What Is RuneScape?

Jagex's "RuneScape" has been popular for fifteen years, but what is it?

A player in RuneScape standing in Lumbridge.
A player in RuneScape standing in Lumbridge. Michael Fulton/RuneScape/Jagex Ltd.

RuneScape is a fantasy based MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) created by British developer of video games, Jagex Games Studio (or Jagex Ltd., as it’s more commonly known).

With over 250 million accounts created, multiple spin-off games, a series of books, and a very dedicated fanbase, RuneScape is arguably one of the most popular franchises of online games ever.

In this article, we will be discussing some of the intricacies and specifics that make RuneScape what it is. We will also be going over some of the game’s history, certain plot elements, and more. Let’s get started!

The Gameplay

A player in RuneScape standing in Lumbridge.
A player in RuneScape standing in Lumbridge. Michael Fulton/RuneScape/Jagex Ltd.

RuneScape is a point-and-click based MMORPG set in the fantasy world of Gielinor. Players are able to interact with others, as well as NPCs (Non-Player Characters, that is, game-controlled characters), objects, and many areas of the game. What the player decides to do is entirely up to them, as nothing is necessary and everything is optional. Whether the player decides that they would rather train a Skill, fight monsters, partake in a quest, play a mini-game, or socialize with others is entirely up to them. Every player decides their own fate and can choose to do as they please.

Combat

A player who is ready to fight some cows!
A player who is ready to fight some cows!. Michael Fulton, RuneScape, Jagex Ltd.

In terms of fighting, RuneScape has been designed so that it can be played with two combat mechanics. These two methods of combat are known as “Legacy” or “Regular” (which is more commonly referred to as “EOC”, which stands for “Evolution of Combat”). Legacy mode features the more traditional, and more-known version of RuneScape gameplay. The new “Evolution of Combat” mode offers a new feel to RuneScape’s standard of combat, and has been compared to other games like Blizzard’s MMORPG World of Warcraft, among others.

Legacy mode is your standard RuneScape combat mechanic, which is essentially a matter of hitting in the same way repeatedly allowing a varied RNG of what damage will be done. For many veterans of the game, Legacy mode is the only “true way” to play RuneScape, as the core game was originally designed around this primary form of fighting.

The “Regular” (EoC) fighting style gives players a plethora of abilities to utilize depending on the various weapons, items, and armors they have at their disposal. Other factors that play into EoC can be noted as the style of which a player is fighting (Melee, Range, or Magic), the level they have obtained in a specific Skill, the quests the player has completed, and more.

EoC has grown to be dependant on “Adrenaline”, which can be described as a bar of utilizable energy that will reappear the more a player uses their various abilities. Certain abilities, however, can only be used when the Adrenaline meter is at a certain point and will drain the meter a significant amount after being chosen. To reuse the same ability or others like it, the player will need to refill their Adrenaline meter and sometimes wait for a cooldown (which is extremely easy).

Certain items are granted abilities known as “Special Attacks”. These abilities are specific to the item and can be used in both modes of combat. An example of one of these items and attacks is the Saradomin Godsword and its “Healing Blade” ability. When the ability is used with the sword, the Saradomin Godsword will hit a significantly higher amount of damage, while healing the player’s health points and prayer points. Players often utilize these advantages to further their progress in the game or ensure their survival when fighting other players or creatures.

Training Your Skills

A Player training the Woodcutting skill!
A Player training the Woodcutting skill!. Michael Fulton, RuneScape, Jagex Ltd.

When a player decides they would like to train, they have a very large range of Skills to choose from. Skills in RuneScape are attributed to a task, in which the player performs, to gain a number of experience to obtain new abilities in their respective training choice. Most Skills are different in the way that they are trained, but follow the same basic order; “do something, gain experience, gain levels, gain abilities or options”.

If a player chooses to train Woodcutting, for example, the trees they will chop down will be very basic and intended for lower levels. As he or she gains experience in the Skill, they will be able level up and soon chop down various other trees. These new trees (that the player can chop down) will offer more experience, granting faster leveling, which will offer new trees to chop down. The cycle doesn’t end until you’ve reached Level “99” in a Skill (or in Dungeoneering’s case, “120”).

There are currently five types of Skills available to players in RuneScape. These Skill types are known as “Combat”, “Artisan”, “Gathering”, “Support”, and “Elite”. Each Skill type follows the same basic principles of training in their respective categories.

The Combat Skills are known as Attack, Defence, Strength, Constitution, Prayer, Magic, Ranged and Summoning. The only two Skills in this category that are trained very differently than their other Combat counterparts are “Prayer” and “Summoning”. All of these Skills raise a player’s “Combat Level”, which is the player’s viewable representation of how much experience they have gained total in their respective Combat Skills.

The Artisan Skills are known as Crafting, Cooking, Construction, Runecrafting, Fletching, Herblore, Smithing, and Firemaking. Artisan Skills utilize resource items from other Skills to train. An example of this would be Firemaking, as you would use the logs obtained from Woodcutting to gain experience as you burn them.

The Gathering Skills are known as Divination, Mining, Woodcutting, Hunter, Farming, and Fishing. All of these Skills are trained relatively the same. The player goes out into a specific area and works for resource items. When a resource item is obtained, they will gain experience and the item. What they decide to do with said resource item is entirely up to them.

The Support Skills are known as Thieving, Dungeoneering, Slayer, and Agility. These skills aid the player in many ways. Thieving allows for the gaining of money, Agility allows the player to utilize shortcuts and run for longer, Slayer allows more diversity for fighting monsters, and Dungeoneering lets players train their skills, unlock weapons, and other beneficials. All while training these skills, players gain experience to level up.

There is only one Elite Skill in RuneScape, and that is known as Invention. Invention requires Smithing, Crafting, and Divination to be at Level 80 to train. This Skill allows players to break down items in the game and gain materials to gain experience and create new items and devices that players can utilize in their regular gameplay to train other Skills.

Questing

A player outside of the beginning location to a Quest.
A player outside of the beginning location to a Quest. Michael Fulton, RuneScape, Jagex Ltd.

While RuneScape follows no direct story, it at times has very important elements, like the dismissal of a character or why an item exists. Questing in RuneScape for a large majority of players is one of RuneScape’s biggest achievements and best qualities. While most games’ quests feature only one goal and that is to obtain “x amount of x”, RuneScape offers players an enjoyable story in which the controlled character is the main focus or protagonist of the quest.

These quests usually end in a large experience boost, the ability to obtain an item, or are sometimes just there for the player to enjoy a story. Over the years, many notable stories have worked their way into RuneScape like “Romeo and Juliet”, among many others for quests. On top of that, RuneScape has created their own stories featuring some of the franchise’s most beloved characters like Guthix, Zamorak, Saradomin, and more.

Socializing

A large majority of players all standing in the Grand Exchange!
A large majority of players all standing in the Grand Exchange!. Michael Fulton, RuneScape, Jagex Ltd.

On top of impeccable gameplay, RuneScape has become the godfather of socializing and creating enjoyable experiences with other players. Most friendships end up living outside of RuneScape and gaining their own life in the form of chats over Skype, Discord, and other Voice over IP services.

The various communities that have spawned from RuneScape should also be mentioned, as well. Many forms of online relationships have been founded on many platforms surrounding the RuneScape community. YouTube’s RuneScape Music Video, RuneScape Commentary, RuneScape Machinima/Comedy communities and more have been thriving for years on their respective platform. DeviantART and Tumblr’s RuneScape art community has also been around as long as there has been art to produce of the game.

Jagex has recognized these experiences and communities many times and have realized that RuneScape’s success can be attributed to the survival of these relationships amongst players.

Other Versions/Spin-Offs

A player standing in Old School RuneScape!
A player standing in Old School RuneScape!. Michael Fulton, RuneScape, Jagex Ltd.

Over the years, RuneScape has made many iterations of the game available to players to enjoy. “RuneScape 3” is what is we have been discussing in this article, as it is the main and core game.

Many players wanted to be able to experience RuneScape in its glory days without the use of a private server, so Jagex created what is known as “Old School RuneScape”.

Old School RuneScape turns on the time machine and lets players enjoy a 2007 version of the game. The Old School RuneScape community has been thriving, arguably at a rate comparable to the main game’s. Many players have been enjoying their time on this version of the game, as Jagex has continuously added more content to it, allowing the players to dictate what enters and leaves the game.

“RuneScape Classic” is the least played version of RuneScape. This version of the game is RuneScape in one of its earliest states. Using 2D graphics, the game is barely recognizable. While some players still firmly enjoy this version of the game, hardly anybody accesses it.

RuneScape has had many other spin-off titles over the years. Armies of Gielinor, Chronicle: RuneScape Legends, RuneScape: Idle Adventures are a few of these various titles. The various other game modes in which RuneScape could be previously played in like DarkScape, Deadman Mode, Ironman mode, and more could also be noted as spin-offs, but existent in the core games.

In Conclusion

Jagex’s ability to continuously shape their games has molded and defined what RuneScape has been able to do since the game’s original launch in 2001. With over 15 years under their belt on RuneScape, you’d imagine their game would be old news and long forgotten on the ever-growing internet. RuneScape is stronger than ever with their fanbase returning more and more frequently. The direction that RuneScape is headed is always being questioned, and has been for the last 15 years. What we do know is that RuneScape is definitely going up from here.

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