Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Why Elex is Better than Skyrim and The Witcher 3

Skyrim and The Witcher 3 are two of the biggest, most popular open-world action-RPGs ever created. Both of these games set a new standard for the genre when they were released in 2011 and 2015, with absurdly high metascores clocking in at 94 and 93, respectively. I was not as enamored with either of these games as the general public was, despite having a strong affinity for and appreciation of open-world RPGs; I had a lot of negative criticism to level against Skyrim, and even while praising The Witcher 3 rather extensively, I felt like it, too, had a lot of issues that seriously diluted and detracted from the experience. Both top-notch AAA productions with excellent presentation and smooth, accessible gameplay, that ultimately felt lacking in meaningful depth.

Enter Elex, the latest open-world action-RPG from Piranha Bytes, the small German studio behind the Gothic and Risen series. On a surface level it's actually much worse than either Skyrim or The Witcher 3, largely due to production limitations of being a much smaller studio (about 30 people, as opposed to hundreds) with a much smaller budget (about two million dollars versus 80 million plus). There's a distinct lack of polish across almost every aspect of the game, which on first impression can make it seem like a thoroughly mediocre, undesirable experience, but if you can get past these surface-layer blemishes there's a surprisingly deep, rich, and rewarding gameplay experience. By no means is Elex a perfect game, but I honestly feel like it's better than both Skyrim and The Witcher 3 in some of the areas that matter most when it comes to open-world action-RPGs.

Before getting any further, I need to make a few disclaimers. Obviously, I'm not saying that Elex is universally better than Skyrim or The Witcher 3; I'm just saying that it does some important things better. Some of this is subjective, in terms of what I want out of the games I play, while other things are a little more objective, in terms of what constitutes good game design. I'm going to be making a lot of generalizations and simplifications about all three games, which doesn't necessarily mean those statements are 100% true 100% of the time, but that they apply in the majority of cases, or in a general sense. There are exceptions to every rule, and I may not bother to point out every little exception unless I feel they're significant enough. It's been almost six years since I played Skyrim, so my memory is a little fuzzy on some of its finer details, and I may therefore be a little more general in my descriptions of Skyrim. Finally, while I'll be criticizing Skyrim and The Witcher 3 throughout this article, the point is not so much to disparage those games, but to show contrast between those games and Elex, to better exemplify why I feel like Elex does a better job in certain key aspects.


Both Skyrim and The Witcher 3 suffer from "icon hunting" exploration, the kind of deal where their massive, open worlds are filled with mostly empty space and you simply wander around waiting for the next icon to pop up on your mini-map or compass. It's almost like the developers knew the worlds they created weren't going to be fun or engaging enough for players to explore it on their own, and felt the need to drop icons everywhere so that players could skip actually exploring the world and cut right to the chase, more quickly and easily finding all the places actually worth exploring. Or maybe it's because they knew their worlds were so big, spread out, and diluted with pointless filler content, that they felt the need to mark the important places to save players the agonizing tedium of having to sift through all the dull filler to get to the good stuff. Either way, it really hurts the feeling of exploration and discovery when the game specifically lays everything out for you. You're not discovering things for yourself; you're going exactly where the game tells you. It doesn't help that most of Skyrim's caves, forts, and dungeons feel functionally identical, or that The Witcher 3 litters your map with the icons well in advance, just by reading a notice board in town.

Elex doesn't bombard you with icons. The only icons it shows you are for the locations of merchants, skill trainers, and teleporter pads, but you have to find all of these and interact with them before the map starts tracking them. The map shows you the full geography of the entire playable area, but it doesn't drag you by the nose to every single point of interest because it expects you to find things for yourself. There's not even a mini-map displayed in the HUD, so instead of staring at the mini-map following icons you're looking around the actual world with your own eyes, from your character's perspective, and exploring on your own. When you discover something cool, it's because you put in the work yourself, which makes it feel more rewarding, especially since other players are unlikely to find the same things you find because other players may not be as determined, clever, or observant as you are, and the game isn't going to tell them "hey, there's a thing over here that you should come see." Since the game isn't spoiling its discoveries by blatantly telegraphing them, there's a genuine sense of curiosity about what lies in wait in this world, and it's pretty satisfying every time you find something.

The game also does away with randomized, variable, or otherwise scaled loot which is often the case in Skyrim and The Witcher 3 -- every item in the game has been rigorously hand-placed by the designers, which allows them to tailor a specific reward for a specific amount of challenge, thereby also creating unique and memorable experiences within the world with unique and memorable rewards. That shipwreck off the southern coast has a powerful ring you can equip, if you can get to it and survive the radiation and strong mutants patrolling the area; that tower overlooking the biodomes has a unique sniper rifle and a fun bit of environmental storytelling if you think to climb to the top of it. It's not just a case of "we need to put some Special Loot here because this is a Special Area," because these special areas aren't really that special; they feel like natural parts of the environment. While you can sometimes predict where you'll find good loot, you sometimes end up disappointed by finding nothing at all, or surprised when you find good loot in a place you didn't expect, and you always find little discoveries scattered about in ordinary locations. It's classic variable reinforcement, the very basis for why gambling is so addicting for people, but instead of the variable reward being something the game dictates for you, the variable reward is based on your actions; where you go at what times in the game and what you do within it.

A big part of Skyrim's marketing campaign was project director Todd Howard hyping up a supposed fact in interviews that you could climb any mountain you see. Besides the fact that this was misleading, it wasn't really that fun because you were either following an intended path up the mountain or awkwardly flinging yourself against the collision mesh in defiance of the game's physics. Elex one-ups this entire concept by giving you a jetpack from the very beginning of the game, opening the entire game world to you from all of its peaks to all of its valleys. Most people will say with reverence, when talking about open-world games, how much they love "being able to see something on the horizon and then actually go there" -- Elex is the king of this, because the jetpack enables such a high degree of freedom of movement that you can go virtually everywhere you desire. The only places that are off limits are the edge of the game world and the mountains around the crater where the comet hit. And unlike The Witcher 3's mostly flat maps where your line of sight is constantly blocked by trees, Elex has a ton of verticality in its world, which gives you a lot of vantage points to see long distances across the map, and also makes the world feel more complex with a lot more hidden areas and more meaningful exploration. It is, literally and figuratively, a much deeper world.


The quests in Skyrim and The Witcher 3 are generally both mindless affairs of following the dotted line and pressing the action button on the appropriate things. Skyrim was infamous for its "radiant quests" that generated an infinite number of random objectives to find random things from random enemies from random locations which stripped nearly all narrative purpose and significance from these side-quests, making them feel quite obviously like tedious busy work. The Witcher 3's quests relied too heavily on using "witcher senses" to solve problems, where you essentially just pressed a button to highlight the solution and then followed the highlights to the conclusion. In both games, the majority of quests felt like they were on-rails and devoid of meaningful player input, even when they were presenting you with interesting stories, unique scenarios, and apparent "choices."

Quests in Elex aren't really that sophisticated since the basic groundwork in most of them consists of the usual "go here, kill this, fetch this, talk to this person" ordeals, but they're not the blase, straightforward affair that tends to cripple these kinds of quests. A lot of quests in Elex actually require you to listen to the NPCs you're talking to, pay attention to what they're saying, and think about what you're doing, instead of just mindlessly following the quest markers. As an example of what I mean: the first town, Goliet, has a set of laws forbidding technology, and they have a place called "the pit" where they throw all the technology they find. One of the town's leaders is very insistent on you adhering to these laws when you first meet him, and if you ask for work to prove yourself so that you can join his faction, he gives you a quest to retrieve a laser rifle from a guy in town. This is actually a test to see how well you understand the laws and how well you follow them; if you treat it like a basic fetch quest and just show up at the guy's hut asking for the weapon, then you'll fail the quest because you didn't question your orders.

In the same town, you're tasked with checking in on some cultivators who're working in the wild lands outside of town. One of the guys there mentions that they're low on food supplies and haven't heard from town in a while. You can either report back to town and bring them a bunch of moldy bread (because the town has no food to spare and that's all they can offer), or collect 50 mushrooms for them. You might be tempted to give them the moldy bread, because you get the same amount of experience either way, except they actually pay you for bringing them the bread, and it saves you the trouble of rounding up all those mushrooms (or parting with your own supply, which you may have already collected in your own adventures), but if you go with this route you later found out that they got food poisoning and couldn't work anymore, and the town leader gets upset with you. It's another basic fetch quest, but it requires you to think about what the possible consequences might be and act intelligently to get the best reward, or else you suffer the consequences.

As a running theme in Elex, most quests have two or three solutions with two or three outcomes, all of which can have lasting consequences and significant effects on the world. The two examples above are both part of joining the berserker faction; if you "fail" enough of these quests by making poor decisions then you can actually become barred from joining the berserkers or even trading with their merchants. In another town, if you lie to a major character, you might think he'd be none the wiser and you'd get away with it, but then later he kills another quest NPC just to get payback on you for lying to him, and then you can no longer proceed in that quest. One of the major towns, the Domed City, has a whole bunch of quests associated with it as different groups push their own agendas; depending on whom you side with throughout all those quests, whole groups of people (or even the entire town itself) can get killed. How you resolve the main quest-line can have huge ramifications for the post-game, with entire factions turning hostile on you.

Compare this to Skyrim where you overthrow the Jarl of Whiterun in an epic setpiece where the whole town is set on fire and you raid the castle, and then everything gets reset back to normal almost immediately afterward, with no major changes and no one really caring. Compare this to The Witcher 3 where you decide to kill the king and nothing really happens -- no one even comments on it. They give you choices that give you the illusion that you're having an impact on the world, but they both tend to skimp on the actual consequences for your actions. The Witcher 3 is actually pretty good with its choices and consequences, especially compared to Skyrim (and most other games) but its variable outcomes are often limited to the scope of the one quest you're working on, like seeing a different ending in a "choose your own adventure" book, not actually affecting the rest of the world.


Combat in Skyrim and The Witcher 3 may look epic and exciting (you're fighting dragons in Skyrim and doing a lot of fancy, elaborate sword moves in The Witcher 3) but they're not actually that sophisticated. Skyrim's combat feels archaically simple, the kind of deal where you basically just stand there clicking on an enemy until one of you dies, not all that different from The Elder Scrolls I: Arena way back in 1994, except without the randomized dice-rolling plus a few additional features like power attacks, manual blocking, and "shouts" (which are functionally identical to magic attacks). It has a stamina meter, but it has a minuscule effect on anything, and enemies barely react to being hit by a melee weapon so it often feels like you're smacking a bag of potatoes. In The Witcher 3, almost every fight boils down to a simplistic, repetitive pattern of attack-attack-dodge, attack-attack-dodge, robbing the entire system of any depth it would claim to have. Meanwhile, its controls feel unresponsive with a complete lack of input queuing leading to a lot of unregistered mouse clicks, and the game's weird targeting system combined with Geralt's highly varied animations can make everythingthing feel frustratingly inconsistent.

Elex's combat is ostensibly identical to The Witcher 3's, since they both use the same combination of light attack, strong attack, block, dodge, and parry, with a third-person camera, in a system that emphasizes timing your attacks and dodges. It even has the same occasionally unresponsive controls, inconsistent animations, and weird hit detection problems. Elex has a few positively distinguishing features, however: a stamina meter that decreases every time you perform any action in combat (except for basic movement) and regenerates after a pause between actions; a combo meter that builds as you time your attacks, causing you to deal more damage as the meter increases; and special attacks that you can unleash once your combo meter reaches a certain threshold.

The key difference with Elex is the stamina meter. With every attack, block, dodge, and parry consuming stamina, every single action you make has to be deliberate and well-timed; if you spam attacks too much, then you'll be out of stamina when it comes time to block or dodge an incoming attack, and if you're blocking or dodging too frequently then you'll be too low on stamina to attack back. Combat in Elex therefore requires a careful balance of offense and defense with every action having some kind of consequence on how the rest of the fight will play out. You have to watch enemies closely and learn when they're going to attack so that you can block or dodge at just the right moment to avoid damage and minimize lost stamina, and you have to know exactly when to attack so that your hit will go through. You have to stay close enough to an enemy to be able to launch into a counter attack at any moment, yet far enough away that you have enough space to react when it comes time to dodge an attack. All-the-while you have to be mindful of your stamina meter, making sure that you're consuming it wisely and making each of your actions count.

Then you've got the combo meter, which increases your damage with each subsequent hit and allows you to execute a strong "finisher" attack once the combo is high enough. Building this combo meter requires that you time your attacks just right. Each time you click the mouse to attack, the meter will build throughout the length of the attack animation, up until a certain point; if you click too early in the animation, then the meter will stop abruptly and give you less progress, and if you click too late, then the meter will reset to what it was before the attack and you'll have to wait for your character's attack animation to reset back to neutral before you can attack again, thus leaving you exposed for damage. If you go too long without attacking, your progress will start to deplete until it eventually reaches zero, or until you attack again. As with the stamina meter, you have to be mindful of how and when you attack, making sure that you're clicking in the right rhythm to build the combo meter as optimally as possible, while waiting for the right opening with enough stamina that you can hopefully pull off a full combo, and keeping your offense going just enough to keep the stamina meter from depleting.

Compare this to Skyrim and The Witcher 3, both of which basically amount to mindless button-mashing click-fests. While both games have a stamina meter, none of them are nearly as consequential as Elex's -- in Skyrim, stamina is really only used for sprinting, blocking, and power attacks, and in The Witcher 3 stamina is only used for casting magic. Neither game seems to reward you for stringing multiple attacks together (at least, not without high-level skills), and neither game has any concern for nuanced timing since you can spam left-click with impunity. The only instance in which timing really matters is when blocking or dodging attacks, and in the case of The Witcher 3 enemies' health bars flash brightly before an attack telling you "hey, you should block or dodge right now," and you have nearly full invincibility while using the basic backwards dodge, which, again, you can practically spam with limited risk of taking any damage. So basically, in both games you just spam left-click and then dodge when you see an enemy telegraph an attack, and repeat the whole process ad infinitum.


Oblivion set a trend that nearly ruined progression systems in RPGs with its overzealous level-scaling that insured every single enemy in the game would be tailored to your level so that, no matter where you went or what you did, you'd always experience the same degree of challenge and difficulty. There's some merit to its intentions, but the system was ultimately so flawed that it ruined any feeling of accomplishment for getting stronger because everything else got equally stronger with you. Fortunately, Bethesda seemed to learn their lesson with subsequent games and scaled things back a bit, giving enemies and areas a limited range within which enemies can scale, but Skyrim still suffers from things like being able to kill dragons (which should be city-razing, deadly, end-of-the-world threats and end-game enemies) just a few hours into the game. This is not even to mention the scaling loot that gives you randomized loot tailored for your level, such that it never really matters where you go or what you do (outside of things like finding word walls to learn shouts) because you'll always have essentially the same chance to find the same rewards everywhere you go.

Nothing in Elex scales to your level. All enemy types and strengths are present within the game world right from the start, meaning you can be fighting basic starter enemies or super strong end-game enemies right at level one. Those high-level enemies can kill you in a single hit, in most cases, and so it's up to you to figure out where you can go, what enemies you can fight, and to come up with your own strategies and techniques for staying alive and accomplishing your quest objectives. This places a strong impetus on getting stronger; many of your quests and objectives seem impossibly daunting at the start of the game because of how weak you feel, relative to the rest of the world. Leveling up, therefore, is not just a matter of having fun -- getting new skills and shiny new weapons to play with like a kid picking toys off a shelf and playing with them at a toy store -- but of necessity to overcome the game's incredibly tough difficulty.

Elex doesn't hold your hand throughout any of this; it expects you to figure out for yourself what you can and can't do and solve your problems on your own. So when the game throws a tough challenge your way and you find some clever way around it, or you spend a dozen or more hours getting your butt kicked by certain enemies and finally reach a point when you can comfortably face them, it feels satisfying because it's something you accomplished on your own, without the game's assistance. Elex makes you work -- hard -- for every reward. If you want to get stronger weapons and armor, for instance, you have to craft them yourself, which requires the right attributes and skills plus a ton of money and resources, or find them in the world by exploring extremely dangerous areas (again, no loot is ever scaled or randomized, so there's always a deliberate reward for a specific challenge). Even when you do acquire these powerful items they have really steep requirements to use that will take even more time and effort to equip. This challenge persists for nearly the entire game so that there's always a reason that you want to get stronger, and always some useful skill just out of reach.

The Witcher 3 is wise enough not to have any of its enemies scale down to your level, but it has a few major problems of its own when it comes to progression. Primarily, the amount of content in the game (and thus, the total playtime) is disproportionate to the scale of the progression system. I played both Elex and The Witcher 3 on their respective "hard" modes, spending 100 and 130 hours in each playthrough respectively. It took maybe 20 hours in Elex before I felt like I could comfortably handle most of the weaker enemies, whereas I hit that mark in about 10 hours of The Witcher 3. I was maybe 70 hours into Elex by the time I felt like I could stand a reasonable chance against the toughest enemies, and I hit about that same mark in The Witcher 3 at around 40 hours. In other words, I hit a point in The Witcher 3 when leveling stopped feeling rewarding much sooner than I did in Elex, which is made doubly problematic by the fact that The Witcher 3 is ultimately a bigger and longer game than Elex. Secondly, The Witcher 3 scales quest rewards down as you level up, if you go beyond their intended level range, meaning you can reach a point when the game literally stops rewarding you for completing its quests, which is pretty much guaranteed to happen because you become over-leveled so quickly from its huge abundance of content.


The main stories in Skyrim and The Witcher 3 both deal with preventing an end-of-the-world type of cataclysmic event -- either dragons or the wild hunt are threatening to take over the realm and destroy all civilization as we know it, and you have to stop them. That's all fine and good for a video game plot, but it's not very good for an open-world game to have such a dire, pressing main story about preventing the end of the world when the player is able to ignore the main threat completely and spend all of his time focusing on utterly trivial, inconsequential things like fetching plants for a random person in town or trying to become a tournament champion in a collectible card game. And frankly, the story isn't very good in either one, mostly consisting of boring busy work that either escalates way too quickly (as in Skyrim, with you being revealed as the Dragonborn, doing a few simple tasks, and then slaying Alduin in the span of a few hours) or drags on way too long (as in The Witcher 3, with you spending 75% of the game on a wild goose chase looking for Ciri).

Elex instead goes for the equally-cliche premise of a revenge story. There's still a cataclysmic threat lurking in the background, which eventually becomes part of the main quest, but it's not presented as the main focus of the story; it's something that could happen, not will imminently happen. Rather, the story is about the main character, Jax, trying to regain his lost strength after he's betrayed by his former comrades, so that he can learn why they betrayed him and ultimately so that he can get revenge on them for trying to kill him and leaving him for dead. So when the player spends dozens of hours ignoring the main quest in favor of exploring the world and doing random side-quests for people who should be totally inconsequential to the outcome of the main story, it actually makes sense -- especially considering the game's insanely tough difficulty -- it's all part of regaining his lost strength, and there's no pressing need to act quickly to stop the badguys from doing anything, thus keeping the gameplay from being at odds with the story.

The most interesting thing about Elex's story isn't actually the main story itself, but rather its lore and backstory. Whereas Skyrim and The Witcher 3 both feel like somewhat generic takes on traditional fantasy settings, Elex feels like something almost completely new and original with its blend of fantasy, science fiction, and post-apocalypse themes. That kind of combination shouldn't really work, but it does thanks to a genuinely interesting premise and effective world-building. I, for one, found it fascinating learning about what the world was like before the comet, how the survivors adapted after the comet, how the world split into its three primary factions, how each faction uses elex for its own goals, and so on. I normally don't like it when games resort to fleshing out their lore by strewing audio logs and journal pages around the world (all three games do this, to an extent), but Elex was a rare case where I actually enjoyed reading (and listening to) nearly everything I came across, in large part because of the huge variety of snippets you can find from all different time periods in multiple types of media and formats, nearly all of which relate directly to the game's central premise.

I never read any of the history or story books in Skyrim or The Witcher 3 because I just didn't care; as compelling as the gameplay can be in both of those games, I never felt like I needed (or desired) a deeper understanding of their worlds to appreciate them any further. I still read the random excerpts and journal pages that you find while exploring because they usually had a direct connection to the environment you were in, but it felt more like an obligation and I don't remember them having much of an impact on my overall impression of the game. I've played Elex much more recently than those games so I have much clearer memories of specific notes and audio logs, but I feel like they had a much bigger impact on establishing the world's lore and backstory, to the point that I was genuinely interested in reading and listening to the logs I found, rather than just going through the motions. There's a pretty major sub-plot, for instance, about "Infinite Skies" and Calaan (the clerics' god) that you piece together through dozens of text entries and journals, solving a mystery sort of like an anthropological researcher, which sheds a whole new light on the game's lore and backstory, which is conveyed entirely through environmental notes and clues, and you have to connect these dots entirely on your own to reach its conclusion.


Make no mistake, Elex is not a perfect game. In typical Piranha Bytes fashion it feels a little under-cooked, as if another six months of development time could've elevated it from a "good game with some problems" to an "all-around great game." Some ideas feel poorly thought-out and awkwardly implemented, while certain kinks and hiccups can leave some mechanical systems feeling a little unpolished. Low production value (relative to other $50-60 games) combined with a mediocre presentation, a "boring" main character, a "clunky" combat system, and a brutally tough difficulty curve will be enough to turn some people off within the first hour. To me, none of the game's problems were strong enough to detract from the overall experience, even though some of them seriously annoyed me and others are completely inexcusable. Some of the game's so-called "problems" aren't even problems as far I'm concerned, with a bunch of mainstream criticism seeming utterly misguided and unfounded -- disparaging comments made by people who never understood the game's intentions and never bothered to learn its systems.

The reason I'm so high on Elex, despite its apparent issues, is because it's an open-world action-RPG that values mechanical depth and player agency over things like presentation and accessibility. This is a game that doesn't hold your hand; what you do in the world matters, and it takes actual thought, effort, and time to master its systems and overcome its challenges, thereby making it a deeply engaging and rewarding experience. And what it does well, it does extremely well. The world is huge while still offering a ton of depth and rewarding exploration, the quests have a lot of great choices and consequences that can have a dramatic effect on the world, the combat demands precise timing and positioning while managing stamina and your combo meter, the progression system uses fixed enemies and hand-placed items to create a very specific difficulty curve that's genuinely challenging and therefore rewarding when you level up and get stronger, and the story has a lot of intriguing elements in terms of the world and backstory.

In the grand scheme of things, Elex is greater than the sum of its parts, but even on an individual level it does a lot of important things better than Skyrim and The Witcher 3, which is especially impressive because it was made by a much smaller team on a much smaller budget. I played Skyrim and The Witcher 3 for about 130 hours, each, and was glad to finally be done with each of them upon completing them; I may never play either game ever again. I played Elex for 100 hours and then immediately launched a second playthrough, and upon completing that I immediately launched a third playthrough. I could even see myself replaying Elex again in five or ten years. This was seriously one of the most satisfying, most engrossing game experiences I've had in a long time, and as a long time fan of Piranha Bytes who's been disappointed with or underwhelmed by everything they've put out in the last 15 years, I'm pleased to say that this is easily the best game they've made since Gothic 2 and that's reason enough to celebrate.

If you're not familiar with Piranha Bytes' previous games, then you should know that Elex is in the same category as industry heavyweights like Skyrim and The Witcher 3, in terms of genre and overall value for the amount of content you get with it, but it has a whole lot more heart and soul in exchange for not having the same "AAA" polish. If you can put up with a lower-budget game with some janky rough edges, and especially if you value actual gameplay and mechanical depth over presentation, then Elex is definitely worth your time and money.


  1. I deeply disagree with your opinion, i find Elex just a mediocre game and it can't even begin to touch Skyrim or Witcher 3. And this is coming from someone who played Gothic 1 as a teenager day 1 and loved it.

    I think a lot of your opinion is based on your Gothic memories, which is what Piranha Bytes continues to try to bet on to get sales, again and again. They caught lightning in a bottle with the first 2 Gothics and have since attempted to re-create the same game without actually improving anything outside of the graphics...

    You could excuse the jank for Gothic 1 and 2, they were incredibly well designed RPGs that simply had a low budget and thus were not polished enough. This was fine for 2001-2, but in 2018? You got to be kidding me. If your budget for a game is that low, don't attempt to waste it on graphics, the indy scene thrives for a reason, tone down the graphics and try to make a better game. This half-AAA approach is terribad.

    One thing i can certainly count on any Piranha Bytes game, is having absolutely atrocious controls. After 2 decades they still haven't figured it out. Their games are a chore to play. I don't care about their worlds and i can't get immersed in their worlds if i have to fight their bad control design at every corner. And the bugs. I have been spoiled by modern games, sorry. It is the same reason i cannot play the original Deus Ex today, not for the graphics, but for the abomination that is its controls and gunplay... It is just not fun.

    And games are meant to be FUN. That is why we play them.

    Elex has some good elements, true. And it seems to have some heart and soul in it, which is rare in the modern industry. That is why you liked it, and i understand this. But Piranha bytes need to get their act together and learn how to properly create modern games. They could benefit by actually playing Skyrim and Witcher 3 themselves for a while...

    1. >If your budget for a game is that low, don't attempt to waste it on graphics
      Well, the game doesn't really have exceptional graphics anyway. They're pretty outdated, all in all. Pretty much the same tier as Risen 2 and 3.

      >is having absolutely atrocious controls
      How come? I thought the controls in Elex weren't too far off from Skyrim when it comes to everything you do in the overworld. The combat controls are different because the combat is different, but it's pretty good aside from the fact that it forgot to teach you that you could parry in the game (way more rewarding than a regular block, but requires precise timing.)
      It appears to me that you may have not played any of their more recent games. After Gothic 3 or Risen 1, I never found controls a big issue. True enough, they were strange in Gothic 1 and 2 however.

      >And games are meant to be FUN. That is why we play them.
      What if I find the progression of being literally nothing and becoming a badass fun?
      What if I find quests with choice and consequence fun?
      What if I want actual difficulty and obstacles to overcome instead of handholding and level scaling that makes it so nothing is a challenge?

      The definition of what is fun is subjective rather than objective. I'm sorry you don't find those things fun, but if you hate challenging combat you can simply turn down the difficulty to easiest.

      On a side note,
      >It is the same reason i cannot play the original Deus Ex today, not for the graphics, but for the abomination that is its controls and gunplay
      I played it for the first time in like 2015 or 2016 and I replayed it last year. I don't get it. The controls work just fine and if you don't like them, rebind them. I think you are also missing the point of Deus Ex, as Deus Ex is not a shooter. If you were to criticize it as one, you'd be doing it injustice. Most of the time, there are many alternate solutions to your problems.

  2. wow, i cannot agree more with your opinion. I will go further and categorically state that elex is THE BEST open world RPG period. It's awesome. I almost quit a dozen times within say the first six hours of gfame time as i had no clue what i was doing. When the light bulb came on its glare was totally illuminating and i am now 140 hours in on a game i so admire. I have hooked others on it also who go from ugh i hate this to a favorite status also within about six hours. stick with it everyone it is more then worth it.


  3. Yep. I have to agree. Games these days are becoming hand-held afairs. It is more like reading a book!

    It is refreshing to not have constant help or 'icons' guiding your every step!