Maple – A first step into free MMORPGS
There are a huge amount of free, Korean grind fest style MMORPG’s on the market. I thought it’d be interesting to write a series of articles documenting my reaction and initial impressions in these MMORPG’s just to see how such a competitive market maintains its player-base, profitability and distinct story-style. I initially started with a list of forty potential MMORPGS to analyse. I discovered 10, a whole quarter of the list, had been shut down. So it appears not all MMORPG’s can meet these three criteria.
My first journey into the world of MMORPG’s began with Maplestory. Maplestory is a side-scrolling action based RPG that has you jumping around the map to catch dangling branches and unleashing combo chains on enemies. Maplestory is available on the PC/Stea, there is a mobile version called Pocket Maple and a sequel is also in development.
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At A Glance
- Combo-driven, side-scrolling, MMORPG.
- Easy to play – clear explanations, signposted quested, and newbie friendly. Its a great MMORPG for novices.
- Extensive areas to explore – I barely scratched the surface and will be going back for more.
- There are quest giving penguins and evil snow tribbles. Seriously, aren’t they the cutest little guys ever?
- Great control system – easy user interface – and setting up a gamepad is super easy.
- A huge community presence could be seen on the busy servers.
- Amazing choice of characters available.
- A simple but epic fantasy story.
- Repetitive enemies to defeat.
- Repetitive fetch enemy drops and then carry elsewhere tasks.
- You can overpower hordes of enemies by pressing one button repeatedly.
- Huge level caps at 250.
- Lots of themed dungeons and high-end quest portals dot maps.
- Lots of things to find and do.
- Huge arsenal of attacks for each character that get insanely more powerful as you level.
- Unique storyline for every character – more interesting than most MMORPGs (at least in the first 60-100 levels)
The amount of choice was simple amazing. Here is a video documenting the choices you’ll have in the game.
There are numerous classes such as Hero, Resistance, Explorer, Nova, Kinesis, Cyngus Knight and more. Each class has sub-classes that you can choose from. The classes start from different points in the world and have unique introductory stories as well as intriguing cutscenes.
These stories are so long, I have yet to complete one. For example, if you choose some one from the Hero you start frozen in a block of ice you break free from on an island full of quest giving penguins and deadly snow tribbles that you have to cull in the hundreds. If you choose the Cyngus Knight you start on a magical floating island. If you start as Kinesis you start in school in modern day Seoul. They also offer a wide range of abilities so there are lots of great options for repeat game play.
Game-play is fun, quick and simple with little need for thought or planning. You move left right, jump a little and spam attack buttons to unleash a flurry of combos on multiple enemies who drop large quantities of goodies. Here is a quick look at my Kinesis in action:
However, the game-play is driven forward by a series of fetch and carry tasks that can have you going back and forth between the same screens multiple times for small pay off or very little story progression. I have a video where I just move between NPC dialogues for five minutes and complete five quests by doing so. The only thing that happened is my character donned a hat. I decided to spare you the tedium of watching it. In defense of the game-makers, it was a rather spiffy hat.
There are a plethora of events, side-quests, collections and challenges to keep you interested. Some of the ones that I have discovered so far are timed-challenges to win medals that give you a title with a status and monster card collections that reward you prizes. On the character creation screen there is also an option for part-time jobs and character card equipping which I haven’t unlocked anything for yet.
I even discovered this random giant mustached snail whilst exploring a map, and most probably got a little too excited when I did so:
When I defeated him the entire top shelf was coated in drops. They are very generous with presents and gifts. I was also given a medal because they’re running a Valentine’s Day event, but I am not sure I like the title ‘forever single’ that such a medal I could only win while playing on Valentine’s Day gives me. Most items come with a customization level suggesting there is a crafting component that I haven’t discovered yet.
Some of the character classes are also locked suggesting there are a lot of hidden end-game benefits to discover. So it is a game where you’ll constant discover a wealth of new content.
The quests are well sign-posted and you always know you are going. If you do get lost your journal will always point you in the right direction. The interface is very easy to use and is intuitive to master. You will be guided through all the buttons as a tutorial unfolds. There is even an option for customizing a game controller to work with the games interface, which is very easy to use and set up.
There is a huge expansive map to discover and I have only just started to scratch the surface of what this game can offer. There is an amazing amount of content and I doubt I’ve discovered a quarter of it.
The story line for each class is unique meaning there is a lot of different stories to discover. Most of the story is dialogue driven through interaction with other characters. The dialogue boxes tend to pop up a little slow, and I found myself skimming what the characters where saying a lot of the time. So although the plot and premise have a good basis – don’t expect to be riveted by a Nobel prize winning playwright.
The graphics are very good for a free MMORPG but don’t expect AAA game standards. There are some beautifully drawn anime cut-scenes placed through the introduction story lines. Your character changes dramatically depending on what equipment you have equipped at the time.
The first is my starting equipment, the second is a swimming cap and halberd I found and the last is a proper coifer helmet with breast-plate. So Maplestory is a perfect game for dress up too.
The backgrounds are amazingly detailed. I love the drilling penguin in this picture. Who knew drilling could be so fun?! But it leaves me wondering if the tissue using penguin on the bottom has just finished his turn with the drill and is taking a break, padding the sweat off his face?!
The only big downside with the graphics is that the frame-rate and the screen has a tendency to slow down and jump in areas where a lot of player congregate, mostly around shops in a town.
In the busier severs there is a vibrant gaming community with high level parties forming to tackle some of the harder quests as well as plenty of sellers and talk happening in the chat box. The people I run across on the Luna Server in Europe were very quick to answer any questions and talk.
The game also has seasonal events taking place. I was regularly winning boxes of chocolate from fallen enemies that gave me prizes that I could use myself or share with those around me which made for fun environment to play in because it was nearing Valentines day.
Maplestory’s repetitive task system, and in conjunction with it being a little too easy, could make this game get stale quickly. However, it is a quality,fast-paced, free button masher that’s fun; the perfect game to elevate a few hours of boredom. It is also game that focuses its attention around rewarding the community and player. The graphics are great for a free MMORPG that relies solely on micro-transactions. In my time in the game so far, I haven’t opened the shop menu or even felt the need to look there due to the generous amount of drops and gifts I received through normal gameplay and as such, I cannot comment on the economy of the game. This may change at higher levels.
Where to play?
Maplestory can be played for free at http://maplestory.nexon.net/ The game is quite large and may take awhile to download, however it is free. There are lots of in game purchases and unfortunately a pay to win system.