120 Herblore and Farming Isn’t a Game Changer – And That’s Okay

posted by on 12th December 2019, at 4:04am

One of the biggest updates to 2019 was the advent of 120 Herblore and Farming. Just to get some of my bias out of the way, I love boosting skills up to 120. As a player who has been maxed since early 2016 and a Completionist since the summer of 2017, I’m constantly thirsty for new content. Part of why I became so obsessed with PvM content is that for several years its felt like the only end-game content that came with tangible rewards. Achieving 5.4 billion total experience, the 120 skill level cosmetic capes, and other miscellaneous rewards like title collection and RuneScore are certainly worthwhile pursuits for many players, but for me they’ve never had the quite the appeal of a big drop. The trend towards moving skill caps from 99 to 120, beginning with Slayer and then moving to the most recent Herblore/Farming update is a way to breathe a lot of life into the end game. I finally felt like there was a real reason to train these skills past 99 other than cosmetics, and hope this trend of increasing levels and filling in 100-120 with useful and engaging content continues. One of the few downsides people have discussed about for this update is the relative paucity of improvements to PvM in terms of ease of use and damage improvement. While this is debatably an accurate assessment, to me this is a god thing.

Seemingly every few months since the Evolution of Combat, power creep has rapidly changed the way PvMers interact with content. Switching, 4TAA, changes to the berserk aura, Invention, rune pouches, bakriminel bolts, mutated melee abilities, the Seren Godbow special attack change, and many other factors have all contributed to a monumental increase in overall DPS. Fights are being finished faster than I would’ve ever thought possible, survivability has never been higher, and the combination of new gear with min-max methods has significantly reduced the challenge of even some of RuneScape’s most challenging content. My biggest fear with the 120 updates, particularly with Herblore, was that the new potions would once again contribute significantly to power creep. Unless something is changed about damage calculation or new, more difficult bosses are released, the overall health of the game would have been negatively impacted if potions such as Elder Overloads had been a massive buff, or if the new power bursts didn’t set adrenaline potions on cooldown.

In terms of what boosts we did receive, the most obvious is the Elder Overload Salves. At the relatively minor cost of a Fellstalk – congratulations to everyone who successfully merchanted these! – and the new Primal Extract, overloads boost stats (at 99) by 21 instead of the previous 19. At places where you’re below 100% accuracy, this culminates in a small, but noticeable, change to damage. At places that are highly profitable anyways such as Telos or Vorago, this small boost to damage and accuracy is absolutely worth it, and even if you splash one fewer wild magic per hour at telos, I think these potions are worth the whole update on their own. For most cases, the damage boost provided by these potions don’t really make them worth using, but for the best possible results I’d recommend using them everywhere, particularly if already using Salves.

The place where some feel a lot is left to be desired are the power bursts. While none of these are game-changing boosts to PvM, they all provide a fun and unique method of interacting with actions people were already doing. I like that these powerbursts come with a trade-off. Previously, Jagex would consistently release new items into PvM that had no discernible downside, which both created what I’ve often referred to as “lossless power creep” but also instantly made them a mandatory part of any setup. This has led to the universalization of load outs, strategies, and elitism at the high end that has caused many learners to feel dissuaded from attempting to take their game to the next level. In this case, each powerburst triggers the 2-minute cooldown on using an adrenaline potion, which is a HUGE set back given how prominent adrenaline potions are to modern PvM rotations. In fact, adrenaline potions have become so ubiquitous in their usage that they almost feel mandatory. While this downside certainly discourages the use of powerbursts at the high end, they’re fun!

The Powerburst of Vitality, which doubles the users current and maximum life for 6 seconds, can give learners a much higher degree of survivability. Learning small teams at RoTs, phase 4 and 5 of higher enrage telos, and hard mode Vorago are all places I can instantly see these powerbursts being the difference between getting successful kills or not. While long term it’s far better to rely on high DPS and Soul Split to reduce damage taken, these can save you in an emergency. The powerburst of acceleration doesn’t have any PvM applicability I can think of, but it’s super useful for clue scrolls and is a lot of fun. The powerburst of feats currently does the same thing as Summoning Flasks, but without the tradeoff of resetting the adrenaline potion cooldown – this is maybe the one powerburst that I wish they would change. The last one is the powerburst of overkill, which is the one I was most excited about coming into this update. This is an interesting case, because for the most part it functions as a slightly worse adrenaline potion, particularly when compared to the enhanced version, but at the same time, if it didn’t share a cooldown it would be far, far too good. The places where this powerburst is interesting, however, it really does make a nice difference. It makes no-shadow realm phase 4 Solak, a method where both players berserk on phase 4 rather than having one player enter Solak’s mind realm, a bit more consistent, and has some niche applicability at Vorago and Araxxor. None of these will dramatically change the way I PvM, but I think that’s perfectly fine.

The last items are the poison, sticky, and vulnerability bomb. These potions aren’t particularly useful for those who are already familiar with binds, spell book swapping for vulnerability, and bring weapon poison – however, they do greatly improve the ease of using all three of these, in particular the vulnerability bomb makes the debuff much more accessible for players not used to swapping or using a combat style other than melee. In aggregate, the buffs from the new update aren’t terribly significant, but they’re good enough to make the skills feel worthwhile to train which I think makes this an excellent update.

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