'll only just mention my other games, because I honestly haven't been playing them as much.

Mount and Blade: Warband

I've never played an M&B title, but I'm glad I picked this up during the Steam Summer Sale. You control a character in a medieval-style world. There's no plot, there's no real story, you're just in this world to do what you will. Generally, the idea is to recruit soldiers to help you fight battles. You can fight for yourself, you can hire yourself out to one of the several warring kingdoms, you can become a vassal to one of these Kings, or you can try and take over a piece of the world for yourself. You could also go for a low-combat route and become a merchant, taking supplies from one side of the continent to the other. But that's not why I play medieval style games...

Travel is done on a top-down world map, where you can travel from towns to villages to castles, passing other armies, groups, or even bandits. You can be a bandit yourself and attack villages, you can be the hero and crush bandits and uncover their secret bases, or you can be a soldier and fight in the many wars that will start up over time. Your character levels up and you can choose how to grow your stats and abilities. There are hero companions that do the same, and there are basic soldiers that "evolve" as they gain more experience, going from peasant to mounted knight (or other, there are many diverse units).
It's about to get real...

Combat can be first or third person, where your army meets another's on the battlefield. This portion of the game kind of reminds me of Chivalry, while the rest of the game is a bit more like a Crusader Kings or Total War title. It's fairly visceral, though standard gameplay definitely benefits from mods that allow for more strategic formations. You can also enter tournaments and the like for some different styled combat, which is a good way to earn money... Of which you'll need a lot.

I'm not super far in the game, but if any of the above in a truly open world setting appeal to you, I strongly suggest this game. Also, it has many wonderful mods (I myself am playing the Floris mod, which is a compilation of other, smaller mods), including one that turns it into a Game of Thrones setting...

Coop Deckbuilding!
My other gaming news brings me to the land of Legendary, Marvel's deckbuilding game. It just came in yesterday, so I haven't played with it too much, but the mechanics are fairly basic and the setting seems a bit more fleshed out than the DC version (that I've only played once). I'll have more on this when I actually get a group together to test it out.

Alright, that's all folks. Go away. Oh, and keep it nerdy.


  1. Soo this thing deleted my whole comment but I will attempt to recreate it. I love Bravely Default. But, it's suffered the same fate most of my non first party games do, played for a few hours over a couple days, enjoyed it, then stopped entirely to go back to other games from forever ago I've yet to beat. I just finally beat Mario and Luigi: Dream Team (at 50 hours it was way longer than anticipated), so now hopefully I will go back to SMT IV, a bunch of other games, and eventually Bravely Default. Sorry I haven't comment much lately : (

    1. Haha no worries, Bry, I've been so swamped at work I haven't had much time to check here, much less post... Or see friends...

      I'm really, really trying to finish Bravely Default, but I'm worried that it's going to get repetitive too soon. And, not having too many long stints to actually play it, that could be lethal.

      ... Now that you say it, I actually did the exact same thing on SMT IV, mostly because I was struggling with where to go next (curse you current gen games and your overly simple quest markers!). I think I'll take another stab at that when I finish this up... If I finish this up...