By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
I don’t normally accept change very readily.
This is key to this piece. When Runescape was big, I was still playing MUDs, refusing to accept that as a natural evolution in the MMO. I spent a lot of time not giving it the credit it was probably due. I am sorry. The first expansion set in Menaphos has changed my mind quite a bit. So, I’m going to give it a fair shake. It’s such an interesting and community-driven game. In fact, from what I’ve understood, players are contributing stuff/content to the Great Library, which I think is fantastic. They get to leave their mark permanently on the game they love. After watching about an hour of what’s to come in this first big expansion, I think this is probably the right move, to switch to an Expansion system. Though it is, generally speaking, geared towards higher level folks, there will be things for the lowbies/newbies to do as well! In order to gain access, there are three quests you need to have completed [that came out about three years ago or so, adding quite the cliffhanger to the game], and doing these will let you into the Great City of Menaphos. It’s also important to note that this is a Member-Access expansion, so people who are paying will get the really good content. Free players can still get into the city and explore, but this is a paid content expansion. Though you don’t have to buy the expansion, you do have to have a membership to really get something out of it.
That’s not a bad choice, to be honest, and it’s much better than having to spend 50-60 bucks on an expansion, THEN pay a membership fee. That’s a rough life if you want to play a few MMOs over the course of your week. But what exactly is the Road to Menaphos? Is it worth it? It features four main quests, which will take hours to complete, and also require a Reputation Grind. However, you only need one of the factions. You can pick the one you want and focus on them, but for the completionist, you can swap factions at will, and do as much or as little as you desire. We got to see a sneak peek of the final battle of this story, which I won’t spoil. However, it was very badass. What I like though, is that there is literally content for anyone who wants to play the game. Menaphos is designed to be a new hub for the world, and actually, takes up a fair amount of real estate on an already crowded map. Whether you want to spend your time crafting, exploring, fighting, or helping others, the choice is yours. It’s a wonderful idea. All of this is making me see again that I was wrong, and I should have at least given Runescape a fair shake when the NXT engine came out.
There is also a lot of procedurally generated content coming in Menaphos, so there should be lots of random, fresh content whenever you want to do it. The coolest part for me [despite definitely being a combat kind of guy] is The Shifting Tombs. You can tackle it single or multiplayer, and it’s basically a loot run. You enter a procedurally-generated dungeon, and your goal is to be as efficient as possible. Efficiency is really the name of the game for Runescape players, and I think it will appeal to them greatly. So you have traps and chests and stuff, and I believe a five-minute timer. You want to get in and out with as much as possible. If you manage to make it to the end with all the chests, I believe the reward is greater, but if you fail, and don’t get out in time, you lose much of your treasures. There’s lots to do here and gives people who are not combat-centric something challenging they can do whenever they get the urge to go exploring.
“But what if you want to murder things?” I can hear you asking. “Is there anything new for me?! I WANT TO KILL STUFF AND PROVE ALL THIS GEAR IS WORTH IT,” and I’d probably tell you to calm down because I’m getting to it! The Slayer Dungeon looks incredibly awesome. Each floor you go down takes you closer to the Underworld, and the challenge gets greater. With the Slayer Skill getting a 99-120 upgrade, that offers a ton of work to come to the game! It doesn’t seem like a lot, but the Runescape fans will know that’s not the case. You can toggle off or on the Slayer Chest, I believe, which offers some incredible rewards, but you get them at the end, in a huge, cool chest. Sigils, gear, and all sorts of wonders can drop here. This is where you go to truly test your mettle. There are also “regular MMO quests” to be procedurally generated too. One of the beauties of Runescape is that it’s very story-centric. The quests are long, and require more thought than “get this, or get that”, but there are procedural, randomly created quests that allow you to do that stuff, but even those have a story to them! I’m genuinely amazed at how much work they’ve put in.
There is so much to do in Menaphos too, though. From meeting Jack of Spades, a Robin Hood-style figure, exploring the four districts [Merchant, Worker, Ports, Imperial] to mine, fish, craft, explore… A plethora of activities awaits you in the great city. One of the coolest things to me is the Grand Library. It’s a giant library that cycles down to a great pool of water. I learned that players are contributing content to it and that after the release of Menaphos it will likely be in the game. Anything you could do in the other hubs, you can do here. You can craft, do your banking, and best of all: Explore. There are rewards for it too! The first one they showed off is that there are cats hiding all across Menaphos. But they’re hidden, and there are tips and hints all around the world to find them. The goal is to have the players working together as a community to find them all, and successfully getting them all gives you a reward. There will be other collections to grab too, and if you ever feel overwhelmed, know that the path/achievement system will help you get a bearing on what you want to do, whether it’s “get to Menaphos,” or explore content as a new player. After this was over, I realized just how much content there is for Runescape. Today. June 5th, is the big day, and I can definitely see thousands of players crowding around the gates of Menaphos, a city they’ve only dreamed of for years. This is a huge move, and I’m genuinely excited to see it go down.