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Final Fantasy Brave Exvius

Yet another Final Fantasy mobile title graced tablets and phones this month. Final Fantasy Brave Exvius is a story-based gacha RPG. Unlike other titles in the Final Fantasy mobile realm like Record Keeper or Heavenstrike Rivals, FFBE allows the player to explore towns and dungeons along with typical chain-battles leading up to a boss. Just like the other Square Enix-published titles, plenty of popular Final Fantasy characters make an appearance. These characters can be used to flesh out your party.

(For those unfamiliar with gacha games, feel free to read my Puzzle & Dragons write up. For an excellent comparison to Summoners War, check this thread)

The graphics of the game are a step up from other mobile titles, and the soundtrack is on par with other Final Fantasy side entries (aka, very strong). The battle system is unique but easy to learn. You can equip your characters with weapons, armor, and spells and use them to defeat your enemy. Attacks, Items, Spells, and Defending are all selected by swiping Up, Down, Left, or Right on each of your five characters (plus one friend/guest). The game also features Auto, Repeat, and Reset buttons.

Each of the characters learns certain abilities as they level up. Many of the most valuable gacha characters, as well as the main protagonists of the story, can also “Awaken” one or more times. This resets their level while retaining their abilities, and allows them to reach a higher level cap and obtain new abilities.

The reddit is fairly active and has a good starter guide. Rerolls for high tier characters are a bit difficult because they essentially require the creation of a dummy Facebook account. I opted against them, but was also lucky enough to obtain an S-Tier character in my first few rolls. Many players are also choosing to entirely forgo their initial draws from the gacha in anticipation for better pulls. The Japanese tier list (translation required) has some much better characters, like Lightning, Gilgamesh and Orlandu.

I was lucky enough to roll Vaan, who is an S-tier character currently. In the Japanese release, he is overshadowed by one of the story’s main protagonists. All three of the current story-only characters are strong picks as well. Rain and Lasswell are good physical attackers who will eventually be great once their final Awakening (six star) is uncapped from the global version. Fina is arguably the best dedicated healer class in the game.

While the first few star ranks are rather quick, grinding up to level 60 at rank 4 is a tiresome endeavor. I can only imagine level 80-100 to be even more tedious, since you start back at level 1 every time.

Fina comes a bit later in the story, and by then it’s imperative to have Cura, which she doesn’t obtain until her second Awakening. I was lucky enough to roll plenty of great healers. Penelo was decent to start because she has an area of effect spell. I eventually upgraded to Anzelm, a red mage who can cast both healing and damaging spells.

Each awakening requires special materials, which can be obtained in one of the daily Vortex Dungeons. Each day, the Vortex resets, allowing you one free whether you want Synthesis materials, Awakening materials, Experience, or Gil. Typically, I’ve only heard of people using the Awakening and Experience dungeons. There’s usually better ways to obtain the other two. You can also unlock more than one, but it costs valuable Lapis, which you should be saving to roll rare characters.

The start of Brave Exvius is extremely dependant on who you obtain. You will also receive friend points throughout, which can be cashed in for low-quality units. If you are missing an essential type (healer/mage/fighter) it may be good to pull some of these early. Most people recommend waiting for a Cactuar/Turtle drive. Cactuars can be combined with units to gift them extra experience, and turtles can be sold for lots of gil.

A few of the friend point units also have good trust masteries. Currently, these are very difficult to level up, as there is a small chance after every battle that a character will obtain a +0.1% increase to their mastery, up until it reaches 100%. The only other way to increase them now is to combine units for a +5% bonus. This is possible for FP units but impractical for gacha characters. Japan recently received bonus moogles, which add +10%. It may be better to wait until global also receives these before worrying too much about grinding trust masteries.

Another difficult grind is Limit Bursts. Each character’s limit break can level up four times, but the cost for leveling up increases for each Awakening level. To level up, you must use the ability repeatedly, which only activates after a few turns in battle (and it takes longer at higher Awakenings). At level 2, it requires 100 uses to get up to LB 2, but at level 3, it rockets up to 300 uses. At level 4, it’s 700, and by level 5 it’s an unbearable 1,450. The only remotely reasonable solution to this is to wait for an item drop that will ease the process by 100 points at a time.

Aside from the grind-heavy aspects, there’s a lot to love about Brave Exvius. Hidden in various places are Esper dungeons, which require you to fight a summon monster before obtaining them for your use in battle. Summons are be equipped to your characters, allowing them to be used once their meter is filled. They will also give stat bonuses and are leveled up independently. When leveled up, they gift better bonuses and new abilities to whoever they’re equipped to. There are currently four espers (and esper dungeons) in the game.

Brave Exvius is fairly robust for a mobile title, with two initial islands featuring eight towns and a large number of dungeons, including a number of “Exploration” stages which require you to navigate the dungeon on foot. These exploration stages have plenty of hidden goodies, and can even lead to secret locations like hidden towns or esper dungeons.

Each town has a number of quests that can be undertaken from townsfolk. The quests are decently varied, from speaking to people in different towns to fetching items in an exploration map or fighting a number of monsters in a specific area. The towns are also populated with plenty of shops and hidden items of their own. Crafting recipes are nearly as common a reward as regular equipment. Recipes are accomplished using materials gathered from enemies and from special spots on exploration maps.

The main pull of the game is definitely the story and the dungeons. Once you’ve accomplished all the quests and gathered all the items currently available, the only things left to do are the optional bosses and arena. Both require serious grinding to complete.

Brave Exvius has a few grindy elements that hopefully will be remedied with later items additions. But it’s a great new addition to the gacha RPG landscape that’s definitely worth a try. It’s fairly generous with Lapis: as of finishing the main story content, I’m at around 5000, which equals 10 pulls. The ease of adding new friends that come with you into battle means you still get chance to experiment with all of the best characters, even if you didn’t manage to pull them yourself.