Elex 2 was released in March 2022 and the version i am reviewing here is the 1.05c from GOG in DirectX 12.

I'll try to stay objective as i am a BIG Fan of PB games since Gothic the first !

ELEX 2 SYNOPSIS

Elex 2 is the 2022 sequel of the original Elex released in 2017.

Elex happens in a post-apocalyptic world called Magalan, which looks a lot like Earth…

I mean like Earth if it had been struck by a comet ! There are cars scattered everywhere, old buildings, military trucks and even old subway stations…

You are JAX ! Former hero of Elex who managed to unite the factions in the first episode, in order to bring down the Albs and their mighty boss, the Hybrid !

As a reminder you were originally part of the Albs… So you are a Traitor as well 😏

But now 5 years later… exactly the time it took for the studio to develop the game 😅 You are no longer the powerful commander you once were… You live like a Hermit and left your mother and child. But… A new invader called the skyands, forced you out of your retirement ! One of their base landed directly on your remote hut and destroyed it !

You are now forced to come back on the front of the Stage !

Well… nobody forces you… But if you don't, there is no game 🤣

ELEX 2 REVIEW

If you're not familiar with Piranha Bytes Studio, they're German and are well known for…

The Gothic series of role playing games, mainly Heroic Fantasy (human vs orcs, magic, creatures…)

Then the Risen series where they turned to Pirate Fantasy (islands, pirates, ships, magic, creatures…)

And finally they're now in the Elex series in a post-apo world with Swords, Magic and Technology !

Why this turn of event ?

Well… Gothic was great ! Gothic 2 was still very good, and Gothic 3 should have been the cherry on the top ! Unfortunately despite the great plans they had for Gothic 3, and its awesome soundtrack from the Cantabile Orchestra, the game had to be released too early (and it's a recurrent issue with Piranha Bytes…) and as a result it was completely bugged.

Only years later with the great work of some community members, all the issues of Gothic 3 were adressed in the famous community patch. But it was already over… So they had to create a new Franchise and that's where Risen arrived 🥰

The Risen series started great, Risen the first was like Gothic in its prime, a little jewel from PB ! That's exactly what the players wanted… But after they took some risks with Risen 2 going into the “Pirates and Guns“… maybe to surf on the Pirates of the caribbean genre… But it wasn't balanced as Guns were far too powerful. And so followed Risen 3, where the reviews were good but not as good as Risen the first, like Gothic 2 and 3 were not as good as Gothic in their time.

Even if… and i will repeat it over and over… for me Gothic 3 with the community patch is a Great Game !

Gothic Series was over, Risen Series was over as well… Time for a new Franchise and that's where Elex arrived 😎

So enough of history and let's jump into Elex 2 !

ELEX 2 playing on Dark Souls territory ?

That's the first thing i thought when i saw in Elex 2 that “savegames were automatic“… I was like “What the fuck ?“… Automatic savegames in a PB game ? And then i started the game, and saw a health bar and a stamina bar.

Health Bar, Stamina Bar and automatic savegames are usually very representative of a “Souls Game”.

But in the end… after going into the settings, i have seen that we could still manually save the game, or using the quicksave and load features, and that automatic saves could be disabled. So i am wondering as i am playing since 2023, if the players were mad about this, and that PB had in the end to integrate the usual ways to save into Elex 2 ??

Elex 2 Screenshot #1Elex 2 Screenshot #2
Fighting a creature and then admiring the landscape ! (PB games are well known for exploration !)

Important : PB Studio are still using their proprietary engine, called Genome Engine, since Gothic 3. Of course over time they improved it to render games with the latest technologies available on modern graphic cards, but it is still not as powerful and optimized as the famous Unreal Engine 5. So many players complained about the lack of FPS…

Elex 2 Screenshot #3Elex 2 Screenshot #4
We can still praise the old school style of PB as the graphics are quite good in Ultra !

That's said… with my RTX 4070 Ti / Core I5-13400 / 64Gb ddr5, it was all good in Ultra graphics, but i can understand that many players out there don't want to update their computers too often. (I kept my old computer for 10+ years 🤣)

ELEX 2 Old School Forever !

Everything in Elex 2 feels and smells Old School ! Not saying that in the negative way…

  • Quests will most of the time involve killing creatures at a specific spot
  • If you come across a camp of bandits, you'll be sure to find a chest or a safe to unlock afterwards
  • If you come across a den of creatures, you'll be sure to find a vein to extract or some lost treasures
  • If you explore remote parts of the world, or unreachable heights… you'll find lost things as well ! 😍

Everything in Elex 2 is made to reward you after your efforts, whatever you did ! And everyone likes to be rewarded after some hours spent to explore the world, or after an intense fight where you nearly died…

Elex 2 Screenshot #5Elex 2 Screenshot #6
If you manage to kill the outlaws, then search the area… A Chest / Safe shouldn't be far ! 😏

Speaking of rewarding experience… I encourage you to play on the ULTRA Difficulty !

Role playing games in general are well known to become too easy at some point… Meaning your avatar is becoming stronger and stronger to the point he can literally pulverize anything in its path ! Fallout, Dragon Age, Witcher, Elder's Scrolls… It's rare to find a RPG where you are challenged until the very end !

well there are a few but generally from independent studios…

So i'll speak from my own experience on Elex 2… Knowing what usually happens in terms of difficulty in rpgs, i voluntarily went right from the start on the Ultra difficulty… And i think i was right to do so 😊 I am at nearly 100 hours into the game at the time i write this review, and i am still not invincible ! of course fights are much easier now, but i did struggle a lot for at least 40 hours ! I even had to use everything in my inventory to prevail in some fights. 😅

Elex 2 Screenshot #7Elex 2 Screenshot #8
When it's not too easy, you try to harm from a distance before going melee !

I don't know for you but there is nothing better for me than feeling i will have a use of everything in my inventory like grenades, eating food or drinking healing potions… whereas if the game was too easy, i would just have to draw my sword and hack'n slash my way to victory 😐 Not really an enjoyable experience when you just click hysterically !

ELEX 2 HOW's FIGHT ?

PB Games have never been precursors of “interesting ways to fight…

Apart from Gothic 1st and Risen 1st where there were “fighting technics”, and some kind of “rythms” to master which were really exciting 😍… All of their other games including Gothic 3 (without the patch) were more like “click click click…“, so not that interesting at all 😐 And the only way back in time to make fights more challenging was to raise difficulty…

Well i am glad to announce that Elex 2 have went one step higher in terms of Battles and difficulty… It's still far from perfect, but at least now the fights are enjoyable for at least 40 to 60 hours. Because after that you'll know the different patterns of the different enemies, and it's not going to be as challenging as it was before.

Elex 2 Screenshot #9Elex 2 Screenshot #10
Shield Bash, Slash, Kick, Evade, Charge your Attack ! Stay focused on your enemies movements.

Still… If you're playing in ULTRA Difficulty mode, you'll always need to be careful ! I am level 38 right now with a very good armor and strong stuff… And i can be killed in 2 hits by a Troll, or 4 hits by a skyand tracker (kind of corrupted  dog). So even if you know their patterns… If you don't focus and try to kill them faster than the music, they will punish you !

Also the more you advance into the game, the more enemies you'll be likely to encounter ! That means at the beginning of the game, a group of 4 enemies will be hard to deal with… When 40 hours later into the game you'll encounter groups of 10+ enemies. Then of course you'll have new skills and even Area of Damage spells, but remember that in ULTRA difficulty… They'll just need to hit you 4 times and you'll be dead 😁 So don't run blindly into danger.

Own suggestion for Elex 3 : PB should put a few more dangerous patterns into Humanoids, as when you learn their patterns (and it's like 2-3 different attacks not more…) they can be easily dealt with. As an example, we can charge our attacks and rush towards enemies, covering a good distance at the same time… But Humanoids can't do the same ! Only Enemies who can do that are the dogs / spiders / raptors like… But humanoids can't, their power attacks can be seen, don't cover much distance and we just need to roll out.

It would make fights even more intense to add some kind of rush attacks to humanoids. But then this is my own point of view from a “Dark Soul” player who likes challenges… And maybe adding these kind of attacks, could make the game too hard for the average RPG player. So if PB read these lines one day… It's up to you 😘

ELEX 2 EXPLORATION AND QUESTING

As in every PB games, Exploration plays a big part ! If you're the kind of person who likes to explore every part of the world, trust me you're going to spend 100+ hours if not way more on Elex 2. There are no dead zones in PB games… If there is a place somewhere to explore it means there is something to be found !

And i liked the fact that quests are encouraging you to explore little parts of the world piece by piece 🥰 That means you surely explored a big zone, but maybe not a few buildings… or specific areas that you might have missed… Well do not deispair, as there will be a quest, as little as it is which will ask you to go back to that specific area you haven't fully explored. I guess it's also a way for the designers to work as a team with the devs like “We have a nice place there to explore, but unless there is a quest for it… I don't know if the player will travel there… can you create one ? 😁”

Elex 2 Screenshot #11Elex 2 Screenshot #12
Whatever you see you can explore, yes even unreachable heights ! Thanks to your Jetpack !

Also the PB team likes to add a few funny things into their games, like real actors / bands from Real Life 😋

Elex 2 Screenshot #13Elex 2 Screenshot #14
Recognize Dacre Montgomery from Stranger Things on Netflix ? 😅 and Billy Idol on the right !

ELEX 2 LEVELING

Leveling in Elex 2 is a little slow at the start, but tends to become faster and faster as you become stronger. The required experience between each new level is not that big, it's not as in Dungeons & Dragons where it's like the double of experience needed compared to the previous level… It's more like it will be 11000 instead of 10000, then 12000 instead of 11000. So when you're a little far into the game, it's just like killing a few groups of enemies and you're good.

I don't think there is a level cap… I never experienced a level cap in PB games. And anyway at some point, the mobs related to the wild life of the game like critters, jackals… They all come back, so it's possible for players to grind endlessly if they want to. Not that there would be any benefit from it though as there are not thousands of abilities to master, and i guess that by level 50 you'll already know all the skills there is to learn in the game.

Elex 2 Screenshot #15Elex 2 Screenshot #16
Use Berzerker's Magic or the Traditional weapons, it's all up to you ! (Magic is stronger 😋)

So do not fear the experience will never stop… And don't grind, there will be more than enough creatures / enemies to kill on your way, to satisfy your hunger of learning all the skills.

Now is there some level scaling ? Not everywhere… There are spots scattered around the world, where a creature will spawn according to your level. So if you're level 40+ or more… These spots will obviously spawn a TROLL, the biggest creature on the planet 🤣 But apart from these specific spots, all the rest is handcrafted and you will experience the joy of pulverizing mobs, which once were a big threat to you, but now only insects against your power 😅

Elex 2 Screenshot #17Elex 2 Screenshot #18
As you'll become stronger, you will take on groups of enemies and powerful ones!

Suggestion for ELEX 3 :

  • There are not enough skills in ELEX 2, we need either a bigger choice or more levels of Passive skills !
  • There are clearly not enough attribute checks in dialogues, we need WAY MORE of them !
  • I think we should Nerf a little the Elex potions, we can gain too many points from them !

Apart from these, i was glad to see that the merchants are asking HUGE prices for their stuff 😅 Not a problem as usually we have TOO MUCH MONEY in rpgs… So at least now we can spend it all !

All in all Elex 2 is definitely renewing with the Quality of the 2 best episodes PB created thus far, meaning Gothic 1 and Risen 1. It's confirmed by the Mostly Positive votes on the STEAM Page ! Still there is some room for improvements, and if they continue on the same way… then Elex 3 could be the perfect RPG we all waited from PB since many years.

Elex 2 Savegames Limit Bug (optional read) :

This is not counted towards the final note, only a bug i noticed after hours of gameplay. Elex II is limited to 100 savegames… That means once you reach them, you can't “manual” save anymore… But still the quick saves are working good. It's a Bug and there are no reasons from a Dev perspective to limit the savegames to 100, even more with the powerful computers we have those days. So for Elex 3, please don't limit the save slots.

Also you can't just move your savegames to another folder, if you do that the game will kinda lose track of your save history… I experienced it because i tried it, normally works in every games but not in Elex II… You have to copy-paste them in another folder if you want to keep them, then you need to delete some of your actual manual saves (to re-enable manual saves) and then whenever you want to save manually, to overwrite your previous saves, one by one.

Elex II Save locations is in : C:\Users\Your Profile\Saved Games\ELEX2\SaveGames

Elex 2 October 2023 update :

To this point i have 100+ hours into Elex 2, and despite the fact that i have given it a score of 75/100, i have to say that the End Game is particularly boring… Not going to change the score though as i had a Lot of Fun for 80 hours or so, which was already more than enough entertainment for the price of the game.

Still, and one person already said it on the steam store page of Elex 2, the End Game is pretty much “Go there, Kill these 20 mobs, and come back“. There won't even be any interesting rewards, as by the end of the game you'll be level 40+ or more, and by level 40+ you already got all the interesting abilities in the game… Meaning the End Game will just be a long boring Grind. So let's say i had to take this into consideration for the score, then it would be lowered to 65/100.

For Elex 3 there will be definitely room for improvement on the End Game.

Computer used for this test : Core I5-13400 / RTX 4070 Ti / 64Gb ddr5 / Ssd NVMe
Performances : Average of 75-120 FPS in ULTRA Graphics
(lowered Shadows / Fog to High, as sometimes frames could drop in major Cities)

Largegamer

%

Note on 100%

+ Renews with Quality of Gothic / Risen first episode 🥰
+ At last a better Fighting system ! (not perfect though)
+ Strong Lifetime, you can enjoy at least 100+ hours of content !
+ Old School we like (Quest, Monsters, Treasures !)
+ If you feel like an Explorer you're going to love it!
+ Handcrafted as always with PB (less AI / more humans !)


– Not enough special patterns for enemies
– Not enough passive skills to learn
– Not enough attribute checks in dialogues
– There is room to optimize the engine / improve performances
10/23 update : Plenty of room to make End Game more interesting