As everyone looks to the future in preparation of RuneScape 3, it’s about time we look back on the role of RuneScape 2 and its significant moments. For some of us, there was a time in game before the release of RS2, but for most, it’s the only version of RuneScape they’ve experienced. In fact, clocking in at 9¼ years old, I’d wager that RuneScape 2 is older than many of RuneScape’s newest players. Maintaining an active audience for so many consecutive years is no easy feat in the gaming industry. Most games are lucky to have an active community after three years, but Jagex has truly set itself apart. This is obviously due to the consistent weekly or biweekly updates. One could even argue it’s not the same game week after week, but one thing has been consistent since the beginning—a developer’s dedication to a high quality product.
Originally released in beta mode in late 2003, RuneScape 2 overtook RuneScape Classic upon its official release on March 29, 2004. While the graphics weren’t exactly on par with industry standards, they were a vast improvement from RSC, yet still accessible to most home computers. There was finally an inexpensive gaming option for those who couldn’t afford a Playstation 2 or a fancy gaming computer. And with three years of prior experience from RSC, Jagex was able to deliver a great product from the start.
RuneScape 2 improved from the mistakes of its predecessor in a few necessary ways. A more user friendly interface was introduced to simplify gameplay, the ability to get from point A to point B faster was possible through running, banking was no longer a nightmare, any items could be noted at a bank instead of spending hours turning them into certs in Draynor, worn equipment was no longer paced within a player’s inventory, pickaxes could actually be wielded, and so many other vast improvements to every imaginable aspect of the game. It was truly amazing to see all the hard work and dedication Jagex put into the game.
What’s more amazing is that it continued. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Jagex hit us with some new amazing skill, quest, minigame, or feature that blew us away—Construction, Recipe for Disaster, Castle Wars, and Skill-X being a few notable examples. Everything appeared to be great. In fact, there was so much to do that Jagex had to introduce achievement diaries in order to familiarize its players with the myriad of features available. Every world neared its capacity during the summer months, the free game flourished despite massive increases in membership, and play-time, I’m sure, was at its peak. The game flourished like this for several years. However, that’s not to say this gilded age of RuneScape was without issue.
Bots, scammers, hackers, and real-world traders plagued the servers and scourged the game for the rest of us. Something had to be done. In fact, Jagex had to take drastic measures to keep itself and the game alive for us to enjoy, but they had no choice but to make it more challenging to enjoy in the process. As they faced lawsuits from the credit card companies of the victims of identity theft, their hand was forced in the introduction of trade limits (and, with it, the removal of staking and PKing). The ensuing in-game riots and hoards of quitters cloaked the devastated fans of the game. During the winter of December 2007 and January 2008, the remaining players appeared to be in a daze-like state, almost as though someone close to us had died.
This ushered in what many consider to be the second era of RuneScape 2. Initially marked by trade limits, grave stones, a brand new CEO, and a disappointing new skill, many had low expectations for the future of the game. Jagex still had a few tricks up its sleeves, though. They quickly made reparations for Summoning by fixing it and releasing additional familiars, brought almost the entire player base together with Soul Wars, revolutionized in-game graphics, and quenched our blood thirst with Bounty Hunter. Things were starting to look up once more. This was just the silence before the storm, though.
The introduction of Dungeoneering, birth of pay-to-win gimmicks, and sucker punch of the Evolution of Combat all sparked their own controversies. Many of us still insist that Dungeoneering is nothing more than an overgrown minigame with no place in RuneScape as evidenced by its reward system and the original intention of being released as its own game. The Squeal of Fortune and its friends could now provide an in-game advantage to those of greater wealth in the real world… within the rules. The EoC is in another category of its own as one of the biggest controversies in the history of RuneScape. The combat system we had grown accustomed to for the previous 8 years was overhauled to the point of being completely foreign to the average player.
Jagex acknowledged that EoC wasn’t for everyone with the release of Old School servers, going back to a time before the removal of free trade. As many predicted, RuneScape’s gilded age was just that—appealing on the outside, but disappointing and mundane within. The gameplay wasn’t what made that time special for most of us, but rather that familiar feeling of nostalgia from childhood or perhaps just a happier time in a player’s life.
But now the time has come to close the coffin on RuneScape 2 and place RuneScape 3 into the cradle. RuneScape 2 mostly received negative reviews among game critics, but it really didn’t show with the huge playerbase gained over the years. It even made a few appearances in the news. Now, Jagex will be reinventing RuneScape with a new engine, new interface, and much more. It looks brilliant quite honestly. Whether it will mark as big a change as it was from RSC to RS2, we will know soon enough.
All things considered, RuneScape 2 should maintain a legacy as a frontier on the MMO market and as a simple, accessible game for players from all over the globe. And staying around for over 9 years is no easy feat. Now, where the game will be 9 years from now, I’ll never know. The game has progressed too far for me to keep up with amid my busy schedule, so I fear that this is where RuneScape and I will finally part ways. Thank you, RuneScape, for all of the friends you’ve introduced me to and all of the great memories that came with them. Thank you for the the good things that have come from playing. Thank you for the seemingly endless sense of adventure you provided a young boy. Thank you for all the fun in the world. May you be as special to new players as you once were to me. Goodbye, old friend; I wish you the best.