Just two weeks ago, Square Enix and gumi, Inc. (publisher) released the next Final Fantasy title for mobile, Final Fantasy Brave Exvius. After a soft launch in European territories back in May, the game is out for most audiences and for Square Enix, it’s a great title to fill in the gaps while players wait for the anticipated Final Fantasy XV. Well, we can also add the new Mobius Final Fantasy to the list as well, coming August 3.
I’ve played a number of titles that gumi has brought to the mobile platform; these titles I’ve played include Chain Chronicle, Phantom of the Kill thanks to Anime Expo, and Brave Frontier. For Brave Frontier, I became somewhat of a “whale,” and got decently invested into the title’s collection element and its addictive, on-the-go gameplay. However, with the release of Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, Brave Frontier has since run its course and in a way feels much like a beta for the much more polished Final Fantasy Brave Exvius. This review will be comparing the two, side by side.
Brave Frontier was a title that had quite the vocal community. With dubious rate up events and ample server issues during its prime, I sometimes wondered why I stuck so long with the game. Seeing a lot of community backlash, it was kind of tough to still remain impartial for Brave Frontier, especially with the game going down a dubious path with the recently released Dream/Omni Evolutions. Brave Exvius took all of those mistakes and for the most part learned from them. The level of polish that Brave Exvius has in comparison to Brave Frontier is shocking, despite the games having incredibly similar elements.
What admittedly did not go away are the rate ups and their kind of disappointingly low chances to summon the classic Final Fantasy characters we’ve grown to love. Even so, there’s over a hundred units in the summon pool. However, everything else, from the music direction to the battle system, is much more involved. The music is orchestrated, and has the distinct familiarity of Final Fantasy music. From battle music to the serenity of the towns, the game has it all.
A lot of people have dissenting feelings towards the mobile gaming platform, citing that mobile gaming is weak and not the “proper” way to game. Thankfully, with the release of Pokémon GO and the cultural phenomenon that’s come from it, mobile may have a chance after all. Side note: I am not saying I agree or disagree with either side. I think that both sides have their merits based on the situation at hand. With Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, the battle system is addicting and goes a little more in-depth than the standard tap/slide characteristics that Brave Frontier adopted. While Brave Frontier contained monsters that were complex but needed simple interactions, Brave Exvius turned it around by making monsters a bit simpler but added the Final Fantasy charm of turn-based battles. From skills to equipment, there’s a lot more depth than meets the eye. With skills themselves having levels that can be reached, there’s tons of things to do in the meantime.
Brave Exvius brings the world map zones of Brave Frontier to the forefront, but melds them together with RPG dungeon crawler elements from the old retro Final Fantasy days, in the omni-directional plane. No grids! Players can purchase gear at the town/city armorers and weapon smiths. Gear can also be crafted using the Forging system; the same applies for Abilities and Items such as potions, provided the player has the recipe and the materials to complete them. Also brought in from Brave Frontier, slightly modified, is the Arena, christened as the Colosseum. Instead of fighting battles where dubious quantities of Arena points are provided, players proceed through ranked tiers, from Beginner to Advanced, from D rank to S rank. Each rank consists of five rounds that are ten matches apiece. Of course, the difficulty ramps up, but remains entirely manageable even in this point that the global version has provided. Players of Brave Frontier will also note the return of the Vortex dungeons, where limited time dungeons exist, as well as several locked dungeons that require the premium Lapis currency to access. These locked dungeons include crafting material, evolution material, experience, and gold dungeons. Friend sending and gifting makes an appearance, and can be used to summon lower units via Friend Points. When Brave Frontier introduced trials, Brave Exvius introduced the Farplane, which brought boss monsters out to yield good rewards.
Free to play mobile games such as these thrive on the in-game premium currency, Lapis. While gil can be used in the overworld, for major functions, the Lapis is the “gold standard.” From increasing unit space to summoning for units, even on a free to play budget the game is surprisingly manageable. For players who pre-registered, Square Enix provided almost a dozen summon tickets worth. The rewards are incredibly solid, and with the rate ups for new units, it’s a huge draw. Interestingly enough, I never felt as restricted playing this when compared to Brave Frontier, where the pay wall felt readily apparent without the powerful and meta units. I was able to stomp through story content with mostly free summon units provided in the initial launch ticket promotion.
The real bread and butter of Brave Exvius are in the units themselves, whom as mentioned above have abilities. The best part, and the most rewarding aspect, is in the Trust Mastery system, which often grants a very powerful ability. The trust master system can be leveled by repeatedly grinding quests, which provide a chance for a 0.1% increase. Yep, you read that right. Further methods include feeding duplicates which increase it by 5%. In Japan, other methods exist, but have not made their way stateside. These rewards can be equipment, or innate skills that can be attached to anybody. Raising units takes dedication; simply maxing them out is just the beginning. As units have limit breaks, an exclusive to Brave Exvius, said limit breaks can level up… only after hundreds or thousands of repetitions in battle.
Speaking of battles, there’s quite a lot going on. Tapping units attacks; sliding on the portrait lists out abilities, guards, or uses items. Brave Frontier had Brave Crystals and Heart Crystals that dropped; Brave Exvius has Limit Break crystals that fill a red limit gauge. Once filled, the unit can unleash a powerful skill. Battling waves of monsters is hopelessly addicting; combined with the exploration missions and quests, it’s a great formula going forward. While Brave Frontier was kept on rails, Brave Exvius diverges from the path and brings exploration at the player’s pace, save for the story which takes place over multiple zones on various continents in the Lapis kingdom.
At this point, the only downside is the story line. Following main protagonists Rain and Laswell, the story is fairly generic albeit mindlessly enjoyable. It has its moments, and spans across several continents in the Lapis kingdom as the two ally with a White Mage girl, Fina, and attempt to save the kingdom. In other words, it’s pretty standard Final Fantasy stuff from back in the earlier days, but perfect for mobile titles.
Brave Exvius was a title I had been looking forward to since it was announced; now that it’s actually here, it’s a superior product compared to its older brother Brave Frontier in pretty much every way. This is speculated to be due to the fact that Square Enix themselves are backing and developing this game; Brave Frontier was developed by Alim. The music and game play are on point and go above and beyond the majority of mobile titles, which are becoming increasingly restricted due to their pay to win nature. For those seeking an on-the-go Final Fantasy adventure but found disappointment in Record Keeper, this is the game for you.