This is my third blog about the Evolution of Combat, and my hands are literally shaking while I write. The excitement here in the office surrounding the imminent beta launch can be felt in the air. It’s really quite something; we’ve had people in all weekend testing, prodding and poking the beta worlds, and some of the PvP battles have been epic! I can’t wait to see what you make of it all.
Anyway, on with the blog! Last time, I started to dissect some of the challenges we have set ourselves to solve with the Evolution of Combat. This blog continues with that theme, and reveals a little more about what we have planned for the beta release in 1 week. 1 WEEK! OMG! Towards the end of the blog, I’d also like to talk about the Grand Exchange and the price of items, and try to address some of the concerns that you might have about the market value of your gear.
Making combat easier to access – By now you should have seen all sorts of information about the action bar and how you’ll be able to build your own set of buttons for key combat features. Importantly, you’ll also be able to map each on-screen button to your keyboard.
You’ll be able to drag spells, equipment, prayers (including the quick prayer button)...pretty much anything, really. Food you eat via the action bar will keep removing food from your inventory until you’re out of that food type; same with potions. We're totally redesigning the spell book too, making it much easier to use, and adding combat-specific abilities to their own ability book!
We’ve also improved the display of weapon stats. When you mouse-over a piece of equipment, you’ll get a tooltip that will tell you its stats, and will colour-code any increases or decreases to your combat statistics - very handy when dealing with new gear.
We’re also changing the way that combat levels are calculated. We are scrapping the current 138 max design and replacing it with a calculation that’s far simpler to understand:
X + Defence level +2 = your Combat level.
(X = your highest stat level from Magic, Ranged, Attack or Strength).
This makes the new max combat level 200!
We’re making this change purely because working out your Combat level is, at present, complicated and confusing, for new and experienced players alike. We're removing any impact on your Combat level from Prayer, Summoning and Constitution levels. While they do have a clear and desirable effect, trying to represent that in the Combat level calculation is complex and isn’t really necessary.
Encouraging challenging fights
This is one of the biggest areas of change in the Evolution of Combat update.
In PvE combat we're rebalancing all NPCs in the game to better suit players of equivalent level. For many NPCs, this means giving them ranged and magical attacks to situate them more clearly on the combat triangle. Most of the creatures you fight within the game right now use basic melee attacks only, and rarely involve the need to use something other than your best weapon. All that will change as we'll encourage you to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each monster (all shown very clearly on the combat side panel, where your stab/slash/crush/special attack buttons used to be) and to learn the best combat method and gear to use against them.
To further encourage everyone to fight creatures designed for their level, we are removing the Combat XP for fighting creatures more than 30 levels below you. Drops and Slayer XP will remain the same. As I mentioned above, all NPCs are being rebalanced with this in mind. Since we don’t have any top-end training creatures in the game (yet), players with a very high Combat level will find this 30 level range increased to 50 - at least until we release some bigger training dungeons! You’ll still be able to train on creatures that are much less powerful than you, but training on things like rock crabs and cows will now only be effective at low levels - as it should be. We will be adding faster and more numerous spawn points all over the game to cope with the change.
In PvP, changes are much more obvious: with the combat triangle reworked and rebalanced; a huge number of abilities to use; tactical decisions on when to use them; the Defence skill strengthened with heals, deflects and other cool features; and more life points to avoid instadeaths...it’s a very different experience, but that experience is far, far better than the one we have already live. It’s about real skill and real tactics, and I am sure that our PVP community will have a great time mastering it, and finding new ways to use it that we hadn't even considered.
Be brave, but be traditional – We have a great game, and a great bunch of people that play it. In fact, were getting close to 200 million accounts being made! That’s a huge number and - while we want to make an exciting, interesting new Combat experience - we don’t want to turn RuneScape into something that’s unrecognisable to everyone.
Firstly, the new combat abilities are a development of the old special attack system. The main difference is that you now have a range of Basic attacks to help generate the adrenaline needed to use more powerful abilities, rather than simply waiting for a special attack bar to refill over time. While you'll kill quickly if you make use of the new mechanics, you'll still accumulate adrenaline - and, as such, have access to Threshold and Ultimate abilities - if you prefer to just sit back and auto-attack as before.
Likewise, despite the action bar being a big part of RuneScape in the future, we aren’t forcing anyone to interact with it. If you want to keep interacting with RuneScape as you did before, you can, and you won't be penalised or handicapped by doing so – indeed, it’ll be possible to minimise the action bar if you want to keep your UI clear.
We’ve also stuck to our roots of freedom of choice. We’re proud of the fact that you don’t have to specialise in RuneScape, and we never plan to create a class system that locks out gameplay based on the choices you made when you created your account. I can’t say too much just yet, but we’re making a bunch of really cool changes to ensure that, however you develop your character, you’ll have an array of viable combat options available to you. Stay tuned for more info in a future Og Blog!
Simplify balancing and code
The RuneScape code base has more than a decade of development layered onto it, and can be a tricky place for developers to work. Starting fresh with a centralised system means that we can spend less time grappling with our code legacy and more time making awesome content for you to enjoy. It’s also the perfect time to rebalance many of the items that are poorly represented in the current game (like adding more benefit to 2h gear throughout melee and ranged, and restructuring 'weakening' spells), and reconsider those things we believe to be too powerful. This means that every single piece of gear will have tactical choices associated with it, through its stats, associated NPC weaknesses, and abilities available while using it. As I’ve mentioned before, the relationship between DPS and healing right now makes adding higher levelled gear very tough, so we’re rebalancing all of that too, giving players the ability to have lots more life points by wearing more armour. This, in turn, will give us the freedom to release bigger and better gear in the future that’s for more suited to our elite players (those with one or more combat-related levels at 90+).
What will happen to the price my items?
As with many things in life, the effect of change is often unpredictable. As such it’s a dangerous time to be trading or speculating on the way items might rise or fall in value. Remember that this is a beta, and is, therefore, subject to change at any time. 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 my final blog I’ll be talking about how we’re rebalancing the combat triangle; the new gear we’re adding (including something truly amazing that we’ve been keeping as a surprise); combat levels and pures; and the changed relationship between food, armour, life points and Constitution.
Thanks for reading!
Mod Mark (Og)
RS Lead Designer
Discuss this here.