Oddly enough, this update draws an unfortunate parallel to the heavily-debated health care law in the United States. While it is a much needed change, it is being poorly implemented with many unnecessary and even downright awful features. One such change is the raising of the maximum combat level to 200.
With the Evolution of Combat, combat level is now calculated by the highest level of one offensive combat skill (Attack, Strength, Magic, or Ranged) + defense level + 2, leaving the maximum level 200. This means that prayer, summoning, and hitpoints can no longer have any effect on a player’s combat level. The calculation we have now involves almost every combat skill and caps off at 138. This is a logical system where skills that affect combat affect your combat level. However, with the new system, level 4s can have 99 prayer, summoning, and hitpoints. That is just plain ridiculous.
For those of you around the forum when Hitpoints were multiplied by 10 and the skill name was changed to Constitution, you may remember my complaints about it. The multiplication of hits by 10 was an arbitrary change that added no balanced benefit to the game. Why did Jagex do it then? Their perpetual target audience of adolescent boys would much rather hit a super-uber-mega-ultra-awesome 250 than a nooby-nerdy-fail 25. Sure, we can now hit anywhere from 1-9 lifepoints that could add up over time, but we can also be hit for the same amount. And, oh boy, they’ve done it again with the ability to easily hit in the thousands.
Now, how is this related to the combat update? Well, why would I want to be level 131 right now when I could be level 196, with only four short attack levels away from being level 200? This change appeals to that same target audience from before in three ways: it is now easier to obtain the max combat with just 2 combat 99s (laziness factor), combat level is now easily calculated in one’s head (simplicity over learning an effective yet complicated formula), and the arbitrary increase in the level cap to the super-awesome-cool 200. As a result of a marketing ploy, we are left with a broken combat formula.
Though this may be a joy to some players, pures, hybriders, and tribriders are effectively obsolete. Sure, players could now be level 102 with 99 in all combat skills except defense, but defense is an absolutely crucial part of the new combat system. As someone with 99 defense, I personally like this. However, this, along with, the “cool-down” period between switching armor effectively destroys the ability to be a pure or hybrider/tribrider. This one is actually somewhat shocking to me in that these secondary and tertiary accounts of players were additional sources of subscription-based income for Jagex. While I never had a pure account, this was a very fun (albeit, inadvertent) element of the game to many players in RuneScape’s history.
Of course, some will say I simply fear change and that I will oppose any updates that I’m not used to. Well, let me tell you, I wouldn’t have been playing a constantly changing game for 8 and a half years if I feared change. I would just like to reiterate that this update is, in fact, a much needed change to the game. It’s not all bad. In fact, most of it is pretty awesome. However, there is still much room for improvement.