Alex’s Analysis – One Step at a Time

posted by on 4th June 2021, at 2:26am | Discuss Article

So recently, the folks at Jagex released what was advertised as the next quest in the Elder Gods series, which is basically the whole entire story that Runescape as a game is following. Having played through the latest in the series, a whole bunch of exciting cliffhangers have been set up, and things are about to really start happening similar to how the Sliske quest-line built up to the final confrontation.

However, things are being done a bit differently this time around. Rather than getting to do the whole quest all at once in the span of a few hours, we are getting little bits and pieces of content at a time, which is going to update with every passing week for a while until the quest itself is released. We are basically playing a little mini-game where we team up with some pretty epic and powerful figures and playing a bit of Runescape Tower Defence.

It’s a relatively simple minigame where you just fight a bunch of guys and you can control the placement of your allies, who also attack with considerably over-the-top special abilities. Difficult to fail, which I approve of; this means that players of many different levels and capabilities can do it. It’s not meant to be a challenge; it’s meant to be a part of a quest. Bit of lore, bit of newness to the game. That’s always been the quest formula.

But that’s about it. It’s done and over in a matter of minutes. You can replay it as much as you want, maybe even decide to style by taking on the enemies all on your own without the other characters’ help, and you can keep on getting exp-boosting rewards from it.

Relatively underwhelming, one would argue.

But I disagree. I think it’s awesome!

First off, we are experiencing a battle. Battles don’t just last minutes, they last a long time.

Azzanadra’s Quest built up to the start of a great conflict between Saradomin and Zaros, who is really starting to make a move now, and thus we need to experience said battle for it to have any real impact. If it was a whole world event like the Battle of Lumbridge, then that would be the central conflict in the storytelling aspect of things, and that’s not the real conflict that this quest series has to offer. We’re up against the Elder Gods here. We’re struggling to unite ourselves. And skirmishes like this are the hurdles and obstacles stopping us from doing so. Major setbacks.

The Battle of Lumbridge, it was Saradomin VS Zamorak. That was a conflict that had been building up ever since Runescape even began; two Gods of opposite philosophies finally getting a chance to setting things between themselves. That warranted a big giant event. This build-up to the next quest doesn’t need anything substantial, but it does definitely need something in order to get us both involved and immersed in the direness of the situation.

Otherwise we’d end up with the final Vampyre quest, where a war was about to begin against armies of 8 guys and we settled it by beating up our own ally and feeding his blood to a river. It was a great quest, but the direness of the situation was lost because it didn’t feel like there was really any urgency. There was no struggling along the river, there was no real call to arms, Varrock wasn’t freaking out that a whole bloomin’ country was about to invade. I don’t even recall the beacons being lit, and that was the sole reason the network was created in the first place!

Here now, we’ve got that urgency. There’s actual fighting happening. Zaros wants the monolith, which we’ve been interacting with and developing ever since Archaeology came out. And it’s not just a light show; we are actually getting involved and gradually making progress through the fight. We’re involved. It makes it feel like something’s really happening.

I mean, otherwise it would either just be the quest coming out after a few months and boom; over in a few hours. I prefer this method of stretching out the content over a number of weeks even if it reuses assets because it’s still exciting. Makes the world feel alive.

That, and it builds hype.

The hype generated by one’s own imagination after experiencing a cliffhanger because we, as human beings, don’t like to leave things incomplete. If there’s a mystery, we want to know whodunnit. If there’s a puzzle, we want to solve it. If there’s a locked treasure chest, we want to see what’s inside it. It’s raw curiosity.

Runescape’s not the only game teasing us with this formula. Games like Destiny 2 are also doing it, where each week offers the next chapter in the story, and these little bits and pieces help to answer some of our questions, but also create new ones. It refreshes our curiosity, and resets the hype enough to last us the next week. And believe me, I’d rather see what happens next in a week’s time rather than the 6-month hiatus we’ve been having these last few years. I hope I’m not alone in that.

So that’s why I think what the folks at Jagex are doing here is a good thing, and I really hope they continue with this formula of releasing just a little bit of new stuff every week like they used to back in the days of Runescape Classic. Goodness knows, I was starting to get a little bored with the game.

Until next time,

Cheers, cannoneers!

 

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