ELEX 2 Review: My name is Jax, my world is fire and blood

After the warm welcome of the first Elex, Piranha Bytes returns to the charge with the sequel Elex 2: in this review we will see how the title has evolved, and if it will respect the expectations of the fans

Depending on which generation a player belongs to, talking about RPG action video games in 2024 brings out deeply different titles in one's mind. For pretty young people, it is impossible not to think of the hugely successful works created by Bethesda, such as The Elder Scrolls series and, among others, its fifth chapter Skyrim; As for those who are more advanced in years, able to look at their videogame past with a view tinted by the pink of nostalgia, the names that emerge are very different, and among them there is certainly Gothic, dello studio Piranha Bytes.

Piranha Bytes is a German studio that since 1997 has started its adventure in the construction of extremely ambitious RPGs, helping to bring the genre to a turning point. Among the most iconic works, the Gothic saga is undoubtedly one of the most relevant, with his merciless, violent world, full of contrasts. The game was composed of a terrifying and engaging atmosphere for its mechanics, which led the anonymous player towards only one main goal: to survive. The premises that founded Gothic they reappeared later also in the subsequent titles of the study, albeit with less effectiveness and in completely different narrative universes.

Elex, released in 2017 with not very exciting results, was one of these Piranha Bytes experiments, with the creation from scratch of an unprecedented setting for their role-playing games. After a catastrophe that targeted the Earth, the remaining humanity would have found itself searching in various ways for the continuation of its dominion on the planet, transformed into a post-apocalyptic and haunted wasteland. From the first title it now follows Elex 2, and in this review we will see the results obtained in this second new creation of the team.

A world still in ruins

The first chapter of Elex showed itself too crude in the eyes of critics to be judged favorably, featuring a somewhat crude and cumbersome gameplay system. But as they say, "what does not break you can make you stronger": with the potential infused by the first chapter, the study with Elex 2 wanted to try to remedy past mistakes, trying to offer a drastically more refined experience compared to the previous title. Yet, despite this great willpower, the title still has some problematic aspects, inherited from its original game.

Before continuing with the review, we want to clarify how, according to the developers, Elex 2 would be playable even if you were not familiar with the previous episode. However, from our perspective, it is advisable to recover the first game in any case, since only in this way will it be possible to experience events in a more personal way, very different from the strangeness that one would feel by playing it without knowing the events, the characters and the foundations of the story on which this new narrative arc will be based.

ELEX 2 Review: My name is Jax, my world is fire and blood

The second act - Elex 2 review

Thus, starting our review of Elex 2, we will discover at the beginning of the game how it is take place in the six years following the conclusion of the first chapter, after the "problem" of the hybrid was "solved" by the hand of our protagonist, Jax, who in the meantime he also had a son. Unfortunately, the ending that was undertaken in the first act will not be very important, since the canonical decision has already been made by the developers. At the end of Elex, the hybrid had heralded the arrival of powerful invaders, but the world of Magalan has since remained in a state of relative quiet, albeit deeply divided between the ideals of the various factions, mostly longing for glory and supremacy.

However, the appearance of a new threat will not be long in coming: in fact, they will come from the sky the prophesied alien monsters, called Skyanids, who will begin to erect towers in all corners of the region, and to reap every living thing in their sight. After coming face to face with this most powerful enemy, and somehow escaping death thanks to the help of an old acquaintance, Jax will immediately understand the need to ask for help from the groups of fighters present in Magalan. The goal will be to strengthen as much as possible its base, the Bastion, increase its forces and ensure sufficient certainty for obtaining a victory against the new attackers.

In the meantime, however, he will also be victim of a black Elex infection on his arm, received following the clash with the dangerous dark entities, and which will prove to be much more than just a hindrance; while Jax will have to try to unite the various factions, aiming to defeat the looming evil, there will also be other unfinished business to complete, and new big problems will appear on the horizon, including the inevitable intrigues and ambitions of the various sides.

ELEX 2 Review: My name is Jax, my world is fire and blood

Remnants of Civilization - Elex 2 Review

Let's shift the focus of the review for a moment towards the setting of Elex 2, briefly describing its structure. Elex is set in a land changed by the arrival of a Comet on Earth, which with its crash it has devastated every landscape, annihilated any civilization existing e turned lives upside down of those who somehow survived. With the Comet, the people of Magalan came to know Ellex, a previously unpublished material, capable of changing their lives and giving powers to those able to control it. The factions that formed after this forced revolution on the planet each began to follow a different principle on the use of the Elex; but Jax, commander of the Albe, the dominant population, managed to alter the course of his own destiny.

In this chapter we will also discover the origins of the Comet, and the connection it has with the Skyanids. The feeling that transpires from the world of Magalan is very special: it is set in a modern age that has fallen into ruin, similar to Nier or Mad Max, with skeletons of skyscrapers, industrial structures now without any purpose, technologies that have fallen into disuse and replaced with other futuristic objects, such as jet packs, drones and fighting robots, teleportation platforms and so on. The prevailing atmosphere is medieval, which in turn mixes with fantasy, sci-fi and an apocalyptic desert-punk.

Also in Elex 2 you will be able to explore various biomes, such as snowy areas mixed with volcanic areas, desert canyons, green meadows and urban locations, and in each biome the respective enemies are relegated. From the first chapter, changes have been made to the structure of the environment and that will surely catch the eye of players already close to the title, such as the desert area transformed into a luxuriant oasis. The map is also different from the first title, focusing on a new area and including part of the one already visited previously. And while this appears to be very large, crossing it all will give an unexpected feeling of brevity.

ELEX 2 Review: My name is Jax, my world is fire and blood

Who does not die sees himself - Elex 2 review

In case you have already played the first chapter, you should be familiar with the factions present in Elex 2, but we will talk about them anyway in our review to give a general idea of ​​the company that will structure the game. Depending on which faction you join, you will also go on to further specialize your character, unlocking targeted abilities like magic, alchemy, or the power of blood. In Elex 2, the obligation to enter a faction from the beginning has been declined, allowing you to move freely on the choice of joining or not and at what juncture.

In the first game, Jax was from the population of White, human beings who have learned to oppress their emotions and that need to feed on Elex to keep repressing them. Another relevant group are i Berserker, which will convey the typical medieval fantasy game sensation because of their philosophy of rejection of technology, with the pursuit of returning nature to its original state and being able to use magic. In opposition to them will be found i Clerics, group of religious e great proponents of every kind of instrument powered by the Ellex, makers of powerful combat mechas and laser weapons.

Another group that returns from the first game is that of Outlaw, individuals driven only by profit who occupy a base containing piles of debris and scaffolding, positioned in the center of the Comet's crater. Finally, in addition to the Skyanidi, another faction has been added to the game: that of the Morkons. Refugees in the depths of a cave, they possess principles guided by blind faith in the god Ravaac, their own rigid code of behavior, and enjoyment in violence of all kinds, both inflicted and suffered.

ELEX 2 Review: My name is Jax, my world is fire and blood

Unexpected Turns - Elex 2 Review

As soon as we have control of our protagonist, at the base we will be entrusted with several main missions to complete, and which will immediately lead us to explore the game world. In the various cities and outposts it will not be difficult to find secondary missions to complete, and every time you arrive inside some new settlement you will necessarily have to carry out a "guided tour" of the various quadrants. Since one of our primary tasks will be convince the various factions to contribute to defense of the Earth, to obtain their favor it will be essential to complete the requests made by the various leaders. But before we meet them, we will have to satisfy the requests of the characters, thus increasing their confidence and eventually obtaining an audience with the right people. Small note: very often you could stay "Locked out" of a quest, if you still do not have attributes at a sufficient level.

The tone of the quests is quite variable: you will come across very curious missions, which will also lead you to discover of groups of "dissidents" infiltrate a certain faction you can join. Numerous other missions instead will have a rather monotonous trend, consisting of the more classic coming and going from one NPC to another, or the task of recovering certain objects. A really nice aspect are the consequences of your choices to conclude the missions received, as they arise numerous variables which lead to several branches of the plot, and depending on what you do and say you can get enmities or preferential treatment. A factor that made you turn up your nose a little, however, is in the completion phase of a quest: if you end a mission, it is deselected, forcing you to manually return to the menu to continue the narration.

There will be several characters to be able to create a closer relationship: if one of them was following us, he / she could, if necessary, intervene during a dialogue with a character, expressing his opinion or helping to negotiate a better reward. Another interesting feature is how quests will not always be predictable as usually happens in RPGs: some NPCs may in fact be testing our behavior, and in case we give the wrong answers or perform incorrect actions for their morale, we could then having to pay a heavy price (literally, in case we make a choice that leads us to be kicked out by a faction).

ELEX 2 Review: My name is Jax, my world is fire and blood

Do I really have to learn everything again? - Elex 2 review

As with any self-respecting RPG, the character will find himself with zero skills at the beginning of the adventure, and will have the opportunity to grow through the experience points, received by completing missions and killing enemy beings, or even by pouring Elex potions into your body. As you level up, you will increase five attributes, choosing between strength, constitution, dexterity, intelligence and cunning, and it will be a good practice to base their distribution according to the requirements of the weapons and abilities to be unlocked.

This is because the attributes will in no way affect the power of the character, and will only be the key to access the characteristics that Specialized NPCs will be able to teach Jax; in addition, to be obtainable they will also need skill points and money, and it will be necessary to go to the trainers scattered around the map to learn them. At some point, to reach a sufficient amount of experience you will eventually find yourself wandering around the map, looking for enemies to kill and resources to create Elex potions, leading to a monotonous grinding.

ELEX 2 Review: My name is Jax, my world is fire and blood

Indistinct Improvements - Elex 2 Review

Continuing our review of Elex 2, we continue to retrace the footsteps of the first Elex regarding the commitment to survive the many pitfalls of the world of Magalan. Food and healing potions will be key against bosses and their hordes, and stamina and health control while dodging shots will again be some of the features to keep an eye out for. The title shows up with a biting difficulty in the first hours of the game, when you will be devoid of sufficiently powerful weapons and the various skills will still be unlocked.

Making your way through the inaccessible abandoned streets of the region will be facilitated by the jet pack, which you will receive in the initial stages and which will allow you to soar away from danger; in addition, the possibility of further enhancing it has also been added in Elex 2. You can also count on the collaboration of some comrade once you have had the opportunity to recruit him, but in the fights they will not always prove to be very helpful.

And speaking of combat, even if a slight general improvement has been made in the balance, it still remains one of the critical aspects, remaining woody and unmanageable. In addition to the addition of air combat, unlockable by evolving the jet pack, no significant changes were visible, still finding a certain slowness and heaviness during clashes, and a rather wasted simplicity for the genre to which the game belongs. A frustrating part of the fight also appears when you find yourself fighting together with other allies, as it will not be so easy to hit the target and avoid hitting others too.

ELEX 2 Review: My name is Jax, my world is fire and blood

I see, hear, play - Elex 2 review

We are almost in the final stages of the Elex 2 review, but there is certainly still room to discuss the technical and graphical performance of the game. As for the visual sector, we can see a qualitative leap for the effects of light and shadow, that change in gradation when you enter or leave a dark area and that in the first title were quite annoying. For everything else, the Elex 2 still remains with a medium level graphics, not too advanced compared to the last title, and certainly not made to be talked about.

While presenting up to 300 NPCs, the variety of models has not increased significantly, and even in this chapter they do not seem to have any kind of significant physical distinction. In reference to any bugs that could undermine the gaming experience, no particular problems were found during our run, except for some crashes in rare situations. A thumbs up goes to the sound box, consisting of catchy music in pure fantasy style that oscillate in tone according to the situations and places in which you are.

ELEX 2 Review: My name is Jax, my world is fire and blood

Passion collides with results

So we come to conclude our review: there would be some notes to make, which concern some useful shortcomings in the quality of life of Elex 2, such as the possibility of advance time in other ways as well as having to sleep, or better UI management with regards to inventory and equipped items. Overall, the game presented itself in an improved way in most of the problems identified with Elex, and you can see the effort of the team who also tried to add an additional tint of innovation where possible.

Some weaknesses, however, still remain present (the fight among the most relevant ones) and their incision in the overall vision of the title inevitably leads to consider Elex 2 still too bitter a game to compete with the biggest names in its class. Having made these considerations, it may still be that the fascination projected by his unprecedented world allows some not to be discouraged, leading to wanting to postpone its more evident negative sides.

7 Trying to fix everything makes you crazy!

Points in favor

  • A vast world that can be explored in every direction
  • Involvement in the development of the narrative
  • Wide freedom of choice with numerous outcomes

Points against

  • Fighting still too crude
  • History that loses its bite
  • Impaired character progression
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