Here's a post I didn't expect to be making on my primarily World of Warcraft blog: I've started playing Maplestory M, the recently launched mobile version of the venerable (and ridiculous) Korean grind-fest MMO.
I have a little bit of history with the Maplestory franchise, as it embodies two things I enjoy about the MMO genre: endless, mindless grinding, and overly-complicated interconnected systems thinly disguising a Skinner Box. Most people hate when an MMO gets grindy; instead I think that's when they really start. I like that endless loop of small incremental improvements, and wow does Maplestory keep those increments tiny. So I've played Maplestory before, many years ago, both on the official live servers and on some ridiculously hyped-up unofficial servers with modded XP and item drop rates boosted through the roof.
The thing is, I always felt like Maplestory would make an excellent mobile game; and here it is. It's... about what I expected it would be. It looks like Maplestory. It even plays mostly like Maplestory. It's even got the same weird jittery rubber-band lag when maps start exploding with effects and showers of XP and the local currency, Mesos. But because it's a new version specifically for mobile, it also has some new features:
- Daily, weekly, monthly log-in rewards and rewards for playing for X many minutes when you log in!
- A cash shop literally stuffed with P2W items, cosmetics, boosts, and absurdly over-priced bundles!
- An auto-quest and auto-battle system to have the game grind itself for you!
- Endless loot cooldowns, loot boxes, loot chests, loot mails, so much to click on and be disappointed by!
In short, it's both crass and fantastic. I know that bullet point list of "features" is probably entirely unsavory to the vast majority of players, but it's all things I kind of love in a complex game. I won't be spending any much money in the cash shop, but what I do love is figuring out how best to utilise the daily rewards to circumvent the need for it. I'll use use up my daily allotment of auto-battling time in my daily allowance of mini-dungeons. I'll grind out mesos to upgrade my equipment and squirrel away every scrap of premium currency to spend on the items that'll have the most impact. That's all part of the fun of the game for me.
I'll probably even make a spreadsheet at some point, if I stick with it for long enough.