MapleStory 2 – The public alpha test
September 22, 2014 19 Comments
Hello there. It’s been a while since we’ve met, haven’t we? I’ve been posting a lot of information on my Tumblr blog.
But I feel like I should give my WordPress blog another shot, because it is something I cannot let go.
You all have heard about MapleStory 2 by now. Almost six years ago, I first published news about the development of MapleStory 2. It’s shocking that almost six years have passed by now… The development team behind MapleStory 2, projectMS has decided to let users test their game in alpha state. The game was first developed by NSquare which was a collaboration between Nexon and NCsoft, but that team has been disbanded and projectMS came to life. That is also why you see NSquare in the cinematic trailer, but projectMS in the later videos.
In this blog entry I’d like to give you my review on the alpha test that was in progress from September 17 till the 21st.
Be warned that there is a lot of text. I am looking forward to your questions and opinions.
Approximately 3000 players (excluding friends from Supporters who had extra invitations) were invited to test the game.
It started on Wednesday, September 17th. I was given access to the alpha test by a generous friend. My own account was not selected for testing. The timezones between my location and South Korea are big and so I couldn’t play in the weekdays, but only on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday and Sunday, players were able to test the game for 11 hours straight as opposed to the 5 hours in the weekdays.
Anyway, let’s get this started! So, once I launched the game I noticed that the game was in full windowed mode. The game offers a lot of different settings for smooth gameplay. For instance, the option to enable or disable HDR (high dynamic range rendering) exists, as well as changing the quality of effects, anti-aliasing, shadow effects etc.
The user interface at the server selection screen was simple and clean and the background music was astounding to hear. If you like the music in MapleStory, you will definitely like the music in this game. There was only server available which was Scania, which was also the first server I’ve started my adventure in the beta of Global MapleStory.
The character creation in MapleStory 2 is diverse. You can start with five different hairstyles and 10 different kinds of eyes. You might say that five hairstyles is a bit scarce, but you can customize length and size of it. Also, later in the game you can visit the hair saloon and get a different hairstyle that wasn’t available in the character creation. There are several face decorations you can put on your character’s face like a bandage. You can adjust the angle and size of it. Aside from the hairstyles and eyes, there is the option to have a different skin color and the option to a different colored shirt, pants and shoes as a beginner. And if you do not like to customize your character then you can always use the randomize option. I will go much deeper into other kinds of customization later on.
The video above allows you to see the tutorial of the game. The video is lengthy, but so is the tutorial. You will spend around 10 to 15 minutes in the tutorial alone, because you cannot move when the narrator is speaking on instructions. I like the tutorial though, it’s simple and easy.
I think it is great to see towns and cities from Victoria Island that are present in MapleStory can now be seen in 3D in MapleStory 2. You start on Maple Island. Lith, Henesys, Perion, Ellinia, Kerning City are areas from MapleStory that can be found in the game.
The user interface reminds me of the first version of the Korean beta of MapleStory. Minimalistic and grey. The good thing is that you can hide your UI! That is great if you love taking screenshots a lot.
Since I was telling you about the Victoria Island cities, here is how the world map looks like:
The colored parts mean that you have visited those areas. Grey means undiscovered areas. An important city in MapleStory 2 is the City of Tria. Do you see the taxi in the image? Just like in MapleStory, you can take a taxi to bring you to an area instantly at the cost of a price. However, in MapleStory 2 you first have to discover the spot of the taxi before you can use it.
The world map needs to be worked on, because it acted wonky sometimes and didn’t respond to me. Zooming in and zooming out is sometimes an issue.
The world is big and I didn’t even came across towns like Henesys and Perion. Maybe they weren’t available in the alpha test. But discovering new areas in MapleStory 2 feels satisfied. The backgrounds are gorgeous and everytime you enter a new map it is either dark, gloomy and evil or colorful and peaceful. Did you know that you can find different treasure chests in the world that will give you meso and some awesome loot!?
On to classes: There are 8 classes in MapleStory 2, divided in four branches: Warrior, Magician, Bowman and the Rogue.
All different classes are: Berserker, Knight, Wizard, Priest, Ranger, Heavy Gunner, Thief and the Assassin.
Note: The sixth character says Gunslinger, but this was later changed to Heavy Gunner. Three classes were unavailable in the alpha test: Berserker, Heavy Gunner and the Thief. You will have to wait a little longer before they are released.
If you are interested in gameplay videos of the classes that were available in the alpha test, please click on the names below for their respective gameplay videos:
There is data present in the MapleStory 2 mentioning classes such as: Illusionist, Tamer, Lancer, Exorcist. Maybe this is concept or info is from the past when they started working on this project. We’ll find out in the future. Tamer and Illusionist are two classes I’d like to see.
I am a sucker for giant swords, especially two-handed swords. But since the Berserker class was not available, I decided to choose to become a Ranger. In MapleStory 2, you start out as a Beginner and at Lv. 10 you can advance to one of the eight classes that I just told you about. I was able to advance at the Grand Hall in the City of Tria.
I don’t know if this is is intended being it an alpha test, because normally one would think that a Ranger should advance in Henesys or a Rogue in Kerning City, right? When you advance to a class, you have access to two active skills. Skills in MapleStory 2 are divided in three categories: active, passive and action.
Action skills are skills that you cannot use in combat, but that you can use in your adventures to discover. One action skill that you will learn right off the bat is Wall Climbing. This allows you to climb walls anywhere. Once you have achieved Lv. 20, you will learn Balloon Traveling, which allows you to travel with balloons.
Active skills are skills that you can actively use. Passive skills are skills that enhance your abilities. You learn new skills as you progress in leveling. In MapleStory, you use skill points to increase the level of your skill. To increase the level of a skill in MapleStory 2, you need to spend a fragment of a crystal.
The maximum skill level for Multi Shot for Ranger is 10. I can increase its skill level by 1 by spending 1 crystal fragment.
How do skills work exactly?
When you begin your adventure, you will notice a hexagon with an HP value and an SP value. The latter is used to cast your skills. Yes, using skills consumes SP. In case you are wondering, there was no sign of a SP potion in the alpha test. But how do you refill SP then? Every class has a basic attack that recovers SP when attacking monsters. For Ranger, this is the Strafe skill which recovers 3 SP.
One question I came across while I was livestreaming the game on Twitch was: “is leveling up pre-bb or post-bb?”. If you do not know what the acronym BB stand for, it is Big Bang. The first major update for MapleStory that overhauled the entire game, including changes to the leveling curve.
The difference in MapleStory 2 is that quests are helpful. You do a combination of quests and hunting. In MapleStory, the majority spends time on hunting monsters alone, not doing most quests that are available.
I have spent approximately eight hours total in the alpha test where I also socialized and spent my time on customization and other things. I ended up being Lv. 14. The level cap for the alpha test was Lv. 25. I don’t think it is bad at all. I even didn’t care much about hunting to be honest. Because other contents stood out in the game. I also have to take in consideration that I had some latency issues. For example, I would fire arrows at monsters and it would register the hit after 1-3 seconds. I do not have this issue in MapleStory and so I hope this is an alpha test-only thing.
One of the best selling points in MapleStory 2 will be UGC (User Generated Contents). This is an absolutely amazing feature in the game and I really like it a lot. UGC offers a lot of customization from character to housing to creating your own mini games and dungeons. The last two were not implemented in the alpha test.
In towns and cities you can find these billboards. This is part of UGC. You can upload any image you want, from your computer and use it as a billboard. You will need to pay with meso and other users can do the same. When other users have uploaded their image on the billboard, your image will be shared with theirs. There are different kinds of billboards.
“Shut up and take my money!” – This is a cape I created. Want to learn how? It’s easy.
There are various item categories in MapleStory 2, the usual categories that you find in almost any MMORPGs nowadays: Overall, Top, Bottom, Hat, Cape, Shoes, Gloves, Face Decoration and construction & terrain for your home.
You will first need to purchase a Design <Item Category> item in order to start customization. This can be purchased with meso. If you do not customize it, it will act as a transparent item. If I were to equip this Design Cape with no customization, then you would see an invisible cape.
Anyway, the process to customizing your own item:
1. Purchase the Design item from an NPC in town. There is a special shop for this. The price in meso can vary depending on the item. 40000 meso for a Design Mask and 25000 meso for a Design Swim Cap to use as an example. It is expensive, but of course since this is alpha it is subject to change.
2. Double-click on the Design item.
3. A new menu opens. In this menu you can choose a name for your item. The name of the item will be shown in the tooltip and in the Market if you decide to sell it. The most important part is choosing your design. The height and width of the image cannot exceed 1024×1024. If you upload it from the location of your image, it will be placed in the Custom folder in your MapleStory2 folder. The game also offers you a few standard textures. You can delete images in the Custom folder and they will not appear in the menu anymore.
4. Click on the Create button. When I created items, my game would always freeze for a few seconds. I guess this is because it is also uploaded onto Nexon servers?
Done! The item is created and it can now be equipped and/or sold in the Market. If you would like to see how you can design your own T-Shirt, click here for a video. The Market is a shop where you can search for the UGC of other players.
Players can submit their own designs on the Market and sell it. I believe you will not lose your item when other purchases your designed item. In the image above, you can see that a player created a Terry Crews mask. In other words, all these custom designed items are considered skins. A skin item is the equivalent of a cash item.
In the alpha test it was possible to purchase access to your home or apartment. If it is an apartment, it is shared with players.
There was an event on the last day of the alpha test which was that everyone received 5 million meso. You can imagine that a lot of players went shopping for a home. So did I!
I saw a sweet apartment in Queenstown in the city of Tria. At the cost of sharing it with other players. But I didn’t mind. I paid 88000 meso for having my own home for 30 days. Yes, you’ve read that right. It is not permanent. You can pay for a temporary home. Once you have purchased a home, you will have the ability to teleport to the map where your home is located.
Ah~ The smell of a new home. Once you are inside you can customize your own house. Players can access your home anytime, but they cannot customize it. UGC plays a big part in the housing system. Take a look at what I found:
I mentioned that the game had item categories, right? One of them is cube. You can purchase your own Design Cube and customize it. That is what this player did with his/her building. You can purchase decoration, terrain, cubes for your home from NPCs in cities and towns. If you don’t have the meso to purchase decoration, you can always aim at obtaining trophies.
You are probably thinking with this UGC feature that you can see all kinds of things. That is true, you can. But, Nexon has guidelines and info regarding UGC. For instance, you cannot upload content that contains personal information of somebody and you cannot infringe intellectual property or trademark. Since this is alpha, I can only assume that the team behind MapleStory 2 didn’t look too much into this. However, once this game officially launches it will have tight rules. If you upload erotic or graphic images, you can bet you will receive a penalty or even get your Nexon ID suspended.
Trophies can be divided such as combat and adventure. You can receive various rewards from meso to exp to decoration for your home or even a ducky mount. (Did you know that a duck isn’t the only mount out there? You can even purchase sports cars!)
The ducky mount is a reward from the Trophy feature and can be acquired once you’ve walked 10km. There are many more trophies but I didn’t get all of them. I like this feature because it reminds me collecting the Monster Book cards in MapleStory.
Let’s talk about loot and monsters. Monsters in MapleStory 2 have a chance of dropping an ETC item or equipment. I like how they designed the loot because the loot is actually inside a cube. You pickup loot with the Z key.
Aside from weapons, every other equipment you find as loot will have a random color. For instance, I found two of the same Ranger hats but when I found out that both gave my hat a different color when I equipped it. I like that!
There is variety in monsters. You will see new monsters, but also monsters and boss monsters from MapleStory. The last big boss monster that could be found in the alpha test was Balrog. Sure, you can solo Balrog in MapleStory… but in MapleStory 2 it’s a different story. ;-)
You actually need to work together with your friends, party members or strangers to defeat the evil and mean looking boss monsters. Each boss monster has a different pattern in attacks, so you need to strategize and you cannot just stay still and spam skills like in MapleStory. No, that does not work and that is a good thing. Monsters in MapleStory 2 spawn really quick which is a plus, because I don’t like waiting.
In MapleStory 2, equipment can have different ratings. Each rating has a different color and amount of stars: Normal (★) Rare (★★), Elite (★★★), Excellent (★★★★), Legendary (★★★★★). There is also a rating named Artifact, but I don’t know if this surpasses Legendary. The color and amount of stars are shown in the tooltip of the equipment. I have gotten a few rare loot from the treasure chests that I have told you earlier about.
I haven’t found anything of an enhancement system yet or a scrolling system. It might come in the future. I do know that there will be some sort of item fusion feature implemented in the future. I don’t know what this do, though.
This is how your Character Info menu looks like. There are 2 tabs: Equipment and Skin. Skin items are basically Cash Shop items. There was no cash shop present in the alpha test, but the Market was. Oh, you can change your profile picture. Whenever you talk in public it will show your profile picture to everyone. What do you think of my profile picture?~
On the last day of the alpha test, players were gifted 10 Happy Giftboxes and I opened some of them and got the following 3 Skin items:
I have no doubt that there will be a Cash Shop in MapleStory 2. Sure there is UGC, but you have professional designers and amateur designers. The UGC on items also have limits. I’m very fond of wings, but you cannot create custom designed wings… yet.
One last thing I would like you to tell about is the mini games you can play. At the moment there are only 3 mini games that can be accessed in Queenstown in the City of Tria. I recorded all three mini games, so if you would like to watch it, just click on the names:
I spotted the GM just a few seconds before the server shut down. I bet he was standing there to avoid the immense lag. Around 230 players were in one map and it caused my game to disconnect a few times.
I had a blast playing the game with its beautiful art, astounding music and amazing features. This game really has potential. When the first gameplay trailer was announced, a lot of players were disgusted at the “Minecraft-esque” style of it. Maybe it is just me since I never played Minecraft, but it really suits this game. This game has been in development for quite some time and I am inclined to think that the game has been revised a few times.
Combat felt good apart from the latency issues. I died a couple of times because the boss monsters are really strong. I’m not fond of the cooldown on potions, but this is something I can forgive because I really like the game. In the 8 hours I’ve played I was never bored and this was just alpha. The amount of classes is just right. I hope projectMS won’t go overboard with the amount of classes in MapleStory.
The User Generated Contents is fun and I personally believe it enhances the social aspect of the game, along with the mini games. I hope they will add more mini games in the future. With UGC, you can become who you want. I have encountered a player who was dressed up as Magnus and one as Hatsune Miku.
Having your own home and decorate is what I originally wanted in MapleStory. I am already dreaming of creating a guild in MapleStory 2 and purchasing land for a guild hall and decorate it with my guild members and just hang out. The idea of creating your own dungeon with your own boobytraps and perhaps your own choice of music sounds awesome!
The client is poorly optimized, but that is expected since this is alpha. I have a pretty good computer and I can play a lot of games on the highest setting. I don’t have trouble playing Black Desert.
You can expect me to play MapleStory 2 once it is officially launches. projectMS did a good job developing the game and I hope you will enjoy it too when the game comes out in your region. Yes, MapleStory 2 will be available in other regions outside Korea.
Do note that alpha is an early version of the game as evidenced by the lack of certain areas and classes etc. Usually companies don’t allow testers at a large scale to test the game at alpha state. You can expect a lot of changes when MapleStory 2 hits beta.
Thanks for reading!