RuneScape is one of the longest living MMORPGs, consistently playable in one version or another since 2001!
Besides the standard experience, Jagex has offered many variants over the years, from legacy versions, alternative servers, to complete game redesigns. Allow us to list and describe the different ways to experience the game, including those sadly no longer with us.
These are the base game variants of RuneScape, four major versions have launched over the years since 1999 and the latest version is still available to play today.
The first version of RuneScape released to the public in 1999 was named Devious MUD (Multi-User Dungeon). It was only available to play during its week-long beta that managed to attract no more than around 20 players, however, the feedback in this short time was positive. Following this, the beta was ended and development began on what would become the first major release of RuneScape.
RuneScape (now referred to as RuneScape Classic), was released to the public in 2001 and although not visually impressive compared to many other games on the market, it was noted for its free-to-play model (still adopted today), complex simplicity and the ability to play 100% in a browser. It stayed online and active for 17 years until its closure in 2018, making it one of the longest-running MMORPGs of all time.
The second major iteration of RuneScape was released in 2004, bringing over everything that was loved about the first game and introducing a lot more content. This was the first time a new version of the game was splintered from the previous version, leaving RS Classic and RS2 to operate in parallel. This was arguably the most popular era of RuneScape in terms of reception.
The third and current version of RuneScape was released in 2013 and this time was a direct evolution of RuneScape 2, meaning existing accounts were brought into the world of RS3. Graphically superior but now very much a different game to what RS2 ever was, more closely resembling more modern MMORPGs like World of Warcraft and Neverwinter in terms of gameplay and style.
Legacy ModeTwo years after RuneScape 3's new combat system was first shown to the public in 2012, Jagex released Legacy Mode for RS3 players that is still functional today. This mode reverts the combat system and user interface to more closely resemble how the game functioned prior to these updates, a welcomed update but many felt 2014 was far too late as a lot had changed about the game in those 2 years and older players felt out of touch with what the game had become. Luckily Jagex had something else in mind...
Old School (OSRS)
In 2013 a poll by Jagex to bring back an older version of RuneScape received an overwhelming response (just shy of half a million votes), by this point RuneScape was a totally different game and those that preferred the older play-style were mostly left to adapt or quit. Jagex staff found an old backup of RuneScape from 2007 and used this as a basis to release an “old school” version of the game from that era, this has continued to develop and is the most popular playable version of RuneScape today.
Released in 2014 and available in both OSRS and RS3, Ironman is a game mode that requires a completely separate account to any others you may have. The basic Ironman mode completely prevents you from exchanging items with other players, which includes direct trades, grand exchanges, loot drops and store sales. You play in the general population of normal RuneScape players, but just cannot exchange items with other players in any way, making it feel like a single-player experience in a multiplayer world. Two other variations of this mode exist…
Offers you a single life, if and when you die your highscore is saved and you are downgraded to a standard Ironman account.
Prevents the use of banks, meaning any items you own have to be managed between your inventory and wearable items.
Exclusive to OSRS, Deadman is a game mode released in 2015 that uses your existing account but with fresh levels and items (unlike PvP worlds), XP gain rate is massively increased and after the first 6 hours of gameplay the world becomes 90% PvP. Upon death, you lose a portion of your items and XP in non-protected skills. Jagex still regularly holds Deadman tournaments with grand prizes of up to $20,000 going to the last man standing.
Released in 2015 and cancelled less than a year later in 2016, DarkScape was an exclusive and separate PvP game mode played in the RS3 engine, not too dissimilar to OSRS’s Deadman mode, the main differences being that different areas had their own grand exchange points and tax costs, encouraging players to take the risk of travelling between regions to trade.
Bounty Hunter / PvP WorldsJagex have toyed with multiple player-killing focused modes and mini-games over the years and two that stand out are Bounty Hunter and PvP Worlds (Player vs Player). Bounty Hunter in either its mini-game or set world variant, assigned you a target to kill based on your levels and then you'd be tasked to track them down to start battle, they would also be assigned you as their target, rewards would be given to the winner of any given fight. PvP Worlds work differently in that most of RuneScape would become PvP zones, allowing you to combat any players across the map - similar in a way to Deadman but with your existing account, levels and gear.
While not specifically a ‘game mode’ the mobile versions of RuneScape do offer completely new opportunities and ways to play the game. Released in 2018 for both OSRS and RS3 in Android and iOS stores, unaltered versions of the games are now fully playable alongside PC players on your mobile phone. Since the PC versions of RuneScape have never heavily relied on keyboard input, the controls feel surprisingly natural and instinctive.
Here at OP we've really been getting back into OSRS and its game modes 'Ironman' and 'Deadman'. Which of the ones we've covered would you be interested in checking out - and if you've played any, which is your favourite so far? Let us know in the comments below!