Based on the ending of the first Elex, the sequel always had a clear goal: protect the planet from an otherworldly threat. Elex 2 not only realizes that goal but weaves together a story with many twists and turns, while also setting up for a proper threequel. Indeed, at the end of the day, Elex 2 lives up to its marketing promises and is what an open-world RPG and sequel should be. Elex 2 is not for everyone, however, and it is highly recommended that the first game be played before this. Otherwise, there are many nuances that players will not get. But, up front, the biggest obstacle for some players is that Elex 2 is clearly a Eurojank game. Eurojank is a subgenre defined as ambitious games that punch above their weight, usually without the level of polish expected of AAA games. In fact, someone looking for stellar graphics will likely be disappointed playing through Piranha Bytes and THQ Nordic’s Elex 2. Its facial animations, textures, overall graphics, and more are nothing to write home about. Some games mistake Eurojank as something that is often full of bugs as well, but this is a common misconception. In our entire playthrough of Elex 2, bugs were rare and never intrusive. Overall, what the Elex 2 may lack in looks and polish it makes up for in depth.
In Elex 2, players once again lace up Commander Jax’s boots. Although he was once the hero of the game’s setting, the planet Magalan (which was destroyed by a comet), his deeds have been forgotten by time. So, players must reunite all Magalan factions to face a new threat: the Skyands. By doing so, players will learn more about the planet’s history, Elex’s purpose, the comet’s arrival, and who the Skyands are. Although it looks simple on the surface, Elex 2 will make major reveals throughout the game—always drawing the player back for the next mystery. In Elex 1, there are three factions that players can join: Outlaws, which is the rough and tough bandit-like group of Magalan; Clerics, who are highly religious and use technology effectively; and Berserkers, who use mana and magic to try and restore the world. Elex 2 retains all these factions, allowing players to side with them in the upcoming war, but expands them in the best way. Not only has the passage of time affected their presence and power in Magalan, but players are given more Elex 2 factions and options beyond it. Players can also join the Albs, who were the main antagonists of the first game, as they grew up and learned from Commander Jax. Players can join the Morkons, who worship the God of Oblivion and embrace death, allowing players to have an almost Barbarian or Death Knight-style build. And, if they want the most punishing playthrough, they can refuse to join any faction.
Players will be accompanied by their companions, though. There are plenty of familiar faces from the game’s first return, though there are some new additions to Elex 2 as well. Each has their own compelling story, if their quests are a bit repetitive. Generally, players will travel to an area to kill an enemy or enemies or search for something, in which case players will need to kill enemies. However, the overall stories of each companion are interesting and varied, and the potential romances of Elex 2 are more complex and more mature than the first game. Elex 2’s dialogue and choices also work with a fairly standard morality system. Players’ words and actions can contribute to Jax’s Damage score–a low one means Jax is a good guy, a high one means Jax is a bad guy. Its effect on the overall game is rather minute, but it affects how one deals with companions. It is entirely possible to be locked out of options due to a Damage score. On the other end of the spectrum, the combat is more refined than Elex 1, but still not quite up to the level of many RPGs these days. Players can block, dodge, and use unique team abilities, while upgrading their weapons and armor throughout the game. The variety of weapons and armor is quite limited, but since most of them must be tied to a player’s faction, this does not prove to be a huge detriment to the game. One improvement that really sets the Elex 2 apart from its predecessor is the use of Jetpack.
Not only has it improved its functionality in the open world, but it now has a proper use in combat. Players can “hover” and this allows them to take on flying enemies in the sky or zoom down on enemies on the ground. Although the animations are a bit repetitive, there’s nothing more exciting than seeing Jax roll through the sky to punch a flying enemy. Where Elex 2 truly shines is in its open world. Players are encouraged to explore every corner of it, especially the areas dominated by factions. It’s a world where aliens, fantasy creatures, and robots are around every corner, and players will jump, insult, help, shake, and be admired at every turn. This is not a check-list type of open-world game, where the map is scattered with a bunch of icons to complete. No, instead, it’s an open-world game in its purest form, complete with freedom of exploration, the ability to go anywhere, the feeling that the world is living and breathing, and the rewarding sense of adventure. Furthermore, the wide variety of quests and game details are top notch. Of course, there are some generic types of quests like killing X enemies, escorting this NPC, or getting something, but these all fall by the wayside for its unique quests . Without going too far into spoiler territory, Elex 2 runs the full gamut of RPG quests, and players will find themselves doing something different every time they turn. Elex 2 is an investment in time that truly respects players’ time, giving them plenty to do without just giving them a list of activities to complete.
However, it should be noted that when it comes to the final chapter of Elex 2, players will be doing a lot of fighting with Skyands, against rival factions, and against everyone if necessary. Elex 2 players will be preparing for war this whole time, and once the war does come, the battles are truly spectacular if a little repetitive. However, for a game where most of the quests are exceptionally satisfying and this war is clearly coming, it only makes sense from a design perspective. In the end, Elex 2 has some minor flaws like any video game but not where it matters. If players can get past the rough edges, they’ll find an open-world RPG that puts the rest to shame and a neat sequel that takes everything from the first game and improves on it tenfold. Elex 2 was released on March 1 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. Today Technology was provided with an Xbox Series X code for the purposes of this review. MORE: All Embracer Group Acquisitions in 2021