So i've been playing Elex on and off for about six months or so. And while it can be painfully tough and frustrating, there is something in it that makes me come back to it time and time again.
What makes the game so tough and interesting then? Well, many things:
first of all, the huge map. In Elex, safe and tough areas form a chaotic mosaic. There are safe areas all over the map, but the only way to find all those safe havens is to find safe ways thru extremely hostile zones. There are such safe roads, but finding them is genuine challenge as there is no hand holding there.
And you really need to locate those safe havens, because from npcs in them, you get quests, and quests are really the only feasible way to level up.
Of course, its not that simple. In Elex, quest givers do not pop up on map, so you really need to talk to everyone to find something to do! Also, quests have no difficulty rating, so the only way to find if you can actually do a quest at your current level, is to try it.
Levelling up gives you attribute and skill points, and there is another challenge. You have to focus those points from day one, if you want to survive. Putting points into every stat will just leave you weak. You really have to go with focused build from day one. I've gone with tank build, but you can also go ranged or spellcaster if that's your thing.
As for skill sets, there's yet another challenge! You must find skill trainers first, and they do not automatically pop up on the map either, so you need to find them the hard way!
For me the best thing about Elex is that it feels old skool wrpg from the good old days, yet at the same time, is totally current gen. Challenge level is old skool, graphics also have that sweet, naive old skool feel, but gameplay, thankfully, passes for current gen. Once you learn the ropes, that is.
Here's few non spoiler screenshots from various safe havens and roads I've found this far.