Bravely Default 2, the new Nintendo Switch game about watching numbers go up, isn’t easy. The boss fights in particular are guaranteed to mess up your day. If you’ve been playing the game since it launched last week, you’ve likely found yourself banging your head against a wall on more than one occasion.
Yes, in Bravely Default 2, there’s a massive gulf between the cannon fodder and the big bads. You might find yourself ambly strolling along, hacking goblins to bits, only to hit the dungeon’s boss and find yourself wiped in a turn or two. Here’s how to make sure that doesn’t happen. Probably. Maybe. Hopefully.
Kotaku’s tips for Bravely Default 2 mentions this, but it’s worth bringing up again: You can tell whether or not you’re ready to take on a dungeon’s boss by paying attention to the rank-and-file enemies. As you traverse each dungeon, if you’re around the same level as the standard enemies, they’ll run toward you, and might even give you a run for your money. If you’ve outleveled them, they’ll run away from you—meaning you’re probably at a high enough level to take on the boss. For each dungeon, grind until you hit that point.
You’ll get a save spot before most boss fights. (There’s one notably frustrating exception before the Halcyonia boss battle in Chapter 4.) Use it, obviously, then start each fight by scoping out the boss, which you can do with a magnifying glass or by using a Freelancer’s Examine ability. Check their weaknesses, then quit out, reload, and re-assign your team’s jobs and equipment accordingly.
If they’re weak to air or earth magic, assign someone as a Red Mage. Fire, water, or electric? Black Mage. See if they’re weak to axes, or swords, or spears, and equip your Vanguard (you have a Vanguard, right?) with the weapon that works best.
The truly enterprising players could stick it out a few rounds to get a sense for what types of elemental attacks might get absorbed, as the battle info won’t tell you that. You could even hang on to see what moves might set off a counter (and what those counters might do, whether or not they’re straightforward attacks or something more insidious, like a Stop debuff). Point is, give each boss a quick test drive. Then throw in the towel and reconfigure things.
If you’ve played a turn-based RPG before, you already know this, but it’s paramount for Bravely Default 2: Make sure you have a healer in your party. Since a White Mage can heal multiple party members at once, that’s a safe bet. But don’t sleep on the Red Mage, who can also dish out stone- and air-based magic attacks during those rare turns where you’re full up on health.
When you get it, Spiritmaster is arguably the most essential class for arduous boss battles. At level 6, you’ll get the Reraise ability, which allows you to preemptively revive your allies. When, not if, any party members are knocked out, they’ll instantly come back with 300 HP. For bosses with moves that can take your whole team out in one hit, Reraise is often the thing that’ll save your skin.
It’s easy to fall into a rut while grinding. Though the game’s Brave/Default system offers an innovative hook to an old genre, once you figure out a dungeon’s enemies, you can comfortably fall back on traditional turn-based combat, spamming Brave to take out cannon fodder in one turn. No matter how buff you are, that strategy won’t work against Bravely Default 2’s bosses.
Unlike normal battles, you should start every fight by Defaulting all of your characters, building up at least one BP. Throughout the fight, you should strive to keep your BP above zero. The last thing you want is to have your BP dip into the negative, allowing the boss to attack you multiple times before you get to do a thing. And if you see your enemy’s BP stack up to 2 or 3—which you can spot by pulling up the battle info—you know a wave of attacks is incoming. Be sure to Default with your entire party.
Yep. The oldest trick in the book applies to Bravely Default 2.
Those pointers should broadly help you tackle the game’s toughest fights. But there are a few who will give you a run for your money no matter how up you are on best practices. Here’s how to handle them.
Spoilers follow for the identities of some Bravely Default 2 antagonists.
Man, fuck Bernard. The early boss fights aren’t exactly walks in the park, but you can handle them. I believe in you. That first fight against Bernard, though, is where things get real.
He’s weak to lightning, so if you’ve leveled up a Black Mage to level 8, you’ll be able to use the Thundara spell. (Bonus points if you’ve maxed out the job and unlocked Thundaga.) Just make sure you have a bunch of Ethers on-hand. His evasion is through the roof, too, so don’t fire off four moves in a row, else you may miss a few and deal way less damage than you expected to.
You’ll get the Thief job for beating this jerk.
Man, fuck Galahad. Don’t stress too much about the first time you face him. Bravely Default 2 pulls that annoying trick where you think you’re in for a long-haul fight but, really, it was just a narrative interlude that wraps up after a round or two.
The second time you face Galahad, however, is another story. He’ll be accompanied by three demons. You’ll have to defeat all three for the fight to end, but focus on the one with the staff first, since it’ll cast healing spells. Using a Bard to put Galahad to sleep can help. A Monk’s Pressure Point move (unlocked at job level 11) is particularly helpful for this fight, since it can circumvent the defensive boost Galahad gets from Defaulting.
You’ll get the Shieldmaster job for beating this jerk.
Man, fuck Bishop Helio and Gladys. You should take out Helio first, and not just because he runs a murder cult disguised as a benevolent religion. In terms of strategy, he has less HP than Gladys. Also, maddeningly, he casts a bunch of moves that keep both of their health afloat. Stack up your BP to 3 for all party members, then Brave three times and unleash a flurry on the good bishop. A Monk with the Pressure Point ability or a Thief with the Godspeed Strike ability (or both!) can dish out a serious amount of damage in one turn.
The main thing to watch out for with Gladys is her counter. Throughout the battle, she’ll go into various stances, one of which (the Fluid Stance) allows her to automatically counter every physical attack. If you set up a party member to fire off four moves in a row, that person is pretty much guaranteed a goner. It’s far safer to just whittle her health down with an attack or two at a time, while using your healer to keep everybody afloat.
You’ll get the Spiritmaster and Swordmaster jobs for beating these jerks.
Man, fuck Adam and his stupid goatee. For the first part of the fight, he’s actually not so bad. He’ll very stupidly attack you with double-edged moves that deal more damage to him. Just keep healing and you’ll be fine.
During the battle’s final stage, however, he’ll start using an attack that can take out any one of your party members in one hit—and will sometimes use it on all party members at once. Be sure to bring a Spiritmaster along, in order to cast Reraise one everyone. The Freelancer job helps a lot, too, as you’ll have a 50-percent chance of surviving any attack with at least 1 HP, at which point you’ll be able to revive everyone else. That last phase is a war of attrition, but with a solid defensive line, you’ll take him down.
You’ll get the Hellblade job for beating this jerk.
The boss fights in Bravely Default 2 are no doubt a gauntlet, but they’re also one of the game’s strongest selling points. They force you to use the Brave/Default combat system. They demand a savvy understanding of the game’s intricate job and equipment matchups. Role-playing games so often allow you to take a backseat, where you’re just tapping buttons, going through the motions. Whatever else, the boss fights in Bravely Default 2 push back against that. In my mind, that’s well worth the occasional headache.
Oh, and you get to listen to the boss fight tune. That song rules.