I think having MapleStory as my first MMORPG definitely changed my perspective on the genre. It’s a prime example of things people have as red flags for MMORPGs: super grindy, pay2win, greedy publisher, RNG gear progression, chibi graphics, and it’s practically a solo game. As a kid, I didn’t know any better. I just liked it because it was free and cute.
Fast forward to now and I tried out most of the major MMORPGs. Slogging through MapleStory really made me more appreciative of them. Kinda like how someone who’s been starved before appreciates food more than someone who’s never experienced hunger. That was a really dramatic example, but I hope you get what I mean lol.
I was just so amazed. As someone who likes reading dialogue in games, it was nice playing MMORPGs that let me level through questing and not grinding the same mobs over and over again. I remember playing through games like WOW and going “oh hey MapleStory kinda has a worse version of that” to basically everything. Mounts were actually useful too. (And they have a z-axis!)
I was so happy when I was in the same map as other players and they didn’t try to get me to leave. MapleStory’s community seemed actively against partying because it was less exp. There was a common phrase “cc pls” (cc = change channels) and it basically meant “fuck off I’m grinding alone.”
There was a big focus on soloing things. Last time I checked, a lot of the top MapleStory YouTube videos were solo bossing videos. Now I have nothing against solo players, but it felt too solo-oriented for an MMORPG. On the other hand, most group content just amounted to “pray that your guild is nice enough to carry you and give gear”.
There was no holy-trinity or class balance. New classes were objectively better. There were like 2 support classes and one of them, the Kanna, had a skill that increased the amount of mobs that spawned in a map which is huge in a game that’s centered around grinding as many mobs as fast as possible. It was so overpowered. There was practically no PvP either.
Gear progression was probably the worst part. It had these gambling things called cubes which used RNG to roll the stats you had on your gear. So you had to buy with irl money: cubes to progress gear, a shop to make it easier to trade, and a pet to pick up loot because mobs drop a lot of stuff and it’s impossible to pick it all up manually. There was also some convenience stuff like the teleport rock and the premium currency, NX, expires if you don’t use it. It’s almost scary how MapleStory’s predatory monetization hides itself behind cutesy art.
People usually recommend it when someone wants a game with low system requirements, but honestly it doesn’t run well on computers that aren’t at least mid-range. Sure you could get it to run on an older computers, but it’s going to be pretty slow. Especially in major towns or when you open your map. They also say it’s casual, but it’s extremely grindy and I remember there being a lot of dailies.
In fact, an old MapleStory YouTuber also quit and is doing way better making Pokemon content lol
That being said, I still have a soft spot for it because it was my first MMORPG. It has a lot going for itself. Soundtrack is great. It’s super alt-friendly. (Maybe a little too alt-friendly because you need to make alts for the skills they give) It’s a shame because it can be pretty fun and I think it’s the only 2D side-scrolling MMORPG left. The pet system is nice and pets are actually essential. I haven’t played in a while, but I saw they added a Reboot server without pay2win and they made cubes more accessible for free players. There’s a ton of classes to choose from. The story and lore are okay. It’s another reason to have multiple alts. To see the story from different perspectives. The graphics and characters are also really cute.
However, the flaws were too glaring for me. I’d rather pay for a sub fee rather than a chance at improving my gear in MapleStory. Premium items don’t expire after 90 days in GW2. I don’t have to leave my computer on to sell things at the auction house in WOW. I don’t have to pay real life money to teleport in FFXIV. There’s actual group content in ESO and the other ones. It’s a lot of basic things like that. I haven’t even gone into the botting, exploits, ruined economy, and server issues.
I see people bash the big 4 MMORPGs often and I’m sure they have valid criticisms, but in my eyes, they’re leagues ahead of what I was used to. It almost makes me glad that MapleStory was my first so now I don’t have a super high standard for them like the people who played actual good MMORPGs do.
I still wish I played good MMORPGS in their golden age like a lot of you did though. I was barely alive then. I started MapleStory in the early 2010s. By that time, MMORPGs were already asocial ghost towns. Maybe it’s just other people being nostalgic, but they made them sound more social and fun back then.
Anyways, MapleStory might have made me a little too tolerant of incompetence, but I’m still glad it was my first MMORPG.
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