PvM in the 2020s, Reflecting on the 2010s, What’s Next?

posted by on 25th October 2019, at 5:58am

The 2010s saw a massive shift in the importance of PvM to the game. While updates like God Wars Dungeon had begun to make PvM a more core component of the game, RuneScape’s origin was always built around skilling, quests, and the wilderness (PvP). The idea of big boss fights being a dominant force in content development was relatively new after the Evolution of Combat. Bosses such as Yakamaru and Vorago Hard Mode pushed the envelope on what was expected in game design. Solo bosses like Araxxor and Telos incorporated mechanics on a scale that would have been unfathomable to anyone actively playing the game in 2011.

There is a perception that the PvM fanbase is “louder” in streams, social media, and Reddit. Along with this, the seeming shift in prioritization of PvM,  as well as the very legitimate concerns about the paucity of moneymaking options for skilling over PvM has led to an outpouring of criticism of the games PvM-centric mentality. Jagex has fully responded to this criticism with a huge shift back towards a focus on skilling. The Mining and Smithing rework was one of the largest scale updates we’ve seen in the past decade, and while I think it was necessary and thoroughly enjoy the new content its added, the update decimated significant portions of PvM drop tables across the board. The bump of herblore and farming to 120, updates like Player Owned Farm and Ranch, upcoming skilling off-hands, and tons of smaller updates like Grace of the Elves has all been part of the so-far successful five-year plan to revitalize skilling.

In the 2018 Runefest, multiple bosses were announced, but other than Elite Dungeon 3, none of the promised content has come out, nor does it seem to be particularly close. During a Q and A, which I wrote about around a year ago today, Jmods confirmed that 1,000 enrage Telos and Solak were benchmarks for what would more or less be the difficulty cap for new content. If the planned release of God Wars Dungeon 3 comes out when scheduled, it will be the longest gap between major boss releases [Solak until then] since the inception of EoC. In terms of changing the way players interact with the game, the promised fixes to game lag and delay are promising, but they aren’t new content. The recent weapon diversity rework was cancelled, the latest in a series of PvM overhaul ideas that were promised but not delivered. If all this is sounding pessimistic, that’s because it’s hard to think about the future of PvM and not feel that way. It seems like the majority of players who care enough about the difference in damage between t90 and t92 already posses the t92 gear they need, mods have stated multiple times they’re worried about power creep coming too quickly which is why they’re hesitant to give us something like t95 or t99 weapons. The actual power creep that’s occurred via zerk aura fixes, invention, and general small boosts like Cinderbanes and Bakriminel bolts has resulted in faster kill times, increased accessibility of high-end content, and more efficient farming than ever.

While much of this is clearly a good thing, it’s contributed to rapidly plummeting profits. Telos has fallen a very long way from the 100m/hr profit it used to hold prior to stone spirits watering down the drop table and the massive crash in weapon prices. Nex: Angel of Death is far beyond its prime as an elite money-maker, and Solak suffers from inconsistency. It’s a total reasonable position to take that these kinds of bosses were far too profitable before and these drops are natural or even good, but it’s still important to analyze this issue from multiple perspectives. Like it or not, PvMers still drive the economy – divination energy, ingredient farming, smithing – these skills all retain profit purely because of their consumption in massive quantities by PvMers. People pushing for 120s and 200m’s over Double Xp weekend certainly result in temporary price bumps, but these aren’t sustainable to the same degree.

Given their concerns about power and difficulty creep, the developers have to face some hard choices about how to continue trying to repackage PvM to be more interesting to a larger swathe of the player base in order to justify continuing to pump resources into it. For me, it’s been difficult to watch nearly all of my friends quit RuneScape 3 since about the release of Solak, or just after its release. Many play OSRS now or have moved onto different games. The absolutely prime days of 2013/2014 aren’t coming back anytime soon, but I don’t think it’s wise to sacrifice a percentage of the player base that is among the most dedicated and passionate, even if they can sometimes be perceived as elitist and whiny by many players.

The best we can hope for, I think, is for those of us passionate about PvM to try to continue to reach out to people and ignite people’s interest. This sounds super weird and peak RuneScape nerdy, but I remember exactly where I was when a member of my clan first brought me to take on Vorago. It happened at a time where my commitment to the game was wavering – I was slowly working towards max, had extremely sub-par gear even for the time, and was uncertain about the upcoming invention update as a being a good direction for the game. However, that session, despite the fact I was awful and had no clue what was going on, made me fall in love with that content and I subsequently spent hundreds if not thousands of hours learning it together with friends, finding teams on the forum (rip the days when that was a thing), and always pushing myself to learn more and improve. I recently joined Clan Quest, and while I’m busier than I was back then, I hope to help people along to get excited about learning a part of the game that is, in my opinion, both the most difficult and most excited part of the game. I hope Jagex will recognize how important PvM is to the rest of the game, and that the higher end bosses of the upcoming God Wars 3 will once again bring excitement to everyone eagerly anticipating the follow up to Solak.

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