Bravely Default II Exploration explained - how boat exploration and the timer works

Bravely Default II has a plethora of complicated systems and mechanics, but one of the most curious is the Exploration system, where you send a boat to explore, and get certain rewards. Exploration is a handy way to get some decent, useful items while you're not playing the game - and so you'll definitely want to engage with this system.

That's right, by the way - we said while you're not playing the game. The Exploration mechanic in BD2 is rather like the sort of thing we typically see on handheld systems and mobile for the most part - which makes sense, of course, as though this sequel is on the hybrid Switch, it began life on 3DS. Basically, you let your characters go out 'exploring' while the game isn't being played, while your Switch is in sleep mode, and they return with items.

Unfortunately, the whole boat exploration system is pretty confusingly implemented and poorly initially explained - so on this page, we'll help you to puzzle it out. We cover how to unlock & use boat exploration in Bravely Default II, exploration rewards, and what to do if exploration isn't working.

How to Unlock & Use Boat Exploration

First of all, to use the system you're going to want to unlock it. Luckily, Boat Exploration is a mechanic that the developers of Bravely Default II clearly want people to engage with, and so it's introduced pretty plainly very early on in the game. During the prologue, you'll encounter Side Quest 001, "Borrowing the Boat". This quest is obtained automatically early on as you go back and forth to Halcyonia, and in giving it to you, BD2 is basically introducing you both to the mechanic and to the concept of side quests in general.

This Borrowing the Boat quest tasks you with using the boat once, and gives you a Teleport Stone in return. The quest is misleading, however, since the boat functionality is drastically sped up compared to how it'll work in real practice. 


How the Boat Exploration System Works, and what to do if Exploration Isn't Working

First of all, a key thing to remember is the Boat-Lending Woman NPC. She shows up in Halcyonia, but will also pop up in every town throughout BD2 - so you'll always be able to track her down. She's always your point of contact for all things Boat Exploration, and you'll be returning to her regularly. You can easily find her by keeping an eye out for the ship icon in towns. Once you reach the Boat-Lending Woman, here's how it works:

  • You'll need to tell the Boat-Lending woman NPC to 'Start Exploring', which is an option in the interface whenever you interact with her.
  • The exploration will only take place if your Nintendo Switch is in standby/sleep mode, with Bravely Default 2 still open. If you close the game or turn the system off entirely, exploration will stop. This counts if you leave it on standby and the battery expires, too - at that point, exploration will stop. 
  • You can explore for a maximum of 12 hours at any given time. The amount of time spent exploring can be found in the Exploration menu alongside the Boat-Lending Woman - in the top right, it'll tell you how long your current expedition has been going on for. 
  • From the exploration menu, you can view an Exploration Log which reveals how much treasure you've managed to uncover. It also has some cute little descriptions of the adventures your characters go on while out exploring.
  • If you choose to use Online Functionality, you'll get better rewards. This is because your party can bump into fellow players' parties on exploration expeditions when you're online - and that results in better rewards for everyone.
  • After 12 hours, or sooner if you want, you can return to the Exploration menu to retrieve your rewards. You have to choose to stop the expedition to bring it in home, and then you can reap the rewards of your characters' off-screen efforts exploring.
  • "Time Travel" does not work. By this we mean changing your Nintendo Switch system time. This ain't Animal Crossing! The game is literally measuring idle time while the game is open & the system on standby. If you change the system clock while an expedition is underway, the next time you open the game you'll have a letter from the Boat-Lender lady calling off your exploration. You've been warned! 

And that's it! Boat Exploration Rewards include things like JP up items for raising the level of your choice of the best job classes from the 24 available jobs in BD2, and other powerful items that'll help you kit out your characters for challenging combat encounters. Just remember to start a new expedition whenever you're putting your Switch down, and then return to cash it in. Do this regularly and you'll have a constant flow of very helpful items for your adventure.