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Friday, June 29, 2012

Runescape: First Thoughts- Evolution of Combat Beta Trial

 (Quick note:  My screengrabber didn't.  Grab screens, that is.  After writing this, I realized there were no pics of all my testing.  So I went back and re-took some pics, but not as much variety as originally.  That's why most of what you see is from the Abyssal Demons... Sorry!)
By now, anybody who plays Runescape knows about the release of the Combat Beta.  Some got chosen... some didn't.  Monique and I are 8-year members.  We didn't receive a specific email inviting us to the Combat Beta, but since all members for over a year are supposed to be invited, I tried to log in just to see... and it let both of us in.

So anyway, we logged in- who wouldn't?  Monique is high-level combat, but it's not her favorite.  She thought it was overly complicated for her tastes.  Combat is my favorite part of Runescape, so this had a lot more impact on me than it did for her.

My first concern going in: did Jagex ruin Runescape?  And my first impression: No, Runescape is still going to be fun.  That's highly subjective, of course.  For my play-style, I'm mostly happy.  For Pures, it's a nightmare.  One of the mods in the Jagex videos stated that pures can still exist, but leveling up has been 'greatly encouraged'.  He went on to say he'd be interested to see how Pures adjust to the new combat.
Using the Rejuvenate Ability- this replaces the Enhanced Excalibur effect
I've only had a couple of hours to spend in the Beta so far, and for that, I stuck to melee.  To begin with, at any major population center, lag is so bad as to be nearly dead in the water.  Particularly Lumbridge, where all the agents are passing out free armour and weapons.  Yeah, it's a lot of fun grabbing full sets of all the stuff I can't afford.  After a bit, though, I chose to stick with gear I already have, or can afford to buy.  Messing with better gear than I can buy just sets me up for disappointment when the Combat Beta is over and I lose it all.  

Wound up picking up off-hand variants of some weapons, and leaving it at that.  Hopefully as time passes, the lag won't be so bad, and I can go back to try magic and ranging equipment.  Maybe during the upcoming weekend.  Having made that decision, I went to the bank in Yanille to gear up.  Not crowded there at all.  Tried a few combinations, settled on a Vine Whip and off-hand scimitar, just because it looked cool.

Next up, played with the action bar a bit.  Didn't really understand it at first.  Went out and fought some low-level monsters, just to see how it was.  Right off the bat, I noticed basic combat can be pretty much the same if that's what you want.  If you want to do the old eat/fight/pray, so far they've left that intact.  The Ancient Curses icons have been updated, and new prayers added that create a separate version of Turmoil for rangers and mages.  But as far as I can tell, the curses haven't changed function.

Magic is greatly different.  The access menu changed drastically. Didn't impact me much while doing melee, but it'll be interesting to see what happens in mage combat.  The entire Magic Book menu has been changed into an all-encompassing "Ability Book".  I suppose it's going to be all about the Action Bar.

After fighting low-level stuff, the action menu makes more sense.  It's easy to set, and easy to adjust.  Even on the fly, unless you lock the icons to their places.  For a first run, I put food on the first square, Rejuvenate (healing over time- kind of like Enhanced Excalibur) and Quick Prayers.  I like that my Quick Prayers can be activated from the action bar.  It would be nice if we could sort the Ability menu by basic, threshold, and ultimate.  As it is, they're sorted by skill level required, and it's hard to pick and choose when you can't compare apples to apples.

Prayer flashing should still be possible.  With dual weapons wielding, and a multi-combat field day going on, I couldn't manage it.  Just too many distractions.  But if you're using a weapon and a shield, it should work as usual.  Most people are better at combat than me, so it might not be such a big deal to the majority of players.
My first action bar setup!
After that, I dropped in some basic, threshold, and ultimate abilities.  Left 2 blocks empty, thinking it would help separate the functions easier.  After thinking about it, that was dumb.  Later, I added more basic abilities to help me charge adrenaline faster. 

My final two squares went to the Home teleport, and the House Teletab.  I'm sure I'll modify this over and over as time passes.  Whole new combat techniques and improved guides will proliferate all over the web.  It's going to be a lot of fun pre-setting specialized ability bars for specific situations.  The immense amount of variety is literally mind-boggling.  The action bar has 5 alternates, so you can preset your favorites and keep them.  One concern I had was the speed of change between preset action bars.  Scrolling from 1 through 5 had a pause between click and  event.  If you're trying to change combat styles on the fly in a boss fight, this could get you killed.  I saw on the forums where people were suggesting the action bars be stored locally on the individual computers.  This sounds like a good idea, as changing action bars could be much quicker.

With the advent of dual-wielding, another issue is going to be bank space. If you want, for instance, to use a whip with both hands, you'll need 2 bank spaces rather than one.  Weapons are specialized per hand.  You get a main-hand weapon, and an off-hand weapon.  Not absolutely sure why this is, but have read that off-hand weapons are weaker than their main-hand versions.  In short, I'm hoping we'll get more bank space to accomodate the extra weapons.

There will be no more special attacks based on a specific weapon.  Instead, you have 'abilities' that can be used based on your skills and type of gear setup.  I would NOT buy any new weapons or equipment based on speculation, unless you're making an educated guess.  Things like Godswords and Dragon Claws have lost their specials, potentially ruining their usefulness. 
Enhanced Excalibur is now an off-hand weapon.  It's special (healing) has become an ultimate ability (Rejuvenate) under Defense.  Exalibur itself has been upgraded to be the equal of a standard whip.  I don't mind this change on a functionality basis, but I worked hard for the Enhanced Excalibur, and like many before me, feel a little 'robbed' of my favored status...  :^)
I'll get over it.  As long as the function is still accessible one way or another so that I can use it, I'm happy enough.
With my newly customized action bar, I decided to pay a visit to the Abyssal Demons in the pseudo-rift.  Haven't been there in ages.  Hoping nobody else was crowding the place.  Turned out empty of other players, so it was a great place to try out different things.  I hadn't really thought out that multi-combat thing though.  Now that EVERYTHING is multi-combat, it's a completely different experience.  After a few minutes, they lost their hostility, and I could just attack what I wanted.  But it's a pain to have every creature in sight be hostile, and they all get to attack simultanously! 
Multi-combat everywhere???  Not too happy with this at first glance.  Jagex mentioned (I think in an Og-Blog) they will be making more monsters and faster respawns to compensate.  I'm just not sure that's an equal compensation.  I like having fighting single monsters, and being guaranteed nobody will take the kill from me.  Seems like this will allow 'Runescape Bullies' to ruin the fun for other players.  Here's hoping Jagex has thought this through and taken preventative measures.  If I had to pick one thing about the Evolution of Combat that I do NOT like, it would be multi-combat.  I suppose over time we'll all develope new techniques and ways of dealing with it.

New graphics and animations abound -- much of the gear has been updated visually, new pieces added to complete old sets (like Bandos), the new fighting animations are amazing.  Even the fighting stance vs the 'just hanging around' stance are different, with the character sheathing weapons while standing at rest or walking.  Player avatars have much more detail and shading. Very impressive improvements.

The 'hit-splats' are too much, though.  They obscure the cool new graphics.  I'm hoping they'll move them to the side, or make them semi-transparent.  It's not bad enough to ruin the game, but I definitely would like to see the combat graphics without the obstructions.

 My combat skill is now 200!  Sounds pretty awesome until you look at the new formula.  It's 2 + Defense level, + your highest level from among Attack, Strength, Magic, or Ranged.  Using this formula, it'll be far easier to be high-level now.  As I understand it, this is the main complaint of Pure accounts, because a pure works by hiding his true combat capability.  Additionally, use of defense plus the highest combat stat could destroy an existing pure.  That carefully crafted low level will show a truer damage potential under the new system.  It won't surprise me if Jagex loses a few customers over this issue.  Personally, I don't like pvp, so it's fine with me.  But I can deeply empathize with the loss of all those careful hours building the perfect pure.  

Pures aside, I suspect the new gear stats/requirements are going to make and break some banks in Runescape.  In the new fallout, it's anybody's guess what equipment will be worth having, and what's going to collect dust in the GE.

This has been a pretty random review.  Mainly because the Evolution of Combat updated is such a huge complex beast.  Since my perceptions are jumbled and random, my thoughts are coming out the same.  Tried to organize it a bit, but if I'm skipping all over the place, that's why.  If you don't have access to the Beta, and you want to get an idea of what you can do with the Action Bar, check out Wiki's Action Bar guide.  They have a complete list of all the Abilities you can use, and the requirements to use them.

One thing I do know...  I had a LOT of fun with the new combat options and graphics.  There's so many ways to fight, so many ways to accelerate adrenaline, so many great uses for the adrenaline.  It's pretty cool to watch it build up until you can use that Ultimate ability!  The level of customization is intense.  Intimidating.  Complete freedom to play any way you want.  I've only barely scratched the surface.  Can't wait to see what we all do with it now!

(Next time I'll try to do better with the pics!)


Anonymous said...

This update is crazy! It definitely has it's pro's and con's too. I think runescape needs this update, but it'll be very discouraging for the younger players.

I've only played on the beta for about a total of 5 hours so far. It's really neat to have the best gear and just mess around, but I think they made combat too complicated in an every day situation. I prefer the lower hp, and the just hit and watch combat when doing slayer. Now you have to constantly be doing abilities to be getting semi-comparable exp.

Another problem I'm seeing is dungeoneering. They've buffed up the stats of monsters but failed to realize most people don't have armour binds making it almost required to smith armour. While this is how dungeoneering was meant to be, people have taken advantage of the old ways and done w/out skilling in dungeoneering. This'll make the exp rates dramatically slower for most dg'ers.

All in all though, it's really neaet. I love the idea of dual-wielding and bosses seem way more fun to me right now. We'll just have to see how it all pans out!

Crewman6 said...

You're absolutely right! It's crazy, with good and bad. We'll be losing some players, but maybe we'll gain some too. I see the days of AFK'ing going away, but play will be more fun... OVerall I'm happy with most of it. (Except the multi-combat everywhere!)

Anonymous said...

I just read this and wanted to say I liked your review, I figured it would be rude to read and run so.... thank you for taking the time to write this, especially so f2players, like me, can see what Runescape has install for us in the future, tyvm and goodbye.

Crewman6 said...

Thanks for dropping by, and especially for the nice comment! You made my day!!