Evolution. You either adapt as a species to changes in your environment or fail to take full advantage of it, and in the latter case, some other species will come along and replace you as the dominant and successful kind.
I'm pretty sure that something along these lines was uttered at the meeting that announced that RuneScape's combat system was unbalanced, one dimensional, and in need of replacement. So, they set about designing a more robust and adaptable system. They reworked all monsters to fit the new model, made it so that new content could easily be added without upsetting the established landscape much, and ensured that no one, über-dominating set-up was available on both F2P and P2P anymore. Or at least, that was their intention.
Since the Beta, we've seen THREE different kinds of read-outs from our equipment screen. They went from percentile, to numerical, and back to percentile with a twist. We've seen a variety of changes in how armor and weapons work, and to top it off they make your stats (and therefore potions) go from important, to useless, to relevant. The worst thing about the current path we're on isn't so much that almost everything gets tweaked and fine-tuned with every update. No, it is that these tweaks and twists do not have an apparent goal they are working towards, and they subsequently make the various items fluctuate all over the place concerning usefulness, which in turn wreaks havoc on the economy as well.
This last update to the EoC is a prime example of that. People finally got used to the system, they knew that Bandos was considered slightly offensive armor with its damage bonus, and was therefor preferred over Barrows, unless the set-effect was deemed necessary.
But then it got changed to a new system where offensive armors didn't just have their armor rating slightly reduced to compensate for the damage bonus, but instead had to be placed in this whole new convoluted system with bonus damage percentages, armor adjustments and tier reductions. I'm fully expecting that, even though they want to keep this system since it allows for a lot more future updates, we'll see quite a few modifications to it still.
But then again, that is what evolution is, right? Once a new feature is developed, natural or artificial selection kicks in, and the bad stuff is thrown out or altered, and the good stuff is kept. Because whatever way you look at it, there are good aspects of the EoC. And with a bit of help from the other popular system we have today (the system found in Old School RuneScape), I'll try to make that point.
Rock, Paper, Scissors
Let's start with the obvious. We have as of now, save for some missing tier 90 Range and Mage weapons, a balanced combat triangle, both on P2P and F2P. Or at least it is much more balanced than the Melee dominated F2P and Magic dominated P2P from the old days. The argument that a rock can be thrown through paper, so to speak, doesn't fly anymore in the EoC. Batwing armour for example, is now as good a defense against melee as Rune is against ranged attacks. Sure, you have to believe that it is made from a weave of carbotanium and kevlar, yet is still somehow vulnerable to flying sticks with metal points on it, but that is why we play a fantasy game.
So I am genuinely impressed by how well they have resolved F2P's PvP imbalance. You used to see everyone in full Rune, bringing a Dragonhide body along to provide some defense against being bound to the spot, but that has changed now. Similarly, the mages can now actually rip through Rune armor, and at twice the speed when dual casting.
On the other side of the divide it looked a lot different. While the Old School system allowed you to wield a Whip unpenalized in Dragonhide, you'll have a hard time doing any damage if you're not wearing the appropriate equipment now. Sadly, the fact that there is no longer one suit to rule them all might have contributed to so many of the PK-ers leaving for 07.
Band of Others
But Jagex have made at least one serious attempt to get some life back into the most desolate of places; The Wilderness. The Wilderness Warbands have the potential to get you over 400,000 XP in a variety of skills on a daily basis. Fortunately, the Warbands are set-up in such a way that you cannot just show up unarmed, you actually have to do some serious combat. Even if you do bring minimal equipment, the loot that you get away with isn't experience itself, but instead are items which can be redeemed for XP once you're outside of the Wilderness. When you realize that when a full inventory of those XP-vouchers is dropped it turns into 100k coins, you'll know what I mean by bringing life to the Wild.
PK-ers have an easy time picking people off these days as people in a large herd tends to think there is safety in numbers, and will not pay much attention to personal defenses. Considering that the resources of the Old School Wilderness were a few Runite rocks and the Abyss to craft some Runes with, risk vs reward has never been defined more clearly, and never before been taken more advantage of.
My way, or the highway
The Wilderness is also one of the few places where another new EoC feature comes into play; the Toggle.
Allowing to set yourself as if you were in a Single- or Multi-combat zone has to be one of the aspects we could do without. People tend to go in as Single, but then they complain they can't get help from a friend, and when they go Multi they complain about being overwhelmed by superior forces. The Wilderness is always going to cause a lot of whining, and the griefers are a phenomenon you should not listen to without laughing at them. But the least we can do is make the playing field level. Same rules for everyone in the same location.
So, I think most people can agree that they should've either kept the zones, or make the entire Wilderness a multi-combat area. That said, when you consider that everyone participating in Wilderness Warbands gets forcibly set to multi-combat, you might conclude that Jagex has more plans with it than they are letting on.
Pick on someone your own size
With the new combat system you now get XP for every opponent you defeat. No longer is your XP calculated by the damage done or spells used, but instead an opponent gives a set amount of XP which you can distribute amongst any skills relevant to your class. This XP changes if you fight an opponent of a significantly lower level than your own. This was done to keep the XP curve more or less linear, rather than it shooting off on a tangent, while at the same time keeping things interesting for you.
And things are getting more and more interesting, from the looks of it.
The AI from a few monsters has been enhanced. It used to be just the regular attack, where slashing and shooting back and forth between you and your next victim was occasionally interrupted by the use of a special attack. Now, even NPC's are using abilities, and some of them can also run to chase after you. In the past, higher level monsters have already had different special attacks. Take a look at dragons and their breath, for example. Or how about the Chaos Elemental, disarming and disrobing you right to the point where it gets embarrassing. When you think about it, even the lowly common Imp, teleporting away just to annoy you, is actually considered to have an ability. I believe that, with NPC's getting more adaptive, you too will need to have the strategies to actually beat them. Simply facerolling your keyboard to get as many number presses in doesn't work. You have to time your stuns, don't eat if you plan to unleash an ultimate, and don't waste powerful thresholds on monsters that are almost dead.
The new combat leveling system now allows you to gauge your opponent's strength much better. With the pre-target feature, you can even check out someone's weaknesses, and starting combat not with just an auto-attack, but with unleashing Fury and Havoc (look them up).
So, the major components of the EoC can be argued to be an improvement. An incomplete and unfinished project, but I'm confident that it'll get there eventually. Afterall, RuneScape 3 is coming, and they'll want to deliver a decent product when that happens. Jagex is still adapting many of the EoC's systems based on our feedback, so as far as I'm concerned, we're still in the EoC beta. But judging from the amount of people that still play 07-Scape (it becomes less and less), not everyone agrees. Some people would argue that too much has changed and that RuneScape is no longer the same game it was a few years ago.
But has it? Abilities are the same as Special Attacks, but you can use different ones for each weapon now. Poison is now "applied" to every weapon by drinking it, yet you can consider Damage-over-Time abilities to be the actual poison's replacement. Even things like the SoF can be considered a replacement for random events.
The Chihuahua and the St. Bernard are both dogs, and while they have very different qualities, they both still exhibit many wolf-like traits as they both descend from the grey wolf. Whatever we end up with as a final product from the EoC, it will resemble what we have now. It might be purebred Greyhound when everything is finely tuned by people who know what they are doing because of your feedback. But on the other hand, we might also end up with a mangy mongrel when people complain endlessly without offering intelligent solutions, and Jagex will subsequently try to please everyone with a horrible compromise.
You still have a chance to steer the development towards the correct trajectory, but it's never going to happen without your involvement.