Can RuneScape 3 Compete with the Best MMOs? An In-Depth Look at the Update to the World's Biggest Browser MMO

| 5 May 2013 19:00
runescape 3 looking at wiz tower

Story, graphics and interface all will be improved with the browser-based RuneScape 3.

The rest of the journalists had moved on and abandoned the bank of computers running the latest alpha build of RuneScape 3 after several hours of hands on time. I stayed behind, alone, so I could finish playing the correct notes on the pipe organ in a wizard's tower just to find out what happens next.

RuneScape has quietly been operating on the fringes of the game industry as one of the most successful videogames ever created. The fully featured MMO you play in a browser has more than 200 million registered accounts. Players have logged more than 450 billion minutes of gameplay since it launched in 2001. Jagex, the developer and publisher of RuneScape, pioneered the free to play model and the game makes enough money to support a large dedicated staff in Cambridge, England to produce weekly updates of story content and new features. For the last several years, Jagex has stayed relatively quiet, but this week the company flew press from all over the world to show off the next evolution of its browser game - RuneScape 3. The new game uses brand new technology to deliver a breathtaking number of features and the greatly improved graphics and sound will do a lot to convince you that you're playing as advanced an MMO as any AAA client could offer.

The title RuneScape 3 is a bit confusing. The game first launched in 2001, but it received a massive overhaul and relaunched in 2004 using Java. Even though this update was technically RuneScape 2, Jagex just referred to it as the single RuneScape without any pesky numbers attached to the title. RuneScape 3 uses all of the power of HTML 5 instead of Java, a full year before the new technology becomes standard all over the internet. "It's the future for most, but the present for us," quipped the Design Director Mark Ogilvie. That's not to say Jagex is abandoning its past, far from it. You can actually still play the old game as RuneScape Classic, a trend Jagex will continue when the newest game comes out by allowing players to continue using the Java RuneScape 2 interface if, for example, you're playing on an older machine.

RuneScape 3
categories: 3d, browser, fantasy

RuneScape 3 is an instantly accessible F2P MMORPG set in a welcoming world of medieval fantasy. It is an empowering game full of opportunities for advancement and meaningful choices, where players are at liberty to build their wealth, master skills, rally friends and seek adventure as they please. In 2013 RuneScape is "made by you" more than ever before, with player choices driving an on-going story and shaping very fabric of the Gielinor

When you start up RuneScape 3, it's very easy to forget you haven't downloaded some 20gb client. "Much of the industry has dismissed browser games because of their limited graphical capability," Ogilvie admitted. "But we're about to turn that perception on its head and prove that browser games can compete with AAA titles."

He was boasting, of course, using the tools of a marketer in selling his game, but Ogilvie was certainly not wrong. RuneScape 3 looks amazing. Instead of the main isometric view the old game used, players inhabit a completely 3D world in RuneScape 3 with a fully moveable camera. The draw distance is extremely far; there's almost no perceptible fog even when you view the world from an elevated building or hill. The color palette is new too, accenting the different fantasy motifs and areas in the game. The world of RuneScape 3 is vibrant, and the characters inhabiting it as just as lively, with detailed armor models and varied visual styles that would look at home in anything wrought by EA or Activision.

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Sinisterair, please don't pretend to speak for the whole fan-base. Not only is the claim that most people are playing Classic or '07 'Scape ridiculous, 70K to 80K players on at a time is still an impressive number, especially when you consider that Jagex is competing well against commercial MMO's with their chosen niche of remaining a browser based game. True, bots have always been an issue, but the rapid bot-busting updates released by Jagex are to be applauded. Not only are they leading the industry in anti-bot recognition, they've successfully sued and shut down a major bot developer company in court; this is unheard of.

Also impressive was a major update to the game released late in 2012 that redid the *entire combat engine from the ground up.* I can't stress how wonderful it's been to experience the new depths of strategy, and what a monumental undertaking it was to re-code everything and still have it work with the established environment. Bravo again, Jagex.

Also, the micro-transactions Sinisterair mentions are nearly completely cosmetic. The only controversial form of them have been to buy extra tickets for a sort of daily lottery, which all players are given free tickets to anyway. Paying $50, players can buy enough "spins" on this lottery wheel to maybe earn as much exp as could be earned manually in under an hour of play, with the "jackpot" prizes still being cosmetic and underpowered gear. There's absolutely no pressure to participate, and it would be beyond silly for anybody to actually fear it as a replacement for legitimate training. These micro-transactions are the primary reason that the development team has been able to explode to the size it has to bring us new content weekly, and I'm a proud contributor.

I've been an off and on again player since late 2004, and haven't let my membership lapse for these 9 wonderful years. I promise to those of you who's interests are peaked by this article: This is a very exciting time for this Cinderalla of a wonderful MMO, and definately worth a look when Runescape 3 releases this summer!

Wait... there's a Runescape 2?

Wow, I like the new looks and I can see myself losing some serious time to this if they keep the awesome old crpg style of quests, but less grindy adn with better combat.

There was a Runescape 2?!?

Color me interested.
Runescape WAS my childhood, and at this rate it'll be my childs childhood.

I'm Sorry but I actually still play this game, And what impresses you does not impress the fan-base. Most of us if not more than half of us have moved onto classic RS Because of the constant Micro Tranactions being shoved down our throats. The 200M Accts? Mostly Macros that ruin the economy. No more than 100k play at a time and even then you can find atleast 20-30% are bots. And With promises of bot breaking updates that dont seem to work past 3-4 months. The game updates that do occur are usually ones that make the game more and more like a standard MMO Pretty much ruining any charm the game had left going for it.

I seem to remember some old wisdom of "You can't polish a turd"

Well in this case, maybe you can! I mean, RS3 is way shinier than most poop I've seen.

Seriously, I was just as skeptical as you, but RuneScape has a lot going for it.

I seem to remember some old wisdom of "You can't polish a turd"

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