Over a decade ago, two brothers working out of their parents’ house in Nottingham set themselves the impossible task of building their own graphical multi-user dungeon, a genre that later evolved into the MMOs we know today. RuneScape launched to the public in 2001 as a low-res browser game with only a few hundred players and 2-D sprites for monsters, but several years later it boasted over a million paying monthly subscribers. The 2007 Sunday Times Rich List even estimated the Gower brothers’ business empire to be worth over ￡113,000,000, due almost entirely to RuneScape.
An entire community of players built a PvP scene around the ruleset of the game circa 2007, and their protests at subsequent changes to the combat system led Jagex to set up an alternative, time-capsule version of the game for them to play – a situation that represents both the developer’s willingness to be lead by their players, cheap Runescape gold and the challenge of trying to please everyone for 12 years. “[Those players] are more connected to a game that existed some time ago,” explains design director Mark Ogilvie. “I don’t have a problem with that. If they still want to play that game, that’s absolutely fine.”
The majority of players, Ogilvie argues, want to see change. “They want to see something that is reacting all the time – otherwise, they wouldn’t be consuming content at the rate they do.” Thanks to its character-class-free skill system and elective gameplay, there are no limits to the hero players can become, no quest you cannot complete and no requirement to collaborate with others or face them in player-versus-player combat unless you so choose. RuneScape’s distinctive role-playing style rewards players who think strategically and play smartly. Its witty, intelligent tone, finely balanced gameplay, epic questing and myriad in-world diversions combine to create a must play browser game.
There are many other fun features of Runescape that I have not talked about yet such as the events, tasks, minigames, and so forth but this review should have given you a good idea of what the game is like. The only thing left to mention is that the map of Runescape is divided into two parts – the free to play map and the members map. Skills are also divided into free to play skills and members skills. Membership is monthly and it costs slightly less than $10. A year’s worth of membership is currently $89.99. According to Jagex, the makers of Runescape, 90% of players are members. RuneScape has a load of end game content (and more is always coming, due to the weekly updates) in RuneScape. From high-level dungeons and raids, to group bossing (God Wars Dungeon), high level slayer assignments, high level quests and minigames – RuneScape may not have the most end game content out of the MMOs, but it certainly has enough!
Music in Runescape is unlocked as you enter new areas and can be controlled via an in-game music player. A lot of the music is now considered out-dated compared to the new style of music that is being released into the game. Despite this it’s still extremely popular in the community as it’s reminiscent of retro RPG classic games. More than 100 of the old music tracks have been recently re-recorded for the release of Runescape 3 with a live symphony orchestra, making Runescape music some of the best and most atmospheric music in online RPG games. Some quests now have voice acting and where voice acting is implemented it is truly of a fantastic quality. The dialogue is varied, humorous and emotive with no two voices the same. Where implemented, the voice actor’s style truly does match that of the NPC character.
RuneScape is an MMO that has been going since 2001 and is growing every day. Where some MMOs are losing subscribers, RuneScape is gaining members and with the release of Old School RuneScape (a separate server from 2007), more people are returning to the world of Gielinor and I’m glad! It’s a great MMO and a great game overall. If you don’t really like the bigger MMOs such as WoW, or your sick of traditional MMOs, give RuneScape a try! It’s not for everyone, but its there for you to try!