Well... The Divination skill has been out for almost two weeks now. A few people have already crossed the finish line at level 99, and pretty soon we'll be able to use Pendants, Lamps, Penguin Points and other boosters we've saved up.
So, what do we think of it?
Before it became available to us in the game itself, we've seen quite a bit of blurbing on it. "Old school skill with new school rewards" sounded vague at best, but when compared to Mining and Fishing, we we're to assume that it was going to be much more than just a gathering skill. On top of that, it is supposed to have a key role in the development of the story of the world of RuneScape itself.
Let's start with the obvious one.
Yes, it's a gathering skill, and yes you can do a little more than just gather energy with it (more on that later). Like Mining, it forces you to move around the map to gather the stuff you need, and like Fishing, it doesn't make you compete with the other people there, leaving room for a bit of social interaction. Divination also provides you with a relatively complete range of stuff to do based on levels, which wasn't the case for Mining and Fishing until the Living Rock Caverns came out.
But in their tenacious attempt to fill out the full path to 99, they used the Xerox button a wee bit too much. While the Wisps themselves do look slightly more interesting then the previous tier, the gathered materials do not. There is not much difference in the way that the Energies and Memories look from tier to tier, nor do they have a compatible colour scheme. The fact that memories are nothing more than a few coloured concentric circles can only be described as unimaginative at best.
Sure, there are a few attempts at making things interesting, but they are nothing more than a few oddities. Enriched Wisps provide you with a little more Energies and Experience, but their appearances are too frequent and too predictable to make for little more than a distraction.
Speaking of distractions, the Chronicle Fragments are a nice touch if they actually did what it says on the tin. But while a sufficient amount of fragments usually make a whole, these Fire Spirit stunt-doubles, when collected and deposited at the proper area, do not live up to the promise of providing any new insight in the lore of Gielinor. Instead they provide little more wisdom than your average fortune cookie, and an abysmally low amount of Divination experience for the effort involved.
No, I cannot imagine that this is in any way a new gathering skill in the true sense of the word. Not like Hunter was, and definitely not like Farming was. It seems as if the ones developing this skill were herd-ridden to work from a certain premise, probably something lore-related, that hindered them in making this a truly groundbreaking new skill as it is described to us in-game by Orla Fairweather.
Even the craters are in locations that are not hard to access at all. For example, why didn't they choose to put one in the deep freeze between the Wilderness and the Fremennik area? The dangerous Khazari Jungle? They could've put one of those Energy Rift craters under water, for crying out loud.
No, this skill gets its charm from the other things you can do with it.
Weaving the energies you get from the Wisps themselves or converting their Memories (someone's owing me an explanation on that logic), allows you to do some pretty amazing things.
Signs, Portents, Boons, Divine Locations and Transmutations, the further down the list I go, the more woo-woo it all sounds to me, but then again, so did everything relating to Construction at some point.
Signs and Portents are by far the most useful things. Not that I really need to extend the timer on my Grave (Respite), but not having to walk all the way back there does save quite the hassle (Life). Having upped the limit of items you keep on Death by two more (Item Protection) could also make the Wilderness a bit more interesting.
But those who are fierce on combat as well as on this new skill are uncommon. If you have the patience and time to level this to anywhere significant and useful, chances are you're not that risk-all-to-gain-all type of person. No, you would be more interested in the skilling aspect of Signs and Portents.
Unfortunately, there are almost none. Yes, the Sign of the Porter is useful to get your items banked quickly while gathering (as if under influence by the Evil Tree's Leprechaunic magic), and yes, Portents of Passage allow you to complete Dungeoneering floors, rather than just finish it.
But it ends there. Although it most definitely should, even Thieving isn't helped by Portents of Restoration, because being hit in the face just once, or being poisoned for that matter, doesn't count as combat.
Then there are Boons. When you arrive at the level that you can start gathering the next tier Energies and Memories from the next level Wisps at a new Energy Rift, you also happen to be able to "make" a new Boon that ups the XP gained for those newly available Wisps by 10%. And that's it. An almost obligatory expenditure of valuable Energies to get the best XP rates makes almost as much sense as just upping the rates themselves in the first place.
But Divination has a few redeeming elements.
Divine Locations allow you to briefly create a resource point for you and whoever is nearby, to gather items related to it from other gathering skills (Mining, Woodcutting, Hunter and Farming, but not Fishing). The more generous and social you are, by making this in a public place, the more people will tap into it, which in turn rewards you even more.
Finally, Transmutation allows you to convert a few useless items into one of a higher tier. Normally you'd go through the Grand Exchange to get rid of some Diamonds and get a Dragonestone instead, but now you can lose 20k coins by cutting out the middleman and turning the gems into the one you need yourself. Although anyone who's ever touched their Kingdom on Miscellania will undoubtedly turn some of those hundreds of thousands of Maple Logs into Yew Logs or beyond, no one is going to buy this cow when the milk is free.
So, there you have it.
It's not really a gathering skill. It's a matter of returning the runaway cows to their respective pen, and getting leather, milk and meat as a reward. It could almost have been the animal add-on to Farming we've been suggesting for years now.
While being more complete than any skill ever on its release day, it lacks a lot of variety. It's too stuck to the new Tier system, and we can fully expect that the processing skill, which is due on 'exactly' midnight on new year's eve, is going to stick to the same story.
I can't say I've been enjoying it. It lacks the ability to properly AFK it like you could with Woodcutting or Fishing because they had clear audible signs. I suppose this is done to keep the social element going strong for once, and encourage player interaction on a not-so-serious level a bit more.
But not everyone has the same amount of time to put in. Super September forced me to gather from a Wisp with four other people, and on my usual world, the location for me to go to was already empty. I guess the herd got away from me now...