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"Elsword: Evolution" Review: Bringing MMO to Mobile

Alexandria has been playing video games since the days of the Sega Genesis. She's been writing about video games going on four years.

MMO Elsword has over 28 million players worldwide but now the game has come to mobile as a side-scrolling RPG called Elsword: Evolution. Noah Ark Studio and Koram Games Ltd. launched the game for iOS and Android in May of 2016 and it’s available to download for free. Elsword: Evolution is a decent side-scrolling RPG for mobile. Read on to find out if it’s the game for you.

Music, Graphics and Story

The 3D animation and catchy music are some of Elsword: Evolution's strongest features. The anime-themed action-adventure lets players assume the roles of three different characters: a cute and powerful magic wielder, a beautiful elven archer and a brave human melee warrior. Each has their own skill sets and leveling paths that give variety to gameplay and cater to different preferences in playstyle.

The story is told through still image cut scenes interspersed between combat missions. No matter what character you choose to play as you’ll team up with the other two playable characters and begin a quest to recover the El. Overall the story is lackluster and barely more than an excuse to explain the purpose of more combat missions. The quest for EL probably isn’t the reason dedicated players log in to play Elsword: Evolution every day.



When it comes to gameplay, Elsword has all the trappings one would expect of an RPG. Upgradeable skills, equipable armor and weapons, and even crafting to a degree are all present and accounted for. At the heart of the game though are the combat missions which progress the storyline.

Each mission is a fairly linear side-scrolling level in which players must defeat all enemies in an area before progressing further-eventually fighting the final boss. Getting top score entails finishing the level in an allotted time and not using any healing potions-of which you get three per mission. Success comes down to being as efficient as possible with the ordering and positioning of your attacks.

Being the most efficient can often mean just playing on auto-battle, where the game plays for you. The AI arguably makes the best choices for attacks but can have delayed movement when jumping between platforms or clearing areas. It also doesn’t prioritize chests or coins so you’ll miss out on a lot of loot playing on auto or semi-auto.

Leveling Up and In-App Purchases

With all the grinding players will have to do at later levels the auto-completing raids and auto-battle options can feel like a godsend. Yet, with the AI playing so much of the game for you it can begin to feel like there’s little point in even playing the game at all. But the skill comes in how skill points are allocated and what gear is equipped. Non-story missions are available to help players level up and will have to be executed by the player and not the AI, however if you don’t enjoy grinding for gear and deliberating over the most powerful stats than this mobile RPG probably isn’t for you.

The first few hours of Elsword: Evolution are ridiculously simple. Predictably players level up fast and are given heaps of in-game currency and items to keep them playing. The whole first stage of combat missions is not very challenging and can be completed by spamming basic attacks and only using special skills to speed things up. Once you get to the next stage of the game though, the difficulty ramps up abruptly and the leveling slows to a trickle making grinding the new name of the game.

As a free-to-play game, it has plenty of opportunities to spend real-world money on in-game currency. From Tree of El fruit for funding raids to coins to buy items from the store, there are at least four or more different types of in-game currencies to further a character’s progress in the game and can be difficult to keep track of. To Elsword's credit though, players never have to pay a single penny to play the game. All currencies can be earned through gameplay and there are plenty of opportunities to do so.

Pro's and Con's

A nice feature of Elsword: Evolution is the social aspect. Players can join clans, send gifts and communicate with one another within the game. It creates a nice way to socialize and have camaraderie with fellow players. There is also a battle arena where players can test their skills against each other.

There are some other issues with the game though. Even though its release was delayed, the English localization from the original Chinese isn’t great. While the character’s voice stabs being in another language is fine, some of the message pop-ups are also untranslated and other text is in clunky and confusing in English.



Mobile side-scrolling RPG Elsword: Evolution has cute 3D graphics, catchy music and nice social aspects to experience. For players that enjoy grinding and inventory management, it’s a solid free-to-play game and the goal of leveling up will keep you playing for hours. If that’s not your bag than you may find the game more frustrating than fun or not worth the space on your mobile device.

Elsword: Evolution is available free-to-play for iOS and Android with in-app purchases. It was reviewed on an iPad Air.

© 2016 Alexandria Taberski