What started as a browser-based MMORPG 15 years ago has grown and evolved drastically over the years, most recently releasing a new client that shifts the game from its native language of Java into C++ and lays the foundation for future expansion of the game. Runescape was my first real experience with an MMO and was a huge part of my childhood when I started a little over 12 years ago. Since first setting foot in Gielinor I’ve clocked in just over 2,500 hours of playtime and recently achieved something I’ve been chasing after since my early days: the Quest Point Cape (the reward for players who have completed every quest in the game).
Quests in RuneScape are unlike quests in any other game I’ve ever played. Not all of them are masterful works of storytelling but more often than not they’re memorable. Whether it’s an individual quest or a storyline that spans multiple quests over several years, each of them has story to tell about all the interesting people that make up the world. Whether you’re becoming an honorary member a barbarian tribe, helping an old wizard rob a bank, uncovering a magic altar to a lost god, traveling to another dimension to revive the aforementioned lost god, going undercover in an offshore monkey colony, researching a mysterious plague that’s infected half the population of a major city, investigating the crime scene of a vicious murder, or just breaking the seal on an ancient tomb that brings about the sixth age of Gielinor and heralding the return of the gods to the mortal realm, nearly every quest leads you to new and exciting locations where you meet the people who inhabit the world of RuneScape.
Back in the days of ‘RuneScape Classic’ new players were tested on basic game mechanics via quests like Cook’s Assistant (gather the materials to bake a cake) and Sheep Shearer (craft 20 balls of wool) but with the move to the latest version of the game engine (sometimes called ‘RuneScape 3’) a quest called The Blood Pact was added to the game’s starting city Lumbridge. While it’s no more than a simple combat tutorial it’s hard to believe that quests like Cook’s Assistant exist in the same game anymore (in fact, Sheep Shearer was removed from the game in 2010). The Blood Pact creates unique characters and a new area for players to explore instead of using existing NPCs and locations and it serves as a proper introductory quest for those players fresh off of the boat from Tutorial Island.
The most recently release quest, titled River of Blood, highlights all the amazing things that make a quest in RuneScape a memorable experience. It’s the conclusion to an epic story arc that started back in 2005 and spanned across seven different quests. The quest line follows the liberation group named the Myreque as they seek to free the land of Morytania from the grasp of the evil vampyre overlords. Things start off simply enough, having the player seeking out the members in hiding and allying yourself with them, fleshing out a secret base, and arming the group with special silver weaponry to help push their invading foes back into the ruined city of Meiyerditch, the home of the vampyres (and those are just the first two quests).
With time, RuneScape grew and eventually players were able to explore the vampyre city of Meiyerditch and see first hand the horrors that Lord Drakan had wrought to the once prosperous city. Drakan has enslaved the human population and keeps them in a perpetual state of weakness with a forced blood tithe while the vampyres enjoy the life of the aristocracy. You eventually join forces with Drakan’s sister Vanescula who seeks to overthrow her brother. She aids the Myreque in order to harness the ancient power of the Blisterwood tree to bring Drakan down and subsequently betrays them, leaving them worse off than ever before. With Vanescula fully in control of the vampyre hoard living within Meiyerditch, she seeks to do what her brother could not and break through the protective barrier containing her race within Morytania, invade Misthalin, and seek out a new breed of humans to become slaves. River of Blood is the culmination of 11 years of storytelling, charging you with fending off the impending invasion and fortifying the defenses at the Temple of Saradomin where the barrier is maintained.
Not every quest in the game is part of an epic tale that shapes the lore of the game but even the random one-off quests can be fun. In Broken Home the player must navigate a haunted mansion while being perused by an unspeakable evil. It’s not a world-shattering event and the outcome of the quest won’t impact the rest of the game at all, but the atmosphere of the haunted mansion is amazing and wandering the corridors trying to crack the mystery of it all is an absolute blast. The little one-off quests help to fill the time between the bigger lore-impacting quests and are almost always a simple and fun exploration of a new facet of the world of Gielinor and the sheer number of them all add up build a world that feels full of life. The NPCs that populate the cities in RuneScape almost always have a story behind them and you just have to be on the right quest to hear it.