Review: Runescape

An Escape into the Gower Imagination

PC (reviewed), Mobile

Developer/Publisher: Jagex
Platforms: PC, Mobile
Genre: MMORPG
Rating: N/A
Price: Free-to-play/Memebrship- $10.99

 

 

 

Runescape is an online role-playing multiplayer game based out of Cambridge, England, and winner of multiple Guinness world records including largest free-to-play, most users, and most original music tracks. Runescape comes in two forms; the current graphically impressive version driven by a grand narrative, or the Old School Runescape version where graphics aren’t as impressive, but before the game was streamlined. 


Content Guide

Spiritual Content: This game has demons, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and magic. Magic serves as a way to fight, transport the player, or make items. There are also gods in the game, each representing a virtue or a vice (i.e. wisdom, justice, chaos, war). Christianity is not a religion, and there is a “big three” god order, each one being known for wisdom, power, or balance. 

Violence: The game is set in medieval times. Swords, staffs, and bows are the main method of combat. Being a point-and-click based game, fighting involves taking turns to attack. Combat is very clean, no blood or gory content. 

Language: The game itself is clean. Threats from NPC’s can be clever but never graphic (i.e. “You will rue the day you stepped into my castle!” is as bad as it gets). The players, on the other hand, will try to use profanity over text. Fortunately, the game has a chat option to block profanity.

Sexual Content: There is no sexual content in the game. Player costumes options contain two piece swimsuit designs, which is the most revealing attire.

Drug/Alcohol Use: Alcohol references are excessive, and use is often required in quests. A barbarian village requires drinking an entire keg before you join their clan. Sometimes, you make “hangover cures” to help NPCs clear their heads to progress in quests, or give a few to another to get them to reveal vital information. Smoking or drugs do no exist in the game.

Other Negative Themes: Being a Dungeons & Dragons-inspired game, lots of choices are left up to the individual. Additionally, the developers craft a story with their environments as well as with the NPCs and monsters, so images of the game may contain blood in caves or crudely drawn symbols for dark magic practices. Though the graphics are cartoonish in style, this never feels threatening, nevertheless, those elements exist and are hard to avoid.

One skill called Thieving lets you do just that—but only on NPCs. You can loot stalls and NPCs’ pockets, pick locks on treasure chests, and join a thieves guild and a band of pirates, all depending on your sleight-of-hand stat. 

Positive Content: There are as many churches in the game as there are taverns. You have a skill called Prayer, which is a point system that helps buff your character or protect the player from harm. Learning to rely upon heavenly powers to aid in your adventures and hardships is an interesting mechanic I’ve seen in few games. The points are restored at a church by praying at an altar.

As mentioned before, each god represents a virtue or a vice. It’s clear that the characteristic of balance is the most effectual virtue according to lore. And while this “Guthix” (the name of the god) is not Christianity’s God, it serves as a perspective to challenge our personal view of God. What is our God? What is He the God of? Is God the god of love, of hope, of justice, of grace? And is he also the God of power, of endurance, of judgment, of justice? And the answer is yes. God is a being that loves us deeply and intimately, and deals out justice and judgment to our neighbor. 

Isaiah 55:8-9 Is a famous for the Lord flexing. His ways and thoughts are much higher than our own. And for this reason we receive some beneficial advice in Proverbs to not “lean on our own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5-6). 

Review

I was introduced to Runescape back in 2004. I quickly became enraptured by its charm and the imagination of its creators, Andrew and Paul Gower. This was also my first MMO experience, but after trying World of Warcraft and others, I found myself not liking them because of Runescape‘s easy-to-manage interface and more creative world.

Runescape is a 3-D point-and-click game. In a fully 3-D environment, doors are opened by clicking on them, Banks are used by clicking on the teller, items are picked up by clicking them, etc. The character, however, only gets around by being told where to go via click, and the camera is restricted in how close it zooms in and out, or move up and down. Other MMOs are built around players moving freely with keyboard controls and total control of moving the game camera around, and that is the first major difference between them and this game. 

It’s next major difference is how compatible it was to nearly every computer when it first released in 2001. Whether you had a hand-me-down from your grandparents or the newest innovative hard drive from Bill Gates himself, Runescape once ran on any internet browser. That is where it received much popularity. It’s brand new content being released for free also didn’t hurt.

Since 2007, the game has become too large, and now must be downloaded. It is still a cut above games like Lord of the Rings Online and World of Warcraft which take hours to download, whereas Runescape takes minutes. In 2018, the push to mobile became successful, and Jagex ported their Old School version to phones, thus keeping Runescape accessible nearly everywhere.

Everything is a skill to earn by your own making. From cooking to fishing, cutting wood, making crafts, mining, and fighting, all of the skills have a symbiotic relationship with one another (excluding Dungeoneering—a beast of its own). With the proper knowledge of locations and monster locations, you don’t need to buy anything. But if you want to skip all the time-consuming grinding and get straight to playing with the items you want, then this is a Good read how to buy RuneScape gold safely?

Okay, you may need to buy a bucket…

There are fun options for the player-vs-player. You will find a capture the flag challenge called Castle Wars, a 15-on-15 scrimmage. There’s a one-on-one Duel Arena, as well as the infamous Wilderness where anything goes. Any number of people may attack you there, and subsequently you may attack any number of people. It’s a deep place filled with mysterious monsters and things, offering a look into what it used to be. 

For the player that wants to work with other players and fight against challenges or huge monsters there’s a bit more for them. From a three-headed king dragon, the larger than life queen dragon, and the multiple armored dragons in between, to a giant space elephant, an inter-dimensional chaotic elemental, and god emissaries locked in eternal combat, there are challenges in every pocket of Gielnor offering great reward behind greater risk.

One of my personal favorites is the Barrow Brothers, six brothers who have become ghosts dwelling within their graves. There’s a chest hidden underground beneath them housing treasure, and the reward is greater depending on how many of the Brothers you take out. 

The world becomes accessible based on skill levels. The higher your skills go, the more you’re able to do and see. However, the game allows you to take risks. Recommendations are just that: suggestions. It’s easy to break MMOs down to numbers: if your numbers are higher, you’re better. And while Runescape is partially a numbers game, it does more than to provide choices for problem solving.

The epitome to its gameplay lies in puzzle-solving. If you look up a guide to any of their quests, you won’t find just one, you’ll find many. You’ll find a guide where one guy had max stats and gave his list for armor requirements, or you’ll find a guy at level 16 Macgyver his way to the quests’ completion. It really feels genuine; you didn’t finish the quest like everyone else and you may have had help, but it came down to you in the end. I once finished a quest way under level because a friendly stranger made the way for me. No guide could have told me that would happen. This is all because the developers went for the most open-ended scenario imaginable.

That is what really intrigues me about this massive MMO: how the game’s direction is driven by the stories. When something new comes out, it’s partially for exploration, or a new skill, or monster, but the emphasis is on how it fits into the narrative, and what it means for the whole at large. Back in 2007 they updated their graphic engine, the combat system, but most importantly, the Age. From Age 5 to Age 6 in their established time period, this new age brings about the return of the gods. Now, if you activate any questline, you’re prompted to know where this quest falls in the storyline.

Finally, there are two different versions to try, and each one of them has taken a step in different directions in terms of lore and gameplay. Thanks to this, different lands exist where other might be in comparison to each version. Which is better? Well that’s a question the community at whole still struggles with. I believe it was a good call for Jagex to keep two different versions alive. It keeps a…“balance” so to speak for the players.

The new version allows the game to upgrade and grow and evolve. Providing new ways to level up faster gives adults like myself a chance to experience the new content locked behind stat requirements.

On the other hand, the Old School version keeps the games nostalgic look alive, makes it compatible for phones, and also gives them the freedom to explore more avenues of creativity that a single version would forbid.

At its root, Runescape leaves the decision up to the player, and what kind of player you want to be. Unlike World of Warcraft Alliance or Horde option, you choose if you even want to be affiliated with a faction to begin with, or change midway. Most decisions to align with a faction are verbal or cosmetic choices. The choices you make don’t affect the entirety of the quests, it only offers different dialogue.

I’ve spent nearly fifteen years playing this game off and on. My stats aren’t impressive, but my quest completion is nearly there. That’s how I like to play. Others have max stats and may have nearly no quests completed, and that’s how they like to play. 

Others have made their own restrictions to challenge themselves further. I haven’t even mentioned the Hardcore Ironman that is a one death, game over mode that only the coolest and the baddest play (I don’t have one). All of that is possible through one game. Runescape is a game tailored to the gamers, by a company that is consistently listening. Try and find that somewhere else.

The Bottom Line

 

Runescape may not be the biggest online game, but its plethora of activities—as well as both free-to-play and pay-to-play options—definitely make it "my first MMORPG" material.

 

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Johnathan Floyd

Writer, Editor, President, and overall complete goofball.

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