Elsword First Impressions
Elsword is a 2.5D side-scroll anime-inspired MMORPG published by KOG Games in which players go through a story-driven progression by beating up monsters in challenging dungeons. The game was first released in 2007 for Korean players, in 2011 for North American players and in 2013 for European players.
Characters & Progression
Starting out, you will be choosing one of twelve total characters. There is a huge variety when it comes to characters in Elsword, with each character having three advancement btanches to choose from at level 15 and more advancements for each of them after that. It’s got an old school type of job advancement based purely on level and tested by a series of missions to complete. While the basis of controls and combat stay the same regardless of choice, each one has its own personality, story, and unique gameplay style tied to their individual purpose in the story of the game.
Controls & Combat
The journey begins with a tutorial of the very basics like moving with the arrow keys, basic attacks with Z & X, and other keys to activate unique abilities. It is very easy to understand even without the tutorial. Move to your right to move forward, talk to whoever looks important, and do whatever it is they ask of you, from the first map of Ruben and all the way to the last.
While it is a side scroll game, Elsword offers a skill based action combat. Combos matter a lot and the ability to perform well-timed dodges through jumps and dashes are huge factors in whether you live or die. It’s not as simple as mindlessly hacking and slashing your way to the end of the dungeon. Monsters also tend to hit very hard, so you have to kill them fast and keep them on the ground with combos on top of having to avoid dozens of attacks. It’s simple early on, and gets progressively harder at a good pace.
The story takes place in Elrios, a mystical land where Elsword and his allies go on a quest to recover a stolen power gem known as an el gem. You’ll be thrown straight into a story cutscene explaining your place in the world and your character’s reason for going through the game as a member of Elsword’s search party; beating up the bad guys, following leads of the stolen gem stone from one region to the next. The game is very story based, and does a good job of telling it through progression as well as tying the individual characters goals with the story without making it feel awkward. Granted, I did read up on a lot of the game’s lore beforehand, but it’s definitely not needed to understand your place in Elrios. There’s a ton of lore behind this game including a manga and light novel series for it if you’re interested in that level of lore understanding.
As with most other games in the hack’n’slash sub-genre, there is no customization in the initial character creation, but outfits and further customization is offered within the game as rewards or purchased goods. There’s a decent variety of outfits available in the cash shop. From the character window, facial details, idle motions, awakening glow, and even the art for certain ultimate skills can be changed.
I want to also note that though the graphics of the world is cel-shaded and not 3D, this is one of the games that do 2.5D very well. The world is very artistic and aesthetically pleasing.
The technical stuff aside, Elsword’s social aspect is one of the key factors to its success. From my three days of playing, I noticed that everywhere I go, people are talking. Towns, city outskirts, and even the sparring lobbies and instances that are meant for practicing PVP are often used for roleplay and social gathering. I saw the same people in the same corners of town talking to each other every day, especially in Elder Village, a low level city used as one of the social hubs in the game.
I did spend quite a lot of time chatting with people there, and most told me that the community is a big part of why they continue to play and come back to Elsword. It’s not something I see often in newer MMOs coming out today, and while it is obvious there are more than a few more old-school aspects in the world of Elsword, the social community is not to be taken lightly.
I also tried Elsword’s PVP, but all I experienced was constant humiliation by experienced players, so I won’t get too into that. Granted everyone else had a better idea of how to use their skills efficiently. All I can say is it looks very combo based. There are sparring or practice rooms for up to 8 people to brawl and actual arenas with various modes ranging from 1v1 to 4v4.
Compared to others in the same sub-genre, Elsword is more challenging than most, the story is told in a way that you can make sense of it easily and the community is very welcoming. For a game that is over a decade old, it holds up very well.