Piranha Bytes on Improved Polish and 100+ Hours Worth of Playtime in ELEX
Piranha Bytes is a German studio well known to fans of roleplaying games. They've released well received, even if far from flawless, titles like Gothic 1, 2 and 3 and Risen 1, 2 and 3.
Now, though, they're switching setting to the sci-fantasy world of ELEX. The title refers to a precious and rare resource that landed on the game's world when a meteor hit and disrupted civilization.
ELEX is capable of many things, such as enabling magic and powering machines, but it also renders humans emotionless. The game begins when the predetermined main character from the Albs faction crash lands away from home and finds himself without access to ELEX, which opens him to feel for the first time.
With the game now less than a month away (it will launch on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on October 17th), we've talked with Amadeus Weidmann, Game Designer at Piranha Bytes, to bring you exclusive details of this upcoming adventure.
What are the main innovations and gameplay additions in ELEX compared to previous Piranha Bytes titles, aside from the different setting?
We added the Jetpack as a core feature of our game because we believe that our players love to explore and we wanted to give them the total freedom to do so. Also, we really want to immerse the player in our world so we made sure that he almost never gets reminded that he is just playing a game. A few things to achieve that are for example the absence of loading zones. The player will never encounter a loading zone in the huge continent of Magalan, the game does not stop if the player opens his inventory and so on. A lot of our NPCs in the game are mortal. This means the player can kill almost everyone. If he kills someone who had a quest for the player, that quest is gone but if he kills someone who was only part of another quest, the quest will get different dialogs and maybe a different ending.
Is there a level cap? Could players unlock all skills (except the faction ones)?
There is no level cap. But each consecutive level needs more and more experience points.
Will it be possible to mix and match weapons without restrictions, for instance using a shield and a gun at the same time?
You can use Swords or other one-handed weapons together with a shield but, for example, a two-handed hammer cannot be used together with a shield. But of course, you can switch from sword and shield to a laser rifle instantly.
Can players expect dynamic encounters or "events" while roaming the open world?
Yes. For example, some creatures in the world have other creatures they would like to eat. So if a raptor randomly meets a little rat, they will start fighting each other. The same goes for NPCs. If some Creatures come near a city, the guards will start to defend their city. The player can even use this to his advantage by luring some enemies who are too strong for him to a city to get some help.
How big is the world of ELEX in terms of size and time to cross it?
This is really hard to say because the world is not flat, there are a lot of mountains, cliffs and stuff like that, so you can't just walk in a straight line. But what we can say is the size of the world, it is roughly 1.5 times bigger than the world of Gothic 3.
From what I understand, this is the first time Piranha Bytes added romance options. Can you talk about this implementation? Is same-sex romance possible?
No, same-sex romance is not possible. For what is possible we don't want to say too much because we don't want to spoil anything!
What's the expected average playtime to complete the main story? And what if we included side content, too?
Around 40 hours if you rush through the game. But you will need above 100+ hours if you really want to achieve everything in the game but one thing to mention is that the game does not end after the credits roll. Even after the story ends you can go back into the world again and still continue the remaining side quests.
For those who intend to become an outlaw, will bounties carry over from town to town or are they local?
The Outlaws are a faction in our game. If you join them, the other factions might not like you anymore but you will not be a criminal. You only get a bounty on your head if you commit too many crimes in a city and if this happens you can't for example trade anymore in that city, but only in that city. Other cities are still friendly towards you unless you commit crimes there, too.
Can you talk about the companion system? Is it possible to upgrade their equipment?
You can learn perks which make your companions stronger. We have a lot of features for companions in ELEX. They have their own character and will interrupt you in dialogues, comment on your surroundings, have their own questlines and even leave you if you do too much stuff they dislike.
A fairly significant amount of bugs has been the bane of previous Piranha Bytes games. Do you feel that ELEX will fare much better in this regard at launch?
If you look at the Risen series then you will see that those games do not have many bugs anymore. This time we even made all console versions ourselves to ensure that these versions are on the same level.
Similarly, users have often lamented the "janky" combat and animations. Do you think ELEX has been improved significantly in this area?
We had a lot of positive feedback about this on our latest version at the GamesCom. Last GamesCom (in 2016) we had some people complaining about the animations so we worked really hard to improve them.
You recently stated that there won't be any "stinking" DLCs. Does that mean post-launch content will be free, or rather that there won't be any? Will the game support HDR displays and if so, on which platforms?
We don't plan on making any DLCs and no, we will not support HDR.
Thank you for your time.