Elsword: Closed Beta Impressions

Elsword Closed Beta Impressions

By Michael Sagoe (mikedot), OnRPG journalist

A new game publisher named Kill3r Combo is breaking into North America and starting off strong with a much anticipated title named Elsword. For those that don’t already know, Elsword is the spiritual sequel of Grand Chase. Elsword promises to feature fast and easy arcade action, off-the-wall anime and manga visuals, RPG elements and all that good stuff we come to expect from free-to-play titles.

To be honest, I was a bit on the fence about giving Elsword a try since I did end up playing East Fantasy Online (better known as “Fists of Fu“) before playing this, and as I mentioned in my previous review on Fists of Fu, I didn’t really like it that much. I was kind of thinking this was only going to be slightly better than Fists of Fu, since this was not a cheap imitation of another game. But on the other hand, I did enjoy playing the original Grand Chase way back, so I decide to give this a try after all.

From the get-go, the connection this game had with Grand Chase became more clear, as the main heroes available: Elsword (The male swordsman whose name is the same as the game’s title), Aisha and Rena all bare resemblance to Grand Chase’s first generation of heroes, Elesis, Arme and Lire, respectively. Well since I liked playing as Elesis and my first intention for any MMO is to pick the first class I see, I went with Elsword.

ElSword Closed Beta Preview

After I selected my character, the game’s tutorial started off with a few comic book pages and a few cutscenes of Elsword about to beat up some punks. I controls were intuitive right away since it retains the same exact feel of Grand Chase’s control scheme. Getting through the tutorial was simple and only took around a minute to blow through.

ElSword Closed Beta Preview

When I was dropped into the newbie town, I started to take in the scenery a lot more. The game definitely presents itself better than that rip-off game did, because the game sure has a lot of colorful and beautiful backgrounds that almost made me wish I could pop into the background for a bit and explore. The newbie town seemed a bit empty during my first play session, as I could only find a few players to try out the beginner dungeons with.

ElSword Closed Beta Preview

When I finally managed to get a full group together, lag issues started popping up. When my party started the mission, there was so much lag that no one could perform combos properly. Five minutes into the mission, everyone lagged out and I had to finish the mission solo. Yeah, connections issues are pretty bad at the moment. But that is to be expected in a closed beta so I carried on.

Doing a few more missions by soloing, I started to get a better feel for my swordsman and managed to learn a couple of slick juggles despite the lack of branching attacks available. I also started to get a bit of a Super Smash Bros. vibe when playing some of the beginner dungeons on higher difficulties. Along with the light platforming, there are a couple of power-ups you can grab that will give different stat boosts, as well as others thrown in for comical effect.

I’m not too sure if the EXP curve during closed beta is intentional for live service, but it seems pretty light and easy to level up. I managed to hit level 15 in a couple of days, and the current level cap is set to 30.

After completing all of the beginner dungeons on all difficulties, I moved onto the next town. That is where I found the rest of the closed beta testers hanging around. The next town was a rather large city called Elder Village, featuring several pathways and cute NPCs full of quests.

ElSword Closed Beta Preview

The place was also filled with commotion from players talking about which characters they wanted to play as when the game goes live. Many of them were anticipating the arrival of such heroes as Raven and Eve. Personally, I’m interested in the arrival of Chung, a hero that uses a giant cannon weapon like a tonfa. Only problem is that Chung was recently released in the foreign version, so I’m probably going to be waiting a long time for him…
It was time to get my hands dirty with a little PvP. I went down to the PvP channel in Elder Village and then picked some battle rooms at random. I did a few 1 on 1 battles, a couple of team battles and a few free-for-all item matches.

ElSword Closed Beta Preview

After several matches, I started getting a pretty sour feeling in my gut that this was going to turn out to be Grand Chase’s PvP all over again. While the game shares a lot of Grand Chase’s good qualities like its fast pacing, it also shares some of its bad qualities. Combat is primarily focused on offense with little to no defensive options available other than general zoning. With combo strings relatively easy to pull off and invincibility frames all over the place, PvP in Elsword may turn out be another case of swapping hits and going through the motions. Damage scaling also feels awfully low to the point where matches feel like they could take forever if not for a limiting timer.

The biggest issue I have with PvP was that matches with more than four players can feel like a real clustering mess. Kill stealing happens often in free-for-alls and it’s a real pain when you finally get your opponent’s HP down, only to have another player swoop in and take it.

ElSword Closed Beta Preview

My face after getting a kill stolen

Despite all this, I still enjoyed what Elsword CBT had to offer even with the very little content available for us to try out. I do look forward to what Kill3r Combo has in store for us with Elsword, I just hope they do something about the PvP.

For more info on Elsword, check out our profile page!


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