RuneScape &Ndash; Evolution of Combat Unpicked
This article takes a look at the upcoming update to RuneScape – The Evolution of Combat. Over the past few weeks, RuneScape’s leading designers have released a series of articles detailing what will happen in the EoC. This articles brings all of the articles together and takes a quick look at what the effects of the beta nay be.
The Evolution of Combat beta comes out on , as most of you should know, and it is sure to be one of the biggest updates in RuneScape’s history – arguably bigger than the Wilderness / Free Trade removal and their subsequent reappearance. As part of this update, Mod Mark, RuneScape’s lead designer, has been releasing weekly blogs, drip-feeding information about the Evolution of Combat (EoC) to the RuneScape community. This article goes through these blogs, and tries to unpick and assess what Mod Mark has told us.
(Note: I would suggest that you read the blogs yourself, if you haven’t done so already. You can find links to the blogs at the end of this article.)
- Encourage variety in combat equipment – This is an interesting one. In general, the member’s game offers a lot of variety in terms of available equipment, it’s just that certain items and sets are just better than others. Players in PvP (player versus player) situations often change weapons, e.g. from Abyssal whip to Dharok’s greataxe (while wearing Dharok’s set for set bonus) when low on health.
Their encouraging of variety is most likely to be aimed at PvM (player versus monster) situations, for example in the stronghold of security where many players, nearly all of them bots, have the exact same set-up – granite body, abyssal whip, dragon helm and platelegs, obsidian shield etc. I’m not sure whether this will work – clearly if someone is training on a specific monster for XP and / or drops, initially, they may have to change their setup when the monsters’ strengths and weaknesses are shown, but once they know that, for example, goblins are weak to stab attacks (this may or may not be true), the player can simply pick a weapon with a stab attack in the skill they want to train and then can train as they would before the update. I guess that the variety will come with players not always using the same weapon for every creature they face, which may mean that if 20 players are training on goblins, then perhaps most of those 20 players will be using the same weapon.
I would also ask whether the new abilities conform to these strengths and weaknesses, e.g. the shield bash ability is like a crush attack, so will it be particularly effective against creatures / armour weak to crush attacks? An interesting change to the game will be the changes in damage per second – all weapons made out of the same material will deal the same amount of damage per second after the update – this should mean an end to the scimitar’s vast popularity, and may mean that neglected weapons such as longswords and maces become more visible. This is likely to mean that their stats are increased.
Dual wielding weapons should also increase the amount of damage done and received, and perhaps may mean that two-handed swords, despite Jagex’s efforts to make it a more viable combat option, may, yet again, be rendered weaker than the current weapons of choice. Mod Mark has said that “huge amounts of new equipment for the off-hand have been added to the game”. It remains to be seen whether dual wielding will be a good idea – for example, it will be interesting to see whether the increase in importance of Defence may mean that the Offensive-Defensive trade-off when dual wielding is worth making.
- Make it fun! – This seems to suggest that by actively engaging with the battle at hand, you can earn more XP and it will be more “rewarding” – hopefully, this will mean that bots become less effective, and that perhaps drops may be linked to your use of abilities during the fight. I imagine that the graphical updates will make combat easier on the eye, but just hope that it doesn’t make the servers lag too much.
On the action bar – 12 buttons seems a lot for a very simplistic F2P game, but will be very useful for members.
- Make Combat more about player skill – Combat will become more about “mastering abilities” rather than how fast you can click, or how well you can time drinking / eating. Hotkeys will help with players who are slower to click, and navigate the various interfaces, but I wonder whether this is a move towards a more World of Warcraft-life gaming experience.
- Give rangers and mages a fighting chance – This is their planned redressing of the “flat pancake” combat triangle – long overdue, especially in the F2P game. Beware melee players –this should mean that more magicians are out there looking to kill you. In turn, that more rangers should be out there looking to PK magicians.
Mages and rangers will have their effectiveness raised – new cockroach armour will be available to rangers (I imagine that this will somehow be linked with the Stronghold of Player Safety), and for magicians, two new armour sets have been announced – Spider silk robes (probably to be tied in with a new dungeon, although this is yet to be confirmed) and Bat wing robes (I think that they will introduce a new dungeon for the Bat wing set as well).
Whether the items will be available to free players or craft-able by free players (or even craft-able at all) is still yet to be announced.
- Fill the gaps in existing equipment tiers – “Magic armour is rare, and generally caters for a small level bracket” – This is an issue particularly pertinent in the F2P game, where magic armour only goes up to Magic level 20 with the combat robes from the Fist of Guthix, although some . Having said that, “melee and ranger sets are missing gloves, boots, etc” – Does this mean boots are going to become F2P? If F2P magic armour is also added to, I fear a backlash by the more vocal (militant) members to Jagex, unless completely new armour is created rather than, say, Splitbark armour becoming F2P.
One gap that will finally be addressed is that the abyssal whip will now be able to train Strength – training skills will be “de-coupled” from the weapon, so you can train any of Attack, Strength and Defence with any melee weapon.
There is a huge update for the F2P world with this update: Rune will only be available at level 50 (so rune berserker shields and spikeshields are likely to require Defence level 55), and gear below rune will be spread out. I should think that equipment above rune will not be affected (otherwise it would probably have been mentioned) and that its stats are raised, but right now, there are no guarantees – hell, the change may even be undone. Gravite weapons, however, are likely to increase in their level requirement.
In terms of members’ updates, little has been released other than that full Bandos and Armadyl armour will be available, complete with shield (presumably not applicable to Armadyl armour), gloves, and helmet (again, not for Armadyl armour as its set already has a helm).
- Encourage challenging fights – If you are training a skill that is 30 levels about the monster you are fighting, you only receive 10% of the XP you would normally get.
For example, you have level 50 Attack and Level 1 Strength. If you were training Attack on Level 10 goblins, you would get 10% of your normal experience. However, if you were training Strength on the goblins, you would get the normal amount. It is unknown how experience would be given to you if you had these levels and you were using the controlled style.
This means that the popular yak training site in Neitiznot and Experiments in the Experiment Cave in Morytania will soon be useless to higher level players, although for lower level players they will remain a good spot to train, although the experiments’ drops are atrocious.
- Fix the relationship between Defence, life points and damage outputs – This seems to a move by Jagex against pures. Guthix called pures an “abomination” in the God Letters 13. While the God Letters are several years old, you must remember that it is Jagex writing the response. A pure with 99 Strength and 80 Constitution can heal just as quickly as a tank with 90 Strength and 99 Constitution, which, to Jagex, is unfair. This is an expansion on the Constitution qualities of Torva, Pernix and Virtus sets – players can gain more hitpoints by wearing more armour (as much as 90% more life points), and higher level armour. which will obviously require higher defence levels.
Increasing your Defence Level will also allow you to use more abilities that offer more tactical choices.
As part of the life points-healing changes, the amount of health a certain food heals will be directly linked to the person’s Constitution level. For example, eating a lobster at level 50 Constitution will heal 120 LP. However, eating a shark at that level is deemed too high healing a food, so will only heal the same as a lobster would. This is likely to bring the prices of higher level food down by quite a bit with a reduced demand for the food.
Clear evidence of the move against pures comes in Mod Mark’s second blog: “With a larger life pool, players will be encouraged to think tactically rather than relying on lucky, big hits.” One concern raised was the effect that the update would have on “safing” (Safing is maintaining your life-points above what a player could reasonably hit).
- Although there will be many more hitpoints for a player (up to 15 times as more), players will also be able to deal massive amounts more damage (like how the amount of hitpoints you had was originally your Constitution level, but then both your hitpoints and the damage you dealt were multiplied by 10).
- Safing is, quite frankly, common sense. The hating on safing is unfair – if your opponent can hit 600, stay at 601, unless you want to lose the fight and any risked items. Safing may be seen as ‘noobish’ but ultimately I would argue that losing all of your good items and being left with diddly-squat is probably a worse place to be in than reacting to an overused, insubstantial and childish insult.
- Allow players’ combat levels to truly represent their ability – In terms of representing abilities: strengths and weaknesses will become both more significant and easier to see, and stat changes will become visible.
In another move against pures by Jagex, they are rewriting the Combat Calculator – your combat level is now:
Defence level + 2 + One of Attack, Strength, Magic or Ranged (whichever one out of the four is highest)
(My guess would be that the combat level now represents how much damage a person can do.)
This means that the maximum combat level is now 200. I’m not convinced that the removal of Prayer and Constitution is a good thing. They can both directly influence combat, although I guess that with the introduction of displayed changes in stats, the influence of Prayer is, in a sense, already accounted for. Prayer also only provides temporary combat benefits, unlike a skill like Ranged or Magic etc.
I’m not sure if this change will affect pures very much, if at all.
Take a pure with:
99 Strength, 1 Defence (Ranged, Magic and Attack now become irrelevant) => Combat level 102. Some unlucky player with 50 in all of Attack, Strength, Defence, Range and Magic (exact same combat level: 102) will not be able to deal with this strength pure under current conditions.
I will reserve judgement on the new combat level calculator until the beta comes out, because you never know: the new abilities and the hitpoints change may change the fight completely.
- Simplify the code and balancing – Jagex want to add more high level (85-90+) equipment to the game, perhaps meaning that Torva, Pernix and Virtus armour will reduce in price, even if the new equipment is not tradable. Nevertheless, I would advise against panic-selling – keep your items until at least a month after the full update (which should be in September).
Right now, the price of Dragon Claws is crashing because people believe it is losing its special attack, when actually, it is only being replaced by a similar mechanic known as the “Flurry” ability which will be available to more weapons.
Mod Mark has said that “We are very likely to be modifying effects, stats, special abilities etc during the beta, so the price of items in the live game will most likely fluctuate greatly and erratically.” In short, don’t risk losing money by trading your items.
- It’s [Combat is] often a case of . . . . . . having the GP to buy the best equipment – Sadly, I think money will always be a factor in combat. The simple fact is that money is power – the Torva armour set is nearly 500,000,000 GP. No update will remove the power of money, not unless a whole host of non-tradable items are introduced. Even so, they are likely to be acquired through monster drops, which will require tradable equipment to kill them initially anyway. I admire Jagex’s attempt, but I think this is a doomed mission.
- Adrenaline – As part of the changes to special attacks, “every player (with the right stats) will gave access to every single ability”. This ought to mean that the focus on weapons will be more on their actual stats as opposed to their special attacks – i.e. all godswords should become equal. The quotation also seems to suggest that all abilities will be available to free players as well as members, though if the Veteran Cape incident is any guide, this will have been a mistake and will not be the case.
To put it briefly, this is a HUGE update that will probably affect all RuneScape players in some way – even the skillers, in that the items they produce are often combat-related – and, I reiterate, you really should read the both RuneScape articles published by Jagex on the topic and regularly check the forums to keep up to date with what already seems to be a fast-paced and omnifarious change to the game.
“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Thanks for reading
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