Runescape: A New Look at a Classic MMORPG
By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor), OnRPG Journalist
RuneScape is the game where it all began for me. This game was a big part of my childhood and will always have a little spot in my heart. And I’m not alone in this upbringing as most of the current MMO fans probably passed through this wonderful game in the early days. Since I was a little kid and new to the Internet this game opened a lot of doors for me, to be able to play a role playing game while playing with your friends? That was absolutely awesome. After all these years the game is still a big success and has evolved constantly to reflect the ever growing demands of the industry. But what exactly has changed over the years? I decided to head back into the action where it all began…
RuneScape is a free-to-play 3D MMORPG made by Jagex Games Studio and was released in the year 2001. This game is completely playable in your browser and is one of the few MMORPG starters to actually manage to succeed with this. Without a doubt this game had a lot of success and is still one of the best available MMO’s on the market, but what makes it so good? The best part of RuneScape is, you are completely free whatsoever and you can go on different paths than other people.
Your freedom to explore is complemented by your freedom of character build, unrestricted by class. It is a little more complex than that in fact so I’ll break down the details. You can choose to level up specific skills to excel in only one part, or you can take the longer route and just level everything up. That’s why you see a lot of different people choosing their own paths. For instance some like to fight people more so they choose the best possible skills to fight people with. Or some prefer to go the production route and excel in fishing, mining or anything else that earns the player some serious cash. That’s why most people also use multiple accounts, so you can be at two places at once and earn money while you fight.
The combat system in RuneScape is different from many other games; unlike normal MMOs the combat is done by a semi-real-time combat system. It is also a really important aspect of the game since you have to level up the different combat skills in a system similar to the Elder Scrolls series. You either fight with a sword and shield or you use magic or bow and arrow to fight your foe. And all these different skills need to be leveled if you want to be an all-around character. As you can imagine this takes a long time to max all the skills and that’s only the combat. You will also need to gain money, food, and supplies so you have to level woodcutting, fishing and other skills as well. And as you can guess, this isn’t done in a day. It takes quite the effort and time to get your skills all on the highest level, extending the path to true end-game in RuneScape beyond most any other MMORPG on the market.
The game is so popular that there are servers all over the world in most of the countries this game is played to help reduce lag in each region. Since RuneScape is a free-to-play game there is also a catch, you can buy a premium account to gain access to a lot more content. If you have a premium account you will be able to access the premium world and special premium servers. These servers are only for premium members and thus you can get in better contact with people with a membership. You will also be able to do more quests and gain more items and equipment. As a free-to-play member you can still do most of the content but players with premium definitely get the sweeter deal. There is a lot of special equipment that only premium members can use.
Over the years RuneScape got a lot of patches and updates, not only did the game upgrade its graphics multiple times, but regular content updates continue to roll out even now. Back in the day myself and many of my friends quit due to the lack of end-game content as our primary complaint. Luckily for the people that like to party up with friends there is a now a dungeoning system. Along with this new system there also came a skill basically allowing you into the dungeon without any items and materials and you are left alone or with others to fight your way through many levels. By clearing these dungeons your dungeoneering skill will level up and there will be even small objectives that require your other skills to proceed.
Over the years the graphics drastically improved and the game looks completely like a MMORPG from this generation. I must admit I do miss the old graphics since I grew up with that but in this new version the game looks completely different and a lot better. From the big picture to the tiny customizable details in the recently released guild bases, everything has improved. To play RuneScape you will need the following computer specifications:
512 MB RAM
For DirectX or OpenGL graphics: 128MB 3D Graphics Card (i.e. Nvidia® GeForce™ 4 or above, or ATI 9800 or above)
As you can see the game requires almost nothing out of your system and the game is completely open for everyone. All it asks is the Java plugin and you’re good to go to play this game.
It’s a nice change of pace to make a nostalgic return to an MMO title and actually see its current state to be greater than you remember. The game still feels the same but there is so much more new content now. The number of features and side ventures you can join in dwarf the original version and as I mentioned before, the constant stream of updates show no signs of slowing down. Whether you’re in a market for a new browser game or just feeling nostalgic towards the old days, I recommend giving Runescape another look.