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MapleStory - More of a review actually

maplestory-logo.jpg Maplestory is a free-to-play 2D Platform sidescroller, MMORPG with added social elements that would be a unique game of its time. Created by south korean companies Wizet and Nexon, it was one of their first successful alongside Combat Arms, another free-to-play FPS Multiplayer Online shooter. There are typical RPG aspects like health points, mana points,, quests, skills/abilities system, levelling system, and an inventory with multiple tabs to sort different types of items all under the fact that it is indeed a 2D Platformer with sprites.

Gameplay

Gameplay has always been a little choppy in terms of balancing with every update, only to have said new feature to be nerfed, or degraded. Alongside that, before the Big Bang Update (the update that would change Maplestory and it's community forever), a lot of players would agree that the game was more suitable for a Social Network. The game does do a good job after said Big Bang Update, now that they added completely revamped skills, statistics, items, maps, quests and furthermore, a complete re-skin of the terrible user interface.

The player can undergo multiple characters per account before actually playing. Although, there is a limit to how many you can make with in-game purchases in order to expand such slots. Before the Big Bang Update, there was only really 5 classes:

  1. The Archer
  2. The Warrior
  3. The Magician
  4. The Thief
  5. The Pirate

But after the Big Bang, Nexon started to continuously dish out classes that would eventually have the original five completely useless and outdated (not to mention they weren't given any proper revival during this process). Although, the classes Nexon would make are actually based off of the 5 base classes. For example, the Dual Blade is actually a thief wielding a dagger and a katana.

The information above is no longer true. The Red Impact update completely revamped the explorer classes

One of MapleStory's biggest features (and unfortunately, wallet vacuums) are the cash shop. Within this virtual space, players can opt-in to pay actually cash for Virtual Currency called NX to buy an assortment of things that would either help the player or just give them flashy looks. While it would seem more logical to spend said NX on a 2x EXP card for a couple of hours, a lot of players decided to buy a full set of stylish clothes and accessories with no statistical functionality over their current gear just for a 'social' aspect (basically, just to look 'cooler'). Because of this, Nexon has been kept afloat alongside Combat Arms, which arguably is a Pay-to-Win game.

Quests

Enough of the money stuff, let's get onto the quests:

  • Example of a beginners quest: Help, answer this question!
  • Player will pick random answer because they do not choose to read over the previous dialogue which is poorly written,
  • Thank you! Here's 20 EXP!
  • Player has their level progression bar increased by a few millimetres…
  • Player also has come to realised that the purpose of so this called 'quest' is actually just to make sure they've been reading to game instructions given through poorly written dialogue.

Oh boy, how terrible the quests are. I would go as far to even say there are no real quest system, but rather, a jumbled mess that has the player running all over the world for a fraction of their level progression bar completed when grinding monsters all day long is a far better option. A lot of the quests has no value, immersion (this is literally the weakest point) or quality to the point where literally everyone I know has just skipped through them in order to get the EXP. Although, a on-going dilemma that just keeps happening in the Maplestory world (AKA Nexon's failed attempt to recover the game's plot) where a black mage takes over parts of the Maplestory world and caused several heroes (or just classes) to lost their 200 level (which is the maximum level mind you) in which the player has to now start from level 10… That is literally the plot of half the classes in this game. It doesn't go further than that really, it's basically just a 5 year old who've broken their mother's vase and tries to put it back together with non-transparent Scotch tape.

Combat

Let me give you a run through of what the actual combat system in the game is like:

  • GRIND
  • GRIND
  • GRIND
  • GRIND
  • GRIND

Did I mention grind? Ok, so get your mind out of the gutter and imagine this situation:

  • Hey, I think I want to reach X level!
  • Player then continues to go on a mob massacre, that would eventually take hours
  • Cool, I just progressed through two levels!
  • Who needs that silly 2x EXP boost?!

All you're really doing is killing a countless amount of enemies (or countless amount of time doing a repetitive task) for the sole purpose of a goal, whether it be reaching a certain level, equipment or item drop. There are skills/abilities commonly referred to 'buffs' that can temporarily increase a player's stats, as expected from any MMORPG with a skills system. There are also flashy skills in which half of them you will only use because they're so damned overpoweredover powered. Of course there are other plenty of ways of getting EXP (this includes… ugh, quests), grinding by far is the most efficient method. Assuming you're playing with a well funded character that can easily kill of the mobs that you're training on, you will have a good time. Also, did I mention grind?

Merchanting/Economy

Imagine this situation:

  • Item X came out and it's overpowered when used properly
  • You then try to grind countless monsters for it because it goes for a ridiculously high price
  • Item X is now only 10% of the price it used to be!
  • You then try to waver your loses by selling it anyway
  • Item X is now actually this price or someone wanted it for much higher than you sold it for
  • Congratulations, you've just wasted countless time

Ok, this might be my experience, but certainly one that can happen to anyone. The economy in this game like every game is player controlled. We're not talking with NPC shops because they are completely irrelevant. NPC shops are completely pushed aside to anyone with a few ten million mesos (the game's currency). Attempting to sell said Item X that happens to be worth hundreds of millions mesos will result in 1 to them, lovely! The real reason you should be buying from NPC shops is just to repot (the act of buying every damn potion you can afford with pocket money so that you don't give up your training spot).

NPC shops aside, lets look onto the merching. Ok, this is a very popular topic to discuss on with countless guides with a 'how2getRichQuik!' tagline. Most players opt into buying low, and selling high. A popular tactic for… Ok this is literally everything you should do in life that has a value and trade volume (no, this doesn't apply only to the stock market). Players can sell their overpowered items that has been invested with countless real life money and scrolls to make it the best they can do only to realise that cutting profits and the work involved really isn't worth it. At least, that' my opinion anyway. Now, I realise that what i'm saying applies to most MMORPGs out there, but I think every respectable gamer should expect unique features from every game, no matter how broad or common it is.

The Verdict

That would arguably mean that Maplestory isn't a RPG to heart since their Quest system and actual combat experience is half-assed, and I say that because they do indeed succeed in making up for it. It's community has plenty of dedicated members that invested so much money to the pointed that they practically own a fraction of Nexon's company, their mapping and quests usually tries to keep players out of high-level areas, giving them a sense of balance (but no necessarily). To gain equipment or items, players are given an option to either grind for a while so that what they found is suitable or can be crafted from a unique resource gathering system spanning from common, low level stuff, to high level equipment/items that could be sold for a very profitable prices. Needless to say, Nexon has plenty of slip-ups and problems that would probably make anyone on the outside see their games as terrible, and that's a good thing. Players should see this company or more so, this as a 'bad' game. However, it comes with a charm that just keeps bringing me in, no matter how many times it will piss me off.

Platform Games | Role Playing Games


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