Runescape is so previous now that it’s simpler to speak about it by way of eras than to deal with it as one steady entity. From the times of DeviousMUD to the launch of Old School Runescape, Runescape continues to develop and morph round minor and main updates alike. Menaphos, the newest expansion-style replace to the MMO since 2014, marks the beginning of a brand new period for this beloved MMO, one among enormous expansions launched each few months moderately than piecemeal weekly updates.
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But Menaphos can be a press release of intent from Jagex about what they wish to create with Runescape. After the division between Runescape and Old School Runescape in 2013, the present recreation has floundered for its id amid a whirling torrent of opponents that each one declare to offer one thing ‘unique’ to followers of the sport.
Fans of Runescape know what they’re getting from Old School Runescape with its easy – but dependable – fight system. Fervent followers of PvP refuse to depart the 2007 model of Runescape behind irrespective of how a lot new content material immediately’s Runescape has to supply. Menaphos is a assured and warranted reply to the query of what Runescape brings to the desk: characterful story, heaps of PvE content material, and an unconventional strategy to the MMORPG grind. Here’s why Menaphos is crucial replace within the final 4 years of Runescape.
When Jagex launched Prifddinas, The Lost City of the Elves, three years in the past, it was one of many largest content material updates the sport had ever obtained. Menaphos is even greater. That’s not a facile comparability. Menaphos is a correct city sprawl on par with Varrock: you possibly can enter nearly each constructing, have a definite dialog with almost each NPC, and discover a few secret areas additional afield should you’ve skilled all the pieces the Golden City has to supply. To name the growth Menaphos is even doing it a minor injustice, as there are literally two cities to discover past the imposing partitions – Menaphos and Sophanem, it’s anagrammed reverse.
While you’ll must be a mid-level Runescape member to enter Menaphos, as soon as inside you’ll discover a remarkably open metropolis, with solely a few areas sealed off till you’re additional into the growth’s quest collection. Below town there’s a procedurally-generated skilling dungeon and an infinite Slayer dungeon, the previous providing a brand new and limitless area for non-combat talent boosting, whereas the latter serves as a high-level Slayer dungeon with monsters beginning at fight stage 101.
Box set mentality
Jagex estimate that it’ll take you a minimal of 40 hours to get by means of Menaphos. Of course, that depends upon what stage you’re as you go into the growth and the way totally you wish to discover past the 4 predominant quests and 21 stage improve to the Slayer talent. This is an unparalleled quantity of content material for a single Runescape replace, and Jagex’s intention to launch one other growth of this dimension in September and December reveals this isn’t a one-off gesture; it’s a brand new means of enjoying Runescape.
“It’s a massive change for us and our existing player base in terms of how we deliver content,” says lead designer David Osborne. “We’re used to drip-feeding good, additive pieces of content weekly, but this is about bringing all of that together to give players something they can really immerse themselves in – a long-form story, a lot of skilling and combat content, an expansion to a level cap – all the things you’d want or expect from an expansion.”
Jagex have paid cautious consideration to altering methods during which folks devour content material, the recognition of binge-watching Netflix collection seems to have impressed the MMO’s swap from common updates to sprawling expansions. “It’s us moving to the box set mentality,” explains product proprietor Joseph Redstall, “we did all these surveys last year and we talked about the cadence of updates and it was working fine for us. We could do sizeable chunks of content every two months, but we can’t do as much as this.”
Menaphos can be an opportunity to deliver potential gamers into the fold with a extra packaged chunk of content material. A brand new map, new quests, new loot, new programs, and an prolonged talent cap – all underneath a single launch date. Menaphos is about making a crucial mass of stuff for current, lapsed, and new gamers to gravitate in the direction of, which might make the choice simpler for many who are on the fence about whether or not or when to dive in.
Jagex have stamped a peculiar area of interest onto Runescape’s grim fairy story setting over the course of its 16 years. It’s a medieval fantasy realm that spans an enormous variety of cultures and environments, nevertheless it additionally drags in steampunk and modern-day influences. In massive half, that’s as a result of it’s a world that’s grown by means of tons of of small content material updates, most of which have been alterations to current locales.
Jagex not often get to flex their inventive muscle with a clean area. What we knew of Menaphos was confined throughout the low-res stone partitions at its borders – nothing else existed past the trollish gates, which gamers might stroll as much as, however not journey past. For the primary time, Jagex was working with a few of that vacant area, creating content material for the Menaphos replace from scratch moderately than constructing it on prime of a city that already existed.
“We had this literal blank canvas,” says Redstall, “the city has to be there but at the moment it’s just sand. So we got to choose how it was going to look and that was a lot of fun during the pre-production phase.” The look and tone they settled on is definitely very Runescape, a mix of historic Egyptian structure and luxurious, cartoonish blobs of color and life extra paying homage to modern-day Marrakesh. A glimpse of the important thing artwork tells you all the pieces it’s essential know: you’re getting a desert space; you’re getting that Indiana Jones, matinee present vibe; you already know there’s going to be exploration, journey, romance, and political intrigue.
Visually, it’s one of the vital putting settings within the recreation, a complete breath of contemporary air that’s distinct from even the foremost desert settings like Al Kharid, Nardah, and Pollnivneach.
It’s additionally one of many largest updates since Jagex switched Runescape from a browser-based recreation to NXT, the downloadable consumer that launched in 2016. Menaphos is one thing of a reveal by way of what’s doable with the brand new consumer: the Golden City is attractive. Volumetric lighting and new water results lend Menaphos a utopian really feel. The metropolis is mild and open, you are feeling the warmth of the solar overhead, columns of sunshine piercing by means of palm leaves. But this isn’t Al Kharid. The metropolis streets are paved, homes and outlets are brightly patterned and adorned with hanging crops, the water is blue and crystal-clear, offsetting the warmth of the desert solar. As a lot as NXT has helped beautify current recreation areas, it’s nothing in comparison with the splendour and opulence Jagex have managed to eke out of Menaphos.
There’s an actual concentrate on single-player content material
Since the appearance of Old School Runescape, Runescape has more and more focussed on delivering a single-player RPG expertise in the direction of rivalling these provided by Bioware or Bethesda, with an emphasis on questing and solo development. Menaphos embraces that mentality wholeheartedly, with skilling constructed into each avenue and district within the metropolis, as properly the Shifting Tombs mini-game and Sophanem Slayer dungeon for non-combat and fight skilling respectively.
Outside of those areas, alternatives for reinforcing XP are scattered all through town itself. Thieves can practice within the Merchant district, stealing from stalls and NPCs alike. The Worker district is dwelling to stage 50 mining alternatives. There’s a brand new kind of tree for stage 47 woodcutting within the Imperial district. Head over to the Port district and also you’ll discover three new varieties of fish to catch and prepare dinner: a stage 50, 62, and 70. Finally, there’s a brand new Hunter animal at stage 60 throughout the river in Sophanem.
The Shifting Tombs mini-game is the primary focus of Menaphos. It’s a randomised space you possibly can enter both alone or in a gaggle. Before getting into you choose the kind of non-combat XP you wish to achieve, and as soon as inside, you may have 5 minutes to finish as many actions as doable. Fail to seek out the exit and escape earlier than the timer runs out and also you’ll lose all the pieces you gained inside. For probably the most half, Shifting Tombs asks you to run by means of a maze, clicking on objects to rack up as a lot XP as doable – there are some easy puzzles that internet greater rewards, should you’ve acquired the time to crack them in fact. Sophanem Slayer dungeon, however, is a perfect spot for gaining fight expertise, rising to the brand new Slayer stage cap, and incomes loot.
Menaphos isn’t only a good area for character development although. Advancements in each kind of talent whereas within the Golden City are important to discovering extra of its story. That’s due to a brand new Reputation system, which successfully encourages gamers to see extra of town by gating key occasions behind a factional and citywide Reputation system. Skilling is likely one of the some ways you possibly can improve your Reputation with a given faction and town total. It means you possibly can progress your character as you discover town and advance by means of the primary story. It’s an natural strategy to tackling properly over 40 hours of content material that ought to cater to that numerous varieties of playstyles the sport helps, from people who wish to effectively surge by means of the growth’s highlights, to extra informal gamers who need a extra immersive expertise.
Any a type of options would make Menaphos an necessary replace for the Runescape neighborhood, however Menaphos is a complete guidelines of RPG goodness. It’s an growth that respects and cherishes the grind, one which reveals Jagex know its neighborhood and are listening to them. Above all else, it’s an indication that the 16-year-old MMORPG is rediscovering its id. It’ll by no means be the identical as the sport tens of millions performed again within the mid-2000s, however there’s rather a lot to like concerning the route Jagex are taking this treasured IP in.
Menaphos is reside now and free to enter for Runescape members, though there are a few quests you’ll must have completed earlier than you possibly can enter the Golden City.