ELEX 2 is a story-driven open world third person sci-fi action RPG and a sequel to the first game ELEX. The game takes place some years after the events of the first game and shows little mercy to newcomers to the story because as with most of the game not much is really explained to the player, in fact if you do pick it up I’d highly recommend that you at least watch a recap video on the events of the first game otherwise you’re in for a whole lot of information that isn’t going to make sense.
The story in ELEX 2 is really one of my favorite parts about it, you discover this new emerging threat that’s really strong and you decide to take it down by allying yourself with one of the factions, each of these factions are fun and unique and take residents in a different area of the game world and they all play a huge part in how the end of the game shakes down there are five factions in total and what I love about it is that you have to choose which faction to join which changes the outcome of the game dramatically as do many of your decisions too, once you join a faction you’ll have access to their special equipment and trainers to let you learn skills specific to their people. The skill tree is pretty impressive with skills focused on all sorts of different play styles from ranged weaponry like magic bows and guns to melee weapons like sword shields two-handers and so on and each faction even has their own specific branch that you can only access if you join them, this also gives the game an insane amount of replayability, no two playthroughs will ever be the same with the number of builds you can make and endings you can choose.
The animations can occasionally feel pretty outdated as the characters’s expressions rarely ever measure up to their emotional voice acting, it does somewhat kill the immersion but with otherwise solid writing and voices I still caught myself getting attached to many of the game’s characters. There are even a handful of them that you can recruit to be your permanent followers while their AI can be questionable at times the fact that most of them can’t be permanently killed makes them a huge asset and there are skill tree bonuses for players who’d rather go it alone as well. The world is huge and impressive, from snowy mountaintops, desert ranges and lush forests, everywhere from the houses and hilltops, the caves and the craters are all part of the world and you won’t see a single load screen at all except when fast traveling and even then it’s surprisingly fast, I love worlds where you can just walk from one side to the other but enemies here do not scale with your level so beware it is very easy to wander into an area where you don’t belong and get your throat ripped out by evil space aliens so save often.
Regarding ELEX 2’s loot system, every enemy can drop any non-armor item that they’re carrying and beasts can even be carved for valuable trophies if you have the appropriate survival skills at the beginning of the game you’ll usually only find damaged and worn down gear but through crafting you can improve it greatly, crafting again requires specific points in your skill tree but can also allow you to socket your gear, brew potions, press ammunition and so on it’s an overall rather simple system but each upgrade always felt like a huge power spike that feels rewarding. Controls are going to feel clunky at first, character movement especially in combat often feels as wooden as their animations and getting your character to do what you want can occasionally be a pain. The performance in ELEX 2 in my opinion is one of the game’s biggest downsides, in several dozen hours with the game I had too many frame drops to count, visual bugs and even a few full crashes even on medium settings, it seems to be the trade-off for having such a huge open seamless world but I definitely hope to see its performance improved in upcoming patches.
Overall, ELEX 2 has some distinct performance issues and presentation flaws that hold it back from feeling like a modern AAA experience but its positives do far outweigh its downsides, it’s a huge open world with several playthroughs worth of replayability in an entirely unique world built on strong and addictive RPG elements. I recommend it to fans of traditional open world RPGs especially if you’re already a fan of anything from Piranha Bytes.