After a soft launch that started in Canada, Australia and a few other countries, MapleStory M has arrived on the world stage. While the game has a lot that fans of the original PC massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) will find appealing, it also has a downright appalling amount of pay to win features.
It looks like MapleStory
The world of Maple looks just like it did when the 2D MMORPG was launched on PCs in 2003. Many of the same locations, enemies, and NPCs from the game’s PC version are here to bring back fond memories for those who spent time with the original game. Players will find familiar snails, mushrooms, and slimes to go along with bosses like the Snow Witch, Jr. Balrog and others. The visual assets are definitely here.
It almost feels like MapleStory
If you stripped away the made for mobile user interface, it might not be too easy to differentiate between MapleStory M and the PC MMORPG just by looking at the two games. The differences between the two become apparent as soon as one starts playing the game.
While MapleStory M tries to use the same basic gameplay as the original game, it falls quite a bit short. The virtual joystick doesn’t feel natural and fails to allow for the same level of precision that made the original sometimes play like a platformer. This ultimately leads to the controls becoming a source of frustration.
To make matters worse, hit boxes and latency are all over the place. Players will often find themselves hitting enemies that they obviously should have missed, and getting hit by monsters after being out of their attack range. As much as one might hope to dodge back forth to avoid attacks while dealing damage, that’s something the game will simply not allow in many cases.
Progression is also quite different. Instead of starting out as a beginner and working up the ranks of the game’s job system, players pick their class when they start their characters. Classes are limited to one per archetype (mage, ranger, rogue, warrior, pirate) and players will earn enough skill points to maximize every ability in their arsenal. The game’s gear progression is also quite different, with some of the first pieces of gear players acquire looking identical to high end items. Each class has access to several sets of gear in a variety of rarity levels. The visual differentiation comes primarily from cosmetic items that players can equip in separate slots.
It’s Unmistakably Mobile
Even ignoring controls, it’s easy to spot the changes made to the game to the game in order to adapt it for mobile audiences. The first, and perhaps most controversial, feature players will notice is auto play. By default, the game automatically completes single player quests by running to the necessary NPC, killing whatever monsters the quests tasks you with killing, or picking up certain drops. It amounts to the game playing itself for a good portion of the time, particularly early on.
Players can also automatically grind monsters using the game’s auto battle feature. Though players are limited to using the feature for two hours per day unless they consume a one time use item to boost that time.
It’s Pay to Win, even by mobile standards
Free to play games, particularly RPGs, tend to be pay to win in one way or another. They sometimes give players small advantages, chances to draw better gear through loot crates, or just let them save time by boosting their experience gain. At this point being at least somewhat pay to win has become normal to the point of not being worth mentioning. MapleStory M takes things further than almost any RPG in recent memory.
Players are able to buy:
- Loot boxes with high end gear
- Potions that give significant, but temporary, stat boosts
- Pets that give minor stat boosts
- Cosmetic items
Having loot boxes is an accepted practice for mobile games, but MapleStory’s premium loot boxes are all but impossible to acquire for free users. That’s because premium currency cannot be reliably earned in game. Not even as achievement rewards or as a result of daily quests. Players can also try to acquire gear from some of the game’s high end content, but the days of monsters dropping gear are gone.
Weapons acquired through the game’s loot boxes can also be resold through the game’s auction house. That both allows players to effectively purchase basic currency and for players not willing to spend money on loot boxes to purchase high quality gear for jaw dropping amounts of Mesos.
Having even a moderately powerful weapon early on means that players will be able to kill just about everything they face in one hit, eliminating any notion of a challenge. Such weapons are surprisingly affordable and can be purchased with some of the Mesos players receive when they start out. It is the equivalent of getting a seemingly overpowered character early on in a hero collection game before finding out that the character is rather useless later on.
Multiplayer Dungeons Are Where The Fun is At
Aside from the familiar presentation, MapleStory M’s best feature is the game’s multiplayer dungeons and instances. Although a step away from the MMORPG roots of the game, the dungeons allow players to team up to take on challenging (assuming you don’t have amazing gear) bosses, hordes of enemies, or other challenges.
The best example is Nett’s Pyramid, which involves 2-4 players trying to protect an obelisk monsters by taking down hordes of oncoming enemies. The challenge comes in the fact that the enemies come through four separate lanes and one player failing at defending their lane (or simply going afk) will likely mean defeat for the entire team. It’s a mode that requires cooperation and a bit of trust, which also means it can be frustrating if playing with random users. Even with that in mind, co-op dungeons are one of MapleStory M’s few redeeming features.
MapleStory M is a pay to win experience without a lot of upside. Players who once loved the PC MMORPG will find a game that looks familiar but doesn’t live up to the game they used to play. What players will find here is an incredibly pay to win online RPG that offers no semblance of challenge for most of the game, boosts and loot boxes that give paying players large advantages, and auto questing that will take care of most of the monotonous gameplay.
Interested? Check out the new online RPG on Google Play.