On the 29th of March in 2004, RuneScape 2 was taken out of beta testing and became the main game. Later this month marks the 8th anniversary of that huge step forward for Jagex. Of course, much has changed since then. This may come off as common sense to those of us who have been around a while, but many new players may not realize the impact that many of the older updates have had. In honor of RuneScape 2’s 8th anniversary, here are my top 8 updates and changes to RS2:
#8 - RuneScape HD (2008)
Chances are, if you played RuneScape prior to July 2008, you probably didn’t care about graphics to begin with. To many veteran players, this came off as a nice, but unnecessary update. Granted, some disliked the change because they enjoyed the nostalgia of the old graphics and the game ran faster on their computers before the update. However, the real significance came from RuneScape’s reputation among gamers who often criticized RuneScape for its graphics.
When the previously outdated graphics were finally replaced, RuneScape lost a fair portion of its bad publicity at the time. Of course by that, I mean all of its publicity at the time. Jagex managed to regain some publicity by winning the Golden Joysticks (however minimal) and by starting the petition to return the wilderness/free trade in late 2010.
#7 - Grand Master Quests (2008/2010/2011)
Although there is a large number of individuals who strongly dislike completing quests, there is no denying that these quests have had an impact in the game. Certainly we had encountered tough quests before these arrived, such as the infamous Mourning’s End Part 2, but the grandmaster quests have it all: adventure, difficult puzzles, heroics, tough bosses, and powerful rewards. Stemming from these quests came Korasi’s Sword, dragon claws, the long-awaited dragon plate body, 4x100k xp in any skill of your choosing, a new Barrows brother, Steadfast boots, and much more.
#6 - High Level Combat Updates
RuneScape’s combat system has certainly undergone a few revolutionary changes over the years. Despite including several updates, these were all grouped together because of their general similarity.
Barrows (2005): It may be hard to picture this now, but there was a time where dragon armor and weapons were endgame equipment. Now it’s hard to find high levels wearing any of it except the boots. What Barrows specifically did was introduce the now-common concept of degradable armor that is slowly beginning to phase out the utility of standard armor at high levels.
Extreme Potions and Chaotic Weapons (2009/2010): While training Dungeoneering and Herblore should otherwise be useless to the average player interested in combat, these items brought new elements to the combat system. Now, non-combat skills have become crucial to remaining competitive in a continually dynamic combat system. These have forced combat-oriented players to become better rounded in other aspects of the game rather than combat alone.
God Wars Dungeon (2007): This update revolutionized boss hunting. It not only stripped the crown from the Kalphite Queen for most powerful monster (excluding minigames), but it has now since reclaimed its crown with Nex. These bosses have provided challenges to clans and even greater challenges to some ambitious individuals.
Other than a good fight, what brought people to hunt these bosses were their powerful rewards. The God Wars Dungeon brought us items such as Godswords, Bandos armor, Armadyl armor, dragon boots, and the Zamorakian spear, with Nex bringing the current best set of armor for each style of combat later on.
Slayer (2005): When first released in 2005, Slayer didn’t have very much utility other than training with variation and Slayer-specific drops. As for the rewards, Slayer brought the Abyssal whip, the dark bow, rune boots, the black mask, and a variety of other unique drops. When that black mask was released, it then became more efficient to train melee skills while training Slayer.
Summoning (2008): While not very well received at first, Summoning has since become a prominent part of the game. Titans can fight alongside you in combat, healing familiars can serve as a stackable alternative to food, and beasts of burden allow a much larger inventory for such activities gathering raw materials or packing extra Saradomin brews to take down a powerful boss.
#5 - Skill Capes (2006)
While the capes themselves are practically useless, it is what they symbolize that has changed the way we play. These capes, while intended to be a nice reward, quickly became a status symbol and goal of many players. Upon the release of the capes in 2006, skilling slowly began to turn away from completing a task for profit to completing a task solely for xp.
The traditional uses of skills like smithing and firemaking are, to put it bluntly, useless. There was a time when making fires was useful for fishers and when smithing was useful for the very best warriors, but now they are only trained to complete arbitrary quest requirements or solely for the sake of training.
#4 - Skill-X (2005)
This seems pretty standard to most of us now, but there was a time when multi-tasking while cooking was not a realistic option. Upon the release of Cook-X, players were now able to cook an entire inventory of food at a time instead of individually using each piece of food on a fire or range. The modern reputation of cooking as an “afk-able” 99 would suggest that this has become a welcomed change by most.
However, as new skills were added to Skill-X, some controversy arose. Especially with skills like fletching, it was much quicker to manually use the resources in your inventory. It was trading efficiency for convenience. Jagex likely doesn’t give us the option to turn off Skill-X so that they can effectively cap the max xp per hour in a given skill. This left many efficient players upset, especially those racing to surpass Zezima as #1 on the high scores.
#3 - Player Owned Houses (2006)
Originally released as a money sink to counteract high-alching inflation, Player Owned Houses soon became one of the most useful features in the game. Teleportation portals, guilded altars, teleport tabs, mounted amulet of glory, and private PvP dungeons were just a few of the notable, original advantages brought about by player owned houses. Later on, the costume room and menagerie were added to store a myriad of common items and up to 15 pets, respectively, effectively freeing up bank space. Player owned houses did go beyond what Jagex intended for them, however.
House parties have been a hit since their introduction almost 6 years ago. Players use these to battle each other in dungeons, train prayer at guilded altars, socialize, and, of course, abuse glitches. Most famously, at Cursed You’s party for being the first to 99 construction, a player named Durial321 found arguably the most disastrous glitch since RuneScape’s inception: killing other players outside the wilderness. Now known as the Falador Massacre, the infamous Durial321 managed to kill players from Falador to Edgeville and take their items.
#2 - The Grand Exchange (2007)
Prior to the Grand Exchange’s release, you had three options if you wished to buy or sell something: use the RS marketplace forums, look for a buyer/seller in Falador Park world 2, or spam your offer in a semi-crowded bank. Often times it would take hours on end just to find a buyer or seller for just one item. Obviously, this wasn’t very practical or pleasing for players. Jagex realized this problem and (likely) borrowed an idea from World of Warcraft’s Auction House. Players now had the ability to trade across all worlds with players whom they may never even meet.
The Grand Exchange received an onslaught of criticism early on from RuneScape’s veteran players, arguing that it removed the personal element of trading and also the free market. Their criticisms were largely dismissed as untrue until price floors and ceilings were discovered to exist. This took a large toll on the rares market during restricted trade. Since players were unable to sell their items for the prices they wanted, they were forced to sell their items with “junk” to bump up the price.
Later on, some players found ways to abuse the Grand Exchange for profit. They called themselves merchanting clans, offering massive profits to any player willing to invest. They formed what was essentially a pyramid scheme. The leaders of the clan would buy out a selected item before releasing the name of the item to the public. The public would then attempt to buy out the item at max price, thus raising the price for the owners. The owners would then sell the items for max profit and then tell everyone else to dump the items. This forced Jagex to step in to manually adjust prices and ban some high ranking clan owners.
#1 - Free Trade and Wilderness Changes (2007/2011)
The year was 2007. Bots infested the game and real-world trading scum on both sides of the trade-window were literally destroying the game. Botters were using stolen credit cards to pay for membership. Credit card companies were coming after Jagex to pay up and they needed a solution quickly to stay in business. Unfortunately, this required some radical changes to the game.
The first of these updates came when Jagex removed staking from the Dueling Arena because some real-world traders used the dueling arena to exchange gp undetected. Next came removal of pk-ing in the wilderness because real-world traders were also using that to transfer gp. Finally, Jagex removed the last way to real-world trade – free trade.
Perhaps the most controversial update to the game of all time, Jagex introduced trading restrictions. Players could now only trade an insignificantly small margin above or below the exact Grand Exchange value of an item. It gradually increased over time from a 5k limit between strangers every 15 minutes to 240k every 15 minutes between long-time friends who enjoyed quests. Players rioted in Falador, posted angry rants on the forums, and quit en masse in protest of this update.
Obviously, many people were very upset with Jagex.
When all of the rioters had quit and streets of RuneScape were once again quiet, the game felt empty. The bots were gone. The pk-ers were gone. The merchanters were gone. Most players who decided to stay quietly kept to themselves, only speaking up to say goodbye to their quitting friends or to shout obscenities at Jagex that fell on deaf ears. It was a miserable time to play.
Much later, there was a glimmer of hope in the distance. A Jagex mod hinted at the possibility of the return of free trade in his clan chat. The forums erupted in celebration as though a great victory had been won. Several weeks later in late 2010, Jagex officially announced a wilderness and free trade referendum. Jagex said it would require over a million “signatures” to even consider bringing the wilderness and free trade back. Of course, this was just a clever method for Jagex to trick current players to inform their friends who quit to return. Jagex was obviously desperate for cash.
Then, in early 2011, all had been restored, but the damage had been done. Sure, some players who quit returned, but the game stayed the same more or less. With the return of free trade came the masses of bots and real-world traders, though but Jagex was now more prepared to combat them through any means possible. It’s doubtful that Jagex will ever have to take such drastic measures ever again.