To begin with, the free player map is actually quite large and includes several different areas such as cities, desert regions, swamps, forests, mountains and the wilderness. There are mines and underground dungeons to also explore and train in. The graphics are good, considering it’s all in a browser based Java system and what’s better is that the Jagex team are constantly upgrading parts of the game to make it look even better. There is currently the intention to move the game to HTML5 so the game will run smoother and with additional capacity for graphical improvements. The primary means of travel in the game is running about but as your magic level increases you’ll be able to teleport using runes, alternatively, if you visit and unlock them you can get access to ‘lodestones’ that allow you free travel to major areas.
Canoes have also become available for free players where you can travel up one large river to various points, though you have to make the canoe yourself. The free player map does not have too many high leveled creatures out to kill you so everything’s quite safe; you need to travel to specific places to find the assortment of high leveled monsters but, especially at lower leveled, several creatures will still attack you. Rather than force new players to muddle through an elaborate and text-heavy tutorial island as in past versions, RuneScape starts off with a voiced cutscene. Players are given a quick demo of one chosen combat style (Melee, Magic, or Ranged) before being dropped into Burthorpe, which has been redesigned as a training area for new characters. NPCs here will explain how each of the game’s skills works and set you tasks to get you started. Existing players logging in for the first time since the update will see a cutscene introducing the story behind the Sixth age of RuneScape gold, with the gods Zamorak and Saradomin returning to raise armies and do battle.
Every week, players will be asked to respond to some new disaster or event. The way in which they respond – the tasks they complete, the gods they favour, and the votes they cast on the game’s community site – will then be pored over by Jagex, who will update the game in the following weeks to reflect the actions of players. The structure of the game’s narrative will focus on this war between the gods. “We’re allowing ourselves to use it to tell more episodic stories,” Mansell says. “We’re going to have one central storyline, and every piece of content we do will relate to that story thread.” “It means that narrative isn’t something that’s just associated with quests,” Mark Ogilvie continues. “It’s associated with everything you do. That’s exciting. I’m not aware of a game that has given players that level of power.”
Runescape is the grandaddy of browser-based MMORPGs. First released in 2001, this game is one of the oldest MMO games around and for a 14-year-old title, it still has a lot to offer. Although the graphics are pretty bad, the game itself is very interesting and fun. The fact that Runescape (RS) has been going strong for such a long time is a testament to its highly addictive quality. If you can stomach the graphics, Runescape is well worth playing. This adds a welcome complexity to the game for those who enjoy making money without grinding. In most MMOs you have skills – things you can do in the game to level up your character and advance your skills. In some games they are called professions (WoW) where you can mine, cook, make items, smith items and produce other items.
Skills in RuneScape include: Attack, Strength, Mining, Dungeonneering, Smithing, Cooking, Woodcutting and Summoning. There is a total of 26 skills in RuneScape and all can be leveled up to 99 (dungeonnering can go to 120) and with each level, you unlock something new – be it new food, weapons, armours, axes, pets and more. With the amount of skills, there is years and years of content that you can delve into and it feels more fleshed out and detailed compared to some skills – such as the skills in WoW
While Runescape may lack the impressive, cutting-edge graphics which appeal so strongly to the gaming community, it remains the only MMORPG I have experienced which tries to continually allow players to influence the game around them, keeping them further in the loop with the ‘Dev Diaries’ and update archives.