Tuesday 31st July/...Dean D. Cho, Development Manager of MapleStory Europe at NEXON, gives us a look behind the scenes of this amazing new free to play MMORPG in the first of a series of insider articles.
Welcome to the amazing world of MapleStory Europe, the fantastic new massively multiplayer online RPG from NEXON Group!
Since we first launched in South Korea in April 2003, MapleStory has become one of the most successful online RPG's of all time, boasting over 67million registered players from across Asia and the US, and it's not hard to see why. With its compelling gameplay and incredible visuals, once you step into MapleStory's magical landscape of action and adventure it's almost impossible to step back out again!
Bringing a new dimension of play to MMORPGs
What makes MapleStory immediately special is its unique, two-dimensional viewpoint. The reason behind this is twofold. Firstly, it allows for a simple control system familiar to anybody who's played the classic two-dimensional platform games of old. Characters can run, jump, climb ladders, shimmy down ropes and attack, all of which makes for quick, arcade-style play, not to mention introducing a whole new element of 'jumping' quests to the MMORPG genre.
And secondly, it permits players to experience a stunning and completely hand-drawn world, something of a rarity in the polygon-dominated videogame landscape of today. From the dreamy treetop walkways of Ellinia, home of the mages, to the sparkling underwater realm of Aqua Road, charming environments, cute characters and even cuter monsters are the hallmarks of MapleStory's distinct and vibrant art style.
Easy to learn, fun to master!
While its MapleStory's unique look that draws players in initially, it's the gameplay itself that will keep gamers hooked. Many of MapleStory's features will be familiar to seasoned MMORPG players - accepting quests; fighting monsters for money and experience; developing your character's special skills and abilities - but these have all been specifically tailored to be as simple and accessible as possible, making for a game that can be easily dipped into for short periods of time. Menus and inventory screens are kept straightforward and clutter free, character skill lists are comprehensive enough to offer significant depth without being overwhelming, and the control scheme is quick to learn and completely user-definable.
MapleStory carries the same design philosophy through to its gameplay, with a special training world that helps ease new players into the game without confusing them. Characters start their adventure on Maple Island as a Beginner, where they'll carry out simple quests and train against weaker monsters, before taking the boat to the significantly larger Victoria Island. Once there, players are free to continue their quest as they wish, choosing as they do so one of the four principle career paths of MapleStory: Warrior, Bowman, Thief and Magician.
A whole word of opportunity for you to explore
MapleStory Europe's elegant world is both vast and varied. Victoria Island's busy towns, rocky mountains and lush forests are the perfect training ground for newly qualified adventurers, with a wealth of different locations to explore, both obvious and cleverly concealed, but that's just the beginning. Players can book passage on a flying ship to the even larger continent of Ossyria, where they'll be able to visit the frozen wastes of El Nath, the multicoloured castles of Ludibrium and the ethereal cloud city of Orbis, among others.
Not that you should ever feel alone in your travels. MapleStory is as much about socialising and making friends as it is taking on epic adventures. Customisable buddy lists help you keep track of when and where your friends are online, while like-minded players can drop in and out of adventure parties on the fly, or form more organised player guilds, in an effort to help each other take on the game's most powerful monsters and quests. And in keeping with MapleStory's light-hearted spirit, players can communicate with each other through hilarious facial animations as well as the more traditional text chat channels.
Always free, always fun, always Maple!
But best of all, MapleStory is completely free to play. It's free to sign-up an account, the client software is free to download and there's no subscription to pay, ever. And that goes for all the weekly content updates too, which continually add new areas and new features to the game. Instead, MapleStory offers a 'Cash Shop' where NEXON cash (bought using real money from the MapleStory Europe website) can be spent on hundreds of different items and accessories for your character, allowing you to completely customise your online appearance and style.
Whether that's tricking your character out with a multi-coloured fright wig, shades and sandals, or something slightly more practical, such as 2xExperience coupons and miniature pets that follow and aid your character in game, the Cash Shop offers an endless amount of customisation possibilities.
MapleStory Europe is a game for everyone, irrespective of age, gender or experience and, indeed, language, boasting as it does multiple servers in English, French, German, Spanish and Dutch. From long-time MMORPG players, through to those who are completely new to the genre - or games in general, even - MapleStory's richly detailed, ever-changing world and simple, yet impressively deep, gameplay is an endlessly enthralling prospect. Fun, free, accessible and, above all, truly entertaining, MapleStory is an online role-playing game that really is like no other.