This game has just gone downhill nonstop for the longest time. 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)
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:
Do you want to use more than 4 skills at once? 9$
Same with items? 6$
Want a full costume (which greatly increases stats for PVP)? Anywhere from 15-32$
Do you want skill notes (which greatly improve certain skills)? 1.50$ a piece, can use up to 6
Want a powerful pet? 4$
Want a powerful mount? 23$
That's an instant boost to character power unobtainable in the normal game. You're looking at easily $60+ per character, and that's not even touching the subject of +11 weapons, which cost hundreds of dollars to even -attempt- for, let alone get. Also gives them twice your firepower, because they're obviously more loved by their parents' checking account than you.
Second - Balance.
Short version: There is none.
Long version: Oh boy.
KOG's idea of new content is a new, more broken character. That way people will go "AWESOME" and pay $60+ for cashshop goodies their new broken character will want.
And then they release another, even more broken character.
Right now the game is suffering from the cancer that is Add, the worst designed character ever. He's pretty much a fan-designed Mary Sue made canon, let's check out one of his moves:
Arc Tracer gets Panzer Buster: 150 MP (and 40 DP but that's nothing) for a directional damage move, enough damage to clear mobs, enough range to cover two screens, fires quickly, can be aimed.
Grand Master, slightly older character, Saber - Extinction: 200 MP, also a directional damage move, mob clearing. Half the range or less, magic damage on a physical class, can be fired quickly, can be aimed.
Code Nemesis, one of the oldest characters, Assault Spear - Judgement: 200 MP, also a directional damage move, mob clearing. Terrible damage, almost no range, fires slowly, cannot be aimed.
Examples speak for themselves, each character gets progressively better stuff while the old ones are left in the dust. There's no balance to it when the newest character gets a vastly improved version of your skill.
That sums up Elsword's balance in a nutshell. I could go on for ages and ages about the various brokenness of all the different characters, but this review would be about 20 pages long. Let's look at the combat system itself then.
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 ♥♥♥♥.
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?
AHAHAHAHAHAHA oh god...
As should be evident with the cashshop and balance sections, PVP is ♥♥♥♥. Doesn't matter how skilled you are if you pick the wrong class and don't have as much cashshop as the other guy. They only need to be slightly competent to beat 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 real fighting games with it's massive casual approach.
Fourth - Content
This is probably the final nail in the coffin for me. Elsword and KOG either don't understand, or more likely, 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 ♥♥♥♥ing 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, the PVP is ♥♥♥♥. Even the rebalances are jokes; Season 3 revamped a total of 2 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. Nothing nerfs costumes, +11 weapons, skill notes, extra skill slots when it comes to PVP. If you didn't pay cash, you will with your losses.
So yeah, you can't call this game "PVP focused" when it's as trashy as that.
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 events, cashshop releases, grind 70 dungeons for a minor accessory reward.
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, there's more! They even ♥♥♥♥ us over with updates!
In KR, Henir and Secret revamps came with new level 70 sets, could trade your old 60 sets for them.
In NA, ♥♥♥♥ you, 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.
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 ♥♥♥♥.
Sixth - Hacking
Unsurprisingly happens, but KOG also does ♥♥♥♥ to do it. Patches to take out hacks are few and far between, and it really kills the fun when you're fighting someone who takes zero damage and can spam the same move every single second.
So hopefully you've at least got the gist of that, and will now know why Elsword is so terrible and avoid it. Pleeease avoid it. KOG doesn't deserve a penny from you. Tell your friends, too, don't let people fall into their greasy little clutches.
If you want a fighter MMO that requires skill, combos, with minor cashshop influence, massive content, and is one of the top ten favorite MMOs in KR, a region FILLED with free MMOs... Then just wait.
Dungeon Fighter will be back soon.