Author's note: Please understand that this article was written BEFORE the recent updates to remove the fire cape requirement to kill Ice Strykeworms.
A sweeping change has begun in Runescape, where we are forced to reconsider the accomplishments we have long sought out in exchange for the ability to access all elements of the game. Gone are the days when simple skill levels would qualify a person to access any monster in the game, and in its place are new, unique requirements that cover facets of the game never before fathomed to access new content. Is this a change for the better or worse? While opinions will vary, I’d posit that in the long run these changes will conclusively improve the overall game experience.
We start by pointing the finger at the recent Grandmaster Quest, Nomad’s Requiem. While the difficulty of the boss fight is the hallmark of this quest, a quickly overlooked element of the game is the requirement that a player must partake in a game of Soul Wars before qualifying. Now, this was a very easy requirement for any reasonably experienced player. Even the most adamant Soul Wars hater (that would be your author, thank-you-very-much) need not suffer for more than a few minutes. One quick game of perhaps twenty total minutes was not long to endure, and people moved on without a second thought.
In time, this may end up being an inflection point, as the precedent was set. No longer were minigames stand-alone events which were enjoyed simply for their fun content, to complete an achievement diary, or to enjoy the unique rewards of the game itself. Now the minigames have become truly centric to the core quest line of the game, an apple cart that cannot be untipped.
It wasn’t long before the next shoe dropped, and Strykewyrms were introduced, forcing players to defeat Jad before enjoying the battle with the new, most lucrative slayer monster in the history of the game. While other skills were complemented with minigames before (Thieving, Cooking, and the Stealing Creation-driven skills come to mind), this prerequisite activity adds a new dimension, and perhaps irritating requirement, to the game itself.
Those who seek to access all elements of the game were extremely aggravated by this release, and I was one of them. With my trusty Slayer cape doing a fine job of accumulating a thick coat of dust in my bank, my presupposition that I could go and immediately hunt any updated creatures was crushed under the thumb of Jagex. Now I would need to defeat the challenging Jad before accessing the new beasts. That's quite an investment.
Putting my selfish desire to wring every drop of profitability from the game with minimal time invested, I now feel that this update is a wholly refreshing change. We have been conditioned over time to accept skill levels as the cover-all prerequisite for content access. Players who maxed their skills assumed global reach and automatic coverage. The concept that a player with a maxed total could not reach new content is instinctively preposterous, but in the long run not necessarily a bad thing.
Skills, after all, have tended to be abused by the wealthy. Very few skills cannot be leveled with relative ease and speed given the luxury of countless millions. Minigames, on the other hand, are often a grand equalizer. Unique equipment and raw cash do not replace time and effort playing the minigames in question. This offers a brand new facet to the game to qualify a player as being truly “expert”, and rounds out the portfolio of accomplishments a player must endure/enjoy to consider their experience complete.