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ELEX preview

On June 1, 2017 by Aaron Meehan

While at the THQ Nordic press event, my time with ELEX was limited to about an hour, but from what I played I was left in two minds. The combination of sci-fi and fantasy elements was interesting, but the combat system felt clunky at best.

For those wondering about ELEX, ELEX is a post-apocalyptic science fantasy RPG from the creators of the Gothic series (Piranha Bytes). The game takes place on the planet Magalan whose inhabitants are at the same level of technology as present day Earth, but when a comet strikes the planet everything is destroyed and its remaining inhabitants must rebuild. It is during this rebuilding process that Elex is discovered, a powerful substance that was brought to the planet via the comet. Elex has the ability to fuel technology and overall enhance life, and as such, it became something to fight over. The destruction by the comet and the new power source led to the creation of four factions: Berserkers, Albs, Clerics and Outlaws, all of which want their own degree of power.

In my short time with ELEX, I got a taste of two of the factions, outlaws and Berserkers. Now choosing which faction to align with is completely up to you. Both factions played completely differently, with the outlaws using modern day to futuristic weapons like rocket launchers, shotguns and a chainsaw sword, however on the other side of things the Berserkers used more primitive technology such as a bow and arrow, and axe and shield. The technological differences between both factions are very much apparent, which could lead to one faction being the optimal choice. However, I only played the game for an hour and there were two other factions that I didn’t get to try out.

ELEX_preview

For me, combat in ELEX moved between smooth and sluggish. When using ranged weapons such as a rocket launcher or a bow and arrow the combat was fluid and easy to use and understand, this is despite the ammo/ability changing window being tough to understand. In melee, you have your standard normal and heavy attacks, which worked well, but the melee combat was hamstrung by a stamina system that emptied far too quickly and a combo system that I could never really fill due to the quickly emptying stamina bar and easily defeated enemies. In my mind, the limitations to the melee combat meant that ranged was the way to go, even if ranged combat had its own issues.

Combat also brings the issue of medieval weaponry in a sci-fi setting. I didn’t play enough to get a full feeling for the disparity, but with the added bonus of a jet pack (more on that in a moment) I felt like I could just get sci-fi weapons, jump to the top of a building and easily defeat a bunch of medieval enemies who had axes ,and bows and arrows. Granted when the game is released later this year and I get more time with the game, and so my thoughts may change.

Now as I just mentioned, the game gives you a jetpack right from the beginning of the game. Having a jet pack means that you can use the high ground to your advantage, this makes fighting technologically weaker enemies far easier. The jet pack does have one set back and this is its tiny power supply, which means you can only fly for several seconds and there is no way to extend its flying time, so if you want to get high you better hope there is a way to get there in short bursts.

ELEX offers some impressive RPG elements, besides choosing a faction, how you answer questions and how you decide to complete quests all affect the game. This is something the developers have called “Reason vs. Emotion”. When talking to NPCs you can choose to lie to them or give answers that will make the person like or dislike you. When undertaking side quests that involve killing a certain target, you can choose to let the person live and return to the quest giver and tell him/her you killed the target (this was an example given to me by one of the game’s producers). In many ways, the depth of the RPG elements in ELEX is a potential strong selling point.

ELEX_preview2

Conclusion

ELEX is an interesting concept, the merging of sci-fi and fantasy elements appear hit and miss, but its RPG elements appear solid and potentially the best element of the game.

ELEX will be available October 17th, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC.


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