With over 100 million registered accounts, MapleStory might be one of the most popular free-to-play MMORPGs to date! A fun, 2D side-scrolling fantasy game with anime-style graphics, MapleStory features a large world, dozens of classes, unique party quests, a ton of features, and much more.
Playerbase: Very High
Graphics: Medium Quality
EXP Rate: High
PvP: Yes (but currently disabled)
Pros: +Gigantic community (Over 100 Million Accounts!). +Plenty of job advancements. +Unique platforming quests. +Great tutorial. +Regular content updates. +Huge game world with tons of quests. + Lots of classes to choose
Cons: -Easy to screw up stats/skill point allocation. -Repetitive gameplay. -Unbalanced classes. -Cash shop advantage.
With over 100 million accounts created, Maplestory is probably the most played free-to-play MMORPG of all time. Maplestory is a 2D side-scrolling, fantasy MMORPG with a massive amount of features and things to do. Although the game is now over eight years old, the game continues on strong with regular updates and patches, and has significantly upgraded the game engine and graphics since its early days. If you can handle MapleStory’s child-like, cartoony graphics, this game has a ton to offer.
MapleStory now has 30 classes and counting:
Explorers: Warrior, Magician, Bowman, Thief, Dual Blade, Pirate, Cannoneer, Jett, Zen
Cygnus Knights: Dawn Warrior, Mihile, Blaze Wizard*, Wind Archer, Night Walker*, Thunder Breaker
*New Blaze Wizards and Night Walkers cannot be created.
Heroes: Aran, Evan, Luminous, Mercedes, Phantom
Resistance: Demon Slayer, Battle Mage, Wild Hunter, Mechanic, Xenon
Nova: Kaiser, Angelic Buster
Sengoku: Hayato, Kanna
Child of God: Zero
MapleStory Featured Video
By Jonar Isip (Minstryl), MMOHuts Journalist
You heard of MapleStory, right? If you’ve followed MMOs at least beyond the surface level, you’ll know that it is a 2D, sprite based, action MMORPG. It’s a game whose cute, anime-style art, and solid platforming combat have become popular with kids and adults over the better part of a decade. And you can thank the game’s longevity for this knowledge. Being the old kid on the block has meant that years of advertisements, supermarket gift cards, and good old fashioned word of mouth has made the name almost as well known outside of Korea as Star Wars: the Old Republic.
Definitely not World of Warcraft, though. Let’s not get crazy here. Even my grandmother knows what WoW is.
MapleStory’s age has proven that it has some staying power, but age can also weaken that power over time. Though a video game may not change in the way my grandmother would (who, by the way, is a spry and healthy being, thank you very much), years of updates can dilute or even outright break a game if implemented poorly. Yet, if done well, these updates can make the game stronger than ever and provide a variety that most new games cannot give you.
Let’s take a look at how Nexon has treated MapleStory, now that it is in its 8th year in foreign territories.
Happy anniversary! Where’s my loot??
After a rather lengthy download process (at almost 5GBs), account setup (with TWO login screens) and character creation (which involves entering a PIN code for each toon. They REALLY want to stifle hackers…), you’re ready to start your adventure.
Character creation itself starts with selecting a class like the Explorer, Cygnus Knight, and Resistance. Other classes are locked, though which ones are locked are random at any given moment. Each character class has their differences, such as their move speed and how quickly they can level up. Some have altered mechanics, such as a beat-em up style combo system for Aran. The game does a decent job of explaining each character path and, along with the number of classes, will give you a sense of the breadth of content that MapleStory has to offer.
Once you choose your character type and customize his or her look, you’re ready to go.
Let’s get started!
You start off in a tutorial zone, which differs based on which class you picked. Regardless, you will be introduced to the mechanics of the game. You’ll learn what buttons you press to attack, jump on floating patches of grass, and talk to npcs. If none of the default keys are to your liking, the game allows you to change the controls with an intuitive on-screen keyboard. MapleStory even comes with gamepad support. A quest helper, named Tot, and an NPC follower are also there for quick reference as well.
Once you get the hang of the controls, the rest of the tutorial places you into a routine of taking a quest, completing the tasks for said quest, and returning to an NPC for experience. It’s standard boilerplate MMO questing. Sometimes your quests are several screens away, hiding behind two or more branching paths, and it can get a bit overwhelming at first. Thankfully, there is a search function on the world map as well as a navigation system to see you through – if you can figure out how to use them.
Hi, little fluffy bunny! I need to murdalize you for money.
Once you are in the quest area and ready to kill the cute and cuddly baddies, you’ll find the gameplay to be simple but fun. You can attack with either your main weapon or any skills you have. You can charge into the herd with your sword arm swinging or position yourself near a ledge and safely poke at an ornery mushroom with your arrows. There isn’t a whole lot more to it than that in the beginning, but it will hold your attention given the real-time nature of the combat.
Of course, all this fighting will net you enough experience to level up. Once you do you’re introduced to your character sheet where, upon level 10, you can add stat points to any attribute you wish – something that is rarely seen in modern, more casual games. Thankfully, for those of us who aren’t blessed with excellent math skills, there’s an auto-assign button that will reasonably distribute your stats for you.
When you reach a certain level, and depending on your base class, you can advance into one of the five job archetypes. There are four jobs that you can choose from at level 10: the Warrior, Bowman, Thief, and Pirate. You can choose the Magician job at level 8. Each job can advance to a stronger one when you reach certain levelling milestones. This also depends on your base class. For example, an Explorer Thief can class up to either the Assassin or Bandit job lines while the Cygnus Knight equivalent, the Night Walker, can only class up to a stronger version of the Night Walker (with increasing degrees of badassery). Of course, none of this applies to any of the legendary classes, who have their own paths to progess in as well as their own storylines.
Ok, I’ve learned a lot. Time to step out into the world!
The tutorial is good at easing you into the game up until a certain point, allowing you to take in everything at your own pace. The world is vibrant. Monsters and NPCs are drawn with colorful details and gigantic chibi heads. The sprites render well in the game, though MapleStory only supports two resolutions, both of which are in the 4:3 aspect ratio. The screen will stretch on widescreen monitors, but you won’t mind or notice the extra chubbiness of the characters if you’re new to the game. You can always drop it down to windowed mode if it bothers you but if you are rocking a high resolution monitor, the entire game will look pretty small.
The music runs the gamut between upbeat and somber. The sound effects emit both a cartoony and visceral feel as you rip tiny anime snails a new one. Both the sound design and music fit the visuals nicely.
Onward! To adventure! Uh… where do I go for that?
Your eyes and ears want to tell you that this is a sweet and inviting game, one in where you can prance around with your daughter or puppy. But, in order to do said prancing, you’ll need to shield your loved one from the reality of its cold emptiness. Your NPC companion will be gone when you leave the tutorial zone. And even Tot, the quest helper, won’t be nearly as useful as he once was, being relegated to a (sometimes) context sensitive infodump. If you haven’t figured out the navigation system yet, you’ll spend a good chunk of the game trying to figure out what quests to take, which can seem sparse if you don’t know where to find the quest givers.
The tutorial doesn’t teach you any of the other essentials, like finding shops to buy equipment. And most of the items for sale in the beginning zones are pretty darn expensive. I suppose that encourages use of the real money shop, but even trying to buy in-game currency seems like a chore. It took me a while to find the button to buy NX points. You’d think that, if they wanted your real life cash, it would be the biggest button on the menu and be a little more descriptive than “Charge NX.”
This ultimately puts the breaks on the sense of progression given in the tutorial. It’s quite the jarring learning curve. The game leaves it to you to figure out important functions like the navigation system which, you’ll need to learn to make your time in MapleStory easier. The post-tutorial game for a newbie is an uninviting one – a stark contrast to the cutesy monsters and kitschy music that permeate MapleStory.
The game is an overwhelming beast for the new player. Although the character development system is a stat junkie’s dream and the world has a lot in it to explore and discover, MapleStory does not do much to guide you past the tutorial zone. As a new player, your best bet is to have a friend help you through the rest of the content or you can look up wiki articles on the internet. It’ll reduce your risk of becoming hopelessly lost.
But why would you want to play this game in the first place? Well, if you’re the min-maxer type of person, you might be willing to ignore the rough edges and long grinds in order to build that character you tooled around with in your spreadsheet. This is also true for people who are fans of old-school RPGs and MUDs (I am really showing my age here…) and don’t mind the lack of handholding.
You may also want to play this game if you have friends who are already established players and know the game well. The gameplay is fun, if simple and repetitive, and will entertain you long enough for your veteran friends to get you through the confusing parts and into the more interesting content.
And, then, there’s the rest of us.
There’s a lot of promise of fun in this game. If you have enough patience to figure things out on your own, and you get used to some of the more grindy aspects of the gameplay, then you’re certain to find something to keep you occupied. But, more likely than not, you’ll probably think there are better ways to spend your time, and you’d be right to think so.
Maplestory Review (Original)
By Omer Altay
If you haven’t heard of or played Maplestory yet, you’ve been living under a rock. The game pretty much pioneered the entire free-to-play genre, as it was really the first ‘mega-hit’ free-to-play game out there. It boasts over 70 million registered accounts worldwide, which is quite a number considering World of Warcraft, the most popular pay-to-play MMORPG only has about 11 million subscribers. Okay, fine, I know it’s not a fair comparison, because lots of people have multiple accounts, and the 70 million figure counts the inactive accounts as well, but that’s still a LOT of players! The only real ‘turn off’ in MapleStory may be the game’s childish graphics, which I urge older players to look past. Because, graphics aside, Maplestory is one of the best free MMORPGs out there, and arguably the best.
Okay ‘Nuff nonsense, on with the gameplay
Maplestory is a side-scrolling, 2D Fantasy MMORPG with cute anime graphics. You start off your journey on Maple Island, the game’s tutorial area, as a classless novice. Here you can complete quests and get a feel for the game, and even gain a few levels while you’re at it. Players can advance to their first job after reaching level ten if they want to become a Bowman, Thief, Warrior or Pirate, and level eight if they want to become a Magician. Maplestory’s gameplay is extremely addictive, as unlike other free MMORPGs, each ‘level up’ earns players three skill points rather than just one, which makes progression feel more meaningful. The game’s graphics are also unique, as it is one of the first side-scrolling MMORPGs, but the game’s success led to games like La Tale and Ghost Online, copying the game’s innovative graphics. The single best aspect of the gameplay is the simplicity, as the game practically has no learning curve. The only real downside to the game is that it heavily ‘grind’ oriented, which means you’ll have to kill the same group of monsters over and over if you want to gain experience. Nexon has done a lot recently to remedy this, though, as the game is much more quest oriented than it was when first released. With the Cygnus knights and Aran update, not all players start in the same tutorial area, but the premise is still the same. The Cygnus Knights main ‘quest line’ will easily take players to level 25+, so players won’t have to outright ‘grind’.
Maplestory does a lot to differentiate itself from other free-to-play MMORPGs. The game has an incredibly unique questing system, which has a lot of fun quests that you won’t find in other games. One of these unique quests is the game’s ‘jumping’ quests that involve timing jumps and trying to get from one side of a map to another, sort of like a platforming game. Sure, the game has regular ‘kill X amount of Y monsters’ type quests as well, but the fact that the game has these unique platforming quests definitely spices up the game, as it’s a welcomed distraction from the grinding aspects of the game. Another fun and innovative aspect of Maplestory is the game’s ‘party quests’, which are exactly what the name implies; a quest designed for multiple people at once. ‘Party Quests’ (PQs for short), are usually a series of puzzles that a group has to solve through cooperating with each other within a set amount of time. The ‘unique’ aspect of MapleStory’s party quests is that they are more about solving puzzles and riddles than actually killing monsters, which, once again, is a welcomed change from the game’s repetitive grinding. The game also has a lot of generic kill quests as well, so players get the best of both worlds.
Job Advancements Galore
Maplestory has a large selection of job advancements which leads to the game having a great deal of variety. After players select their first job advancement at level ten (level eight for Magicians), they can select their next job advancement at level 30 and another at level 70. With the game’s latest series of updates, players can now select a fourth job advancement at level 120. Each of the game’s job advancements have a unique set of skills for players to learn and master. Unlike other MMORPGs, all of Maplestory’s job advancements and starting classes are incredibly balanced, with none of them being ‘overpowered’ or ‘underpowered’.
This game is always fresh
The best aspect of Maplestory is that game is always fresh. The publisher behind the game, Nexon, regularly updates the game’s content. I remember when I first started playing Maplestory in 2005, the game’s world was tiny with only one land mass called ‘Victoria Island’. Today, the game’s world has easily grown well over five-fold with the introduction of multiple new continents and areas to explore. The game’s latest content update introduced an entirely new ‘pirate’ class to the game, and several new dungeons for players to explore. Just recently Nexon also released the Cygnus Knights and Aran updates which added a whopping twelve new classes to the game, as well as many new areas to explore. The sheer amount of content in this game is jaw dropping, as there are so many quests to complete and places to explore that by the time players even come close to completing all of the content, Nexon will quickly remedy that by releasing more content. The game has no shortage of events either, as there are events for every major holiday, and occasional random GM events with bonus experience and item giveaways. Ultimately, if you’re looking for a game that doesn’t get old, MapleStory is your game.
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Maplestory is one of my all-time favorite MMORPGs, along with Ragnarok Online. The reason both games are so good are because they both have a massive amount of content that gets updated regularly. The two most important aspects of an MMORPG is its playerbase, and content, as without both, an MMORPG is dead. I urge gamers that are turned off by the game’s graphics to at least give the game a try, as even though the game feels childish, it’s an enormous amount of fun. I mean, come on, if a game wasn’t fun, it wouldn’t have over 100 million accounts worldwide.
On December 7, 2010 Nexon rolled out an enormous update for MapleStory titled “Big Bang”. The update changed just about every aspect of MapleStory – for the better. The game now supports a higher resolution of 1024×768, has three new playable classes (Battle Mage, Wild Hunter and The Mechanic, has a much higher experience rate (2x-5x faster leveling), a new area called Edelstein, plenty of new quests and so much more. Aside from the changes I mentioned, every skill in the game has been rebalanced and tweaked with the aim or getting rid of the “useless” skills. Just about every monster in the game also had their stats tweaked as well. The entire game world in MapleStory went through a radical change as well – with towns being moved closer together and maps being completely overhauled. NPCs in towns have been clumped closer together for convenience too. The Big Bang update is certainly a breath of fresh air to a game that’s already rich in content.
Final Verdict: Excellent
Maplestory is hands down one of the best free-to-play MMORPGs of all time. The game’s varied gameplay and catchy game music will keep you hooked from the moment you start playing. The game’s sheer amount of content and variety is another reason to give the game a try. Maplestory is definitely worth the download, so go download it!
MapleStory Unleashed Trailer
MapleStory Demon Avenger Trailer
MapleStory 8th Anniversary Celebration Trailer
MapleStory Cinematic Trailer
MapleStory Gameplay Trailer
MapleStory System Requirements
OS: Windows XP or later
CPU: Pentium 4 or equivalent
RAM: 1 GB
HDD: 6 GB Free Space
Graphics Card: Video Card with 128MB or higher
OS: Windows XP or later
CPU: Pentium Dual Core or equivalent
RAM: 1 GB
HDD: 6 GB Free Space
Graphics Card: GeForce FX5000 / ATI Radeon 9600 or higher (any video card with Shader model 2.0 or higher)
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