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|Genre(s)||Fantasy, action, MMORPG|
Elsword (Korean: 엘소드) is a free-to-play, 2.5D action MMORPG developed by the South Korean company KOG Studios. It features real-time action gameplay and includes both player vs. environment and player vs. player modes. There are twelve playable characters within the game, each with unique backstories and distinct abilities. While playing the game is free, some items and costumes can be purchased through an in-game "Item Mall" using real currency. The game was originally made with the intention of being the spiritual successor to Grand Chase by upgrading the graphics from 2D to 2.5D.
The story of Elsword takes place in Elrios, a mystical land brought to life through the power of a gem known as the El Stone. When the El Stone is stolen, Elsword and his allies go on a quest to recover it and bring the thieves to justice. Along the way, new allies join his team, known as the "El Search Party". While this story ties the eight regions of the world together, each region has multiple subplots that unfold as players complete the dungeons in that region. In addition, each character has a personal story that is told as they level up and select their job class path.
Elsword features skill-based action gameplay combined with role-playing elements and community features typical of an MMORPG, such as guilds, chat, and item trading. Gameplay can be controlled using either a keyboard and mouse or a gamepad. It is based on arcade Beat 'em ups, and require the player to properly execute combos within the specific range of their character much akin to a fighting game, mixing the elements to provide a side-scrolling beat 'em up fighter.
In the world of Elsword, player are able to choose classes by choosing a character, each with their own backgrounds and characteristics. Each character is able to choose from three job paths, each with their own fighting mode and personalities.
As of August 2016, all classes can advance to the "Transcendence mode" where they gain two new passives, one active, and three special actives starting from level 70, and two additional skill slots. Transcendence is also considered as a third job advancement, despite being a same class.
While 1st Class, 2nd Class, and Transcendence mode are available to all countries and continents with the game server, Ain is the only character that does not have all three classes or modes available in Europe.
Different types of skills are automatically unlocked as a player levels up. The player can also choose skill traits for a skill (only Special Active, Active, and Buff), which grants additional buff like damage increase, mana usage decrease, and anti-mana break skill, with some cost, a sacrifice like cool down skill or mana usage increase.
Elsword's skills except Passives and Hyper Actives are also divided into four types: Flexibility (Active skills), Tenacity (50~120MP), Strength (150~200MP), and Bravery (250~300MP).
- Passive - an always-on effect without any mana cost, as long as the conditions are met. There are many types of Passives, e.g. increases attack or defense, gives special effects, or enhances other skills.
- Active - requires some mana to activate; mana cost and cooldown is very low but does not do significant damage. Actives may damage an opponent, may help the player's allies, or even restore health or mana. Mana cost ranges from 0~100, and cooldown ranges from 0~65 and can be modified using other skills.
- Buff - gives the player and allies a special effect or a power boost for a limited time when activated. Its activation can be easily interrupted, so it has a very short cooldown. There are also skills called De-Buff Skills that weaken an enemy for a short time. Mana cost ranges from 50~80, cooldown ranges from 10~30, and buff duration ranges from 3~100.
- Special Active - has a special skill image when activated. The damage is relatively powerful, so it has a very high mana cost. Most Special Actives cannot be used in a combo, but there are some that can. Special Actives have a very low chance of being interrupted as character gained invincibility frame, but if it is, its mana will not be refunded and its cooldown will start. Mana cost ranges from 35~300 and cooldown ranges from 5~30
- Locked Skills - require completing a quest to be unlocked. After completing the quest, Camilla gives the player a skill unlocking book that can unlock a certain type of Locked Skill. Due to this downside, they are usually stronger than most skills. Once unlocked, it can become a Passive, Active or a Special Active. There are four locked skills for every character: Basic, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert, unlocked at level 30, 40, 45, and 60, respectively. The higher the Seal Level, the harder it is to unlock.
- Chain Skill - Exclusively for Ara, she is able to 'cancel' a skill and resume it with another skill. A chain skill has four skills in it. If the skill succeeds, she will perform the fifth skill, which is not available in her skill tree. Royal Guard and Noblesse are also able to use Chain Skill, linked a skill each performed by Lu and Ciel, and resume it by performing a Combination Skill.
- Combination Skill - only available for Lu/Ciel. It is a skill that utilizes them both to do a strong attack. It does not require any mana, but it requires a full Switch Gauge and depletes it completely. There is also no cooldown, as it takes a long time to gain full Switch Gauge.
- Hyper Actives - strongest skill; may be unavailable on other servers. It is also a locked skill and can be unlocked at level 65. Hyper Actives may decrease an enemy player's life to half or even cause a One-Hit Kill when landed successfully. They require 300 MP to use and have a 180-second cooldown. Additionally, Hyper Actives use up one El Essence, which can be obtained from El stones (one El stone yields three El Essences). The 180 second requirement can be lowered to 60 seconds with the usage of Concentrated El Essence.
Player vs. environment
Players traverse the land of Elrios, defeating enemies and leveling-up to unlock new job classes and skills. As players explore the world, they travel to ten unique regions, each containing a "hub" town and around six dungeons. In towns, players can receive quests from NPCs, purchase items, and interact with other players. Dungeons are instanced, offering co-op play for up to four players at a time. Some dungeons feature branching paths, light puzzle-solving, and interactive elements such as collapsing buildings. The game also features a number of special dungeons. Presently, there is a total of 80 different levels.
There are twelve different playable characters as of June 2017, each with three different job class paths (except Rose who has four) that can be chosen starting at level 15. Each job class path offers specialization in a different play style along with unique skills.
Player vs. player
Player vs. player (PvP) takes place in a special sparring arena designed for different numbers of players. Up to eight players can brawl at the same time. Both "survival" (i.e. everyone vs. everyone) and "team" modes are available, with team battles supporting up to 4 vs. 4. Servers have the option to fight 1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2, and 3 vs. 3 matches. In the Korean version of Elsword, 2 vs. 2 was removed due to its unpopularity. This option was also removed later in the North American and European version, but was re-installed on July 14, 2014 for the North American version and on July 30, 2014 for the European version.
There are a series of manhwa based on the game, published by Korean publisher Haksan Culture Company in a series of magazines called ElType. The magazines are published by KOG Studios, the creators of Elsword. They involve a main story in each magazine with short comic gags at the beginning and end. After the first four volumes were released, the series went on a hiatus due to the main artist of Elsword leaving. KOG later created a short series of manhwas different from ElType, involving Chung and his transformation into his second job advancement. During the release of Ara, ElType was rebooted with a new team of artists, entitled ElType Season 2. The first volume introduced Ara and her lore, along with numerous different short comics, each illustrated by several different artists. Add was later featured in Eltype Season 3.
An official guide was released on October 8, 2010.
In 2014, an Elsword manga-style webcomic was released in Brazilian territory, exclusive to the website. It was written by Fábio Yabu, responsible for the already established series Combo Rangers, and is freely available. The webcomic is aimed at children. There are twelve volumes of the webcomic and one special volume.
There is a seven page mini manga about Lu and Ciel 
An animation version of the game titled Elsword: El Lady adapts the story from Hamel to Lanox. DR Movie produced the anime while NZ wrote the story. The anime scheduled to have 12 episodes, each 12 minutes long. The first episode released on a screening event on December 10, 2016, following the online release 3 days after. The original cast from the game voiced their original character with the exception of Aisha.
A light novel series focuses on Add, set in an alternate reality from the game. The story is written by NZ and illustrated by Takoman, and is titled Elsword: Time Trouble. The first volume was released on August 7, 2015. So far, eight volumes were released. Each comes with an in-game accessory.
Relationships with Grand Chase
Elsword was originally a reboot of Grand Chase, another MMORPG created by KOG Studios. The two shared many similarities, such as Elsword, Aisha, and Rena, formerly named Elesis, Arme, and Lire, respectively, who were a few of the main characters of Grand Chase. The obvious identical traits were scrapped when Elsword came out of beta testing, as the two games were hosted by different companies. However, there are many similarities between the two games, such as similar skill systems, names, character stories, traits, and monsters.
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