Old School Runescape vs Runescape 3 (OSRS vs RS3)

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Old School Runescape promo
Credit: Jagex

Runescape is one of the biggest MMOs in the world, but it's not actually an MMO, it's two MMOs: Old School Runescape (OSRS) and Runescape 3 (aka Runescape or RS3). As you might expect, Old School is an older version of the game, but ironically, it actually came out after Runescape 3. If this sounds confusing, that's because it is. Even Runescape fans struggle to remember all the fine differences between the games. So, in this article, we'll tell you what you need to know about the differences between Old School Rune and Runescape 3.

However, we won't be talking about the combat differences of these games in this article. Look forward to a companion piece explaining the differences in the two games' combat systems coming soon. Once available, a link will be provided here.

Game Engine and Graphics

Old School Runescape promo
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Credit: Jagex

Even though Runescape 3 is technically an older game than Old School Runescape, that's just because though OSRS was released in 2013 it's actually a 2007 backup of Runescape 2. However, since its release in 2013 as Old School Runescape, the game has changed a lot from its base 2007 code.

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Related: How to Play HD Old School Runescape (OSRS)

Runescape 3 is a truly modern video game with a modern game engine. It has shadows, ambient occlusion, volumetrics, bloom, high-res textures, weather effects, particle effects, a huge render distance, a completely resizeable and adjustable user interface, uncapped FPS, ultrawide support, and many, many other features.

Basically, if you play other modern MMOs, Runescape 3 will have a very similar suite of effects and features. Plus, Runescape 3 performs beautifully. Even in crowded areas, the game tends to run well for an MMO. Naturally, your mileage will vary depending on your setup, but Runescape 3 also has very low requirements and scales well across different hardware configurations.

Old School Runescape has some modern features as compared to its 2007 roots, like support for modern resolutions, a UI that better scales to modern displays, etcetera, but there's very little reason to play Old School Runescape using its official client the way you play Runescape 3 with its official client.

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With Old School Runescape there are a ton of third-party clients that come with so many features that even Runescape 3 can't compete. RuneLite is the most popular, best-performing OSRS client, but there are a number of other options. RuneLite, though, is officially supported by Jagex. While RuneLite and third-party bring a ton of features, from graphical upgrades to quality-of-life features and more, some things are server-dependent or engine-dependent and can't be tweaked by anybody but Jagex.

There are many features of modern gaming not available in Old School Runescape, but in terms of gameplay features, there are so many more tweaks and addons for OSRS than Runescape 3 has. Basically, whatever kind of interface tweak you want to give you any kind of information you could possibly desire is probably available in RuneLite.

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Microtransactions, Lootboxes, and Monetization

Old School Runescape promo
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Credit: Jagex

Old School Runescape has no microtransactions, no lootboxes, and the game is free-to-play. You can subscribe to Runescape for $10.99 a month (or less, if pay upfront for a longer subscription) and you'll get access to Runescape 3 and Old School Runescape with the same subscription. Much content is gated behind membership, but you can play Old School Runescape for 100s of hours on a free-to-play account, easily.

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The only other feature of Old School Runescape's monetization is bonds. Bonds are in-game items you can buy and sell with in-game gold or real money that you can apply to your account to become a premium member. This means it's entirely possible to never have to pay for Runescape while still enjoying the full paid game as long as you spend a couple of hours a month grinding gold.

However, because you can buy bonds with real money and trade or sell them, you can essentially buy gold directly from Jagex. However, the conversion rate of real money to Runescape gold is absurdly bad. A single bond costs $6.99, and this price can be reduced by buying bonds in larger packs, and a bond sells for about ~4.5 million gold in profit.

Every MMO out there with free trading between players that's remotely popular has real-world traders. People are always going to be willing to sell gold for actual cash. Though not allowed by Jagex and extremely frowned upon by the community, search for "buy Runescape gold" on Google and the top result will quote you something along the lines of 50 cents per million gold. Immediate delivery, too.

Related: Didn't Get Your Items: Black Desert Online Steam DLC Redemption Issues Explained

Old School Runescape promo
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Credit: Jagex

So, in Old School Runescape, buying bonds for gold is a waste of time if you want to pay for gold. Accordingly, the game's monetization is pretty simple. Either play-for-free and grind out a free paid membership or subscribe and get access to both OSRS and RS3. That's it.

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Runescape 3 is a different beast. Membership works about the same in Runescape 3, but then there are other ways the game is monetized on top of membership and bonds. The game has the standard fare in-game microtransaction shop that sells a variety of items for real money.

Then, there's a lootbox system of opening treasure chests for a random chance at rewards. These rewards are usually XP you can choose to apply to whichever skill you'd like. It's entirely possible to get every skill to 99 entirely through the lootbox store, though it takes many, many thousands of dollars. However, playing Runescape 3 in Ironman mode completely removes the lootbox store from the game.

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Ironman mode, available in both RS3 and OSRS, is a challenge mode with a variety of restrictions, but the most major one is that you can't use the Grand Exchange or trade players, so you'll have to be entirely self-sufficient.