A big push is being made with RuneScape 3 to make players the captains of their own fate, and really impact the world of Gielinor. To this end, 22nd July will also see the start of RuneScape 3's inaugural community-driven world event, The Battle for Lumbridge.
To sum up, there are 3 main areas it's tried to focus on in the biggest update to the game since RuneScape 2 launched way back in 2004.
First up, the changes in tech, including the shift to HTML5, mean that loading times will be greatly reduced. From my hands-on time with the game, I can confirm they're pretty much imperceptible. But while other improvements include better draw distance, stronger lighting and shadows, there was one change that really startled me; I could see the sky for the first time. RuneScape 3 features a moveable camera that you can pitch as well as rotate, meaning you'll no longer be stuck with a bird's eye view if you don't want it. Additionally the audio has been redone, with the team hoping there won't be a single MIDI file left once the updated version launches.
The second area of change is gameplay. While combat and the like has been tightened, Jagex has mainly focused on a popular quality of life request from players; customisable UI. All menus are fully flexible now, meaning they can be tabbed or reshaped, and eventually players will be able to share their setups with each other. Two new skills will also be added to the game; while one hasn't been revealed, the other, divination, will apparently play a key role in the latter stages of RuneScape 3's story.
Which brings us rather neatly to the third area destined for improvement; narrative. RuneScape 3 will see the dawn of the Sixth Age in Gielinor. Guthix, the God of Balance and the first to arrive on Gielinor has died and, as a result, all the protective wards he placed on the world have gone too. This wouldn't be too much of an immediate issue if not for one thing; the other gods are returning, each keen to beat the world into submission and stamp their dominance across it.
And so the stage is set for players to have a greater impact on the game's future. Jagex is keen for the community to drive changes in RuneScape 3; whereas older updates focused on disparate storylines, the onus from here on out will very much be on giving players the tools to "carve their names into the foundation stones of the game," according to design director Mark Ogilvie. It'll be up to players to decide which gods win and lose the battle for familiar areas through things like world events, the first of which will occur when the game launches, with others following roughly every three months after.
Despite the changes, Jagex is quick to assert that all the old content will still be available and it'll be backwards compatible with legacy browsers. As is currently the case, no upfront downloads will be required, with the game being streamed as it's played. At the moment RuneScape 3 runs pretty seamlessly on Chrome, though Mozilla is close to ironing out the last few kinks causing issues in Firefox. The next version of Internet Explorer will also work, apparently.