By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW), OnRPG/MMOHuts General Manager
Ahn nyung ha sae yo!
Welcome to the world of Elsword. A world clearly designed with Korean Manhwas (style of comics) in mind. From the original Korean voice actors to the dramatic box frame special attack cutscenes, be prepared for an art style that throws Anime stereotypes at you from the first moment you step into game. In fact, let’s clear out said list of stereotypes while we introduce the six playable characters available in-game.
Elsword – Tiny kid wielding overly large sword to compensate for small dog syndrome?
Check and double check.
Rena – Huge breasted elf girl?
I see no problems here.
Aisha – Loli mage?
What story would be complete without one?!
Raven – Dark brooding swordsman with family vengeance issues?
This stuff writes itself.
Eve – Nothing says royalty from an ancient forgotten race quite like white hair on an incredibly young looking character.
Eve has this stereotype on lock.
Chung – Effeminate boy with cannon large enough to remove any doubts of manly courage?
Elsword was sorely lacking in this area. Luckily Kill3rCombo’s goons destroyed Chung’s civilization and people as encouragement to get him into the action at last.
Carmen – The baseball bat swinging fun loving girl that represents all things held sacred in ‘Murica!
OK I made that last one up, but a guy can dream! Art property of CarmenMCS
Each character plays how you would imagine to an extent. Raven’s fireball overcharge mechanic and Eve’s dual drone weapon systems are rather unique in the MMO industry but the rest have a playstyle to match their image. At least until you get into the various job classes.
Variety is the spice of life, and vital to a long lasting MMO experience
Elsword launched in the golden age of an era of gaming where the primary route to continuous content was new job classes. And while Elsword didn’t expand as horizontally as some of the earlier titles in the genre to introduce some 15+ characters, the job options they offered their starting six characters have a huge impact on your end-game playstyle. Aisha might end up a massive nuker or powerful support. Rena can follow the path of long range or hand-to-hand combat, or follow a tricky mixed bag. Each class has tell-tale visual differences that help distinguish them as well, a much needed addition that you’ll be thankful for when you get into the PvP.
Each tier has or in the very near future will have a secondary evolution at level 35 to add additional skills and combo options to your arsenal. Also if down the road you realize you’ve messed up and taken a route that doesn’t fit your style of play, the cash shop offers scrolls to switch your class without having to start over from scratch.
When it comes down to it, no amount of cool classes or interesting character roster is going to save a brawler if it doesn’t play well. Thankfully Elsword offers a hearty mix of 2D fighting games, Smash Bros style platforming, and simplistic controls that can keep the initiated and arcade veteran alike happy.
Novices can casually grind through the game just by spamming X and Z, your two primary attacks, in various random orders along with the occasional skill to mix things up. Veteran players however can take these simple controls and memorize special combos unique to each character (and sometimes even unique to job classes within a character) to juggle both PvE mobs and enemy players in brutal fashion. This isn’t easy to learn and will take some dedication to do well even against monsters, but the rewards for spending the time to learn your character will pay off in end-game dungeons and PvP.
One issue with the combat that might irk fighting game fans and Smash Bros fans alike is the total lack of a default block option. If your enemy is aiming to strike you, and you can’t get out of the way, prepare to eat the dirt in true Manwha cutscene fashion. That’s not to say there is no blocking at all as some classes can acquire skills to deflect or defend against enemy attacks, but even then it’s going to cost you one of your vital limited skill slots to utilize. Again this is where knowing how your various skill combos work will come in handy as some have built in gap closers and dodges that will allow you to keep a combo rolling while avoiding counter-attacks.
It’s opinionated whether this is good or bad for gameplay as it does incentivize a more action packed offensive mindset that ‘he who combos first, wins.’ I personally think it removes one possible strategic action to an otherwise outstanding combat system.
Though one minor knit pick I can't stress enough. Why does the mouse wheel work as zoom in town but not in dungeons? I can't count how many dungeons I ran fully zoomed in on my character before I found the obscure map button used to manually zoom in and out. This is a UI disaster that needs fixed asap.
Though the view wasn't half bad.