Note: If you have not already read the Behind the Scenes: Special Edition, it would be in your best interest to read it here before continuing with this article.
Recently, Jagex released a very Special Edition of Behind the Scenes, and it certainly lived up to its epithet. Sporting a variety of alluring future updates, many of them with the prized moniker "high level", Jagex has once again shown that they have a particular knack at hooking us into the world RuneScape and finding ways to keep us reeled in. However, how many of these updates will fail to live up to expectations, how many of them will never be implemented, and how significant will these updates be? Below, I have attempted to create an ordered list of the most promising updates and I have subjectively given each of the updates a rating.
4. Christmas 2012: Stray Dog – Rating: 2.5/5
What a heart-warming story in the midst of the festive holiday season: showing love to a poor stray dog! This is an innocuous update that we can all enjoy light-heartedly without much grumbling. Additionally, it is reminiscent of the old holiday quest events, the ones we had before these silly "find X ghosts/turkeys/eggs and claim prize" events. As long as Jagex retains their creative touch, I cannot see how this can go drastically wrong. However, it is not exactly the event with the greatest impact, explaining its low placement in the list.
3. God Statues – Rating: 2.5/5
This almost reminds me of Shattered Heart, which was a successful update because it is accessible to many and widely used. However, Jagex's recent attempts at Distractions and Diversions have not been particularly noteworthy (see Big Chinchompa) and I fear that this may join that list. We will have no idea until they release this update, but it seems more likely to flop than not, mainly because there is no indication that it will have worthwhile rewards.
2. TzHaar Quest: The Brink of Extinction – Rating: 4/5
On the other hand, a high-level TzHaar quest with "epic rewards" appears promising. Normally, I would not value a quest such as this too highly because it does not seem to change the game greatly by unlocking an area or minigame. However, it is a Grandmaster quest, Jagex is talented at writing quests, and those epic rewards do sound tasty. I'll give this one the benefit of the doubt.
1. Player-Owned Ports – Rating: 5/5
High level equipment (surpassing Nex gear), a new mechanism (Sailing!!), Eastern Lands... Enough said.
4. Wilderness Warbands – Rating: 1.5/5
A few aspects about this update make me intensely wary. For instance, it is not clear whether or not the rewards we can obtain are worthwhile. Yes, call me superficial and shallow for only caring about the rewards, but a piece of content located in the Wilderness requires lucrative spoils to encourage Skillers and PvMers alike to venture into the depths of danger. Would it be cynical of me to label this update as a poorly disguised attempt to revive interest and activity in the Wilderness?
3. Kalphite King – Rating: 2.5/5
It is true that high level bosses usually prove to be valuable additions to the game, but not always. The Queen Black Dragon, for example, did not have a lasting impact which can be attributed to its lack of sustainability (its comparatively meager drops are not attractive enough to warrant high traffic). If Jagex is able to properly balance the value of the loot with the difficulty of the kill, this update should be promising. Much remains to be seen, but I certainly hope it will be better designed than the Queen Black Dragon.
2. Ranged/Slayer Dungeon – Rating: 4/5
A new Slayer dungeon usually foretells successful, frequently used content. A new Slayer dungeon which focuses on a part of the Combat Triangle which has been largely neglected sounds even better. A new Ranged/Slayer Dungeon which is meant for higher level players and promises top-notch gear is something to look out for. With proper implementation, I can see this dungeon becoming populated daily with hordes of RuneScapers and it might even bring Ranged to the forefront of the Combat Triangle (but don't bet on it!).
1. Grandmaster Level Quest – Rating: ?/5
Read the description: "It’s huge. It’s related to the gods. It’s going to change Gielinor forever. It’s got fantastic rewards to unlock and is frankly one of the most exciting, game-defining tales we have ever worked on. For many, this will be the update they have dreamed about for many years." There are almost no details on this, so I cannot give this a proper rating. Nevertheless, reading the description alone is enough to generate eager anticipation like a 7-year-old presented with Christmas gifts.
7. Construction Rework – Rating: 2/5
The sheer magnitude of this seems detrimental to its success at best. If we can bring houses to the main world, I can only imagine two great problems: lack of in-game space and insane lag (and by insane lag, I mean lag worse than trying to run games on my grandmother's PC!). Building forts seems more like an novelty than content which will be used repeatedly. Also, I am not too sure that players can design dungeons much better than the random generator can, so why not just go Dungeoneering?
6. World Events – Rating: 3/5
Fighting for control of the world has always been a great way to encourage player interaction and cooperation, as well as a source of potential endgame content. Still, there lies the question: will this be implemented correctly? Where is our motivation to control areas of the world? If this update is simply for fun, then I can see this update being used extensively by clans but not by regular players on a regular basis.
5. Epic Story Conclusions – Rating: 4/5
I want to finish up those storylines already! As I have said before, Jagex has an amazing grasp of designing quests and I doubt they will disappoint.
4. New Skills – Rating: 4.5/5
On one hand, these new skills do not sound revolutionary by any measure unlike the recent ones: Construction, Farming, Dungeoneering, and Summoning. These new skills signal a return to traditional RuneScape skills, which is not necessarily a disadvantage. These skills will not be very intrusive and will "complement" the game. It depends heavily upon the implementation, but new skills are generally embraced with open arms. Keep in mind that RuneScape was founded upon the skills such as FIshing, Mining, Woodcutting, Crafting, etc.
3. Bosses Galore and Grouping Systems – Rating: 4.5/5
I have ambivalent feelings towards this update. It could be the best update ever, injecting thrill and excitement into an old game, increasing community cohesion, providing us with tantalizing endgame content, and opening the door to a bold new chapter of RuneScape. On the other hand, the Dungeoneering grouping system sucks badly. I put this very high on the list because I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised, but there is always the possibility that grouping sucks and it just becomes another boss encounter as per usual.
2. Level Up my Stuff – Rating: 4.5/5
Again, another update which has untapped potential but is onerous to implement. It could be spectacular by plugging up equipment gaps, revitalizing neglected weaponry, and creating an exciting system of upgrading. Unfortunately, there are so many potential pitfalls: leveled up gear is too strong (never outgrow equipment) or too weak (the update is useless), the system is too complex (it scares away new players) or too simple (everyone finds out which option is the strongest and everyone follows suit), or my personal fear: leveling up gear is insanely strong but upgrading is a painstakingly slow process (adding yet another element of grind to RuneScape).
1. RuneScape: Next Gen – Rating: 5/5
Better graphics, better audio, better camera movement, better interfaces… what can go wrong with this update? (Actually, many people will probably ragequit once this update is released, crying out for "old school"…) RuneScape 2 was a bold step forward, RuneScape HD vastly improved the graphics, and now, RuneScape: Next Gen has the potential to be just as seminal. More importantly, it receives #1 on my list because it has serious potential. After this update, it might be possible to transcend RuneScape's old limitations and outgrow the "point and click" mechanism which has dominated RuneScape for so long.