Here is the last of my Og Blogs about the imminent launch of the Evolution of Combat Beta, in which I’ll be dissecting the final few challenges we set ourselves to address back when this whole project started. In many ways, we have saved the best till last!
Give rangers and mages a fighting chance – build a real combat triangle.
Perhaps one of the most contentious aims set out for the rework was to address the combat triangle. Firstly, it’s worthwhile pointing out that RuneScape has always been a melee-centric game, by which I mean that melee has always been the easiest, most accessible combat style to engage with, and 95% of the NPCs in the game are melee-based creatures. Rangers and mages have always had advantages in rare, self-contained situations in the game, but mostly it’s all about the melee combat. That’s our fault and it’s all about to change - but by raising the effectiveness of a ranger or mage to the level of a melee fighter; not by nerfing the melee user.
We’re also changing your base effectiveness against opposite points of that combat triangle, so – for example - mages will find themselves at a huge advantage over melee targets, both in PvP and in PvE. That’s the same for rangers vs mages and melee vs rangers. One of the great things about RuneScape is that it doesn’t force you to only adopt one combat style,and you should be given plenty of opportunities to make good use of each. We’re changing a huge number of NPCs to start using range or mage skills rather than only using melee, so, if you’ve got specific targets you wish to fight, you might want to change your combat style to be as effective (and efficient) as possible against them.
Of course, every player (with the right stats) will have access to every single ability and tactic available...it’s just up to you when and where you use them.
Fill the gaps in existing equipment tiers.
Without a doubt, this has been one of the most exciting areas to work on, with the aim to make sure that every combat style had a full range of gear to support practitioners of all levels. At many of the earlier levels in the current live game, some classes (especially mages) have a real shortage of gear to use, so we’re adding plenty of gear to plug the gaps. Also, with the introduction of the brand new dual wielding ability, huge amounts of new equipment for the off-hand have been added to the game.
Here are a few of our highlights. I’ll start by shouting loudly...
Yes - Bandos gear will be completed with the addition of a new shield, gloves and a brand new helm. Armadyl gear will get similar treatment! Rangers will find delight in the new cockroach armour; ranger “tank” bucklers; and awesome off-hand crossbows. Mages will find new safety decked out in spider silk robes and bat wing robes, while wielding new off-hand wands and orbs to increase their damage (or defensive) potential. The option to hybridise your combat technique by using multiple styles at once, by dual wielding, is probably my favourite. Anyone for dual crossbows, or an epic sword, crossbow and auto-cast spell triple-combo? Me, please! We’ve also made some changes to existing gear, modifying some of the wield requirements:rune gear, for example, will now only be available at level 50+. We’ve done this to spread out some of the gear at the lower levels, and to make progression through those levels a more balanced experience. Other gear has also been modified to work as an off-hand weapon, like the enchanted Excalibur reward.
Fix the Defence and life points.
It’s really difficult to create a balanced experience for players if they use items intended for players far higher in level than they are. While we can control this quite nicely with wieldi requirements, it’s much more difficult with things like food. After all, there’s nothing stopping a low-level player eating rocktails and drinking brews all day (aside from the cost, of course) but, if they do, it makes it nigh-impossible for us to create balanced, challenging content for them. You can hardly balance a fight assuming that all players are using high end consumables...unless they are high level.
So, we made the difficult choice to link life point healing directly to the Constitution level of the player. So, if you’re eating food intended for a player of a considerably higher level, we will be limiting the amount of healing it can do. For example, players around level 50 in Constitution should really be eating lobsters. If they choose to eat sharks, they still can, but it won’t heal any more than the lobster will.
The Defence skill has always been playing catch-up with the other combat stats. It’s been too easy to ignore it and undervalue it. From the perspective of a designer, that’s bad, especially when people are deliberately avoiding content that could increase their Defence level.
So, a big part of the challenge was about making the Defence skill more attractive for players to level up. We’ve solved this by adding a range of Defence-only abilities that give you more tactical choices, and tie many of those abilities to actually using a shield, or shield-like equivalent for mages and rangers.
We have also given players a significant life point boost if they wear armour appropriate for their level. Wearing appropriate armour can contribute as much as 90% of your total life points; more so if you choose to wield a shield as well. This means that a player with the right armour for their level (assuming that a player’s Defence level is roughly the same as their offensive stat) will have ten to fifteen times the life points of someone wearing no armour at all. The lower the level of the armour, the fewer points it can give you.
Allow players’ combat levels to truly represent their ability.
In the last blog, I spoke about the new Combat level calculator. With the strengthening of the Defence skill and more emphasis given to the abilities and equipment a player is using, rather than to skills like Prayer and Summoning, we hope this will give people a quicker and more accurate guide to the relative power of your opponent. While Prayer and Summoning will still be important, their contribution to the overall potential of your character will be reduced. This will, of course, generate more players with the highest possible Combat level.
A final note.
Well, it’s only a few days now until the beta worlds are launched, and we really are looking forward to seeing how you feel about the changes we’re making. As with all things in the beta, these choices and decisions are subject to change, and we need your help to make sure they are changed in the best possible way, and for the right reasons. Nothing is set in stone and everything can be altered, but what we need is quality feedback. If you don’t like something, tell us why, and - even better - give us suggestions towards a better solution. We don’t expect all our decisions to be perfect! It’s as important to tell us what you do like, too.
To give us feedback once the beta starts, you’ll be able to post your thoughts on the Combat Discussion forum, and to report bugs in-game as you normally would.
Don’t forget, beta accounts are only going to exist for the beta. Once it closes, they will be deleted.
Nothing you earn, lose or level on the beta servers will remain afterwards, and nothing you do in the beta will affect the live game. This will not change!
During the beta you’ll be able to pick up all the new gear and items, for free, from traders added to Lumbridge. These obviously won’t exist after the beta, and we will be working hard to add the new additions to the right areas of the game for the full launch.
You’ll also be able to reset your profile on the beta worlds to match your current live account at any point during the beta, in case you achieve something in the live game - such as completing a quest - that you would like reflected on your beta character. You can even reset your beta account to level 1 again. Ah, the memories of being a noob.
Thanks for reading, and see you in the beta!
Discuss this here.