The reveals during Runefest 2018 for RuneScape 3 were largely considered by the community to be underwhelming and tame, and the combat talk was no exception. While there was some discussion of what the future of PvM might look like, it was largely left in mostly vague language that we’ve become accustomed to hearing from mods who aren’t sure how to appease a community tugging in two different directions. In particular, the PvM talk took the form of a Q&A panel rather than a set of future reveals with a presentation, which feels like a bit of a let-down compared to previous iterations that showed off potentially new bosses, new mechanics, or new weapons (even if they often never actually made it into the game). A quick poll of the room revealed that most attendees felt the challenge of group combat stemmed more from group coordination than actual mechanics, the most common level of comfort-ability for “high level” PvM is God Wars Dungeon 2, and most people are still mum on the shifted policy on four tick auto-attacking. The first portion of the talk was a review of Solak, which Ramen is largely happy with – allowing duo mode and the changes to allow faster phasing of phase 2 really improved the quality of the encounter, and I think most PvMers are happy too. The Q&A spent a lot of time on topics like ideal group size, reaper title on the completionist cape, and the dominance of magic in the combat triangle, which are all important but have been discussed extensively already.
There were, however, a few interesting potential changes that could shake up some of the game’s core mechanics. The first change is one we’ve already seen some progress on with the recent game jam, which is weapon diversity. This one is a real throwback – pre-EOC different types of weapons were better in different situations. Creature weakness to crush, stab, or arrows made a huge difference in whether you picked a Saradomin Sword or an Abyssal Whip for a slayer task. Today, those style differences have become much less important, especially once 100% accuracy is achieved (they only affect affinity) and don’t even exist within melee. The goal of weapon diversity is to bring back that old school feel where different weapons are the best in slot for different situations. While it’s possible that the result of this will only be to increase the use of switch scape, especially for melee where players already bring MH weapon, OH weapon, flanking switch, lunging switch, Statius Warhammer, (sometimes) Dragon Battle Axe, defender, Zaros Godsword and (sometimes) scythe, it’s a promising change that adds greater complexity to various encounters. Other ways this could manifest is through the creation of specific weapons for certain types of fights, with current examples being the Hexhunter Bow and Darklight. I hope both changes occur and are given a high level of priority because I think these changes are one of the few that has a hope of unseating magic from its unquestioned throne as the best of the three styles (although ironically, the most impact-full changes in weapon diversity that have been suggested so far likely the buffs given to magic).
Note: this next section discusses macros, which are currently a direct violation of game rules. I do not endorse the use of macros and using any of the macros discussed puts you at risk of being banned!
The second significant change is much less an update than a re-thinking of game rules. For a long time macro has been a dirty word in the RuneScape community. It has been directly associated with botting and cheating and is an offense that can get your account banned. Recently some of that discussion has changed, especially in the context of PvM and 4TAA. During the days of continuous 4TAA several different types of macros became extremely popular to use, the simplest of which would equip both your wand and off-hand with one key bind instead of two. This obviously violates the “one-to-one” rule (although this rule is by no means official and Jagex Moderators have distances themselves from it), but is relatively innocuous in the grand scheme of things. Other macros would help you fire off the auto-attacks or maintain rhythm. This macro remains very popular to this day, and I hope that Jagex relaxes their position on it – for now it doesn’t appear they’re particularly concerned about targeting accounts using it. The second popular macro involves bladed dive. Essentially, one key bind to equip your melee MH, OH and hit the bladed dive ability which saves lots of clicking and makes it much easier to bladed dive on tick while maintain DPS – currently highly relevant at Solak, Vorago and Telos.
A few years ago the use of macros was associated with very negative stigma, but that appears to be changing. In a very unscientific and low sample size poll I released, 63% of respondents said they’d be fine with allowing for the use of macros, or the use of highly limited macros. The potential problem with macro use is if they are user or third party built. Ideally, I think it would be great if Jagex added an in game macro system that allows players to customize their own (revolution +++ anyone?) While I strongly favor a policy of leniency towards macro use, especially the two I mentioned above which are convenience and don’t result in anything game breaking, a no-look policy is difficult to maintain because it can easily be abused. Where is the line between what is and isn’t acceptable, how does this interact with potential skilling macros, and how is it possible to clarify policy? I think these are difficult questions, but going forward I strongly believe that the inclusion of some macros will allow far more players to PvM at a higher level, especially given the prevalence of switchscape in the current meta.
The last interesting part of the discussion was about the future of boss design. In terms of group size, it’s largely been agreed upon that three is the sweet spot for team size, which has been reflected in the release of the elite dungeons. While I sometimes enjoy a larger group size – I spent a lot of time at Nex: Angel of Death and have done some 7 person Solak, I think this is probably the right move for the bulk of the community. The second was boss difficulty. The mods mentioned that they were happy with Solak remaining the pinnacle of group boss difficulty until the release of new weapons tiers, and that 1,000 enrage Telos was more or less the cap in terms of difficulty for future bosses with the current gear. I found this to be quite disappointing – the majority of high level PvMers have achieved greater than 1k telos enrage and while Solak was tremendously difficult on release when figuring out the new mechanics, much more so than AoD was for example, it no longer presents too much of a challenge to get efficient, low-food or no food kills. Furthermore, if the real reason for not pushing difficulty is in fact the current weapons tier, then they should be less afraid to push through and give us higher level weapons.