Note: Since this music includes info on quest music, spoilers may be present.
RuneScape 3 has now been here for over a month. One RuneScape 3’s main selling points was the updated music and audio engine. Over 100 current songs were remastered using real instruments and computer generated sounds, along with many new songs to the game as well. This new music for RuneScape shows just how beautiful some of the game’s tracks are, as they can now be heard on real instruments.
In my opinion, the new music is one of the biggest parts of RuneScape 3. The level of immersion in a game that good music can add is so significant that I personally see it as something that is very important in a video game. Music can change the atmosphere of a situation in a game by a huge amount. A sad moment in a cutscene wouldn’t seem as emotional without a soft lamenting song in the background. This brings me to the argument that RuneScape is a game better played without sounds. I hear from so many different people that they prefer to play RuneScape with the sounds turned off. When I think back to doing the quest “The World Wakes”, I think to myself how much the music added to the whole situation. Walking around on the Naragi plane with Guthix leading you around and telling you his story, with a beautiful and emotional orchestra piece played by the Slovak Symphony Orchestra, was one of my favorite quest moments in the game, and the music was a huge part of why it was. The music put emotion into the situation, I actually felt somewhat sad that Guthix had died, and seeing the remains of his world with that song in the background can bring a tear to one’s eye. Not having sounds on for that moment in my opinion would ruin the quest, and take away a significant part of the experience of the quest.
Over 100 of the current RuneScape songs have been remastered for RuneScape 3. Classics such as “Autumn Voyage” have been given a lick of paint with the use of real instruments, but keeping the same general idea of the song. On the other hand, songs like “Harmony” have kept the same tune, but the song is completely different than before. In this case, Harmony is now entirely a Harp solo, and it is absolutely beautiful. There are also new variations of the current songs, for example “Second Harmony” is a variation on “Harmony” and it features a violin playing the main melody. Some songs like “Waterfall II” and “Waterfall III” are the original song with a new attitude to it, still fitting the area that the music is played. Some songs are also made on the computer, without the use of real instruments. From my experience with my project called RuneScape Reorchestrated, I have experienced how much more work it is to use real instruments than simply overlay midi tracks with higher quality soundfonts. It is clear to notice which new songs were remade with computer generated sounds, because nothing can quite match the sound of the real thing. Even with that said, the computer generated remakes still sound good.
The new audio engine is another part of RuneScape 3 that has made the music amazing. Even before RuneScape 3, Jagex made songs that were of similar standard, but they were somewhat limited by the game’s audio engine. The result was that high quality songs such as those from “One Piercing Note” and the new songs that play in the Taverley and Burthorpe area sound muffled and can only use mono sound. To somewhat cope with this limited audio engine, and to allow players to hear the mastered versions of the new music, Jagex put downloadable versions of the songs in MP3 format on the downloads page for people to listen to the mastered versions. The difference between the downloaded version and the version in the game was very significant. However, this new audio engine that came with RuneScape 3 allows us to have CD quality music streamed to us while we are playing. Pre-RS3 songs such as “Vorago”, and “Memories of Guthix” can now be heard in the way that they were meant to be heard. This makes me wish that I could play through the quests again to hear the music and have the full experience with the new audio system, such as The World Wakes. The new audio engine is truly a huge part of why the music in RuneScape 3 is so amazing sounding, as it would not have been possible without.
The Jagex audio team did a great job with the music of RuneScape 3, and they said in a Reddit AMAA that they are continue to remaster the game music that still uses midi, until eventually all of the music is at the same standard as RuneScape 3’s music is. I look forward to hearing what comes next.