Posted on 26 May 2016
For 15 years, RuneScape has been a staple in the gaming industry. Praised for its free-to-play origins and availability on weaker computers, plus the ability to play it in your web browser instead of having to download the game and clutter your hard drive, RuneScape’s rich history is without question. The old in-browser game client was dated for a very long time, so Jagex’s announcement of an update to their client was extremely welcome. Called NXT, it is a huge step up for the game.
Long time RuneScape fans are without a doubt used to the old client. They may even feel a certain amount of nostalgia; however, that is no reason to stagnate. In today’s world, decent graphics is one of the most important drawing points for new players, and new players are essential for a game to keep thriving. While it’s certainly sad, the fact remains that graphics are important. It can’t be ignored. Keeping that in mind, the introduction of NXT is an extremely welcome step in a completely right direction for RuneScape.
With that taken care of, it’s time to talk about NXT itself in more detail. First of all, the client is made using C++ instead of HTML5, which was being developed earlier. While the old Java-based client could be run even on the slowest computer with no discernible performance troubles, one of the main objectives of NXT was to improve on that performance while vastly improving graphics. Keeping in mind how far computers have come in recent years, there should be no real accessibility issues once the NXT client is optimized. After all, the
Keeping that in mind, Jagex does provide the desirable system specs to enjoy lag-free RuneScape on the NXT client. They recommend running the game on a Dual Core, AMD Phenom II or Intel i3/5, 2,4+ GHz processor with at least 4 GB of RAM, a GeForce 400x series, Intel HD 4x series, or AMD Radeon 7xxx series GPU. It is also recommended to load the game from a 7200 RPM HDD or even an SSD with at least 8 GB of free storage space for NXT cache. While these requirements might intimidate some diehard RuneScape players, it has to be noted, that three or four year old laptops should be able to run this client with no problems, as they usually have at least an Intel i3 processor, 4 GB of RAM and an integrated Intel HD 400 graphics card, which meets the system requirements for RuneScape NXT.
With any technical concerns you may have (hopefully) taken care of, it’s now time to dive into the nuts and bolts of the visual improvements offered by NXT. If you have ever been annoyed at your inability to see farther than your nose in RuneScape, you will be happy to hear that maximum draw distance will be increased by 400% in NXT. While we may be exaggerating the draw distance problems in the Java client, the change is still totally welcome. The client will also render the most important things first, making sure you don’t miss important details.
Another visual hoopla that’s extremely welcome, is improved shadows and lighting. Jagex promises to make them completely dynamic, meaning that shadows will fall on your character and everything else, instead of being pre-generated spots on the ground. Continuing this trend, water will also look much better in-game, with more realistic waves, real-time reflection of objects, as well as shadows, and refraction, which will allow you to see stuff underwater. The detail of in-game fog is also set to be improved upon, it should be atmospherically correct and fade naturally instead of “cutting off”. If that wasn’t enough, anti-aliasing options will also be improved with the addition of MSAA anti-aliasing. NXT will use Java-style sky domes, rather than cubic maps from the HTML5 client, and finally, the client will support normal mapping.
You will also be able zoom in and out of the minimap, which, in turn, will be rendered from above instead of made using metadata. This should provide a certain amount of realism. Speaking about maps, the world map is promised to load faster. Continuing the trend of streamlining the gameplay experience, load times should be nonexistent, because the game will load in the background.
With all of these changes, NXT promises to be a great step forward into the modern age of gaming. While Jagex remains faithful to their aspirations for accessibility, deciding not to compete with the top-of-the-line games in the graphics department; however, this visual upgrade is still a very welcome change.