Elex 2 review – IGN
It’s been a while since we first familiarized ourselves with the inventive sci-fi world of Magalan and its bald video game protagonist Jax in 2017, and while the landscape has changed, much has remained the same. I wish there were more changes, to be honest, because the remnants of the original Elex are most of what makes Elex 2 a disappointment. Disappointing and sometimes confusing character writing undermines an interesting main quest storyline, graphical glitches sabotage an often beautiful post-apocalyptic world, and terrible combat destroys everything else.
I’ll get rid of it right off the bat: I don’t have anything positive to say about combat, and so it’s very hard to recommend Elex 2 despite all that it does well. It looks clunky, imprecise and boring. The hitboxes are ridiculous. Many enemies repeat those freezing and downright silly attack animations where it’s nearly impossible to tell when it’s actually dangerous to stand near them. Jax, who has already saved the world once by this point, can still be killed in two hits by random vermin along the way. They at least provide useful skull icons on each enemy’s health bar this time around to let you know when you’re fighting something that’s currently out of your league so I got fair warning that any wandering rodents that come to murder me is supposed to be a certified badass.
Screenshots of the game Elex 2
Combat in Elex 2 isn’t bad because it’s too difficult – take that from someone who currently loves Ring of Elden. It’s just poorly designed. The poorly balanced stamina system makes it difficult to smoothly transition between attack, defense, and maneuvers, even after upgrading your stamina regeneration much later. It creates an almost turn-based feel, and not in a good way. I attack, then back up and watch the bad guy swing heavily through the air, then I can run back and attack again. Standing usually gets you kills, as even basic enemies are low on health, and it takes Jax dozens of levels to feel sturdier than a damp sheet of paper. Much like the original Elex, the scarcity of ammo and mana potions makes it very difficult to choose a pure ranged build – although being able to craft your own ammo helps a bit. On top of that, there are too few effective options when ganging up in melee.
Shields are pretty much useless until much later, with some early ones only allowing you to take three direct hits instead of two. I often had to collect money to buy potions in order to get through difficult encounters, which is a hindrance. The only thing that’s improved over its predecessor’s combat system is that you don’t have a lot of encounters where you’ll get 360 noscopes from an off-screen firing squad, thus forcing you to kite troops melee around a cliff for ages to break their line of sight. So it’s good.
The reason this is particularly disappointing is that I’ve seen other studios that make this European-style hardcore RPG genre improve tremendously in recent years without losing the things that make this subgenre unique. The Witcher 2, as much nostalgia as people get, also had a terrible combat system – but CD Projekt Red patched it up with grace and fluidity for The Witcher 3. The Technomancer, from Spiders, also had some abyssal combat . But his next game, GreedFall, was a huge step in the right direction that tightened hitboxes and attack windows, fixed enemy tuning, and provided more interesting defensive options. We live in a “Post-Eurojank” RPG world, and yet it seems Elex developer Piranha Bytes is the only studio in this wheelhouse that still hasn’t caught up.
Make no mistake: there are things worth preserving about this era of RPGs. But many of the ideas that Elex 2 seems determined to cling to aren’t among them. Why do I need an animation of my character bending over to pick up all the lootable items in the world? Why does every quest have to involve being sent on an errand that will inevitably involve another errand by a third party, as if they were just trying to save time? Why do I have to convince a foreman to give his workers a raise, run across town to tell them about the raise, then run back and tell the foreman that the workers are happy? There are so many little bits of archaic design clinging to everything that it feels like something is getting stuck in your sock if you’ve recently played another modern RPG.
Although it’s by far the biggest, combat isn’t the only issue here. Much of the dialogue is good to good, but some characters often seem like they were written by aliens. They will say and do things that make no sense. They’ll spit lines that will make my teeth cringe so hard my face hurts. “Hey! C-can I go now? said a frightened prisoner on a recording I found in some ruins. “Oh, yeah, sure,” her captor replies. “You can go… Go crawl up your ass, you asshole!” I spit coffee all over my screen, and I didn’t feel like it was supposed to be so bad that it’s funny. At least the writing can be quite entertaining at times, like a schlocky B-movie.
And then there are some mind-boggling logic failures, like the fact that you can’t enter the main Berserker settlement without doing some small errands, even if you’re accompanied by Caja, a high-ranking Berserker warlord and the mother. of your child. . If you ask her why she can’t just vouch for you, she says something about avoiding rumors – a line of dialogue that I’m pretty sure was taken directly from a completely different conversation. It’s like the idea of taking him along as a companion was added later in development, and they didn’t want you to skip unnecessary work quests, so they had to hack up an explanation.
It’s worse than that. At one point I raided an underground base full of enemy spies working against the faction I was trying to join. I chose to kill them all, which you have the right to do. It was cool. But somehow someone reported it as a crime, even though it happened two stories underground without witnesses and the blessing – no, encouragement! – authorities. Hilarious, I had to pay a fine to the same guy who paid me a bounty for taking them down. This kind of thing happens regularly.
eye of the beholder
Magalan looks fine, when it’s not weird glitches and distracting pop-ins, which seemed to get worse if I tapped a lot on PC. It’s pretty much the same tuning as the original Elex, but a lot has changed in interesting and dynamic ways. Elex’s Berserker ending has become canon, and as such, the central desert is now blooming with new life thanks to the post-apocalyptic medieval druids LARPers and their magical world seeds. Most of the Mad Max-esque Outlaws faction has been absorbed into the Berserkers, creating new styles of architecture and fashion that mix skins and amber necklaces with scrap metal and old car tires. If you haven’t played the original some of these changes might be lost on you, but Elex 2 does a decent job of getting you up to speed most of the time.
I really liked all this clever world building. It was interesting to find out what a lot of the characters, like the femme fatale Outlaw, Nasty, or the wary Albs, the villains of the first Elex, had been up to since the last time I saw them. And the new factions, especially the death-worshipping Morkons, have their own interesting ideals and aesthetics. The new threat, the Skyands aliens, also sport some very unique and downright cool designs for their soldiers and beasts of war, as well as some unexpected secrets. I just wish I liked the gameplay enough to be able to enjoy them without being constantly bored.
The big, shiny new toy you can play with in Elex 2 is an upgradable jetpack. And I’ll admit, taking it from the modest utility it was in the first Elex to something you can eventually supplement and use to fly like Iron Man is fun and rewarding. It just doesn’t make up for the fact that the other progression systems are tied to an obnoxious combat system that gets slightly more tolerable the more you give it skill points, but it never crosses the line to become amusing. Exploring this world can be awesome, up to the point where you have to fight anything or talk to anyone.