Hands on with Runescape 3: a brave new world

It’s been seven long years since I played Runescape. It was my first MMO. Back then, Runescape was magical. It marked the beginning of my, and many other’s, fascination with huge worlds populated by real people. But I left Gielinor behind: moved on to new games and brand new places.

Today, Jagex want me, Old School RS Gold,and the millions of the other players that fell for the original Runescape back. They have a new plan, a new way of breathing life into Gielinor. They want to create a living world, content updates created from player demands, a game built to play across computers and tablets via HTML5, and an overhauled UI.

It’s the most ambitious project in Jagex’s history.

The question is: is it enough?

Runescape is big. According to Jagex In the twelve years since launch, 200 million accounts have been created, resulting in a 450 billion minutes of play time. These impressive figures are overshadowed by one important fact: Runescape is still growing.

Last year Runescape saw such explosive growth that Jagex decided to double the size of their development team, and begin work on their third evolution of their iconic MMO: Runescape three.

The first question the team had to answer was technological. “Java really isn't in a great state anymore” said executive producer Phil Mansell. “Java has a real ceiling over what it can provide architecturally, but we’re still grateful for what it has been able to provide us and our players until now”. Instead, the team have embraced HTML 5.

That’s led to a significantly prettier game: the draw distance is now far into the horizon - removing the thick grey fog that plagued the previous game. Shadows have also been improved, with the now visible sun projecting a soft shade of my character on the floor.

Most noticeable is the sky: RS 2007 Gold,it sounds like a small thing but since launch, Runescape has been without a skybox. Now, the camera can now move in a true 360 degrees.


There’s a new interface, too. It feels familiar to old players, but includes what Jagex call “a tear as well as share system. ” It’s also closer to the standard you’d expect from other MMOs: you can alter the UI’s size and colour, or mimic the current UI or legacy USER INTERFACE to ease your transition. UI changes are saved to your account, following you wherever you log in.


by Karida