MapleStory is a 2D side-scrolling MMORPG and this MapleStory Review will take a look at the game in it's new modern era. MapleStory that has been around for 17 years at the time of writing this MapleStory Review and the game has gone through some huge changes since it first popped onto our screens in 2005.
- Global MapleStory
- MapleStory Gameplay
- MapleStory Bossing
- Free To Play or Pay To Win
- MapleStory's Outstanding Issues
- GMS Nexon Team
- MapleStory Review Score
MapleStory is one of those classic games that have manage to stand the test of time, leaving a trail of outdated systems in its path whilst simultaneously trying to modernize for the future MMORPG players of today. It could be put into the same bracket as games like RuneScape, Gunbound and to some extent, World of Warcraft. It's a game that has stuck around, keeping a solid core of dedicated users playing across the world.
MapleStory is a Korean MMORPG that was first released in South Korea 2003. It wasn't until 2005 that GMS was released for North America and Europe, titled Global MapleStory. 17 years later, the game is in it's 232nd patch update, and still going strong.
This review is based on the Global MapleStory version; all versions of the game share the same base, but with slight differences in classes, skills, rates and maps.
Global MapleStory receives updates directly from the Korean version, which are then tweaked to fit the American/European audience. Over the years, these tweaks have caused major differences between the versions to the point where reviewing MapleStory for all regions would be pretty impossible.
Global MapleStory is for both American and European players. The history of GMS is complicated; in 2007 there was an IP Ban for European Players and a new version of MapleStory was created called EMS. Players from European countries who had created accounts prior to the IP Ban, were still allowed to play on the GMS server.
In 2016, EMS shut down and player accounts were migrated over to GMS, reversing the IP Ban on Europeans from playing GMS.
So Global MapleStory is now the de facto version for both North America and Europeans. The other versions of the game are:
- Korean MapleStory
- Japanese MapleStory
- China MapleStory
- SEA MapleStory
- Taiwan MapleStory
MapleStory is constantly updated. They release several big updates a year, with smaller patches added throughout the year. GMS players can expect a new patch every month or so. New updates bring new classes, new maps, new items and new systems for players to engage with. Older content is slowly being revamped and some of it is being removed completely.
MapleStory 2004 is very different to MapleStory 2022 but still with the core side-scrolling 2D MMORPG gameplay.
MapleStory is a huge game. There are over 40 playable classes, with unique skills and job advancements, a level cap of 300 and hundreds of different worlds/areas to explore. The amount of content in the game is astounding and any new player looking to dive into the game will find years worth of content to play.
Each MapleStory class goes through Job Advancements at various levels. These Job Advancements give new skills to the class, making it more and more powerful. Choosing the Best MapleStory Class can help make your first experience of MapleStory a lot more fun, as not all classes are balanced and some are stronger than others. MapleStory is constantly updating classes with nerfs and improvements, so a class you pick today might not be the strongest in a year or two.
Each MapleStory character you create starts out at Level 1 and has a max level cap of 300. The primary way for MapleStory Leveling is through grinding; fighting the same monsters over and over again, gaining EXP and items along the way. Each level gives stat points, new skills and unlocks new types of content. As you get towards end-game MapleStory (level 200+) you'll start to feel that each level now takes hours rather than minutes.
Training your MapleStory characters isn't the only content available however. There are a huge amount of dailies to do that help boost your character's stats, lots of different bosses to progress through and an addicting weapon upgrading system.
The game is not really a party game anymore apart from end-game bosses. Most activities in MapleStory can be completed with just one player and the game usually rewards you for soloing rather than with a party (splitting loot). This is one of the major differences between old MapleStory (<2009). Old MapleStory had party quests and bosses that would require teams of up to 30 characters to take them down. This old content is still in the game, but usually no one does it anymore and those 30-man strong bosses can now be defeated with a single attack from one character due to MapleStory's out of control power creep.
There are other socializing activities available in the game, such as Guilds, which allow hundreds of MapleStory players to be grouped together and chat with one another wherever they are in the Maple World. There are also some events and quests still available that encourage party-play. The main gameplay of MapleStory is training on maps and this is almost always a solo-activity.
MapleStory Events come around quite often; usually they are in the form of coin-collecting which you can use to buy useful items from a shop. These events come with daily quests, mini-games, party-events and other activities that help break up the grind. The rewards are very useful to new players and mid-game players, helping you boost your characters progression when you take advantage of them.
A quick note on story: The lore of MapleStory has a few central themes, such as the Black Mage taking over the world. The details are lost in the hundreds of worthless quests and character story lines, make the story feel very disjointed. There are various MapleStory classes that have their own unique story, which are fun to progress through. But the overall lore of MapleStory is quite messy and disjointed.
Bossing in MapleStory is one of the most rewarding, challenging and frustrating parts of the game. It is the end-goal of most MMORPGs, and in MapleStory, bossing is how you progress your character from B-Tier to A-Tier.
Bosses are usually locked behind your character's level and strength. In the early game, most bosses are quite easy and don't require much thought. Once you hit level 200, you'll need to start upgrading your equipment, grinding out the levels and practicing boss mechanics to take them down. Once you get the latest equipment from one boss, you then move onto the next one, which requires even more grinding, daily quests, time-gated attempts and more mechanics to try and slow you down. Not that this is a bad thing- it's how most MMORPGs operate these days.
MapleStory has done a good job of trying to speed up the early game and get more and more players through to end-game content. End-Game content when first released, usually is locked behind excruciatingly long grindy mechanics and then a year later it's made easier for other players and new end-game content comes out. Progressing definitely feels rewarding early on and it's not until you've spent thousands of hours on MapleStory does it really start to slow down.
Your character's class doesn't affect your ability to take down a boss too much; damage is usually the most important factor and learning the boss's mechanics. Most MapleStory Classes are all built to take down end-game content, some are more capable than others and given skills that help them out in sticky situations.
Free To Play or Pay To Win
MapleStory is "Free To Play", where anyone can signup for a free account. The game heavily incentives micro-transactions through it's CashShop, where players can buy cosmetic items and pay-to-win items. There are also two types of servers: Regular Worlds and Reboot Worlds.
Reboot Worlds remove all trading from the game and have stripped most major pay-to-win elements from the game. This makes Reboot more of a classic RPG game, but with MMO elements like partying and bossing.
Regular Worlds are the standard MapleStory gameplay experience that has no restrictions on trade but allows anyone with enough money to buy their way to the top. Just a sample of Pay To Win items are: Double EXP Cards, Stat-Boosting Pets, Weapon Enhancing Items, Double Drop Cards, Gachapon-style rewards, over-powered items locked behind RNG spin wheels and more.
With that being said, it's still possible to enjoy Regular worlds as a free-to-play player as you can sell any items you earn from training or bossing with other players via it's Auction House and use that money to then buy CashShop items. In this sense, grinding on both types of worlds is no different- if you grind on Regular Servers, you can sell your loot on the Auction House to get pay-to-win items. If you grind on Reboot servers, you can use your loot to pay for items in the Cash Shop (since Reboot world has most pay to win items be purchased with mesos).
The differences between both Regular and Reboot worlds are quite stark and not really suitable for a general-purpose review of the game. The TLDR is Reboot is less pay to win than Regular Servers, but you can enjoy and progress to end-game without paying for anything on Regular Servers. It will just take more time than those with real life cash.
MapleStory's Outstanding Issues
MapleStory has long suffered from outstanding issues that stem from not being the main version of MapleStory (Korean MapleStory is) and the fact that it is a 17 year old game patched together with lots of outdated systems and ideas. Most of these issues are not really relevant to newer players, it's only when you start to get to end-game do they rear their ugly head.
Performance of MapleStory has been an issue that has plagued GMS for a long time. In particular, Reboot World is one of the most popular worlds in the game, and frequently suffers from lag, channel crashes and general unplayability. This issue got so bad that is caused a boycott of MapleStory players and made the GMS team start to focus on reducing the lag. There have been improvements made in the last few months, but this issue has been around for a long time.
If you play on a less-populated world, you will not find many issues with lag. You'll get the occasional client crash and weird glitch, due to the buggy 17 year old code, but generally MapleStory is a playable game. The game goes down for maintenance once a week to perform updates on the servers.
MapleStory used to have a massive hacking problem, with players using bots and third-party tools to play the game for them. This has been an issue since the start of the game, and every now and then, the GMS team steps up and does massive banwaves to keep the hackers at bay. Whilst they don't really ruin the gameplay for you, it can be disheartening to know other players are cheating their way to the top of the rankings.
Recently the MapleStory team have improved their detection of in-game hacks and it has had a big effect on the amount of hackers in game. Whether this continues or not will be up to how much resources the GMS team puts into it.
GMS Nexon Team
Nexon America is the producer behind Global MapleStory; it's parent company Nexon (KR) supply updates from the Korean version that are translated and patched to the global version. Unfortunately some game balance issues arise from this relationship as the Korean version has followed a different path to the GMS one.
Often times, MMORPGs become a community and one part of that community is discussions with the MapleStory staff team. Communication is often an issue for a lot of players. They try to give periodic updates about the state of the game, updates on future content, but a lot of the time these updates are dry of useful, relevant information. They often produce Maple Memos, and the answer to the most pressing issues are met with "We've noted your suggestions and are looking into it".
They do hire Community Managers and other staff that regularly get involved in the game's community. They do Twitch streams, have an active Discord community and post periodically on the Reddit community.
MapleStory Review Score
17 years is a huge achievement for an MMORPG to last that long and MapleStory is not going to go anywhere anytime soon. It's popularity in Korea means it is constantly updated and GMS get those patches/updates ported over 6 months down the line. It is also quite a unique game; there isn't another 2D Side-Scrolling MMORPG out there quite like MapleStory, at least none in terms of content, player base and gameplay.
If you've never played MapleStory and want to play a game that will keep you occupied for hours and hours, with plenty of deep-level mechanics in end-game and a fun, but grindy, progression system, MapleStory is worth a shot. There are issues that put players off but it is one of those games that you often feel revitalized after taking a break from it. The game is ever-changing, ever-updating and there is always a goal to work towards.
Let us know your thoughts of the current MapleStory below! We hope you enjoyed this review- let us know if we've missed anything important out!