If you are looking for a free to play MMORPG that steps out of the standard WoW/Guild Wars format and offers something unique without losing the concept, then MapleStory might be the game for you. Launched in 2003 and developed by Wizet, the game has grown into an MMORPG juggernaut with over 100 million users. Offering a unique side scrolling design that is fully two dimensional, and with easy controls, a very humorous world, and ultra adorable characters, it certainly has a considerably broad appeal. Despite this almost “cutesy” feel, however, the game has certainly drawn in a number of hardcore MMO fans thanks to a clever design and an intricate gameplay system. To keep it’s user base happy MapleStory also does an amazing job of consistently updating the game.
The starting area of MapleStory is incredibly user friendly and serves as a sort of tutorial. Players all start as beginners, and only upon reaching level 10, or 8 for the Magician class, are they able to choose their first job (class). The available jobs are Magician, Warrior, Bowman, Thief, and Pirate. Class progression is based on the first job you select. These are just the beginning of the job advances that a player can make throughout their time in the game. As players explore and gain additional levels more jobs will become available to them.
Interaction and Mini-games
As with virtually all MMORPGs, players are able to interact in MapleStory via chat and trade. In this game, it is also possible to interact through the mini-games system. These games vary from Tic Tac Toe and Concentration to Fishing and more. There are both single player and multiplayer options to give a player even more gaming variety.
Interaction is also possible through the creation of guilds. As with most games, a guild allows players to easily find and communicate with one another as well as to quest and progress together more easily. There are also purchasable guild upgrades available through the use of in-game currency.
MapleStory, like any MMORPG primarily revolves around the completion of certain quests. There are hundreds of quests available in the game, each with different level, fame, or other prerequisites. These quests are much like standard MMO quests in that they involve killing enemies or gathering items, but the humorous graphics and story on offer in MapleStory take away that sense of grinding and boredom that often accompanies questing. Even more quests were introduced at almost every level and in every area with the Big Bang update.
Holidays and Events
Another thing that makes MapleStory fun is the special events that take place from time to time. Holidays and other major events may result in special quests, rare items may drop, and cities may get a temporary new décor. The Game Masters also host special events from time to time that are open to all players and offer trophies and unique in-game rewards. These events are usually quite popular.
Part of what makes MapleStory so addictive for many players is the complete customization available. With numerous armor slots and the ability to tailor almost every single minute detail of your character’s appearance, it is easy to create a character to look almost any way that you like. There are also numerous weapon types to choose from, allowing players to experiment with what works best for their playing style. The game has ample items that drop as well as those that can be purchased using in-game currency.
Statistics can also be allocated as a player sees fit, but it is important to note that allocating them in the wrong slots can set you back significantly. The only way to undo these changes is to purchase certain items in the game shop using real world currency. Because of this, choosing where to allocate attribute points requires a great deal of consideration.
While MapleStory is free to play, the Cash Shop has many offerings that are otherwise unavailable to players. There are a number of weapons and armor items that can be purchased in this manner, and players will find that they can purchase in-game currency. While this does eliminate the risk associated with purchasing currency in games such as WoW, where it is banned and therefore considered a black market, it also gives players with the ability to drop real money on the game a distinct advantage. Mounts and pets are also available through cash transactions, and most players will certainly want a mount to make travel in the game faster.
There is a unique tax system in place in MapleStory that is designed to help level the playing field. Taxes are based on the amount of in-game currency that a player has. This helps to level the playing field for new players who are not buying currency and also helps to curb inflation rates, as when too many players have an abundance of currency, prices rise. Of course, this also makes trading currency to other players more difficult.
In all, MapleStory is a combination of the unique and the familiar. It takes the basic premise of the MMORPG and moves it into a brightly colored, two dimensional world. The side scrolling gameplay works surprisingly well, as shown by the incredible user base that the game has developed. Players will find that they have the ability to change worlds rather fluidly, which is unique in the MMO genre.
Visually, MapleStory is unlike anything that MMORPG players have ever seen before. The world itself is incredibly unique, and player customization has an incredible number of options. Gameplay is fun for people of all ages, and the minigames help to offer appeal to those who cannot devote countless hours to playing an online game. While perhaps not for the most hardcore gamers or the raid obsessed, there are enough features to appeal to a wide variety of players. MapleStory is certainly in a class of its own, and it is well worth checking out.