Elex 2 stands for a direct continuation of its predecessor, which means you will regularly come across the known post-apocalyptic terrains and the NPC’s known from the previous title, who either tried to help you or made your life miserable.
The story of the first Elex game was unwinding rather slowly, and thanks to many subplots (which, interestingly enough, sometimes were more engaging than the main story) one could literally forget, what roles played the particular characters. With Elex 2 it’s slightly different because the players have been given more discretion within completing the prologue.
Like in the previous game, here you also find some fractions to ally with. This time, instead of three, you have five fraction to choose from – apart from the already known Berserkers (traditionalist who reject technology in favor of magic), Clerics (law-abiding individuals, who praises science and use advanced technology) and Outlaws (exiles, who value freedom and easy money), you will also come across Albs (soldiers, who use advanced equipment) and Morkons (fanatics, who pray to their Gods for power).
Every fraction has its own features, and it’s up to you, who you will join in the first place. After the prologue, you get access to pretty much the whole realm, and nobody tells you what fraction you should get to know better. What is more, Elex 2 doesn’t force players to join any fraction at all. From the very beginning until the end, you can act on your own – which, to my mind, makes the story more shallow.
The story is engaging not only because of the fractions themselves. It also has decent dialogs (there’s no babbling within the crucial sentences like in the first game), which combines bigger and lesser options with black humor – sometimes the characters make you laugh your butt off. The vocals remind me of Gothic – the authors must have played it for long hours.
Nevertheless, both the main and secondary missions come down to running from point A to point B. These include many interesting aspects such as searching a house for valuable items, or hunting for Goliath, which triggers another two quests, not to mention that sometimes you have to hide in the bushes to spy on the suspects, who could have committed reprehensible acts. Of course, there are some mundane quests, in which you kill monsters, or collect plants only to deliver them to a lady, who is afraid to go out. However, these tasks can be openly omitted because you won’t get any interesting rewards in comparison to full-time quests.
The hum with life world is supported with decent graphics. The art style is distinctive, however, sometimes it lacks of diversity and absorbing places. Graphics could be improved. The faces of characters (except for the main protagonist) are slightly blurred, and the features of enemies’ bodies are hard to recognize, not to mention the quality of armors. Nevertheless, the perfected greenery definitely deserves praise.
Speaking of visuals, I have to mention the optimization. Most of the time, I played it on a PC equipped with RTX 3060 Ti, i5 8600K and 16GB of RAM. It’s hard to speak about a smooth gameplay in 4K, even with low settings (40-50 FPS within fractions’ settlements). After downgrading to 1440p along with medium graphic settings, the counter showed slightly above 60 FPS. However, upon entering the afore-mentioned places of particular fractions, I had to deal with 40 – 50 FPS. Apparently, there’s no difference, which graphic settings you choose because the game itself is not well optimized.
Elex 2 is an RPG of flesh and blood, so it doesn’t lack of developed skill trees and attributes. The skill trees answer for the special abilities, which you can’t get the hang of by learning from the teachers stationed in fractions’ facilities. On the other hand, the attributes impact hit points, given damage, and the efficiency of using magic. It’s nothing new under the sun for RPG lovers – you just add the gained experience points to the skills, which suits your style of gameplay. It’s up to you (and in some way to the choice of the fraction), which fields Jax will master.
Pacing Magalan in Elex 2, I had this constant feeling of playing an enhanced version of Gothic. The animations are comparable, however the vocals stand out, and are far more than decent, making you want to progress – that’s worth noticing, considering the fact you spend more than half of the time listening to dialogs.
All in all, I must admit that it’s a must-have for the fans of Piranha Bytes productions. It’s almost a 1:1 copy of the first Elex with some major changes the fans wished for. The biggest enhancement concerns the story, fight and dialogs – however, the animations have been treated unfairly.
Lastly, I must mention the version for PS5 consoles. Piranha Bytes did well, making it to the newest Sony platform. However, they didn’t manage to use the full potential of the hardware. I felt the full fluidity (the noticeable 60 FPS) only when I looked at the sky or earth. What is more, I must admit, I didn’t come across as many graphic glitches as in the PC version.
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