Pros: Great 2.5D graphics and level design, awesome manga anime cut scenes, exciting combat
Cons: Story/level progression is very linear, early game content isn’t particularly challenging
We took a look at the new update to Asian RPG Elsword, which got a tweak with its Season 2 patch just before Christmas. For us it was our first step into the world of Elsword and we didn’t know what to expect.
Loading up the client we jumped into the game and were greeting with a character select screen, each character has their own identity, class type and skills, with zero customization other than naming them. Essentially every player is stepping into the character roles, each having their own background, even the NPCs refer to you by your characters’ name (in our case a Melee assassin style swordsman named Raven). The game is very quest focused which transition between the open-world and then into instanced based dungeons, we will say that the questing wasn’t anything new or for that matter interesting, it was extremely linear with the progression by locking quests and area that we couldn’t even visit until we had levelled up. A big plus was that when completing key points of a storyline the game would treat you to a manga style anime cinematic, which were really well designed and interesting to watch as opposed to some static artwork.
The levels themselves are “2.5D” platformers, similar to a 2D platformer like old Sonic and Mario console games, only the change of camera angle sometimes or being able to move further into the background or closer to the foreground added a lot of depth to the game that imitated full 3d. Either way it was very well done and made for some fairly interesting level design that, overall, looked pretty good.
Combat was where the game really exceled, using the directional arrow keys to move around, jump, drop down to lower levels or transition between foreground and background, then Z and X for basic attacks and QWER,ASDF for your main skills, though we only had two unlocked at the beginning. Skills took up mana and for our skills we had a powerful fire style assault that dealt melee damage to any engaged enemies, and a dash that would make us glide through enemies to reposition and dodge out of the way of attacks. Most of our damage came from combo building with our X and Z keys, in combination with the arrow keys, there were a good half a dozen combos we could do to deal some bigger damage.
PVE wasn’t that challenging, but enemies could at least damage us, but we could drop them pretty quickly; they were at their most dangerous when NPC dialogues would pop up and enemies could still spawn near us and attack, forcing us to quickly rush past the dialogue and skip it just so that we didn’t take too much damage. Dungeons were (or at least probably would be at higher levels) more challenging and were generally plot based culminating in a boss battle who usually had some special attacks to try and wreck us. Dungeons came in different difficulties, with Easy being a one man solo Dungeon, anything higher would throw you automatically into the queue for the dungeon and would group you with random people to take on more dangerous creatures. Unfortunately it wasn’t an option to fight these harder dungeons solo in order to get a better challenge, the increase in difficulty with the enemies you face was mitigated by having more players, and so even multiplayer Dungeons were a disappointing breeze.
The game has most MMO features you would probably want or need; gear, enhancing, acquiring skills, running guilds, there’s even Arena PVP combat but unfortunately the queue times were just way too long for us to wait for. We do imagine they would be quite fun and have that explosive fast paced Super Smash Bros. beat ‘em up style of combat.
Overall we enjoyed the game and definitely think it is a winner for player who like the beat ‘em up meets RPG style, combat is fun and providing you can look beyond the fairly linear questlines where every playthrough of the game would essentially be the same levelling experience, then Elsword is definitely worth picking up.