I don't even know where to begin, but I'll try...
(Real long read, but want to make sure to steer you away from this terrible, terrible game)
EDIT: But first, if you’re here for the Steam Exclusive Deal? Dooon’t do it.
First, they’re treating you like brainless cattle. It’s NOT free DLC, you’re downloading nothing new. All it does is let you start with a level 35 Time Tracer (Very low level) and give you a bunch of TIMED cashshop goodies (They pretend that’s worth money, hence the ‘free’ part). That. Is. All. Nothing new or unique.
You’re not cattle to be milked like KOG loves to believe, don’t fall for this ‘free DLC’ ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥.
And back to the review….
First - Cashshop.
It's a free to play, sure, but it fails absolutely miserably at handling its cashshop. Power, not convenience, is for sale. Just take a look at what you'll want for a new character:
Want to use more than 4 skills at once? 9$
Ditto items? 6$
Want a costume (greatly boosts PVP stats)? Anywhere from 15-32$
Do you want skill notes (greatly boosts skills)? 1.50$ a piece, can use up to 6
Want an overpowered pet? 4$
Want an overpowered mount? 23$
That's 60$ for a huge power boost nearly unobtainable ingame. In other words, apparently this game is so awesome, a single character should cost more than the price of a triple A game (Surprise, it’s not). That’s not even touching the hundreds of dollars you can spend going for overpowered +11 equipment
That alone should be giving you bad vibes, but to continue…
Second - Balance.
Short version: There is none.
Long version: Sigh…
KOG's idea of new content is a new, more broken character. That way people will go "AWESOME" and pay $60+ in previously mentioned cashshop for their new broken character.
And then they release another, even more broken character, and repeat the loop for infinite money. New dungeons? Nope, halt the update and add another new character instead.
Let's look at the most recent, broken example, Add, or specifically the new Diabolic Esper class coming out:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLeq6Lo2HEY
(30 second clip, implore you to take a gander)
Yes, that is Crimson Avenger, -second- newest class, dying in 30 seconds while DiE literally just runs around spamming missiles. Mind you, this is SSS rank play, top tier stuff. Welcome to Elsword PVP.
Ignore the most broken cheapskate for a second, as even the basic combos are horribly unbalanced. Eve in general is incapable of looping without spamming Tesla Shock, the worst KD reset skill in the game. Ara and Add have built in infinite loops with their basic attacks. If they catch you once, you will die without manabreak. That means anytime they catch you, it's a guaranteed -100 MP for you, while Eve will end up doing scratch damage while -giving- you MP. It’s completely unbalanced at the most -basic- level, before even delving into class skills and powers.
So if KOG can’t even balance the most basic and -important- aspect of a fighting game, what hope is there for the rest of the game?
Third - Combat.
So there's PVE and PVP. Originally both took skill to be good at....
With the last dungeon revamps we had ages ago, everything's been buffed with fake difficulty. Bosses ignore combos with length super armor while hitting chunks of your HP off, or get ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ like flat out invincibility/smaller hitboxes.
Even the normal mobs are getting stoic counters to break free from your combos. Because ♥♥♥♥, what is this, a fighting/combo game? Oh, it is? Well oops.
The end result is that the game is becoming more and more like a maplefest game. No skill, just button mashing and potion chugging, spam your highest damage move whenever the CD is off.
So what about PVP?
You can probably guess how this’ll go.
As should be evident with the cashshop and balance sections, PVP is ♥♥♥♥. Doesn’t matter how skilled you are, if you picked the wrong class/don’t have as much cashshop as everyone else, you lose. They only need to be slightly competent to floor you.
But assuming you're equal in everything, class, cashshop, how's it go then?
Laughably. This is a terrible excuse of a fighting game.
99% of PVP is catching, which is hitting your opponent first so you can combo them. The actual combos are brainless, you memorize a small string of button inputs and that's it. You repeat that forever and you know PVP. Catching is the only hard part, which naturally gives the edge to the players with more range. Guess who everyone picks.
Look at Add, newest character. Starts match with DP mode, spams nearly undodgable homing shot, teleports into you for combo, never runs out of DP unless he kills you enough. Nothing counters it.
But even ignoring Add, this game is still a joke compared to other fighting games. There’s almost zero strategy involved beyond picking the right character.
Fourth - Content
This is probably the final nail in the coffin for me. KOG literally couldn't give less of a ♥♥♥♥ of what the players want. We haven't had real new content in almost a year now.
Our current endgame is summed up in 5 dungeons, the Secrets. You only run them to construct a Secret set, which takes at most a month. Then you have nothing else to do but PVP. Congrats, you won Elsword.
This is yet another ploy to make you make another character and spend even more on cashshop, but considering how boring it gets to play the same things over and over… that won't last long.
You could try to argue PVP is the heart of the game, but as I've tried to make clear, it’s terrible. Even the rebalances are jokes; Season 3 revamped a total of TWO out of 26 classes, and completely ignored (and even NERFED) classes desperately in need of it, like Code: Nemesis again.
Not to mention, again, the complete lack of cashshop separation from power. Expecting nerfs to costumes, +11 weapons, skill notes, etc? What is this, a balanced F2P?
So yeah, PVP is the ‘heart’ of Elsword, and it’s rotten to the core.
Fifth - Regional differences
I mentioned them a bit already, but it goes a lot deeper. If you play Elsword in KR, it might actually be somewhat better overall. Anywhere else? ♥♥♥♥ you.
So what does NA get? Summed up in a few words: Cashshop, inflated prices, worthless trinkets.
Meanwhile KR gets so many EXP boosting events, crossover events, fun little stuff like Bingo events, even a month long Harmony festival with cashshop rewards/costumes/exp boost/stamina boost/free healing items/and more all rolled into event that's still going on. We don't get anything like that anymore.
So tack that on top of the already increased EXP requirements and bland general events.
But wait, they also purposely punish our region for no reason!
In KR, Henir and Secret revamps came with new level 70 sets, could trade your old 60 sets for them.
In NA, all the work you put in the 60s? Do it again. Make 70s from scratch with the vastly inferior 60s in dungeons designed for much stronger equipment.
We can't even get voice acting yet, we're still using KR's voice overs, while even the UK managed to get English dubbing (Which was horrible in quality because KOG isn’t going to waste money when they could pocket it).
Our GMs do make an effort to have silly mini-events, but they're powerless against the greedy grubby hands of KOG.
And this is all because the MMO market anywhere else aside from KR is pretty slim. KOG can tell us to eat ♥♥♥♥ and we have to, because we don't have many other options.
Which is why I eagerly await DFO's return, KOG is about to burn their own ship with this ♥♥♥♥.
Hopefully you’ve got the gist of that and now understand what’s wrong with Elsword. Pleeeease avoid it, KOG doesn’t deserve a penny from you. Tell your friends, too, don’t let them waste time or money on this crap.
If you want a properly handled F2P fighter MMO … Then just wait.
Dungeon Fighter will be back soon (March 24th!)