ELEX was a sleeper title that had a lot of cool things inside of it. However, it didn’t take off like other RPGs due to a few factors. Not that it stopped Piranha Bytes, though, as they’re going to release a sequel to the first game, ELEX 2. Let’s talk about what we can expect from the game and how it will compare to the first one.
What Is ELEX?
ELEX is an open-world, sci-fi action role-playing game (RPG) published by THQ Nordic and developed by Piranha Bytes. The game was released back on 17 October 2017 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One with an edgy, post-apocalyptic, fantasy theme to it.
The game is centered around the titular ELEX, a mystical special resource that gives people powers that seem like magic. This gives ELEX a post-apocalyptic, futuristic, fantasy theme, with huge castles and futuristic bunkers, guns, swords, magic, and more.
The game is set to be followed up by ELEX 2, a sequel to the first game, which we’ll discuss here. The ELEX 2 is going to be playable on PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox Series X, and Series S and is set to release on March 2 this year.
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ELEX 2 Game Preview
What’s in store for players of ELEX with this sequel? Let’s dive right into it.
Story and Setting
The story of ELEX 2 starts right after the first ELEX, specifically if the player chose the Emotion route and helped the various Free Peoples. Jax, the main character, married a good woman, settled down, and had a family and a son by the name of Dex. Sadly, Jax is too much of a hero and continues to explore the lands to help the various Free Peoples, and in general, being a deadbeat dad.
Now, for those that already played the first ELEX, Jax has constantly warned the Free Peoples of an alien threat to the world of Magalan. However, none of the Free Peoples listened, going about with their petty squabbles for ELEX. Years after Jax warned them about this threat, the aliens invade and began to drain Magalan of ELEX.
Now, with the alien threat on the world and wounded to the point of weakness and near death, again. Jax must form his faction to combat the aliens, and possibly, bring peace amongst the Free Peoples.
The first ELEX and its sequel, ELEX 2, took a lot of inspiration from other RPGs back in the day, specifically, Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. The game’s open-world has a lot of secrets in it for the player to explore and a lot of cool stuff to uncover; it seems that ELEX 2 will follow that trend.
In addition to this, there’s also the quest system of the previous game that has consequences based on the player’s choices. Jax, the main character, can be a cold, selfish, logical, and rational character that makes decisions based on his previous mission. Or perhaps he’s now a more emotional one, who sides with those that he knew on his journey.
Either way, the choices of the player in the previous game affect the way the game’s story flows. We’ll probably see something similar to this on ELEX 2, but this sequel seems to be operating on the premise that the player chose the emotional ending instead of the cold ending.
Overall, think of ELEX, and ELEX 2 as Skyrim’s open-world gameplay mixed with Mass Effect or Dragon Age’s storytelling. The addition of the game’s storytelling aspect has a really big impact on how the game will end.
The first ELEX has a pretty robust leveling and skill tree system that players can use to customize Jax. He can be a melee juggernaut of pure power, a sneaky, sneaky archer, a magic casting badass, and so on. This gives additional depth to the game’s combat and gameplay progression. However, the way to these combat styles is pretty nuanced.
For one, every time you level up, you gain 10 attribute points and 1 learning point to spend on Jax. Attribute points are spent on 5 attributes: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Cunning, and Intelligence. You start with 10 of each attribute, and on certain thresholds, the cost of leveling these attributes will increase. These thresholds are 31, where the player needs to pay 2 attribute points to level up, and 61, where they need to pay 5 attribute points to level up.
In addition to this, the player can only have 1 learning point every time they level up. To spend learning points, they need to seek specific trainers to level up the various skills in the game. These skills range from combat skills like increased attack strength and better jetpack attack to survival skills like better radiation resistance.
This means that there’s no way for players to max out all of the skills in the game on a single playthrough. At least, if you’re playing it the normal RPG way. However, this is ELEX, and in this game, there’s a magical resource that increases the power of the user. This comes from the titular ELEX, which Jax can collect and then craft into powerful tonics that he can imbibe to gain more power.
The Dangers of ELEX
Imbibing ELEX directly comes at a pretty hefty cost, as doing so numbs a person’s emotions, turning them into an unfeeling machine. The benefits, however, can sometimes outweigh the cost as stronger ELEX potions give Attribute and Learning points depending on the strength of the potion. However, stronger potions will increase the Cold Meter, which is the game’s morality meter. To reduce this meter, Jax needs to interact more with other people in the game’s world, talking and doing quests for them.
However, this is finite, and eventually, the player will run out of quests and interactions. This means that they need to prioritize skills that will be good for their current build if they want the Emotion Ending. Of course, if they want to go on to become an unfeeling killing machine, then drink all the ELEX potions available. Just know that if Jax passes a certain threshold of Cold, certain interactions and quests will be locked out, which ensures you’re screwed if you want the emotion route.
Combat and Movement
ELEX took a lot of inspiration from Skyrim in terms of their controls, movement, and combat and it’s still true on ELEX 2. If you’ve seen Skyrim combat in the third person, then it’s almost similar enough to combat on ELEX, with a few minor animation tweaks here and there.
However, the combat and movement tend to be pretty stiff and limiting, which can be an annoyance to players used to smoother combat. The melee attacks tend to be pretty stiff, with swings going sideways, then high, then low, with not much variety. Don’t get us wrong, the weapons themselves have their weapon attack animations. However, these animations tend to be repeated over and over again. Of course, this is something Skyrim still does, but it’s pretty apparent on ELEX due to its third-person perspective.
However, when combined with the jetpack given to the player, this changes dramatically. This is because the jetpack gives players a lot of strategic options in combat, especially when combined with magic and ranged weaponry. This myriad of options in combat combined with good movement abilities gives depth to the gameplay even though the stiffness of some combat aspects is annoying.
Hopefully, ELEX 2 will have improvements in terms of the melee combat animations. Other than this, the game plays well in terms of its combat. Just make sure to keep abreast of the various mobs that the game has to offer. There’s a devious mix of weak mobs and strong ones throughout the game world on the 1st ELEX, and it might be something ELEX 2 will follow.
The first ELEX has the standard controls for any kind of action RPG. However, in the early days, players couldn’t tweak the controls for their preferences. Hopefully, the ability to edit the controls is standard on ELEX 2. Other than this, expect the same control scheme that a standard RPG will have when the game releases.
If you’ve seen any open-world game in the market, then you’ll already know what to expect when you boot up ELEX. However, there’s one pretty distinct difference: The fact that it goes from the usual fantasy aesthetic to post-apocalyptic.
The first ELEX game has a wide variety of areas that can be their games. From various military bunkers that hold precursor secrets, ancient forests and grooves with fantastical creatures, you name it; it’s probably in ELEX’s map. This diversity allows the game to add in several unique varieties of NPCs and mobs for the players to tackle.
In terms of graphics, ELEX and its sequel wouldn’t win any awards, and the original ELEX had problems with textures and a bit of clipping. Other than this, the game does look good on high-end PCs on the highest graphics while still keeping an okay quality look on lower resolutions.
The game wouldn’t be winning awards anytime soon, with most of the cool things that ELEX had come from the story and leveling aspects. However, this isn’t saying that they don’t have good sound design because they do.
The world feels more lived in due to the various sounds of the environment. Using this to sneak around and to find enemies is essential, especially if the player is turning Jax into a sneaky boy. Hopefully, this kind of environmental sound remains the same, and maybe even improved on ELEX 2.
Game Modes and Replayability
ELEX doesn’t have that many game modes other than just changing the game’s difficulty, which is where it shines. For one, ELEX’s difficulty options are pretty varied for a game like it. It has options for enemy combat behavior, the difficulty of attack combo string, and the works. This adds to the first ELEX’s replayability tremendously. Hopefully, this will be retained on ELEX 2.
How Does ELEX 2 Compare to Its Predecessor?
ELEX 2 is a continuation of the first ELEX in terms of story and even gameplay. If we’re being honest, there’s a really good chance that the only thing that changes in ELEX is the game’s story as well as additional graphical overhauls. That’s not bad, though, as ELEX’s gameplay loop is pretty satisfying and very fun.
However, it does feel as if ELEX 2 will have even more stuff for players to do in the game. Maybe ELEX 2 will have additional quests, perhaps a revamp to the way that Jax gains skills and attributes. For now, though, the only thing that the trailers showed was more of the things that ELEX had, and maybe parts of the story. Other than this, it’s still ELEX.
ELEX 2 vs. Similar Games
Now that we’ve talked a bit about ELEX 2, let’s talk about other games like it. We’ll start with Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, Fallout: New Vegas, and lastly, the Mass Effect Series.
Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
A lot of cool things came out of the release of Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. Bethesda’s crown jewel, for there are more versions of Skyrim than there is Call of Duty, has been going on the years now. However, the sheer amount of dedication that modders and fans have for the game kept it going strong for a long decade. This is apparent due to the number of mods, additional story quests, graphical edits, and more. However, the one we need to talk about is the open world and the sheer amount of story quests there are available.
Anyhow, Skyrim already has a lot of quests that lead to some good rewards, most of the time. This is something that we’ll see more of when we talk about New Vegas, but Skyrim is a good example. You can fully expect a quest to give the player a few gold septims at worst and a cool new weapon at best. Sometimes the player might even get better spells or even a piece of a Shout that can do cool stuff.
Either way, Skyrim’s a cool game even though it’s been a decade since its release, and it’s kind of inspiring to see that Skyrim’s still going strong. Hopefully, the modding community will continue to give us cool stuff in this game, and New Vegas as well, which we’ll talk about below.
Fallout: New Vegas
Next on the list is Fallout: New Vegas, which is Skyrim if it’s a post-apocalyptic radioactive wasteland. If you think about it more, ELEX is a combination of Fallout: New Vegas and Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim in a nutshell. But we shouldn’t talk about that here for now.
All of the things that were said on Skyrim also apply for New Vegas with one addition. New Vegas’ opening is almost identical to ELEX 1’s. The main character, in this case, the Courier, gets waylaid in the middle of a mission, shot, and then left for dead. He’s then found by a doctor who saved his life. In ELEX 1, Jax’s plane is shot down, he gets beaten to near death, and then drained of all his Elex, causing him to revert to being a plain human. If you’re looking at the games closely, there are a lot of parallels to how the game’s story flows.
Mass Effect Series
The Mass Effect series is only here due to the mechanic of choices that players can go for. In the Mass Effect series, players have the choice for Commander Shepard to go for a Paragon or Renegade action. Paragon actions are the good guy choices, the diplomatic course, smooth-talking, et cetera. Meanwhile, the Renegade actions usually have intimidation, coercion, threats, and the other really good stuff.
Still, too much of a good thing is bad. In Mass Effect 2, the second game of the series, too many Renegade actions can influence the ending in a really bad way. Thus, it’s usually a good idea to spread out the Renegade and Paragon actions. In addition to doing things that increase the chances of the Normandy to get out of the final mission alive.
In a nutshell, your choices matter. Make sure you choose wisely for the happy ending.
Should You Be Excited for ELEX 2?
If you’re a fan of games that have multiple endings, deep character customization (after a fashion), and multiple ways to screw yourself over, try ELEX 2 when it comes out. It promises to be a wild ride for those that started on the first game and those that will start in the sequel. Hopefully, it’ll deliver.