Final Fantasy Exvius Brave, a mobile chapter in Square-Enix’s immortal Final Fantasy series, came out about a month ago in the USA, and what it is is a nostalgic travel back through all the other games in the series, draped over the typically opaque and crystalline JRPG-style adventure.
The plot starts with noble knight Rain and his lesser status friend Lasswell coming across a strange creature trapped in an Earth crystal who warns them of a group of villains who plot to plunge the world into darkness and so on. It’s Final Fantasy — EVERY game reveals an existential threat.
It’s dangerous to go alone, though, and so you can summon heroes (and villains!) from other Final Fantasy games to help out. Some show up with more potential than others, though, so it’s up to you to assemble the greatest heroes from nearly a dozen universes to help you out.
And if THAT’S not enough, well, you can dive into your friend list and ask one of them to send over their best warrior to help you as well. You can invite people you know, but I just selected the most powerful people from the random list and sent them friend invites. When you have borrowed their character, you can see how perhaps a hero you haven’t yet summoned does in battle.
Which heroes you get from a summon is the luck of the draw. The game is pretty free with the rare summon tickets at the beginning of the game, to give you a chance to get someone powerful right off. (The serious players keep restarting until they manage to get a rare or two right from the start. I didn’t know about that when I started). Eventually those are used up. You can earn common summonses by sending and receiving gifts from friends. And of course, this being a mobile game, you can pay money for more tickets.
No matter how rare a summons, though, they start at level 1 and must be leveled up to match your party before they can be very useful. Once they get to their max level, they can sometimes be “Awoken”. Awakening increases their rarity by one star, grants new potential abilities, and resets their level to 1. There is a LOT of leveling of heroes in this game. Naturally, you can buy leveling items to speed up this process, though they often have events where you can earn leveling items (steel cactaurs) for free. They are having one this weekend, in fact.
These special dungeons are accessed via the “Vortex”, a portal into battles with specific aims. Experience (for all the grinding), getting materials for crafting or awakening, dungeons built solely to earn gil (in-game currency), and so on. There’s usually something going on. Most of the grinding vortices require Lapis, the RMT currency, to open. You earn a fair amount of Lapis doing plot missions and hitting certain achievements, but of course you can buy more if you run out. Again, it comes easily at the beginning of the game to get you used to using it, but is much scarcer later on.
Aside from battling — which is the main fun, admittedly — and grinding hero levels, you can also craft a variety of things. The Forge crafts gear; Synthesize crafts potions and other items; and Abilities crafts slottable skills that extend a hero’s powers. All these things require recipes and materials. Most recipes can be bought, but the best ones must be found or quested. Most materials drop from battles, but some must be hunted up. I’m not positive you can buy these for real money or Lapis, but I would not be surprised.
Every Final Fantasy game has some sort of way to summon legendary spirits to help out. In FFEB, they are called “Espers”. You get the Esper, Siren, for free. She has a very useful mass Sleep ability and does water damage. The other Espers, Ifrit, Titan, Ramuh and so on, must be discovered. Using Espers in battle earns skill points that may be spent to increase an Esper’s stats and powers (which they can pass along to their summoner). Feeding Espers certain “magicites” will level them up and increase their power.
There’s also a Coliseum that doesn’t take Energy (most battles have an Energy cost; Energy slowly replenishes with time, as is typical for these sorts of games. Of course, you can replenish Energy instantly for cash). Coliseum battles pit you against increasingly difficult encounters, and are an easy and free way to see how a new selection of heroes fit together. Coliseums use an even slower form of Energy…
Battle in FFEB is the typical rock-paper-scissors element scheme. An enemy’s color typically determines which elemental strength and weaknesses they have, if any. High defense creatures must have their defense broken down by your units. Attack must be broken. Statuses must be cured. The first few chapters of the story, you’ll be swapping heroes in and out and doing summonses with your fingers crossed hoping for the healer with just the right cures, or a melee that is really good at breaking things. Eventually you’ll settle on a few brave souls and go on to conquer.
For a mobile game, Final Fantasy Exvius Brave is surprisingly deep, and you can spend quite a long time playing each session before entirely exhausting Energy. (Questing, for instance, often is totally free but quite lucrative). The story is somewhat trite if you’ve ever played a Final Fantasy game before. The boss battles are suitably impressive and difficult, and it’s fun to draw your support characters from twenty years of Final Fantasy. Heck, I have the frickin CLOUD OF DARKNESS as my front line melee :)
Recommended for any Final Fantasy fan.