Runescape: Revisiting MMO, which version to play

RuneScape is one of the last games of the second generation of massively multiplayer online (MMO) games.

It came out after the huge lineup of games like Ultima Online and EverQuest, but just before World of Warcraft changed the MMO genre.

While RuneScape will never reach the numbers that World of Warcraft reached at its peak, it still manages a cumulative number of 130,000 daily active players between Old School RuneScape (OSRS) and RuneScape 3 (RS3).

RuneScape 3 vs Old School RuneScape

But I should step back, what is the difference between these two games?

OSRS manages an active player base of between 70,000 and 130,000 on an average day while RS3 handles around 20,000 to 50,000.

RS3 is the original RuneScape that has been running since the release of what is known as RuneScape Classic in 2001.

OSRS is now a separate game that was created from a server save of the 2007 servers. This era is called RuneScape 2 and became that title when the game transitioned from 2D to 3D.

This was following a huge poll of about 500,000 people who wanted older server versions to be released. The game was released on February 22, 2013. Since then, any additional content created by Jagex, the company that develops RuneScape, must be queried and pass a 75% majority to be added to the game.

The basics

Okay now I know what the game is, but what is the game like?

Well, OSRS is a point-and-click role-playing game where you play as an over-eager adventurer. You are greeted with 27 skills that you can upgrade and these play a much bigger role in your character than in traditional MMOs. Instead of having a character level, your individual skill levels are much more relevant to your overall character progression.

Everything from quests to achievement logs to bosses usually has some type of skill required.

In that sense, OSRS is a very simple game. There are no skill trees, no building guides; only your skills you improve. And while Player-Killing (PKing) accounts do manage to find some interesting builds, they’re the minority of accounts and aren’t what most gamers will experience.

The game also has a fully player-driven economy, which means that all prices for in-game items sold on the Grand Exchange are decided by the players. Economists recently came to help Jagex try to deal with the game concepts we see in the real world, such as inflation and taxation.

Although the game is technically free, it’s a bit disappointing. Around 90% of the gameplay is behind an $11 monthly subscription.


OSRS is in the best possible way, a boring game. While the game can tell an interesting story of a person defeating ancient threats and preventing wars between kingdoms, the gameplay isn’t that exciting.

Most accounts take somewhere in the 2000 hour range to max out. This means that to bring each skill to its maximum level of 99, it will take you around 2000 hours. Oh, and by the way, the halfway point of 99 is 92.

Often you will perform an Away From Keyboard (AFK) task that does not require you to pay attention. Often something you are doing can be so tedious and boring that you may hate the current “duty” you are in.

It’s not the whole game, there are definitely big parts of the game that are fun and enjoyable.

But what keeps you coming back is the feeling of having achieved a goal that you set for yourself sometimes hundreds of hours in advance.

Game Modes

There are four game modes for players who want something else from the game. Whether it’s an extra challenge or restrictions that add thousands of hours to your journey.

Ironman – You cannot buy items from the Grand Exchange and you cannot trade with other players.

Hardcore Ironman – Same as Ironman, but if you die you lose hardcore status and become a regular ironman again.

Ultimate Ironman – You are limited to your item slots at 28 characters and cannot bank items.

Ironman Party – Same as Ironman, but you can share items among other ironmen in your party of up to five players.


OSRS is by no means a game for everyone, in fact, it probably isn’t for many people. But, for me, it’s always been a game I’ve come back to, whether it’s been a week or a year since I last played it. Something about it makes you want to come back.

Despite all the boring at a glance with the game, it’s entertaining, and I’d recommend OSRS if at any point you were even mildly interested. At worst, you spend $11 on a month of gaming and find you’re not that interested.

Perhaps there’s more to it than nostalgia that brings over 100,000 people every day to play the game.

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