RuneScape is an MMORPG taking placing in a mythical fantasy realm divided into kingdoms, regions, and cities. With no linear story, players are able to make their own adventure by slaying monsters, trading, and crafting in a vast open world.
Release Date: Janaury 04, 2001
Pros:+Expansive world. +No class limitations. +Huge population.
Cons:-High bandwidth demand leads to lag. -Tedious skill grind. -Many features require subscription.
RuneScape is a medieval fantasy MMORPG developed and published by Jagex Game Studios. It is one of the longest running browser MMORPGs with new players continuously entering the world of Gelinor. Rather than actively allocating skill points, players gain skills by performing actions, such as the the ability to mine more efficiently is raised by harvesting ore in a quarry. As skills level up, players have more access to retrieve raw materials or use more combat abilities. With 26 skills, there are various ways to play and players are given full control in deciding their playstyle. A classless skill system means there are no limits on the type of character players can become. Become a warrior by slaying formidable monsters or chop down trees to build your own house. Collaborate with fellow adventurers to tackle boss monsters or test your skills in player-versus-player combat.
RuneScape Key Features:
- Vast Open World – with sprawling environments.
- 26 Skills to Train – ranging from fishing and cooking to swordsmanship and magic.
- Voice-Acting NPCs – add depth to player-NPC interactions.
- Hundreds of Quests – including storyline related quests and side-quests.
- Frequent Updates – expand on the games content and add special events.
RuneScape Featured Video
By Sean Sullivan
RuneScape has come a long way since its birth in 2001. I remember collecting bananas as my school's librarian explained the practicality of the Dewey Decimal System. Fourteen years ago, RuneScape was a crude Java experience that captured my after-school hours. Slaying cows and burying their bones for the slightest skill increase was rewarding. Looking at the vast map overlay teased my imagination with wonders of an expansive world that I would never see. Now RuneScape is in its third incarnation and it continues to be one of the most polished browser games available.
Starting the game you’re prompted to make your avatar. A fine assortment of hairstyles, facial hair, and colors are available to choose from. While it’s not a system like Swordsman that allows for free reign, enough variety is offered to distinguish yourself among your fellow adventurers. Stopping at a tonsure head, with a scalp that reflected the polygon sun, I discovered my character's calling. Finding just the right beard, I set forth to Gelinor as “Monk Lincoln,” ready to emancipate the world from monster tyranny while ignoring my marfan-ridden body. A touch of purple color-dye gave me the pimp-attitude needed to strike fear into the hearts of my enemies. When a game gives you just enough options to make your avatar a ridiculous extension of your personality, I'm happy.
Plopped into the game there is an air of chaos. And after a few quests symbolic of a training montage, Monk Lincoln became the hero the world doesn't need but is receiving anyway. Movement is through point-and-click, as it always has been. For senior RuneScape players, you’ll notice that while the world models have been updated, Text and UI interactive symbols have remained largely the same—the same “RuneScape UF” font. Combat involves clicking on enemies to watch your character’s default swing slash across stinking zombie flesh.
To the dismay of many fans, Jagex updated the combat system of RuneScape to modernize it in light of contemporary MMORPGs. The “Evolution of Combat Update” (EOC) added active skills and a hotbar indicating bound skills sits centerfold on your screen. This isn't the RuneScape I remembered but it is contemporary and RuneScape2007—a 2007 version of RuneScape—was created for combat purists.
The tutorial is extensive enough that UI elements are fleshed out. While the rudimentary symbols are not excellent indicators of their purpose, I discovered each one’s function quick enough. Hotkeys can be rebound, unlike previous versions, making the UI more manageable. Music is fantastic. I did not expect an extensive soundtrack on a browser MMORPG and it fits the medieval fantasy tone well.
When starting off you don't have to worry about other players pouncing you to ruin your day. PvP is limited to The Wilderness, a large zone in the northern area of the map. You won't wander there accidentally. A warning will prompt you to prevent egregious mistakes. The Wilderness is a desolate wasteland with vicious mobs and worse players. Successfully killing another players lets you immediately pick up any items that player has dropped. Upon death players will keep their three most valuable items. I suggest veering away from The Wasteland until you've had the chance to explore the rest of the world.
Enhancing The World
The most noticeable difference for returning vagabond players is the updated graphics. RuneScape 3 uses cell-shaded polygons to render characters and the world, most noticeably making a difference for players' avatars. Characters are imbued with enough detail to make them look distinct. It’s quite pleasing and holds its own in an industry where developers flex their engine—looking at you Black Desert—to excite players. Draw distances have been dramatically improved, revealing details that players overlooked because they were veiled by fog in previous RuneScape editions. Jagex is better able create an immersive experience with a world that tells a story thanks to the new system. Furthermore, the camera can finally be dropped down to a player’s perspective. Traditionally, RuneScape has employed a top-down overhead view like Ultima Online.
However, the updated graphics create a serious demand on bandwidth and I often found my game stuttering to keep up, particularly as the fog of war was lifted to reveal new environmental details. At times, it frustrated my experience and motivated my fingers to hover over “Alt + F4.” But it never became so debilitating that I was stuck staring at a frozen screen for more than a couple of seconds. Still, it's an area that needs to be optimized to create a lasting experience.
From what I remember, RuneScape lacked in the quest department. It was a fantasy world devoid of damsels in distress. Instead, there were cows to be mercilessly slaughtered—a world fueled by bloodlust for filet mignon. However, RuneScape 3 employs an extensive quest system with hundreds of missions varying in difficulty to complete. Plenty of side-quests scatter the world to detract from the main story as well.
Is the story a riveting adventure exploring the boundaries of morality and what it means to be human? No. It’s RuneScape. It isn’t an enthralling adventure but it is suitable. It hits all the right tropes so you don’t have to read any of the text and you’ll know exactly what’s going on. A quest marker guides you to exactly where your polygon body needs to be. NPC voice acting is particular well-done. While not ubiquitous, when employed it adds a layer of depth seldom seem in browser-based MMORPGs. Even more impressively, it sounds like the actors cared. Considering RuneScape’s profits over the years, I’m sure they were paid handsomely.
RuneScape's most impressive aspect has always been its vast skill system. Leveling up skills calls upon the intuition in an Elder Scrolls game. The more you perform a task the more apt you are in carrying it out. If you fish for eight hours a day you become more skilled in catching mackerel. If I practice slack-lining for eight hours I might finally be able to take more than one step without falling towards the rocky ground. With over 26 skills—fishing, cooking, farming, fletching, mining, magic, etc.— to level the task of completing them all requires an enormous investment.
Each skill starts at level 1 and has the potential to be capped at 99. Feeling a frenzy for ridding the world of the tree plague I set my axe to work. Chipping away at bark I was relentless, until coming upon a taunting oak tree. To chop down an oak you must be level 15 in Woodcutting. I went back to the grind to sharpen my axe against the unfortunate souls of lesser trees.
Any business requires cash, and RuneScape knows how to incentivize players to part with some of the green. Many aspects of the game are locked unless you become a member. Want to dual-wield weapons? Better sign up for a monthly subscription. Hit level 10? There’s a new skill you could use but you're going to pay for it. I was running through the world as a bold explorer when I came across an ancient artifact embedded in the soil. Upon examining it closely I discovered that the rune was a “Members Only” interaction object.
There’s a large emphasis on microtransactions to play. Eastern game developers infuse nearly every MMORPG with microtransactions but there’s a suitable way to go about it. Large portions of RuneScape's map are off-limits to non-membership players. A continent nearly twice the size of any other called Tirannwn essentially has a bouncer checking Jagex’s records for your payment before letting you in. Did you hear about Island of the Apes? Well, you’ll only hear about it unless you pay. RuneScape’s tactic is like Wizard101. You get snared by investing time into the game and then discover that large portions of the game are paywall locked. If you plan to play RuneScape, prepare to invest.
Final Verdict - Good
While still a fantastic browser-based MMORPG, RuneScape no longer exhibits the allure for adventure and mystery it once did. It has conformed to industry standards which is not a bad thing but it doesn't feel unique. The 2007 version of RuneScape is available to play but capitalizes on nostalgia and soon wears thin. Still, RuneScape is an excellent browser MMORPG and perhaps the best in its class.
Operating System: XP / Vista / 7 / 8
CPU: Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Equivalent
Video Card: Any Graphics Card (Integrated works well too)
RAM: 512 MB
Hard Disk Space: 100 MB (Cache)
RuneScape is a browser based MMO and will run smoothly on practically any PC. The game was tested and works well on Internet Explorer, Opera, Firefox and Chrome. Any modern web-browser should run the game smoothly.
RuneScape Additional Information
Game Engine: Java, HTML5
Open Beta: January 04, 2001
Release Date: January 04, 2001
RuneScape 2 Closed Beta: December 1, 2003
RuneScape 2 Closed Beta End: March 1, 2004
RuneScape 2 Release Date: March 29, 2014
RuneScape 3 Announcement Date: August 30, 2012
RuneScape 3 Closed Beta: April 17, 20013
RuneScape 3 Release Date: July 22, 2013.
Old School RuneScape Launch Date: February 22, 2013
Development History / Background:
RuneScape is developed and published by UK independent developer Jagex Game Studios. Brothers Andrew and Paul Gower initially developed the browser-based game from their parents house in Nottingham. The first public version mixed 3D and 2D sprites in a top-down environment. In December 2001, the Gower brothers formed Jagex with Constant Tedder. In February 2002, a monthly membership was introduced and gave paying players added features such as areas, quests, and items. Jagex updated the game with three dimensional graphics and dubbed the new edition RuneScape 2 in 2003. On August 30, 2012 Jagex announced that an HTML5 version was in development, named RuneScape 3. It was released on July 22, 2013 and featured several graphical improvements from its predecessors. In February 2013, a poll for a separate RuneScape utilizing the 2007 version's features passed. An exact copy of the game from August 2007 was created and continues to be updated by a separate development team named Old School RuneScape.