I tend to disagree with about 99% of the reviews here and let me tell you why. While most of you have just pure hatred/resentment towards a game you think is "Childish" or "pointless" OR just a "Grindfest" you just want to hate a game like this THAT badly. If you are grinding for hours on end you are playing the game wrong! The game has become less of a grindfest than it used to be (which actually used to be fun, which I will explain).
Lore and Story
This is something I found myself really getting into as I continued to play the game. The story has really taken off since Big Bang (a really controversial patch that was released in 2010). We actually started to get more information on who the Black Mage really was by this point, and beyond. We find out that he used to be a mage known as the "White Mage" as discussed in the Grand Athenaeum. He restlessly researched the light to see what was beyond it. He eventually realized that the "Ultimate light can only be found in the ultimate darkness."
His research started to have more and more negative effects on the world, creating dark beings known as "Omens." Eventually he became corrupt by the power he obtained from the darkness. Not only was corrupted, but he allowed it to corrupt him. He eventually became what we know as the "Black Mage."
These days, there are so many more lore quests to go through. Especially with Black Heaven out right now, it's gotten a whole lot darker, and a whole lot more interesting. I'd suggest checking these quests out if you plan on playing the game.
Based on what I have experienced in the game's story: this is no mere "childish game." Unless you think characters dying on screen, and the occasional curse word (crap, damn, bastard, the words that would qualify a game for a Teen rating) are childish.
Just to add a bit more, you actually grow attached to some of the characters. You gotta play to find out why. I can't explain it all.
Very basic way of playing a PC game, and it fits this style. Abilities are able to be hot-keyed to YOUR liking ANYWHERE on the keyboard. Especially your basic functions such as jumping, walking, attacking, etc. You can customize your hot-keys to fit YOUR play-style (and yes I will continue to emphasize that). It's not hard to get the hang of this at all. Some classes do require you spam the attack button in order to refill specific substitutes for their MP bar. Examples are Demon Slayer with his Demon Force, Zero with his Time Force, and I think there maybe one more in there. Can't think of it right now.
Grinding is something that you do when you're bored IMO. It gives you something to do, and if you want to gain some levels then yay! You want to level up! Though, grinding is the one glaring issue with this game. The only problem I have are the stupid and repetitive fetch quests. "Get me this from this monster" or "I need this many of this item from that monster." That is actually one of two complaints about this game, and I don't have any other issues with it other than the "Star Force" system. -_-"
HOWEVER! The grinding in the game used to be fun to a degree. You would often find yourself partying with strangers or friends to go level up somewhere. While you did that, you would sit for a few moments to chat. Most of the time you would make a friend. Hell I got invited to several guilds up to 100+ people, and with 300+ member alliances. I think it's still fun if you know how to take a break for about an hour or two, or just stop all together because it will actually suck your life away. It's that addicting.
Wide Variety of Class Options and Customization
There are so many classes in the game now that I can't even explain how amazing this is! I often get stuck trying to choose one out of a massive roster of classes (a bit of an exaggeration, but my point stands). Explorers have the basic Warrior, Mage, Archer, Thief, and Pirate classes. Cygnus Knights are similar, but have a different set of abilities. Some are the same as explorer abilities. The classes from this you can pick Dawn Warrior, Wind Archer, Blaze Wizard, Striker, and Night Walker (if it's still called that). I think some of those names have been changed or all have been changed. I need to go back and check on this.
The next set of classes are the Resistance classes. Mechanic, Battle Mage, Wild Hunter, Demon Slayer, and Xenon. After that we have The hero classes, which are my favorite! We have Luminous, Aran, Shade (Eunwol in Korea), Evan, Phantom, Mercedes, and Zero.
There is one other class I think I forgot to mention, and it's the Beast Tamer class. IMO, it was not worth it to play it. I heard she can be very powerful, and deal amazing damage. She can be useful, but I've rarely seen her get used. RARELY.
The Customization in this game is amazing! The Cash Shop is overflowing with many vanity items to customize your character's looks. You can choose to drop money into the game to help get ahead, but you don't need to. To me, these are just bonuses, and especially with the game being free-to-play, the in app purchases are worth it if you are the kind of person who likes to merch.
Even at the character creation screen you can customize your character with different hairstyles, clothes, weapons, etc. (if you want to do more with these, then in app transactions are necessary)
Isn't necessarily PAY TO WIN
One comment I'd like to make is that people who say that Nexon made the game "pay-2-win" are bullshitting themselves. These types of people complain about how you HAVE to spend money otherwise you're bad. No, it's the exact opposite. Those who drop tons of money ranging from anywhere between 500$-1000$ a month are the ones who are bad at the game. I only spent 300$ on this game over the course of EIGHT YEARS! EIGHT FREAKING YEARS! I only drop maybe 10$ once in a blue-freaking-moon. Just because you drop tons of money into any game, it doesn't mean you are a "pro." It just means you have absolutely nothing else better to do with your time and money. Get over yourself, and stop bitching.
The only reason why it became p2w is because these very people made it so.
Any Extras I may have forgotten
I can only think of this: CUT-SCENES IN THIS GAME ARE AMAZING! (When playing through certain quests. Mainly the story-line quests). Some of these cut-scenes segue nicely into a fully animated cinematic. I often forget that I am playing a game, and start to believe that I am watching an anime or an anime movie. It's just that good to me.
I give this game a 9 mainly because of the couple of issues I mentioned. If not for those, it would be a perfect 10.