For many players, Runescape was their first MMORPG. Released in 2001 as a Java-based browser MMORPG, Runescape (RS) is one of the oldest MMOs around. Given its age, when people learn that I play RS, it’s pretty common for me to be asked “is Runescape still worth playing?”

Of course it is!

These days I tend to use the lightweight client and play from there instead of from a browser. The graphics have improved a lot from when it was first released in 2001. I believe that the game is still quite fun.

Is Runescape dead?
The player population in Runescape has declined but a lot of people still play. If you go to any of the popular places, there are tons of people there.

Playing the game is as fast, easy, and free as ever. So it’s truly a no-brainer that you should log in and give it a go. Old RS players will enjoy the nostalgia of an old school game while new players can have fun exploring all the free content.

In this blog post I will answer a few questions that you might have.

Is Runescape dead?

It sounds weird but this is a legit question. Many MMO games do not survive for this long a time. Even if they are still running on the developer’s servers, a game is still considered “dead” if no one plays it anymore.

Since its glory days back in 2012 when the 200th millionth account was registered, the population of RS has declined but there is still a large number of core players who are passionate about the game.

Yesterday, as I was crafting in Varrock bank west a player randomly stood beside me and starting crafting, too! You can see that from the picture above.

Honestly, when people ask me if Runescape is dead yet, I have to laugh and tell them, “No way! People still love playing the game.”

Tons of people still play – not enough for RS to make the news but more than enough for the game to stay alive and feel crowded. Check out the pic below – this shows what I mean. If you smith, there will be other people there smithing, too.

You won’t be alone in any of the popular places.

runescape smithing
Runescape is not dead yet. This is me smithing with two other people who just happened to be there.

How is it different from the old Runescape?

If you played a few years ago then you might have heard some news about big changes that the developers have made to Runescape. The skilling part of the game is still what it was before but combat has changed quite a bit.

In 2012, the “Evolution of Combat” (EoC) update was released. This was very controversial at the time since it was a major change. If you log in today what will be immediately obvious is the new action bar. Each combat skill now has skills you can deploy during combat.

Before the EoC update, characters simply auto attacked 99% of the time and use one special skill based on the weapon they had equipped.

These days, people can still choose to auto-attack or they can actively use skills. I believe most people use the auto attack style for routine combat tasks and actively use skills for bosses or more difficult mobs.

Are the graphics still sucky?

Yes, yes they are!

Hahahah this is the one area that has not changed at all. The graphics are still pretty bad. They have improved very slightly but not nearly enough.

If you want to play Runescape, I’m afraid that you will have to settle for the same old ugly graphics.

runescape graphics
Yes, the graphics are still not too good. This is me wearing bunny ears. 🙂
I myself have gotten used to it but I must confess that if I take a step back and look at the game the way a newcomer would, I just have to laugh at how awful it still is.

There are a few positives. RS has tons and tons of customization when it comes to how your character will look. I really don’t even know how many wearable items there are. When I run around the game world, I still see some players that have some very funny or unique looks, which is a big plus if you enjoy dressing up your character as something cool or strange.

Still, Runescape has never been known for it’s awesome graphics, right? Gameplay is where it’s at.

Apart from the nostalgia, is Runescape really still worth playing?

I can also rephrase this question as: “Okay, it’s good for nostalgia but as a game, does it measure up to other MMORPGs?”

There is a lot of competition these days. I think that is one reason why RS is not as talked-about now. In terms of other MMORPGs, technology has marched on and RS cannot compete with the modern titles like Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn or Guild Wars 2.

However, keep in mind that Runescape is a browser-based game. The real question is whether or not RS a good game if you compare it to other browser-based MMOs.

My opinion: yes, Runescape can compete with other browser MMORPGs in terms of fun gameplay. While other games like Drakensang Online and Knight’s Fable concentrate on combat, RS has both combat and a metric ton of skills, minigames, quests, and events. Except for the graphics, RS is actually one of the best browser-based MMORPGs around.

It has three combat styles (melee, magic, and ranged), 26 skills, 203 quests, and over 30 minigames and activities. That’s the reason why there are players who have been active in RS for more than ten years – you never run out of things to do.

Is Runescape pay to win?

Okay, having said all that good stuff about RS it would be unfair of me not to mention the downsides of playing the game.

In 2001 RS was purely free to play. Then in 2002 a paid membership option was launched. For ten years Runescape derived its income from these monthly subscriptions. All was good… until a truly horrible thing happened. The Squeal of Fortune (SoF) was released in 2012. This event is a landmark in RS as it marks the first-ever time there was a way to convert real life money into in-game items, experience, and gold (though the rewards are based on random spins). In other words, RS got a cash shop and became pay to win.

Or did it?

Ruinedscape? Is RS pay to win now? This Treasure Hunter.

The SoF has been replaced by Treasure Hunter which is basically the same thing but with a different graphical interface. Basically, people can now buy random rewards that directly affect gameplay by giving them advantages over other players.

In addition, there is also a way to buy Runescape gold. Jagex is now selling bonds that can be traded for gold or items.

Clearly RS is now unapologetically pay to win… for a certain value of “win.”

I mean, can you really “win” RS at all? There are people like me who have been playing for ten years and they still have not maxed out all skills, much less done “everything” and “won” the game.

The fact is, one of our more hilarious sayings in my clan chat channel is that “if you win in Runescape you lose at life.” This is because of the enormous amount of time it would take to truly complete all quests and max out every skill in RS.

To put it another way, in other browser games, if you dropped $10,000 in the game’s cash shop, you would be on the top of all the hiscores for sure. In Runescape? Nope.

Is Runescape worth playing in 2016? My final word on it.

Yes, try it out, I think you will love it.

In 2016, I will still be on RS still playing the game along with my friends and clanmates. Some possible future updates: a new skill called invention, a new Aquarium (fishing) room for the player-owned houses, a new god wars dungeon, plus the usual updates with more quests and skill improvements.

Thank you for reading my long, rambling post. If RS is not exactly what you were looking for then you can find more games at the home page.

Are you a current or old RS player? I would like to know what you think. Please leave a comment below and it will be published as soon as I read it.

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MMO games are my passion. I love to play MMORPGs and meet new people from all over the world. This blog combines my two favorite hobbies - writing and playing video games. I hope to have fun writing reviews. If you enjoyed reading my posts, please share or tweet them. Thank you.