RuneScape Gets Fancier And Faster With NXT Engine

That's a fantasy MMO and no mistake!

Free-to-play MMORPG RuneScape [official site] is still ticking away after fifteen years, with developers Jagex actively updating it. The latest was a pretty big one, bringing a new game client and engine named NXT which finally takes the game away from Java and makes it look a fair bit prettier – while running faster than the previous version. For starters, the game is no longer choked in distance fog like Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. Seriously, look at this before/after comparison, it’s wild:

Sure, it’s hardly the prettiest game under the sun, but RuneScape’s meant to run on basically any PC from the past decade. To look that much better and still run faster, yep, that’s good. Or a damning indictment of what they’d done before?

Those new shinies include, Jagex say, “massively extended draw distances, up to four times greater than before, and the introduction of all-new water effects, complete with real-time reflexion and refraction, and full dynamic lighting and shadow casting.” This isn’t the end either, as they say they also plan to add “normal maps, higher-resolution textures, volumetric lighting and an improved animation system.”

Download the new installer if you fancy a play.

RuneScape is a game which seems to have been seminal for a few people I’ve known, especially in the UK, but which entirely passed me by. My MMOing basically went from Graal Online to Guild Wars, then faded out to occasional stabs at WoW and EVE. Tell me, what’s the big deal?

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  1. gunny1993 says:

    Now that gave me some nostalgia flashbacks of spending hours grinding mobs for XP years and years ago in some of the locations featured.

  2. Exuro says:

    For me, the big deal is that when I first played it, it was unlike anything I had ever played. Something about the atmosphere it evoked, the questing, the music, it was my first exposure to something that I knew I loved. As far as MMO’s go, I still maintain that it was one of the best, because it had quests that went beyond “Go to place, kill x things. Go to place, collect x things.” which still seems to plague other MMO’s even now. I’ve long since stopped playing it, and would probably struggle to ever get back in to it at this point, but it’s still an excellent game, and it’s comforting for me to see it still pottering around off in the background.

    • brucethemoose says:


      Even if modern Runescape is different than the game I played before, I think of it like those other childhood games/shows I have fond memories of… except it’s still alive and kicking.

  3. phelix says:

    I last played RuneScape more than 8 years ago, and I still recognise some of the cities/buildings seen in that video.
    (Which is weird, because I mostly played it because all my friends were into it)

  4. Cinek says:

    I like how they make a big deal out of dynamic lighting and shadows. Feels like going back to 2001. :)

  5. Don Reba says:

    I remember, decades ago, writing a bot for Runescape to mine and smelt ore for me for hours. It was a macro player/recorder that simulated realistic input and tracked the game camera. Good times.

    • brucethemoose says:


      Though mine was a basic AutoIt script that relied on timing, checking individual pixels for colors + a bit of clicking randomization/random pauses to try and fool the bot detectors I imagined.

  6. Premium User Badge

    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    All I remember of Runescape is “Iron bars for sale!!’

    Also, for anyone who hasn’t read it this article by Matt Lee’s on becoming a RS coal Baron is one of the best games writing ever.

    • dkfgo says:

      That was ridiculously funny, plus those old school RuneScape screenshots, damn.

  7. malkav11 says:

    I never played it, but unless I am confusing it with something else (quite possible since, as I say, I never played), a big selling point for a lot of people I saw playing it back in the day seemed to be that it could run in a browser. Which meant you could play it at the library. (Where I worked and thus constantly passed people playing it…or at least some sort of 3D browser-based online RPG…on the library’s banks of internet-equipped PCs.) You only had an hour at a time, but it wasn’t against policy or anything…

  8. Faxanadu says:

    I would play the pants off this game, if it was a browser game.

    So much work time that I could be spending playing games, but alas, you can not download or install things in most companies.

    Really wish I could find another great browser MMO, like Ironfell was.

    • Koozer says:

      Wah, it definitely used to be a browser back in the good old days of burying chicken bones and camping that one nature rune chest in the room over the bridge, but I can’t find any reference to a browser version on the site. What has become of the world.

  9. Archbishop Cactus says:

    The only thing that keeps me from investing a lot of time into Runescape nowadays is the fact that I can’t play on fullscreen. I play so many games on PC that it’s become a necessity, and I can’t decide whether it’s worth upgrading the account when I can’t play for more than 20 minutes at a time.

    • rexx.sabotage says:

      isn’t it like $5 a month? that’s like the cost of a over-priced cup of coffee. If you play twenty minutes a day, that’s 10 hours a month, which breaks down to fifty cents an hour.

      compare that to games that cost $60 that you can exhaust the content in ten hours and it seems like a bargain to me.

      • Don Reba says:

        People who spend $60/month on coffee (2 cups a day) are a class apart from the common man.

        • Don Reba says:

          That should have been:
          People who spend $300/month on coffee (2 cups a day) are a class apart from the common man.