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Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: Piranha Bytes
Release Date: Oct. 17, 2017


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PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'ELEX'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on July 27, 2016 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

ELEX is an action RPG experience set in a brand new post-apocalyptic science fantasy universe that puts players into a huge, seamless game world full of original characters, mutated creatures, deep moral choices and powerful action.

Pre-order ELEX

Understandably, fantasy and technology tend to be separate in video games. Nobody wants to explain why Harry Potter doesn't use the internet. The two tend to fill similar niches, and unless you're going out of your way to meld them, it's usually one or the other. Perhaps that is what makes ELEX so potentially interesting. Rather than sticking to one or the other or going the lightsaber route, ELEX envisions a world where fantasy magic and futuristic technology coexist. We got a chance to check out the game at E3 2016, and color us intrigued.

ELEX is set in a postapocalyptic version of the world where a meteor wiped out the bulk of civilization. That meteor also brought along a strange substance, the titular Elex, which is an incredibly effective energy source and can also bestow humans with the power of magic. The meteor created a strange world where humans have magical powers and wield swords while simultaneously having access to high-powered plasma rifles and personal mechs. The landscape is a mixture of simple huts not far from the ruined remains of a car buried deep in the dirt. The protagonist is part of an evil organization that thrives by stealing Elex from others, up to and including literally processing humans into Elex. Not only does the substance give them magical powers, but it also robs them of their emotions, rendering them even more prone to dastardly deeds. The protagonist grew up in that organization and never had the luxury of emotions until he was cast out.

ELEX is an open-world RPG in the vein of something like Skyrim or Witcher, but unlike those games, you have a jetpack. It might sound like a small thing, but as anyone who remembers Geralt's glass knees recalls, it's often very difficult to traverse vertically in any of those games. The exact opposite is true in ELEX. The jetpack recharges rather quickly, allowing you to boost high into the air and go to places nobody could. We're told the entire world has no loading screens, and you can go pretty much anywhere you see. Most NPCs can die, including quest-important ones, and the game will change to reflect their deaths. There's a small handful of immortal NPCs, but they're strictly necessary for the game to avoid breaking.

In the gameplay we saw, the protagonist wandered into a small village, where we're told every character has their own schedule and memory. Should he do something cruel or illegal, they'll remember it, and he can get a reputation. Of course, for demonstration purposes, the presenter promptly stole a cup. This caused the entire village to get angry and chase him. It was a fight he couldn't win, as they promptly beat the living daylights out of him. The only method of escape came by using the jetpack to jump off a nearby cliff, leaving the villagers helpless to follow. It was a neat example of how a small action can have consequences and how darn cool the jetpack is.

The demo was fairly brief but gave us an interesting look into a few parts of ELEX. The combination of medieval and futuristic technology is distinctive, and it appears to play into the game. Pulling out a plasma rifle is a big deal and doesn't seem to be a different skin over traditional archery. The entire concept is neat, and it looks like there's a lot of potential in the gameplay and story. ELEX is expected to release for PS4, Xbox and PC in 2017.

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