RuneScape’s first big update of 2022 has arrived, and it’s the ultimate event in the Elder God Wars saga, where players will battle the forces of the divine and decide the ultimate fate of Gielinor. No pressure.
The update includes the first Grandmaster Quest since 2016, serving as a finale to the game’s 20th anniversary celebrations, which kicked off last year. You can learn more about the update and how to access it on the RuneScape site.
We have more than that to sink your swords into. We posed a few questions to the RuneScape development team, and the answers – from senior game designer Tim Fletcher and product director Matt Casey – can be found below. It’s not because you’re fighting Elder Gods all is over, but you can expect a little de-escalation, as you will soon learn.
MMOBomb: “The gods return to Gielinor” was part of the tagline for Fate of the Gods, a grandmaster quest that dates back to 2014. Is that how long ago the Elder Gods storyline was crafted? How has it changed over the years?
Tim Flecher: This story has had several stages. Return of the Gods dates back to The World Wakes and The Battle of Lumbridge with the launch of Runescape 3 in 2013. However, the Elder God story really kicked off in the epilogue of Sliske’s Endgame in 2016. We started building towards Extinction explicitly with the Desperate Times quest in 2019. Here is the intro cutscene for this quest:
MMOBomb: Whenever you summon “Elder Gods” in an RPG, it brings with it a sense of enormous, world-shaping power. The RuneScape wiki describes the Elder Gods as being more powerful than “all known life in the universe” and capable of “creating planets and even stars”. So how can you make the conflict with them meaningful without making the players feel either a) largely overpowered or b) totally insignificant?
Tim Flecher: That was actually one of the fundamental challenges of telling this story, and we took it very seriously. With Sliske’s Endgame, we ended up with a pretty nebulous threat, so one of the key things the script had to do is make that threat more concrete in terms of something you can engage with.
With Desperate Times, we reiterated the nature, existence, and threat of the Elder Gods, and also reintroduced a character, Kerapac, who was their old enemy. The focus on helping – and eventually stopping – Kerapac became the focus of the story for a time, drawing attention to a smaller-scale threat that the player was equipped to handle.
With Azzanadra’s Quest and the build-up to the Elder God Wars dungeon, we focused on the more specific threat of Elder God Eggs, which is where the real threat lies. We used cut scenes to show the fate of the world if the player fails.
With Elder God Wars Dungeon, we created a situation where the god and the Elder Gods were busy in such a way that they couldn’t fight directly on the front lines. The Elder Gods sent champions – characters we chose to emphasize the alien nature of their masters – who were still dangerous, but existed on a scale the player could interact with. Despite this, the threat of the Ancients is relentless, hence things coming to a head in this finale.
MMOBomb: What types of quests and dungeons can players expect in this update?
Tim Flecher: Rather than bundling content into large annual releases, we ship smaller updates more frequently. The Elder God Wars as a whole has been a series of quests, skill updates (what RuneScape calls non-combat professions), dungeons, and bosses across a dozen updates throughout 2021 and 2022. This quest is the grandmaster finale to wrap up the storyline. : a unique, very long quest, with a mixture of story, character, story, puzzles and combat gameplay.
MMOBomb: What about non-combat content?
Matt Casey: RuneScape’s quests are very story and puzzle-oriented compared to other MMOs and even RPGs. All of our quests do not contain combat at all. Extinction certainly does, though even then the majority of the quest will be spent on lore and character-driven dialogue and puzzles. Players can expect some serious boss combat, though the way we balance quest bosses is on the easier side of our combat player-focused boss updates.
Matt Casey (L), Product Director, and Tim Fletcher (R), Senior Game Designer
MMOBomb: Sounds like a big deal, but let’s assume I have limited RuneScape experience – I haven’t played in 10 years or maybe not at all. (There are still some of those people out there!) What would it take for someone to be “up to date” so they could experience that breakthrough story?
Matt Casey: In 2021, we rewrote the tutorial for the launch of RuneScape Mobile. It’s a great way for newcomers or veterans to jump straight into RuneScape and learn the basics of gameplay and sandbox combat. There’s a new area to explore and some easier tasks that help you get familiar with the game again.
For players looking for something more advanced and a taste of Elder Gods content, the Arch-Glacor boss in the Glacor Front update has scalable difficulty and rewards, so (and I think this is a first for RuneScape), you can customize the boss mechanics to suit your level and style.
MMOBomb: From the “Extinction” part of the update’s title, it looks like the Elder Gods, or at least some of them, will soon be extinct. Should this have a major effect on Gielinor?
Matt Casey: You’ll have to wait and see what “Extinction” really refers to! There are at least four possibilities, although it is unlikely that we will destroy the game world. That said, this quest brings big changes to the game world, although not all of these changes will happen here. There will be more later in the year.
MMOBomb: And, because I have to ask, though you probably won’t answer – after the Elder Gods are extinct, what happens next? What type of content can players expect for the rest of the year?
Tim Flecher: We don’t see the end of this story as a chance to relax. We’re jumping right into the next big story over the summer.
What we don’t want to do, however, is try to raise the apocalyptic level of this story by raising the stakes even further. It’s a mistake, I think, to always follow a story with a bigger, badder boss. We want to lower the stakes a bit, make things a bit more personal – less emphasis on entities that largely dominate the player, as you say. Still a threat, still bad guys to fight and enemies to stop, but while the fate of the universe itself still hangs in the balance, it can start to feel a bit outdated.