“Nice music.” Is the first thought that I had as I opened up RuneScape for the first time in two years. The orchestral music played as I struggled to remember what my password was – it had been smart at the time to make sure I had a long, unique, complex password. Eventually I logged in to an Epic Battle of the Gods and myself right in the middle of it. I didn’t have a clue what had led up to this point or what all this would mean. It was cool, it was interesting, and it was confusing.
I logged back in at the dawn of a new era of RuneScape with only a small amount of information on what RuneScape 3 actually entailed. I knew that the user interface had been changed; that the Evolution of Combat had been released and that the graphics and engine had been advanced – sort of. I spent my first couple of minutes playing around with the new user interface, trying to get the hang of it, but found that the more I explored—the more confusing things got. I hated the new skill pages but really liked the way the windows looked once I got used to customizing the space. It was a mixed bag.
After I was done playing around with my UI, I decided to play around with swords. I found the Combat Tutorials in Lumbridge and spent a good chunk of an hour going through them all, trying to wrap my head around the Evolution of Combat. If you have no prior knowledge of or experience with the new combat system then it certainly is a bit of a learning curve, particularly when combining this with the new UI adding that little extra dash of disorientation into the mix. I have never been someone who is at the forefront of high level Combat, or have I ever been a PVP player, so I like to think that I don’t need to worry too much about the EoC. As long as I can still Slay with relative ease, and not all of my weapons are useless (Is the Abyssal Whip still any good?), I should hopefully be fine.
I think that the massive event with Gods fighting over the fate of Gielinor probably doesn’t help people to understand very much either. It is certainly exciting and heralds a new way to interact with the game, through world-altering events that we ourselves are influencing, but I found it a struggle to understand what was going on. Maybe it’s because I logged in on the first day of release, Lumbridge was packed to the rafters and it was impossible to understand what was going on. A few days later, I found myself busy collecting Divine Tears in Zamorak’s name, after sadly finding out the fate of my God Guthix. It then took another couple of days to understand what rewards I actually got through doing this activity. I just wonder if maybe the event was a bit too distracting and the boring gameplay of it certainly won’t help people remember what they enjoyed – unless boring gameplay was what they missed most.
I knew that being away for so long would mean that I had missed a lot, but I expected it mainly to be new ways of skilling, new minigames and new quests. Had the Evolution of Combat not happened, I may have been right, but the update changed so much I feel like I don’t know anything anymore. Reading up on a few guides, it seems like F2P hasn’t changed very much—which is at least a little comforting. It’s the leap to P2P which I am now struggling with. Do I want to make the commitment to playing? Is the increased subscription price (£3.50 when I last was playing) worth it, when I have so many games waiting to be played after the Steam Summer Sale?
The answer: I don’t know yet. You may hear more from me here if I decide to indulge myself, but I am just left wondering is this really the best that we can get? I feel like my experiences over the last week may be typical for a lot of players. Members returning from a long absence to a game which has changed so much, but still holds a certain sense of familiarity. Despite the new name, RuneScape 3 doesn’t really feel like a new game. The number implies something different, something more major than a UI which you can move around and a HTML 5 client which doesn’t really work fully yet. I feel like in the end, this is just a big push to bring RuneScape back from the brink. When I quit, RuneScape looked like it wasn’t going to last another two years. Bots were plaguing every world and the Squeal of Fortune and Solomon’s store had just been introduced, representing a possibly sinister change in Jagex’s attitude towards microtransactions. It was a pretty bleak looking time. But now, everything feels a little more hopeful… it might not be perfect, but it looks like RuneScape 3 is here to stay.