Gaming, Opinion

Returning to MapleStorySEA – Same Old (But Still Fun) Game in Need of Modernisation

MapleStorySEA is touted by PlayPark – the distributor of the hit South Korean MMORPG in Southeast Asia – to be one of the world’s longest-running games of its kind. After all, it was launched back in 2005, and it’s still up and running today in 2021.

With the introduction of Lara tomorrow on 1 December, I decided to jump back into MapleStorySEA after many years of being away from the game. Well, while it still retains many of its charms, there are also aspects of the game that feel…well, archaic.

However, I’m still quite excited to get back into the game and experience all of the new characters. Maybe it’s the nostalgia at play here as I look back at all the characters I’ve built in the past, but I am willing to see what MapleStorySEA has to offer again after being away from it for so long.

The Game Is Still Very Fun & Entertaining

One of the biggest draws of MapleStory has to be its gameplay: there’s nothing quite like seeing the screen flooded with big numbers as the character unleashes his or her respective skills. My personal favourite character/class is Luminous, who can alternate between light and dark magic to unleash skills with very flashy animations.

And that’s another strong point of MapleStory; the flashy, elaborate skill animations. This is especially true of “newer” classes such as the aforementioned Luminous and Lara. That’s how I dictate which character to level up: as long as they have a fun gameplay (to me) with cool-looking animations, I’m good to go.

I’m not quite sure when this was changed – I’ve been away from MapleStory for years here – but I’m happy to see that I can freely create almost every single character available in the game now. Previously, certain classes were time-limited, which can be quite annoying if you missed the opportunity to create your favourite class.

Last but definitely not least is the rich lore of MapleStory. I’ve only caught glimpses of the new lore since I left the game, and I’m thrilled that the storytelling is still as good as ever. Really, I look forward to catching up to many years of lore development in the world of MapleStory, especially with the newer characters.

But After So Many Years, MapleStory Is Showing Its Age

The moment I launched MapleStorySEA, it’s as if I was transported back 10 years, and it’s not because of nostalgia. In fact, trying to install the game is already much harder than it should be. The installer itself doesn’t have a very intuitive UI, and extracting the downloaded files took unusually long.

After taking some time to get MapleStorySEA installed, I launched the game for the first time…and waited a good minute before I got to the login screen after my PC seemingly froze. Mind you, I’m running the game on a reasonably capable machine, even if it’s not exactly an absurdly powerful rig.

Anyway, once I finally got into the game, I was quite surprised to see that the resolution maxes out at 1920 x 1080…in 2021. This resolution is even labeled as “beta” in the settings page. Granted, the art style of the game still looks great at 1080p, but for it to max out at this resolution in this day and age is (again) archaic, to say the least.

To be honest, I was quite put off by these shortcomings even before I got into the game, and I imagine newcomers won’t be thrilled by this arduous process either. If MapleStorySEA could just modernise these old-fashioned aspects, it’ll definitely improve the overall gaming experience.

There Is Still Potential

Like I’ve said before, even with these negatives, I am still very willing to get into MapleStorySEA again. It’s much more focused on the single-player experience now in terms of leveling up – which I personally prefer – and I’m particularly excited to figure out which character I want to build with the current Tera Burning event for faster levelling.

Obviously, the player base of MapleStorySEA has gotten quite a bit smaller compared to its peak years. PlayPark said over seven million accounts were created since its launch in 2005, but now, only 1.2 million active players are left. Even then, this figure is actually the number of active players over the past three years – that’s not exactly great.

Regardless, I am excited to get back into MapleStorySEA after all these years. If you’d like to check out Lara in the game – or you’d like to return to the game like I am – you can register for an account right here. Hopefully, PlayPark will continue to improve the MMORPG for years to come; if it has lasted 16 years, surely it can go on further, right?

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