MapleStory 2 is finally here, released globally after three years since its arrival in Korea. Nexon has pulled out all the stops to ensure a smooth launch for global gamers and now the game is live on both the Nexon launcher and Steam. What is MapleStory 2? It’s a free to play MMORPG – the second in the Maple series – and it features cute cartoony characters in a pretty large anime fantasy world. You pick one of 9 classes to adventure with, using the game’s ARPG style hack and slash combat that feels really good. Players earn levels and gain new skills, all while exploring the world’s many map zones, and following the main story to hit level 50 and begin the end-game progression. We’ve spent a lot of time in the head start and launch, so here’s what we think of it so far.
There’s A Good Amount Of Content
For a cute and cuddly anime MMORPG, it’s easy to mistake this for just another run of the mill MMO clone of many others out there. We’re happy to report that at least in the content department, that’s not the case. MapleStory 2 comes bundled in with plenty of things do to for all types of players – solo, group, end-gamers, social gamers – to enjoy. The PvE features the main story quests for leveling, and while the story is forgettable, the XP is great, but it’s the other content that really shines. MapleStory 2 has some unique short story-driven dungeons that can be played either solo or in groups of four, with good rewards either way. At end-game you get to tackle the hard-mode dungeons in addition to the raid if you want challenge.
Even the zones have content in the form of Exploration progression that awards Trophies. Much of the game does surprise you and it offers so much more than just the usual and expected “fetch this, kill that” formula. Progression is another plus point, and you’ll get to dip you toes into all of them if you choose to. There’s Fishing, Housing, Music Performance and crafting to name a few. What really threw us off guard was how fun some of these mini-games were. Every 30 minutes, jumping into a pop quiz instance, or a dance standoff with other players has been such a breath of fresh air, and since it rewards XP that scales to your level, it’s worth doing. PvP is also on the platter, with open world PvP zones, Arenas and even a Battle Royale mode available.
The first MapleStory game was a 2D side scrolling game which wasn’t much of a looker. Thus, in comparison MapleStory 2 feels like a definite upgrade. It captures that MapleStory essence thanks to the characters, music and aesthetics and while it isn’t the flashiest of games out there, it’s definitely a bright and vibrant world that Maple fans expect. The positive is that the game runs incredibly fine with no hiccups. It’s had 3 years to simmer in Korea to prepare for the global launch, and it definitely shows. Much of the game is polished – from gameplay to performance – with little or no bugs and dialogue errors. For a Korean game, that’s impressive. Where it falls short with presentation is perhaps the soundtrack, which doesn’t do anything to elevate the experience, and the in-game music system has produced better music from players rather than Nexon themselves.
Creative HUB Genius
One of the game’s best features is its in-built UGC system or User Generated Content hub. From a click of a button on the UI, you can access the UGC Workshop and start creating. Create what? Well players can create their own designs and put them on everything, and we mean everything. From weapons to clothing, to mounts and even housing decor, your designs could shine in MapleStory 2 if its good and if the community thinks its good. Better yet, you can then sell your items in the in-game cash shop to earn premium currency for yourself!
This is a great way to diversify player goals in-game, and it lets the more creative folks shine and pursue what they like to do, and get rewarded for it. The cool part about this is actually seeing your designs out in the open world. Housing plots that can be purchased in main city hubs by players usually feature their own designs, posters and more, which adds a layer of uniqueness to the game.
Great Housing System
Player housing is an awesome feature for MMORPGs to have, especially when they get it right. Think of games that have great housing systems, and chances are it’s a count-on-one-hand list, but you can now add MapleStory 2 to it. The housing here is a combination of sandbox style building with a touch of The Sims. You get a house for free as you level up, and can then begin collecting tons of decoration items to personalize your house. The Build mode is exceptional, as you can customize everything once you’ve picked what you wanted from a menu that largely resembles the Buy and Build mode of The Sims games.
While the downside is that you can’t rotate the game at all, at least you can for your decoration placements. There’s plenty of categories to mess with as well, including gathering items like Chicken Eggs and Corn that you can harvest daily for crafting. It’s a functional housing system that’s impressive, and that ultimately is the goal – to impress your friends and the server – who can up-vote your house into the popular category which rewards your efforts with titles, trophies and other goodies.
Pay To Win Concerns Squashed
There were many concerns about Pay To Win when MapleStory 2 was announced for a global release. Things did take a sour turn in the other games – even the Korean version. However, Nexon has bounced back and removed any sort of concerns for its latest release. The in-game cash shop does not sell gear or any loot boxes so that’s a good start. There are premium services like instant travel and even an optional subscription for $5 a month if you want more convenience, but it’s definitely nothing worthy of a mob with pitchforks.