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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Runescape: Dragon Pick Axe and Hatchet Now Go In The Tool Belt

This week's updates are based on player feedback.  Rather than make a single massive game-changing update, Jagex decided to implement lots of little changes.  All of them based on player suggestions in the forums.

They might be small tweaks, but there's a ton of them... and some will have a massive impact on the game.  The most-touted change is to the toolbelt.  Players have had a tool belt for some time now.  It was a great update when it came out, but basic.  Two of the most-needed implements could only be stored in the lowest-level form.  Brass pick axe and brass hatchet.  If you wanted to mine or cut trees down with a higher-level tool, you still had to bring your own.
 As of this week, that's been fixed.  Your toolbelt can hold a Dragon Hatchet, and a Dragon Pick Axe.  Yay.  There's some fine print though.  For instance, no slot for a Fire Adze.  Also no place to put your favorite gold-trimmed pickaxe.  I didn't want to 'un-trim' my pickaxe, so spent about 10 million to buy another.  It took a lot of time to get that axe trimmed, and removing the trim just didn't sit well.  I'd rather just get another for the toolbelt.  Rumor is you'll soon be able to put a trimmed pickaxe in, I sure hope that's true.
Also, once in, forever in.  Whatever tools go into your tool belt, they're permanent.  The bad part is, you can't change your mind.  No selling it back when you're done.  The good part is, no loss on death.  Even in the wilderness.  If it's in the toolbelt, you'll never lose it.  Seems like a fair deal.  Also, if you put something in the belt that's too high for your skill level, it will act as whatever skill level you can handle.  For instance, if the highest axe you can use is Mithril, you can still put a Dragon hatchet in your tool belt, and it will act as a mithril hatchet until you level up enough to use the Dragon hatchet.
Other updates are more random.  Some people might be happy, some not, some won't care.

Many monsters (high-level slayer assignments) are going to be harder to kill.  Aberrant Spectres, Living Rock creatures, Mutated Jadinkos, Waterfiends, Dust Devils, Brutal Green Dragons...
I can see the benefit, though I hope the rewards have also been tweaked to match.  For people mining in the Living Rock Caverns, that might pose a problem.  Guess we'll see when the first forum responses start trickling in.

The one that hits me the hardest is the change to Dragon vulnerabilities.  Instead of being weak to Arrows, dragons are now weak to Bolts.

You know, I just recently put a serious dent in my savings to buy a Zaryte Bow.  Paid nearly 100 million gold.  And suddenly it's not effective on dragons.  Odds are, the value of the bow is going to drop drastically as well.  That's a big ouch.  Up until now, I've dodged those kinds of bullets.  But this one caught me.  So, am I out 100 million gold?  No.  I have a bow that's fun to use, and still effective in other situations.

Just a game, right?  My bow is still cool.  Guess next up will be whatever cool crossbow is affordable.

One change that I like is to the Knockout Aura.  It very clearly raises the chance-to-hit on monsters with low life points.  The better the aura, the better percent improvement it gives.  Many auras have been made useless by the EOC.  It's nice to see them getting a bit of shine and polish again.

Grotworms are harder to kill, and hit harder as well.  With all the bots that flock to Grotworms, it would be nice if this change made Grotworms less desirable to botters.  I've seen at least one comment on the forums about Grotworms actually being dangerous now.

The gravestones finally persist beyond logout.  If I understand correctly, if  you log out after dying, you can log back in and recover your items for up to an hour later.  If you log back into the wrong world, a message will inform you, and give you the chance to log-in to the world where your gravestone it.

There are other changes, quite a few.  But these are the ones that caught my attention.  Like it or hate it, at least Jagex is listening to us.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Runescape: A Change of Pace Keeps Dungeoneering Fresh

I really like that Jagex has been so consistent with the updates.  I may not like ALL of the updates, but with so much going on, Geilinor keeps expanding and our choices of how to play continue to grow.

The Order of Ascension really appeals to me.  I intend to go back and enjoy it in the future.  For right now, there are too many other things to do.  Still enjoying Player Owned Ports.  Finally got all the armour, but Jagex announced they're working on an update to POP.  Going to continue collecting as many resources as possible in anticipation.

Still waiting on the two promised new skills.  Originally it was supposed to be early this year.  Here  it's June already and no new skills.  At least they announced the name of one, Divination.  I'd rather a late release done right than an early release full of bugs.

In the meantime, I'm still training Dungeoneering.  Level 120?  How do people get there?  After a long long time of playing, my level is 111.  To get from 111 to 112 is something like 4 &  1/2 MILLION experience points.  Wow.  Obviously going to keep at it, but I have serious respect for those who've already maxed.

Let me clarify...  I solo dungeons.  No teams.  At best, Monique will duo a dungeon with me sometimes.  Maybe that means it takes a lot longer, but it's more fun that way.  Besides, Sinkholes and Daily Challenges guarantee an easy 200k daily (give or take a healthy amount for randomness)  for just a few minutes of play.

For some time Dungeoneering has felt a little 'stale' to me.  In looking for ways to make it fun again, I ran across a YouTube video for soloing dungeoneering.  It's a well-done video, and I like his approach.  Not certain if it's noticeably faster than my old play-style.  Might be, but what's more important is the change of pace.  I've adapted his recommended action bar, and am now using Momentum.  It makes me need to eat more often, but if necessary I can Soul Split also.  Just playing differently has brought the fun back.

Along the same lines, I recently got a Sagittarius Bow and Arrows drop.  Maybe it's not a Hexbow, but I was happy to get it.  I bound the bow, replacing my Corpsethorn Bow.  And the arrows, giving up my Celestial Blastbox.  (Wasn't using it anyway.)  Then the very next day, it dropped the Sag B&A again!  Didn't keep the bow, but it was nice to max out on the Sagittarius Arrows.

Working on the same premise, it's nice to have some new gear down in the dungeon.  To date, my only Primal equipment is a pick axe.  :^(

Guess that gives me something to work toward.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Runescape: Order of Ascension Monastery

Runescape released the Order of Ascension this week.  The Ascension Monastery caters to high-level Rangers/Slayers.  It's a nice change of pace from the normal dungeons in that respect.  Some good training, decent drops, and a unique boss system that allows the social slaying while keeping gate-crashers out of your party.

On the day of release, Monique and I just didn't have time to try it.  Same the next day, and the next.  Finally on Friday we had a chance to go in.  Not knowing what to expect, we suited up the best we could, and brought our best ranging gear.  For me, this was mostly the Superior Death Lotus Armour and a Zaryte Bow.  Monique wore Armadyl gear.  I don't remember her weapon of choice, but think she just brought a rune crossbow and broad bolts.
As it turned out, the dungeon is easily survivable.  Probably could have used lower level gear and not worried too much.  We joined up as a Co-op Slayer duo, but never had the opportunity to test it out, as we never received a keystone drop.  That's okay, it was still fun.  And I'll eventually get to try the bosses out.

There's no really short way to get there.  The Monastery of Ascension is placed in the middle of a triangle of arrival locations.  You can run south-west from Feldip, North-West from Oo'glog, or North-East from Mobilizing Armies.  All three are about equal in distance.  Easy to get to, but you do have to run a pretty fair length.

Upon arrival, Ocellus was standing at the doorway to greet us.  The introduction was interesting enough, but I couldn't wait to get into the dungeon, so blitzed right through all the talk.  It does take at least 81 Slayer to get in.  Going inside, the ambiance is dark and spooky.  I was expecting the monsters to be very tough, but actually they were quite manageable.  Each one is unique, and fight using teamwork.  The Rorarius are a cohesive unit.  Attack one, and you find yourself fighting ALL of them.  Gladius are the coolest of the bunch.  They teleport and use stun.  They have a special weakness to being attacked while stun, which makes having a partner useful.  But they weren't really hard to kill.

The Scutarius are the most difficult to solo, because they have very powerful shielding to the front.  Again, if you have a partner, one of you can distract them while the other attacks from the rear.  No threat, just takes a long time if you're soloing. 

The biggest non-boss threat is the Capsarius.  These lovely ladies heal and protect the other monsters.  If one of these is nearby, you won't have much luck killing anything.  Best option is to kill the Capsarius every time she regenerates, then go back to the others.

The dungeon is large, and has some high-level agility shortcuts giving access to more monsters.  Like I said, we never got a key drop, so I can't say much about the Legiones.  I had hoped for a chance to co-op Slay, but oh well. 

The drops are decent, and it's well worth bringing some Hi-Alching runes.  The Order of Ascension monsters are weak to Range, and the entire dungeon is designed for Ranging and Slaying.  In terms of how it looks, ease of fights, and drops, it reminds me a bit of the Grottworm Lair.

Probably won't duo it any time soon.  Monique would rather work on slayer by assignment, since she's gotten pretty high-level and would like to earn her 99.  She recently got her 99 Dungeoneering.  That's cool, because Dungeoneering has one of the most awesome capes in the game, with it's three different emotes.  As for myself, I'm still working mostly on getting 120 Dungeoneering.  At 110, I've come a long way, but still have a long way to go. 

 That means neither of us has much time for the Ascension Slayer Dungeon, unless Monique gets an assignment in it.  I liked it enough to go back.  Sometimes my usual routine starts feeling too much like... routine.  When that happens, now there's another great place to go unwind a bit.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Runescape God Emissaries: Who did you pick, and what did you get out of it?

Zaryte Bow might have been overkill... but it was fun!
Earlier this week the God Emissaries came to Runescape.  Since they hang out around Pot Sarim, and I spend a lot of time there with the Player Owned Ports, it was pretty convenient to jog over and talk with some of them.  Originally, I thought The Godless sounded like the best choice.  Geilinor doesn't need a bunch of self-proclaimed gods running about mucking up the place.  We can do that just fine all by ourselves, and do less damage.

After some discussion, I still empathize with their goals.  But maybe The Godless are just a tad... overzealous.  If they can set aside their differences and just hang around, it doesn't really bother me.  I just want to see the 'controllers' and 'warmongers' gone.  Guthix had the right basic idea.  But he doesn't account for Seren, who only wants to live in peace and harmony with her followers.

As a matter of fact, the more Endwyr (her representative) talked, the better she sounded.  Monique agreed with me, and we both chose Seren.  I know you can change your mind at any time, but really... what kind of loyalty is that?  It's kind of like breaking a promise.  I don't really foresee anything that will change my mind.

Once chosen, our emissary has a set of jobs for us.  There are three major groupings- combat, exploration, and skills.  The tasks are the same for any emissary.  As a matter of fact, if you change your chosen faction while doing the tasks, it has no bearing on your progress.  You just keep going as if nothing was different.  It would be cool if each one had different assignments, but then nobody would choose one group and stay with it.  Instead, we'd just work down the list.  Do the tasks for one, change loyalty, do the tasks, change loyalty...   It's better this way.  Who we choose becomes a personal decision.

I've noticed a lot of forum conversation regarding our choices.  Most updates have 'ranters', people who are just never happy.  These have been noticeably absent for the emissaries.  Instead, everybody wants to know who you picked, and why.  Or they want to explain their own choices.  The conversations have been thoughtful and in-depth.  A welcome change.  :^)

The tasks themselves start of supremely simple, and progress to 'requires a small amount of thought'.  The easy stuff are things like 'kill 10 goblins', or 'make 3 bowls of scrambled eggs'.  The hardest combat assignment included killing a Black Demon.  He seemed unusually easy to defeat compared to the normal ones.

The skilling tasks included things like fishing, mining, crafting... the hardest task required a total combined skill level among multiple skills.  Pretty easy, but if you aren't sure your levels are high enough, Wiki has a good page with the details here. 

The only task that really required any thought was the final exploration task.  In it, you had to get to 6 different rune altars (Fire, Water, Air, Earth, Body, Mind).  Not too hard in and of itself, but there's a time limit.  You have to do them in pairs, and only have 90 seconds per pair.  For instance, Fire and Water.  Monique and I began with the Water altar.  Touched the artifact to it, and the timer began.  Used a Ring of Dueling to get to the Duel Arena, ran north to the Fire Altar, and used the artifact on it within 90 seconds. 

Then you pick your next pair and figure that out.  If you've maxed out your Wicked Hood, it's very easy because it gives you 3 free teleports per day to any Rune Altar.  So we just went to the easiest ones manually, and used the Hood for the rest. 

When I chose Seren, Endwyr gave me a basic banner and partially complete book.  The book will be completed as you progress, and gives personal insights into the gods.  The banner upgrades as you finish task sets.  Each upgrade is slightly more impressive looking, and offers a 30-minute boost once a day to the related skill set.  For instance, the skilling boost raised my woodcutting from 99 to 101, which will last 30 minutes and can be used once per day.  Upon trying to boost another skill while that one is active, it told me I had to wait until this one was done.

Combat skills are boosted by 5 levels, the Exploration boost will raise your Agility by 5, and the Skilling boost raises the associated skills by 2.  Which is why my Woodcutting only went from 99 to 101.  The combat boost is especially nice, because it boosts ALL the associated combat skills plus 5. 

You don't have to wield the banner, or even carry it, to enjoy the boost.  Once activated, you can bank the banner and continue to enjoy the boosted skill for 30 minutes total.

Endwyr also gave me a Relic Helm when I finished all of the tasks.  This makes sense.  If you haven't noticed, all of the tasks were leading up to the creation of the helm.  When it's finished, she gives it as a reward.  It's nice-looking, and actually comes with level 60 combat stats.  All of the emissaries Helms look similar, only differing by the color of the inset gems and decorations.  If destroyed, you can get another from your emissary, but it costs 80,000 gold.  Something to think about if you're trying to clear out bank space. 

Initially, I did the Emissary tasks for fun.  Since then, the value of the banner has become more apparent.  It may not have the potency of an Overload potion, but for players who don't yet have access to overloads, it can be great.  Similarly, if I don't want to waste an overload, but am heading into combat, a free 30 minute fighting boost doesn't hurt!

One last point - as the tasks are finished, you earn experience rewards.  Starting with very tiny amounts, but eventually totalling over 100k of experience in the combined skills.  Not going to make or break a level, but good rewards for something I was going to do anyway.

Overall, the God Emissaries are another successful bit of added content for Runescape.  It ads depth to the story of Geilinor, makes us as players more emotionally committed to the world, and was fun to do.  Monique and I treated it like a date, and broke it into three different evenings.  One for each task set.  Good job, Jagex.