RuneScape is one of the few titles that I find myself coming back to when I don't need to game, when I am just looking for something fun to do or a world to explore. RuneScape has it all, to the point that it can almost be too much.
I can log into RuneScape and find a new quest or place to explore every time. The strange thing is that the size of the land mass in game is really not that impressive. There are no mounts in the game because players can successfully travel by walking. Of course, teleporting across the landscape is now easier than ever, but it's just as easy to hoof it. I find myself often preferring to walk only because I know I'll come across some new quest or interesting NPC. I mean it when I say that, too. I've said it before but the game world feels much more like one of those incredible miniature train sets that appear at malls or at toy conventions during the holidays. There seems to be life in those tiny worlds, stories being told by the tiny citizens. It's cozy, inviting, but still mysterious and magical.
It might help that RuneScape is accessible through any browser. That instant access gives me the option to log in late at night from bed or from the breakfast area in the morning. I can open my laptop and I am in the game. It's an entire world within a 15 inch screen. For some reason, that's very appealing.
Even if exploring or gawking at candle-lit windows isn't your thing, there is plenty of adventuring to do. Each major area has a series of tasks, essentially an achievement list, that you can concentrate your efforts on. I am still trying to finish the task list in the very first town I arrived in, Lumbridge. Some of the activities will require me to level a bit more, but I am slowing marking them all off my list. The funny thing is that I have never been someone who cares much about an achievement, but RuneScape pays players for doing these tasks with loot, experience and bits of cash. The task system is actually a great way to learn about the game and to gain some decent items when you first start out. Or, it was until Jagex, developers of the title, created a new newbie tutorial outside of the city of Burthorpe.
I jumped at the chance to go through the new area and loved every minute of it. It takes you through several activities that not only teach you the mechanics of the game but serve to suck you into the world of RuneScape; it charms you without your knowing. There is one section that has you playing the role of a sort of thief. In order to get an item you need, you have to create a horrendous pie and give it to a rather massive individual. He becomes so sick that the game actually warns you that the sounds you will hear might be disturbing. What follows is a series of belches, retches, and heaves that truly made me uneasy. It was all done without feeling cheesy or goofy, though. It was immersive, funny, and intense.
RuneScape is literally full of moments like that; moments that can at once make you laugh and cringe, smile and feel a bit sad, scared and thrilled. Lately the developers have been working hard to put in more fully voiced quests, complete with intricate cut-scenes, puzzles to solve, and deep plots that eventually lead to greater and larger danger. The new quest Song from the Depths sent me into a dream world to figure out why the men of a local village were not waking up. The voice acting and singing is top-notch, and the ending had me actually on the edge of my seat. I would have to become a much more powerful warrior to see the end of the tale, but that's common in RuneScape. The developers have put in several quests that start off easy enough for newbies but that stretch on for many levels. There's an over-arching line of stories and quests through the entire experience of playing RuneScape. A player could literally just quest and do nothing else and would have hours and hours of entertainment.
The team at Jagex is possibly one of the hardest working I have ever known. There are game updates pretty much weekly, events and non-combat activities, a very busy and robust player-run economy, PvP, customizable housing, loyalty rewards that can make your character even more unique than usual, activity across all types of social media, and high-quality videos that show behind the scenes and upcoming features. RuneScape, despite its very humble origins over 10 years ago, has grown to be what I consider the epitome of a very healthy MMO and development team.
Despite all of my gushings, I really want to come back to the details in the game. Those details are still the main reason I come back week after week and why I buy my subscription cards in three month intervals. The world feels alive, even more so than many of the client-based heavy hitters like RIFT or World of Warcraft. NPCs come and go, many of them each handing out unique quests. There is more movement and life in a typical village in RuneScape than I often find in many MMOs that feature static, statue-like NPCs.
Don't get me wrong, if you burn your way through levels and play several hours a night you might just start to see the threads in RuneScape's tapestry. That's bound to happen with any MMO. To me, someone who often needs a world that offers what seems like endless opportunities just to relax or many different types of adventure, RuneScape is it. It's dependable and comfortable. My advice would be to forget the levels. After all, in this sandbox you can chase levels the entire time you play and never hit them all. Work on a little fletching here, maybe some cooking there. Take a moment and go see an area you haven't been to yet. Train up agility, or even just spend an evening on a roleplay server working on your character's story.
Whatever you choose to do, there will be a lot of it to do. That's why I play RuneScape.
There's an MMO born every day, and every game is someone's favorite. Why I Play is a column in which the Massively staff members kick back and reminisce about all their favorite MMOs. Whether it's the new hotness or an old fan favorite loaded with nostalgia, each title we cover here tugs at our heartstrings and keeps us coming back for more.