RuneScape has been around for a long, long time. And while there are different entries in the RuneScape franchise, Classic, Old School, and Runescape 3, they are actually different versions of the same game. Suffice it to say it's a little confusing, even for RuneScape fans.
This strange situation makes speculation around the next version of RuneScape equally confusing. So, whether you're a lifelong fan or don't know much about the franchise, in this article we'll give you a brief overview of what's next for RuneScape.
Is RuneScape 4 Coming? Is Jagex Working on It?
In the world of video games, even if you have a successful game, a studio needs to diversify. You've always got to have a second, smaller team that works on future projects while the main team is hard at work on the current project. This is all done because developing games is a slow, expensive process. If you want to bring something to market, you've got to put in the time.
Accordingly, Jagex has launched a number of other games over the years, none of which have been particularly successful, but all of these releases demonstrate Jagex understands the gaming market in a sense. This isn't surprising, especially considering their Chinese conglomerate parent company that undoubtedly pushes Jagex to diversify.
In this context, it's a fact that Jagex has worked on, is working on, and will work on new versions of RuneScape. This is even more true when you consider the success, or lack thereof, of RuneScape 3. Changes to RuneScape continued to drive more and more players away from RuneScape from the late 2000s through the early 2010s.
RuneScape 3 was losing ground, and Jagex needed to make a big change. So, in 2013, Jagex launched Old School RuneScape: a build of the game from 2007 that has in the years since its 2013 release been expanded far beyond its original 2007 conception. For over a decade, the most popular version of RuneScape has been ancient, both mechanically and visually, by design and popular demand.
So, it only makes sense Jagex continues to work behind-the-scenes on a truly modern interpretation of the game that marries the beloved personality of Old School with the graphics and quality-of-life features of modern games. It's a no-brainer.
However, while there is a ton of evidence Jagex is working on a new action-RPG MMO that's very much so 'next-gen' in terms of graphical fidelity set in the world of RuneScape, there isn't any real, direct evidence that this project is RuneScape 4, RuneScape Next Gen, or even a version of RuneScape at all.
While this is true, if you want a version of Old School Runescape that has modern shadows, anti-aliasing, and anisotropic filtering alongside view distance and level of detail sliders that comes with a ton of quality-of-life features absent in the original, you can download the RuneLite client and use the HD plugin right now.
But if you want a huge, open-world action-RPG version of RuneScape that looks like Black Desert Online meets Skyrim and plays like Dark Souls, well, that's not a thing right now and there isn't hard evidence that Jagex is even working on such a project.
Though, Jagex is hard at work on something.
What's Jagex's Next Game: A New 'Next Gen' MMORPG?
Jagex is a notoriously secretive company, so at any given time, it's likely we won't know too much about the inner workings of the company. However, there is information to glean out there that comes from a few different reliable sources.
First, there is the occasional tidbit of the information found on LinkedIn. Then, there's the occasional leak from Jagex itself. Last, there's artwork and R&D done by artists and designers for Jagex that eventually makes its way onto the internet as a particular artist adds it to their portfolio. Also, there's the occasional shareholder report or presentation that can give some insight into future projects.
For years, we've seen Jagex employees transition to a mysterious 'Next Gen' team/project. We've seen many LinkedIn postings for the Next Gen team as well as postings for developers to work on more ambitious, graphically demanding projects in familiar game engines like Unity.
We've seen extremely high-quality VFX tests with RuneScape characters in Unreal Engine 4. We've accidentally been shown an internal Jagex slide with a white 'Next Gen' logo on a black background. We've heard of RuneScape Remastered mentioned in a financial report.
Individually, none of these things matter that much, and there are likely many different explanations for each one. But taken together with the longtime rumors Jagex is working on a new action-combat MMO, there's almost certainly a big project in development at Jagex.
Considering how valuable the RuneScape IP is and how many games set in the RuneScape world Jagex has worked on, it's safe to assume this project will be as well. And considering how Jagex hasn't had a major successful release since Old School RuneScape, which was itself simply RuneScape 2 from 2007, a big release to reinvigorate the company and the RuneScape playerbase seems like a smart move.
Whether this project will actually see the light of day or if it really is RuneScape 4 remains to be seen, but the fact of the matter is that while there is ample evidence to suggest Jagex has a big new project in the works, there isn't any evidence to suggest it's RuneScape 4.
Nonetheless, RuneScape, including both Old School and RuneScape 3, is one of the biggest, most successful and popular MMORPGs out there today and in history. It continues to have a healthy, active playerbase and receives regular updates.