RuneScape is one of the oldest MMORPGs and it has created a legacy for itself that many modern games can only hope to achieve. Both Old School RuneScape (OSRS) and RuneScape 3 are popular in 2023 and have a loyal fanbase even amidst high-profile releases in the MMORPG spaces.
I’ve had people tell me that RuneScape is driven purely by nostalgia and I think that’s only partially true. The game wouldn’t survive this long if it was pure nostalgia and I decided to start off on a fresh account to see what it feels like to play RuneScape in 2023 and review the game from the perspective of a new player.
The Freedom of Combat Sets RuneScape Apart
One of the best things about RuneScape is that you are not tied to one “class.” you can train melee, ranged, or magic at any time and play however you wish. While I see the appeal of class systems in games, it’s nice to have games that do not restrict what you can do within the game.
While I appreciate the freedom that the game offers, I do feel that RuneScape’s combat lacks polish. There seems to be a desync between the animations and your hits landing and I shrug it off all these years as a networking issue. Project Combat covered the issue in depth last year and that is when I realized that it was just how the game is designed.
But the inconveniences aside, you can master melee, ranged, and magic and take on any content with a single character. All three playstyles are viable and you can max out your stats over time and be prepared for any type of content. On my new account, I started off with Magic and had no trouble during my leveling experience.
The Progression Experience
Every time you achieve a new milestone, it feels like there’s something new to do. It is an endless cycle as a new player and there are no goals in RuneScape. You get to choose your own goals and work from there.
Unlike most other MMORPGs, there is no straightforward campaign you can run through. You have to sit through choppy cutscenes and walls of text. But if you do like the idea of long and branching questlines with difficult challenges and puzzles laden within them, it is fun to know more about the game world, and interacting with it is a blast.
I regret skipping dialogue in RuneScape back in the day and after carefully reading through the dialogue in the early game, it is a lot of fun. The style of humor RuneScape deploys feels very old school and you have these wildly cocky interactions and get to behave like a smartass throughout your playthrough.
As you progress through the quests, you will need to grab money and supplies to bolster your kills. You also need a steady supply of food to keep your health topped up. Progression feels natural and not forced. You can master all kinds of skills in Runescape, from things that make farming a lot easier to ones that directly affect combat. The game lets you increase your efficiency in various activities and you can handcraft your experience.
Your gear never becomes obsolete and you do not have to rush anything to “keep up.” In an era where you are expected to treat a lot of live-service games like a part-time job because of seasonal activities, battle passes, and limited-time events, you can take breaks and still enjoy the game to its fullest.
The game respects your time to the fullest and even if you do not have the time and resources to commit to the game 24x7, you can easily commit to your real-life activities and the virtual world of RuneScape will always be waiting for you without forcing you to log in every single day.
What RuneScape Feels Like in 2023
If we take the sum of its parts, RuneScape has fantastic environments for its time, excellent soundtracks, and an immense pool of content. Even if new content were to stop coming to RuneScape, you would still be able to spend thousands of hours in the game without getting tired of it.
The community is another aspect of the game that outshines other bigger titles. I’ve spent time in countless communities during my time with games and RuneScape continues to be one of the best experiences you can have. The new player experience is nice but if you factor in the welcoming community that the game has, you will have a blast. From Discord groups to online forums, there are like-minded players like you who will be happy to help you out with anything you need.
In terms of current and future content, we know what’s coming in 2023. There are Grandmaster Quests and sequels to some of the most popular quests in the game that are being added. New social features and quality-of-life changes are added every year and the game just keeps getting better.
RuneScape is unlikely to stop pushing out new content any time soon and you will most likely be able to enjoy your time as a new player for years to come. But the game does have its flaws and it mostly comes down to its age. While the content and community might be very appealing, I also understand why players would be dissuaded from joining the game because of how old everything feels. The graphics are nothing to write home about but if you truly want an old-school MMORPG experience, it is hard to beat what RuneScape has to offer.
RuneScape feels like it’s an entity that ages with you and even after two decades of friendship, you always feel welcome. The signs of the game are showing but despite several eras of MMORPGs continuing the legacy RuneScape created, it still has this oddly fun experience that is hard to replicate. If you can live with the aging mechanics, RuneScape is still a fantastic MMORPG to play.