What’s Next From Tomoya Asano and the Bravely Default Team?
In 2022, we can expect multiple releases from the developers behind the Bravely Default series. This exciting bit of news was announced last week via Bravely Default’s official Twitter account, and it noted that “in addition to the Triangle, we are planning to announce and release multiple titles this year. Please pay attention!”
Team Asano, the developers in question, have pumped out a consistent stream of quality, traditional JRPGs for the better part of a decade, starting with 2010’s Final Fantasy: 4 Warriors of Light, through the whole Bravely Default series, Octopath Traveler, and now Triangle Strategy releasing in March. Each of these games has added their own modern twists on classic formulas, with loads of quality of life features, compelling characters, and a stunning introduction to Square’s (sometimes divisive) HD-2D game engine. Any news from Asano and his team is sure to be exciting, and this little teaser has our imaginations blazing.
Today, we’ll take a look at what announcements or releases may be in the works for 2022, both predictable and outlandish. Feel free to let us know your own theories in the comments!
Bravely Default and Bravely Second
With Bravely Default II selling over a million copies worldwide, Square may very well be eyeing a remaster of the original titles for the Nintendo Switch. Besides the fact that the series appears to still garner a lot of interest, the Switch itself has proved to be an RPG powerhouse, as readers of this site well know. A rerelease or remaster of Bravely Default and Bravely Second would be an excellent way to generate sales and introduce gamers to titles they may have missed during the 3DS era. While there may be some technical challenges porting some of the games’ more creative features to a single-screen system, other franchises have successfully made the jump to the Switch previously.
As far as how these remasters might look and feel, I’d expect Team Asano to work with some third party to translate the 3DS titles into the same engine used for Bravely Default II, with some adjustments to align gameplay elements with the original releases. Ideally all the original voice acting would remain in place, and of course I’d be thrilled to see the hand-drawn backgrounds from the first games resurrected and represented in HD glory – assuming the original assets are still on file. Honestly, my biggest hope personally would be to preserve as much of the design as possible, as – even with some warts – they stand out as fantastically unique JRPG experiences that I would love to revisit.
Given that Asano is teasing releases beyond just Triangle Strategy for 2022, it seems impossible for at least one of these mystery releases to not be a rerelease of one of their classic titles. Bravely Default and Bravely Second are easily the most likely.
Octopath Traveler: Champions on the Continent
Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent has been chugging along for over a year now as a Japan only mobile title, and is beloved by those few western fans who have gotten their hands on the experience. Yet another in a long line of gatcha titles based on JRPG franchises, Champions of the Continent acts as a prequel to the original Octopath Traveler, bringing a wealth of original and returning characters to the forefront of a new set of stories. The game incorporates Octopath’s boost and break systems, successfully bringing this compelling combat system to its mobile platform. That, combined with the exceptional visuals and music and an expanded party roster to eight characters at a time, make this game about as premium of a mobile gaming experience as you can get from the gatcha format.
A western release of this title could prove to be yet another successful mobile outing for Square Enix, which has dived head first into the platform across a myriad of its RPG franchises – Final Fantasy in particular. While Octopath Traveler could never be argued to be as popular as Square’s staple franchises, expanding Champions of the Continent to a western audience could go a long way in building a larger fanbase for the series. With Bravely Default II safely released worldwide, there could be much to gain from refocusing RPG fans on Team Asano’s other flagship franchise, especially if they plan to continue the series on consoles.
Octopath Traveler 2
As hinted above, Octopath Traveler 2 could very well be the next game on Team Asano’s development list. Asano has hinted at Octopath getting a proper sequel in the past, and with both Bravely Default II and Triangle Strategy put to bed, making the shift back to the pioneer HD-2D series is the logical next move. The existence of Champions of the Continent only bolsters this idea, as Square Enix is clearly interested in creating a franchise out of the title. Champions of the Continent has also lent some additional world building and a variety of characters to the world of Octopath, all of which could be drawn upon to craft the tale that is Octopath Traveler 2. Whether the sequel features returning characters or brand new additions, we can expect the same stellar core gameplay to come along for the ride.
Fans clamoring for an Octopath sequel will also expect the game to bring along some much needed improvements to the first game’s impressive formula. More interaction between main characters is a must, as is an increase in variation in how various character scenarios play out. While this writer would like to see the 8-story, chapter system remain intact, I cannot deny that mixing up how each of these chapters play out would be a breath of fresh air for the series. In addition, an increase in dungeon variety would go a long way in keeping the franchise feeling fresh, while still honoring classic JRPGs of old. Finally, an expanded and/or improved path actions system could make the world feel even more immersive and alive.
Whatever the case, Octopath Traveler 2 seems inevitable at this point. The only question is whether or not it will be lumped in with the announcements coming in 2022.
Final Fantasy Tactics HD-2D
With the release date of Dragon Quest III: HD-2D Remake still up in the air, it may be too soon for Square Enix to announce the next HD-2D remake that may (or may not) be headed down the pike. That being said, I can’t think of a game better deserving the HD-2D treatment than Final Fantasy Tactics. For a company practically obsessed with remakes and remasters, the fact that the last real update to Tactics was the War of Lions addition that came to the PSP, this massively popular and influential game is more than ready for its next iteration. Given the game’s diorama visual style – a style very similar to the HD-2D engine – remaking FFT using this engine seems like a no brainer. Add onto that the impending release of Triangle Strategy, and you’ve got a fully functioning tactical combat system just waiting for conversion.
Final Fantasy Tactics introduced gamers to fantastic sprite work, an amazing soundtrack, a sweeping, complex story, and an equally compelling class system inspired by the best elements from Final Fantasy games that came before. In particular, the game’s visual style – combining traditional sprite work with 3D visual effects – fits perfectly in the HD-2D setting. Recreating the beautiful spells, summons, and setpieces from Final Fantasy Tactics could result in one of the most beautiful outings for the engine to date. Remastering FFT would also give Square Enix the chance to modernize the game in other ways, making tweaks to classes and abilities to make the definitive experience for one of the most foundational tactics games in RPG history.
Final Fantasy: 4 Heroes of Light
Of course, as long as we are discussing rereleases and remasters, we would be remiss to neglect the possibility of Team Asano going back to their roots and resurrecting Final Fantasy: 4 Heroes of Light. This game, released for the Nintendo DS in 2009, was described by Asano himself as “a classic fantasy RPG using today’s technology.” True to its name, the game harkens back to the original Final Fantasy titles, handing the player a static party of four central heroes. These heroes embark on an adventure to save the world, battling classic Final Fantasy monsters and engaging in traditional, turn-based battles. Skills can be learned and equipped through the use of a job system, another vestige of classic Final Fantasy. The game also features a prototype of sorts of the brave and boost systems from Asano’s later titles. If any gripes can be leveled at the game, it’s that the targeting system (choosing which monster or party member to use an ability on) has been removed, leaving players with a few unfortunate cases of being screwed by RNG.
A remake or remaster of this title could certainly rely on the visuals of the Bravely Default series, with whom it shares much of its DNA. The game is more than ready for a complete audio/visual overhaul, and improvements to the core gameplay could freshen up the experience and make it ready for modern audiences. The Final Fantasy franchise continues to be one of the most popular in the world, so name recognition alone would go a long way to justifying this remaster. In addition, the recent success of Asano’s other titles could easily be tied into marketing for 4 Heroes of Light, allowing Square Enix to bring yet another solid RPG to the Nintendo Switch.
A Brand New RPG
Oddly, the mostly outlandish possibility on this list is that Team Asano might actually announce a brand new title this year. With their team at the helm of two, relatively new JRPG franchises – and possibly a third if Triangle Strategy finds success – the idea that they may launch themselves into yet another new series could be seen as farfetched. The Bravely series continues to hint at future sequels, and Asano himself has strongly implied that Octopath Traveler 2 will come eventually. That being said, fans can’t help but wonder what other ideas could be rattling around in the heads of these stellar developers.
In all likelihood, whatever new game Team Asano produces, it will likely take inspiration from classic JRPGs, while providing some kind of modern twist on combat to create a more dynamic and strategic system. Both the brave system in Bravely Default and the boost system in Octopath Traveler encourage players to strategically manage some kind of currency to power up their skills. A similar, novel system would likely be deployed in any future release. From a story standpoint, Asano has expressed that a big reason for moving to a tactical RPG for Triangle Strategy was his desire to tell a more mature story, which he felt fit the tactical aesthetic more than traditional JRPGs. Depending on what direction he wants to take a hypothetical new franchise, we could find ourselves in either familiar or uncharted territory. If anything is clear, it’s that Asano has a holistic philosophy to game design, striving to align gameplay, story, visuals, and audio to create a powerful experience – regardless of subgenre.
We can only guess at what a new game from Team Asano might look like, but whatever it may be, there will be fans waiting with bated breath.
There’s no shortage of amazing releases and announcements we could see out of Team Asano this year. Their steady stream of RPGs have delighted fans of traditional JRPGs, and we’re excited to see what they could have coming for us in 2022.
Let us know what you think we might see in the comments below!