Alex’s Analysis – That All You Got, Grandmaster?

posted by on 16th December 2012, at 3:41pm

(I’m going to warn you right now that I include some quest spoilers in this article. You have been warned.)

I’m going to start of in a manner that I’ve been led to believe will make the rest of this article far more interesting:

The new TzHaar Grandmaster Quest sucks!

Now that I have your attention, I’m going to be honest again. The new TzHaar Grandmaster Quest is actually pretty weak, in my opinion. It doesn’t suck, per-say. As usual, the graphics are awesome, the voices are excellent (they’ve outdone themselves yet again), the storyline is solidly concluded (if you call discovering the Fight Kiln a story), and (SPOILER ALERT) you finally get to enter the TzHaar city!

… no, really. You actually become an honorary TzHaar after the quest who’s allowed in the TzHaar city! I’m serious! Give it a try! Heh heh…

So why is it weak? Well, because of what happens in the quest.

What happens? I go around on a quick treasure hunt, I go through a labyrinth of strangely incredibly easy puzzles, and I do some combat that has, more times than often, screwed me over with either lag or a timing glitch that gives me no chance at redemption. Yes, it’s tough, and yes it keeps you on your toes, but more times than not, it messes me over without reason.

All this at no risk – if I die, I simply start the segment again, keeping gained experience and my barrows armor intact (as opposed to Nomad’s Requiem – though you do get your gravestone right there, your degradable armor is brought down to 0). Doesn’t make sense considering there was just a gravestone update that made reclaiming your stuff so much easier.

In a nutshell, it’s the Dominion Tower. Again. Aside from some random scuffles in the cave system, you’re put onto a battlefield where you fight for your life, and dying means you have to restart while having spent your consumable resources. And though I’ll admit the final boss was a heck of a challenge (until you discover a couple of really good tricks to take him on, to which he’s downed almost effortlessly), it’s all the same as reaching the top of the Dominion Tower.

Oh yes, and there’s a couple of cutscenes to end the story at the beginning and end that actually contribute to carrying on the story for us.

Look, I really don’t want you guys to think it was terrible. I liked the update. The quest was good. The combat idea was, though a bit buggy, still pretty fun. The TzHaar sounded like the Starcraft Protoss (with our main man Ga’al-Xox sounding eerily similar to Artanis), which was oddly much more fitting for their species than the actual Protoss. Seriously, the voices are awesome – please make all the TzHaar in the cavern speak, Jagex!

The only thing about all this is that I really don’t think the Brink of Extinction should be categorized as a “Grandmaster” quest. Compared to the other three, it just doesn’t have that same sort of appeal and challenge as the others had. I completed it in a couple of hours as opposed to the day-long journeys the others took me through.

Here’s why. Let’s look back to the first ever Grandmaster Quest: While Guthix Sleeps. That quest took FOREVER to do! You had to have nearly all the quests beforehand complete, as well as a ton of high level stats. You ran all the way around the world gathering not only supplies, but famous figures all across Gielinor! It seemed as though there was this never-ending set of tasks to fulfill. Then after it all comes down to nothing and you think it should end right there and then, you enter a whole second part of the quest!

Oh, and the rewards? You get not one, but two huge new areas to train in, some sweet armor, the ability to fight these crazy-powerful creatures, and 400k experience! And forget all that; when the quest was complete, you got an item worth a whopping 10 million coins (when the quest was first released anyways)!

THAT is a Grandmaster quest! A test of ALL your skills (including combat)! The collaboration of a TON of different heroes and well-known characters! The result being the world ending up in a very dynamically different state with an uncertain future! A reward so dynamic it made all the other quests seem almost pathetic to stand up to it! The quest to rule all quests!

Next, Nomad’s Requiem. Didn’t take nearly as long, was only confined to one area where you can’t enter again after it was completed, and a simple cape and some Soul Wars points as a reward.

However, it featured several tough puzzles, combat with an enemy with at least 20 times your health that healed itself for 30 times more, and Nomad. Just Nomad.

He alone was the quest itself. The single most toughest enemy that you had to solo the whole way in a single go, unable to rely on safe-spotting or prayer. There were many instances where you had to use a variety of skills, including magic and prayer in a rather unique way. And the best part; once you were down there, you figured things out for yourself. There was only one guy down there who only subtly helped you with one of the puzzles. Everything else was all you.

The fight itself was brilliant. Nomad had several abilities, including a bunch of mines (no running around now), an illusion ability where he cloned himself and they all did damage, an unavoidable one that did your full health – 1 in damage, meaning that if you wanted to survive, you HAD to be at least full health! He had 2000 health, healed halfway mid-battle (making that 3000). I can’t wait to test his mettle in the Dominion Tower with the Evolution of Combat in play!

Now we have Ritual of the Mahjarrat. The culmination of several different quests, leading up to the epic battle that would determine the strongest race in Runescape’s future, and the showdown against Lucien that we had been waiting for right after While Guthix Sleeps! That’s right, the greatest Grandmaster quest ever is a REQUIREMENT for this beast!

It started off with some preparation; round up some allies with some of the mahjarrat, sneak through the Mos Le’ Harmless jungle, sneak onto the plane of battle to prepare, sneak into Zemouregal’s fortress, sneak into Lucien’s hidden base and find the Stone of Jas again (where we got to see Saradomin’s in-game face, huzzah!).

Then the battle! You had to make due with what food you could carry at the start, as the whole thing reset if you died. You had the power of the Stone of Jas to help. You fought Khazard! You fought alongside Wehistiel and Azzanadra! You fought alongside Sliske! You fought alongside Arrav and the freaking Barrows Brothers! You had an “all on Lucien” moment where ALL the mahjarrat teamed up on the wanna-be God! You summoned forth the power of Zaros himself to take down Lucien! And if that wasn’t enough, the Dragonkin themselves deus-exed the whole quest!

Unfortunately, despite the build-up, I don’t think this quest was as good as it could’ve been. The battlefield could’ve had some more to it rather than a large empty snowy plane with a relic in the middle. I expected a sort of mountainous plateau surrounded by enormous statues of each of the mahjarrat, having their faces smashed out when they were killed or sacrificed. I wanted to see whole armies duking it out, fighting through wave after wave of minions and taking out a few more mahjarrat rather than “almost” killing Khazard.

Ah, but it remedied itself in a way that shocked even me: it ended in a cliffhanger.

A CLIFFHANGER! The mahjarrat series is not done! This quest is ALSO going to be a mere requirement for an even MORE epic battle to come! Perhaps a quest too boss and extreme that Grandmaster would be an understatement! Exciting! And for the dynamically changed world: Edgeville got blown up. … yeah. You didn’t get to see it happen and only one NPC comments on it. Dragonkin. Whatever.

And now, we have this. The Brink of Extinction. You save the TzHaar race from extinction by going through a cave and fighting a bunch of stuff. A single cave. In fact, it’s not even unique; we’ve had the EXACT SAME LAYOUT during the Fight Kiln quest. Enter cave, fight some stuff, solve a simple puzzle, repeat until it starts getting tedious. Then a final challenge, go back and brag about it, get promoted with an honorary title for your actions that any other TzHaar warrior could’ve probably done, and the quest is over. Oh, we also get a new battlefield to fight waves of enemies on? Where have we seen that before, I wonder?

The only real difference between the two quests is that there’s a boss battle at the end. And it’s quite a bit harder because you face TokHaar beasts instead of TzHaar beasts. But you’ve got the Evolution of Combat to help you rock worlds, so you’ll be fine! Oh, by the way, they’re not kidding when they advise you have all three styles of combat. Trust me; you will be thankful for having at least 2.

So to conclude, while the Brink Of Extinction is just barely border-lining the status of being a Grandmaster quest, I can at least rest assured that the next Grandmaster quest will be a lot better, guaranteed. Or I will end up losing respect for Grandmaster quests altogether. And trust me; I’m a very avid questeer. I’m still waiting for the update that lets you replay quests (or at least cutscenes in various areas) that doesn’t involve you building up a new character.

Until next time;

Cheers, cannoneers!

P.S: And did I mention the voices were awesome?

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