The aphorism “out with the old, in with the new” has become obsolete in gaming, as gamers live in a time when access to games across the entirety of the industry’s history has never been easier. This has been a great thing for Runescape and OSRS, whose popularity has been picking up lately. It’s a good kind of mystery, but it’s a mystery nevertheless, and we’re here to get to the bottom of what makes good old OSRS gold again.
Old – Including Old School Runescape – Is Cool Again
There are many theories as to why Runescape is enjoying some sort of Renaissance. The first would be the newfound popularity of retro games. Ever since the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360/Wii U generation, gaming has never been the same, as it has moved on to its modern age. Computing has become so powerful that games can now have smooth and either highly photorealistic or stylish graphics, immensely huge worlds, and highly intuitive gameplay that allows players to perform all sorts of actions.
This persisted into the “current” gen (PlayStation 4/Xbox One/Nintendo Switch) which is quickly becoming past gen, and the “next” gen (PlayStation 5/Xbox Series S and X), whose transition into current-gen is being slowed down due to CoViD-19 slowing down global manufacturing and production. It’s become standard game design to be as movie-like as possible, have open worlds, buttery smooth gameplay that is intuitive and neither too simple nor too complex, and hours of content.
It’s undoubtedly impressive, but people also like variety. However, with high production value games being the norm in new games, it could be hard to find a different cup of tea among new releases, so gamers either go indie, where there are lots of 16-bit games from small studios, or down memory lane instead. Thankfully, lots of players find Runescape and OSRS when they do.
Going Off the Rails
Another possible reason would be the fact that MMORPGs as a genre is aging, and that there haven’t been any strong releases lately. In fact, MMOs have become out of vogue for quite some time now. The genre has made way for eSports such as MOBAs and team-based competitive shooters, which in turn have become lost popularity through the years and started giving way to hero-based shooters and Battle Royale shooters.
Nevertheless, lots of people choose to not move to another genre with completely different game mechanics and gameplay loops. After all, there’s no genre like MMORPGs. There’s no other genre where players share a world, interact with one another, do all sorts of stuff, and hang out in fantastical places in real-time. At the same time, they’re starting to get burned out with World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV. And what better way to stay in the genre than by trying out Runescape?
Runescape is going to feel new to younger MMO gamers not just because they haven’t tried it before, but also because it’s completely different from its forerunners. We’re not just talking about the graphics we’re talking about the experience as a whole. This is because the biggest two MMOs right now are class-based tab-targeting on-the-rails theme park MMOs. It’s a mouthful, but surely, MMO players know what that meant, and that they would agree. Final Fantasy XIV director Naoki Yoshida even admitted that he’s adopted some World of Warcraft mechanics. Hey, don’t fix what ain’t broke, and imitation is the greatest form of flattery.
The similarities of the two biggest MMOs have given way for Runescape to have a niche audience. Don’t want video games with the main story questline that you have to strictly follow? Runescape lets you take up any quest you want, provided that you have the right skills for it. Want to have any skills and gear such as the Twisted Bow and not be limited to class? Runescape doesn’t have classes; instead, it has skills that you grow through constant practice. Want to go places? You just need to know how to get there and not get killed along the way. Runescape’s sandbox MMO mechanics being a stark contrast to World of Warcraft’s and Final Fantasy copying the latter has made Runescape the breath of fresh air it didn’t expect and intend to be when it was first released back in 2001. Guess it really pays to stick to your guns.
Despite dated graphics and controls – or even perhaps because of those things – as well as the reasons we mentioned and failed to mention, anyone who played Runescape and OSRS has become their cult favorites that every ascended gamer must try even at least once. So, if you haven’t given it a shot, it’s about time you do.