Nexon's bouncy multiplayer platform RPG MapleStory was the first MMO for a lot of folks, and its 3D sequel MapleStory 2 launched today in English. While the game has been kicking around Korea and China for a while, it made its English debut through a paid, closed beta last week, it's now free for all to jump in and play. Part arcadey hack n' slasher, part anime social space with Minecrafty construction elements, there's levels to grind, loot to hoard and a truly preposterous number of vacantly smiling monsters to bop. Take a peek at the cheerful launch trailer below.
While I've admittedly not been following MapleStory 2 very closely, I've heard that Nexon America have tweaked the English version of the game, cutting back on the pay-to-win parts of the original. While they of course intend for players to spend money, it mostly goes on convenience items (like quicker fast-travel) and cosmetic items for your bobble-headed avatar. That said, it is possible to sell gear to players for cash-shop currency. A curious way to make a virtual buck or two if you snag a rare item you can't use, and hopefully not too unbalancing due to being co-op.
I never quite got along with the original game - it was just a bit too messy for me - but it seems that people are broadly pleased with the sequel so far. It's a tough act to follow, living up to the nostalgic expectations of a generation of players (many of them teens at the time), but reviews seem mostly positive. From the little bit I've seen streamed (I'm downloading the game to give it a poke this evening) larger co-op battles are chaotic and hard to follow, but solo or small group play feels a lot more readable, and the level design looks frequently cute and clever.