By Eline Stiekema, Onrpg writer
ELF Online is a slightly absurd MMO. Players can fill it in the way they like. The slogan is 'there is nothing you can't do'. Well, of course there is a lot players can't actually do, but it's a sure thing that the game is very diverse. There is no actual Ultimate Goal. As William, head director of Happymmo development says: 'ELF Online can offer a platform for players to make friends or even find your love through simple operation and relaxing game mode.' Sounds fun. So let's give it a try.
Each player can create four different characters, but you can only play with one at a time. For each character, you can pick an image (shown on top of the screen) and a hairstyle (determining the look of your avatar). There is a lot of choice in pictures, but there are only a few hairstyles to choose from. Besides, the avatar doesn't look like one of the pictures at all. I found this a bit strange. I'd rather have a simple picture and more options in hairstyle, hair color and clothing for my avatar instead.
When you have given your avatar the look you like, you can click 'start game'. As a newbie, you first get a rather extended tutorial. ELF Online is a quest game: you walk from one NPC to the other and get assigned to all kinds of quests. The newbie quests are quite simple. After you have learned how to fight monsters, you are sent to one of the training grounds to catch a couple of small monsters. The NPCs have a tendency to speak in riddles. 'Remember, you go to these places not to deal with Salty Fish or Wild Hares for lifetime.' Okay... is this cryptic or just incomprehensible English?
With these simple quests you level up to level 9, which is when you are being sent to four career tutors to pick a career. You can be a soldier, a rover, a magician or a scholar. Each career has two or three professions to choose from. Each profession has its own pros and cons, and for each profession the game is different. With your four different characters, you could have four different careers/professions, and thus four entire different games. So when you become fed up with one character, you can just start over with another. This requires some patience though: with each new character you have to start all over at level 1 and do all the newbie quests, which can take up quite some time and are not very exciting for a more experienced player.
Apart from the quests, which earn you money, there's a lot of fun stuff you can do in ELF Online. Very important is the pet system. Each player has one standard pet ('Fluffy mouse') that assists in combat. You can even let it stroll behind you when you walk around. When you are bored with Fluffy, you can catch other pets. In combat, you can try to capture the monster and turn it into a pet instead of killing it. With one click you can tame the monster and turn it into your pet. You can give it a cute name and choose whether you want it to stroll behind you and/or assist you in combat. But never forget to feed it; otherwise this will cause low loyalty with your pet and make it turn nasty towards you.
The pet system is one of the most fun aspects of ELF Online. You can have as many pets as you like and teach them all kinds of skills. You can pick a fierce pet to assist you in combat and a cute pet to walk around with you. At the moment, I have ditched Fluffy for a bat wearing a cute little green hat, who's also a great combat companion.
You can also do stuff with other players, such as chat or fight against each other. A more experienced player can become a 'master' for a newbie, who is then the 'apprentice'. And, my personal favorite: if you find someone you really like, you can get married to each other. First you start 'dating' and when your intimacy level has reached 3000, you can get married. When you decide to divorce, though, there will be some penalties...
When you are looking for solo activities, you can learn skills (like cooking, manufacturing or mining), trade stuff for money or buy new things at the item mall. For these items you have to pay with money you can put into an account. There are also items you can buy with the money you have earned with quests, but you have to purchase them at one of the NPCs. The item mall is solely for those who are willing to spend actual money.
The higher your level, the more places you can go and the more things you can do. You always have the feeling there is another surprise waiting for you around the corner. ELF Online doesn't easily get boring; there is always more to explore.
Graphics and music
Graphics are simple and not very special, but happy and colorful. It's a bit irritating that you can't zoom or 'look around'. The music is claimed to be relaxing, but I found it repetitive and annoying; I turned it off as soon as possible.
ELF online is a relaxing game indeed. You can just hang around, click here and there and see what you find. You can make it as exciting as you like by doing lots of quests, trying to capture high leveled pets or fighting against other players. Instructions can be a little vague but it's never too hard to finish a quest.
Although there is a map function, the game looks a bit obscure and sometimes it's unclear exactly where your avatar is going. The mouse coordinates you receive don't always seem to be right. I've spent quite some time looking for a guy called 'Little Stone', only to bump against him when I had given up already.
But even when you find it hard to reach your goal, there is enough to distract you from it. That makes ELF Online a lot of fun, and I think that's also why it's so relaxing: there's not that much pressure. And that's delightful for a change.
-Relaxing game mode without much pressure
-Fun pet system
-A lot of cool stuff you can do, alone or with other players
-A lot of diversity.
-Game scene looks a bit cluttered
-Instructions sometimes vague or even incomprehensible
-Not a lot of options your avatar's look
-If you want to start over you can't skip the boring newbie stuff.