Don’t you just hate it when you’ve worked hard and saved the world only for it to bite you in the arse? Moreover, you think you’ve solved the problem, however, some alien bastards have got different ideas. This is the plot behind Elex II, the long-awaited sequel in this classic open-world fantasy franchise.
Developed by Piranha Bites and published by THQ Nordic, this is a sci-fi action RPG. Jax has returned to be crowned the hero of Magalan again. With his gruff ways, familiar heroic style, and badass attitude, he’ll let nothing stand in his way. This sequel borrows heavily from the first instalment while adding extra factions, an overbearing alien species, and many interesting characters. Its environment is beautiful, the audio is atmospheric, but it has so many issues that it undermines every positive moment.
Elex II is a mixed bag.
The story continues years after the first instalment. Jax has defeated the hybrid, and the world goes on spinning. His heroic deeds are but hushed whispers and he is now seen as an outcast. However, this is about to change when the Skyands attack. These alien creatures wish to control Magalan and rid it of its inhabitants. Consequently, the first wave of creatures infects anyone they bite, and this spreads an unknown disease. Death and the fall of humanity are guaranteed unless a hero steps up. Jax must protect Dex, his son, and those he loves by putting his life on the line. Furthermore, he must bring peace to the warring factions before the Skyands go too far.
As expected, Elex II opens with a bang. Subsequently, you are thrust into the action with little chance to think. Therefore, you’d expect the remainder of the game to be just as tense and in your face. Sadly, however, this wasn’t the case! Practically every element of the gameplay is slow, arduous, and horribly drawn out. This is then topped off with some of the worst and clunky combat I’ve had the misfortune to experience. Hitboxes are wildly inaccurate, monster animations are horrible, and your companions are as accurate as a drunk darts player. Consequently, it’s a messy endeavour that doesn’t improve.
It’s so slow!
I’m all for a challenging and slow-paced experience, but Elex II is something else. Subsequently, the action is so slow that it brought tears to my eyes! Everything is drawn out, tedious, and mind-numbing. Furthermore, each enemy is unfairly tough, the character levelling is imbalanced, and improving your equipment is almost impossible. Moreover, this badass hero is painfully weak and annoyingly ineffective. Nearly every enemy causes you an issue and there are never enough health potions to see you through. Therefore, expect to die repeatedly as you walk from quest to quest.
Talking of quests, Elex II is overloaded with irrelevant tasks. Yes, you’ll enjoy the main story, which is entertaining, full of lore, and captivating. However, this is dragged down by a vast array of annoying fetch quests and repetitive nonsense. Sure, it’s great fun to blast around the map with your upgradable jetpack. But even this doesn’t detract from the monotony of the constant stream of tosh you must undertake. Whether it’s solving a crime, collecting goods, or killing a monster, the unnecessary back and forth is dull. Unfortunately, this demand to travel from point A to B enhances the slow nature of the gameplay whilst driving you insane.
We love RPGs because of their wonderful stories and vast worlds. Yet, we also adore the combat elements. There is nothing better than testing your skills against giant foes in strange arenas. Sadly, though, Elex II gets this horribly wrong. Consequently, every encounter is unnecessarily tough and disappointing. Every foe you face has ungodly amounts of health and strength. Therefore, even the most innocuous of creatures can hand your ass to you. This wouldn’t be so bad if the character levelling was easy to achieve.
Unfortunately, this is painful also! Improving Jax is no mean feat, as you have to complete oodles of tedious missions. Alternatively, you can grind away to improve your rank. Either way, it isn’t much fun. Disappointingly, one of the most interesting mechanics is hidden amongst the tedium. To improve skills such as lock picking, crafting, combat, etc, you must find trainers. These specialists allow you to boost your abilities, but it comes at a cost. First, you must have money…oh, the never-ending need for money. Second, you have to have the minimum attribute for each skill. Annoyingly, this makes improving yourself a drawn-out and dull experience.
These negative elements combined undermine much of the action. They also make it unduly harsh and horribly slow. Yes, there are tougher games available, but they balance their approach with timely character upgrades. Elex II, on the other hand, holds you back throughout.
Let’s be positive for a moment.
I sound like a despise Elex II, and this isn’t the case. No, I’m disappointed as it has such potential. Magalan is an amazing place to explore thanks to its varied and dramatic landscapes. Furthermore, the plot, lore, and factions are fascinating. The developers have done an incredible job of creating a multi-faceted story. Subsequently, you are free to join any faction, kill who you want, and betray those around you. On top of this, there are some excellent quests once you strip back all the rubbish. What should make this great is plain to see. However, it’s intertwined with so much unnecessary drivel that it’s hard to reach.
The pièce de résistance has to be the upgradable jetpack. This screams futuristic sci-fi while making you feel like a superhero. Yes, it’s a little underwhelming to start with. But, as you progress, you’ll love soaring through the air and over mountains. I wish that every bit of armour and equipment was as good as this. Yet, it wasn’t to be.
Elex II: stunning world but buggy as hell.
The gameplay issues are apparent, but Elex II is also buggy as hell. Visually, it is spectacular and you’ll love the world you explore. Sadly, though, its beauty is ruined because of its awful glitches. Subsequently, you’ll laugh, scream, and shout at the terrible finish. You’ll see limbs clipping ladders, walls, and rocks, animations not working, and poor cinematic. Moreover, it’s a shoddy example of a much-anticipated title being rushed out of production.
Luckily, the audio fares much better. I adored the dramatic soundtrack that matches the vast landscapes. Furthermore, I enjoyed the blend of characters and their hilariously wooden acting. The dialogue, on the other hand, may not be to your liking. It’s awfully dated and cringe-worthy and often doesn’t make sense. Many conversations were disjointed, confusing, and illogical. On top of this, NPCs spoke over the cutscenes and this made it worse. Fortunately, you get the gist of what is happening. It’s simply another example of more rushed elements.
Clunky, clunky, clunky.
Though many of the mechanics are poor, they aren’t helped by the clunky controls. As a result, every task or moment is tough to execute. Subsequently, it makes a tedious experience that bit worse. Primarily, the combat is slow and ineffective, movement is clumsy, and nothing feels intuitive. It pains me to say it, but Piranha Bites missed the mark by a country mile. What’s more, the control set-up is badly explained and there is too much trial and error. The developers could and should have done a much better job.
In theory, Elex II screams longevity and replay value. In fact, it has a 40-hour plus game time, which is incredibly in depth. Sadly, though, the problems and issues make it tedious to play. Therefore, I can’t see many people wanting to experience every possible outcome. It’s a shame, as the plot deserves exposure and exploration. However, the negatives far outweigh the potential positives.
Elex II was disappointing.
I had high hopes for Elex II, but the end product falls way short of my expectations. Yes, the plot is great and the characters are interesting, but everything else is mediocre. It needed much more time in the cooker to remove its long list of issues. Everything considered, I can’t recommend you play this title. However, more information can be found here! The world is in danger again and a hero is needed to save it. Step up, align the factions, and save the day.