A lot of free-to-play MMOs are what I like to call “fire and forget” games. They launch, maybe get some new content for the first few months, and after that, you’re lucky to see more than one or two new bits a year – unless we’re talking about updates to the cash shop. There are always plenty of those.

Elsword isn’t like that, as I got to see for myself during a tour earlier this week. Launched in North America in 2011, KOG Studios and Kill3rCombo just finished rolling out six new classes earlier this month, an initiative that started in June, helping to provide a lot more variety than one might expect from a Korean-made side-scroller.

The best news is, you can experience all these classes without paying; paying for character classes is one of my biggest pet peeves about F2P games. You choose a character when you start playing Elsword, then follow one of three paths when you decide on a role for that character, such as melee DPS, tank, support, etc., and then further refine that path with an advanced character class later in the game.

The system, while a little difficult to wrap your brain around at first, gives players a solid amount of variety in builds and ensures that you’ll be less likely to encounter other characters with exactly the same loadout and skills. You’ll also experience different storylines and content based on your chosen class.

Raven: Veteran Commander

Our first stop was with the prerequisite dark and brooding character that seems like a requirement in anime-influenced games. Raven was a sky pirate who was captured by the cybernetic Nasod race, who grafted a claw onto his left arm – probably so they could dangle him from a rope and use him in their arcade amusement games.

The Veteran Commander class that we profiled was primarily melee DPS, using Raven’s sword for quick attacks and his claw for slower, heavier attacks. His special ability is Overheat, which lets you spam the button for one of his special attacks to power it up further and do more damage.

Of the three classes we tried, I’d say I liked this one the most. It was fairly easy to figure out and there’s something deeply satisfying about pounding a button to do more damage. But Raven’s true special power is how he keeps his hair looking so so good, even when getting roughed up by bad guys.

Chung: Tactical Trooper

Chung has a really big cannon. That he sometimes uses as a club. What else do you need to know?

OK, so he also uses the cannon to shoot things, as was the case with the Tactical Trooper class we looked at. He certainly had more ranged utility than Raven, including converting into siege mode, where he sets up his cannon like a mortar and bombards enemies from long range. Bombs away!

Eve: Code Battle Seraph

Eve is a cyborg, the former queen of the Nasod, who went into hibernation for a thousand years, didn’t like what she saw when she woke up, with the Nasod abducting sky pirates and all, and thus is on a mission to reform her former people.

Also, she can fly, as any good thousand-year-old cyborg monarch should.

The class I played had a toggle that altered Eve’s attacks, switching them from single-target, narrow-beam lasers to wider, AoE attacks. I got a chance to try her out in PvP against one of my guides, the noble and puissant GM Crow, who I totally trashed. Just kidding, he mopped the floor with me, but he was kind enough to make me not feel totally inept.

More to explore

Elsword’s got a number of different gameplay options, ranging from the aforementioned PvP, where teams of four battle each other in chaotic scrums, to a variety of dungeons, to open-world exploration with different environments, and “Fields of Battle,” chock full of monsters to annihilate. As it was explained to me, much of this was added after launch, turning the game from a “quasi-MMO” into a full-fledged MMO experience. You can also collect pets that help you in battle, including one that could be best described as a “fire-breathing mini-unicorn.” Yeah.

I could sense an intricate combo system lurking just underneath my button-mashing newbish exterior, and it was confirmed for me that Elsword offers full gamepad support, a necessity for a game that binds its basic attacks to the Z and X keys.

From now until Nov. 5, Elsword’s Halloween Banquet is in full swing, which includes a dungeon, new outfits, new consumables, and other spooky fun. My hosts hinted at something else big coming down the pipe soon, but I was unable to pry the information from their sealed lips. Maybe I should have threatened them with the unicorn…

By Jason Winter

9 Readers Commented

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  1. Aer on November 19, 2013

    got to like level 32 and quit. Boring game. your auto matched with 4 people. who all just spam x and z . you barely land 1 hit on a mob. Everything about this game is stale and generic. its just an annoying waste of time

  2. Jellopy on October 25, 2013

    I have been very impressed going back to this game, from seeing it almost completely converted from an instanced based game with a sort of overworld lobby with simple gameplay mechanics and large pay to win elements into a full on,very unique mmorpg with a lot of depth and fun gameplay, and while some of the content paid for might be considered pay to win it is easy to overlook that now with the game being much more balanced than before and having a lot more options present so you aren’t forced to gamble on weather you are competing with a rich asshole who spent more than you make in a year on his armor alone or another player with actual skill. While any rankings are most certainly covered in the ladder by the ones with wealth and no self control, that’s fine too because if that weren’t the case it would be the alternative of being swarmed with hackers and botters like many other games out there and ladder rankings end up not meaning anything in those as well.
    I would love to see these poor elements put to an end there is more than enough good in this game that I think I will stick with it for at least a while, this is a good replacement to me for my old stanbye title,ragnarok online and latale. If you like,or can overlook the anime inspired graphics there is a lot of arcade, fighter, beat em up and even a lot of platformer elements to make this game a lot of fun if for nothing more than a time killer. I find myself playing a lot of it when I am between games and have time off of work lately and I would recommend it to just about anyone.

  3. Summer on October 25, 2013

    When I first played Elsword, it seemed like an okay side scrolling action game that wasn’t super special. But the game has changed a lot over time – getting outside areas for one. It’s updated constantly with events going all the time. They really run it well and there are constantly things going on there. Even when not playing I got a lot of newsletters from them when they do updates and events and they really keep things going there. That’s made me return to the game now, because of how much they put into it.

  4. LordOfLordran on October 24, 2013

    Sadly i cant play it since its region locked.

  5. mr jodedor on October 23, 2013

    ok so… where is ana haan i dont see it in the game…. tic toc tic toc hurry!!

  6. N on October 23, 2013

    Elsword is my favourite MMO of all time.

    Too bad it’s greedy korean developers insist on creating terrible money-grabbing content.

    The NA publishers are excellent, it’s just their bosses that need to get it together.

  7. nastyben on October 23, 2013

    Mounted !!!

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