2019 is upon us, and rather than stuff the Year Ahead into a nutshell, we're going to try something a little different. Over the next few paragraphs, we're going to be showcasing the game updates that are planned for release over the next four months or thereabouts. Welcome to 'An Introduction to 2019'!
Among them, you can expect the final updates that were promised from Runefest; some of the nuggets from Game Jam 2018; and dynamite surprises that should start your year off with a bang!
Before we start, note that this is only one-third of the joy that you can expect from 2019. Expect a bulky update in the summer, more announcements in the spring, and even more at Runefest in the Autumn.
But enough of that: let's get to what you can expect in January.
First things first: January 4th marks our 18th birthday! If that doesn't make you feel old, nothing will.
We're going to celebrate like any 18-year old would: by eating lots of cake and posting ill-advised videos online.
Yep, you can expect the return of the anniversary cake on Friday 4th, which RS Wiki tells me can be eaten every 3 minutes to replenish a maximum of 2,200 life points at level 88 Constitution. And, if we still have the energy after the cake, we'll be celebrating with some videos, a special 18th birthday livestream, which will be live from 4pm on January 4th, and the chance to win some amazing goodies throughout the month. Oh, and there will be some in-game balloon drops.
For many of you, the real celebrations will kick in on the 7th January, when the Mining and Smithing Rework arrives! It feels like it's been talked about for the past 18 years, but we can assure you that it is 100%, definitely going to be here very, very soon. Cross our hearts and hope to die.
For those of you who've been living under a rock - well, thousands of people are about to disturb your peace. We're expecting everyone on Gielinor to be traveling to mining sites and asking themselves the big question: has this rework changed RuneScape for the better?
We're certainly confident, not least because so many of you have been involved in the betas, dev diaries and design documents that got us here (thank you!). There's also the small matter of the two skills just feeling correct. Mining isn't about hopping worlds any more, as it becomes non-competitive, alongside changes that make it fun to pay attention. But Smithing is the headline, as the levels required to smith gear now match the combat levels required to wear and wield them. Which is how it should have always been, really.
We're expecting the rework to appeal to more than just new players: there will be four new tiers of metal to smith with, and the armours to go with them, including awesome tier-90 armour. And if that makes the bossers among you scoff, then there will be the ability to combine your tier-90 armours with monster drops, making a top-drawer, tier-92 armour set. Oh, and that's without mentioning that Smithing will be a moneymaker, bringing profit to non-combat skilling.
There's plenty more to talk about, but you'll be getting videos and announcements in the coming week, so let's not steal its thunder.
Instead, other updates in January are bringing the thunder. The Valkyries Return is a bolstered version of the annual Hati, Skoll and Fenrir event, offering hope to those worried that The End of Things was upon them. This brings new rewards (including some fantastic Huginn and Muninn blades) and improvements to the event, including the ability to gain all of the wolf items yourselves, rather than needing someone else to complete your set.
Sneaking into January is an addition to one of the favourite updates of 2018: the Player Owned Farm. We're going to be bringing more love to it with Farmhands and an Animal Barn. These are two Game Jam-produced beauties, and it's worth taking a moment to note that TAPP will be returning this year, so you can expect more updates like them.
You can probably guess how these two updates will be benefiting you: Farmhands will be purchasable with beans and will help look after your pens, while the barn will give much-needed space to store your animals.
February wouldn't be February without a Double XP Weekend, so book off the 22nd to the 25th, as you've got a date with the summoning obelisks and portables of Gielinor.
We could stop there, but then you wouldn't be getting the third and final installment in our Elite Dungeons trilogy: The Shadow Reef. As well as delivering on the final promise from Runefest, the Reef will be bringing the long-awaited arrival of the Ambassador. He won't only be waiting as the final boss of the dungeon: he will be haranguing you every step of the way, as you dive down from the reef into a sunken temple and finally into the abyss...
There will be the expected, like three bosses to overcome, ranks of minibosses to encounter, and a huge environment to explore, but there will also be the unexpected. We're going to be removing the requirements for the elite dungeons, making them immediately open to all, and we have a bumper surprise planned for those who have been following the story.
Stick it to the Ambassador and there will be glory. There will be new top-tier arrows, and a tier-92 two-handed crossbow, among a cavalcade of other rewards. You heard us: cavalcade.
You're after more? How about a sequel to one of the oldest quests in the game, in the form of Chef's Assistant? This is a tasty little bottle quest that came from the Game Jam, and - while it won't quite be the next While Guthix Sleeps - it will bring some jolly adventuring, tasty new foods and a use for the flavoured milk from Player-Owned Farms. We'll also be taking the opportunity to improve the quest list and make under-the-hood changes that should make quests easier to produce in the future.
We will also be heralding the arrival of the Fairy Drake and Wyvern Cape, the two winners of the player-submitted Solomon General Store competition.
Let's begin with the Comp Cape Rework. We're going to brave the minefield of opinions that is completionism, and attempt to solve it with one chunky and satisfying rework. It all starts this week, when you can expect Discord rooms, Reddit and forum threads and more opening up in an attempt to gather your thoughts. Similar to the Mining and Smithing Rework, we are going to be getting you involved every step of the way, and we've even got the experienced Mining and Smithing team (Four Direction) to handle it.
What's on the checklist of things we would like to solve? No real promises yet, but we want to feel comfortable in adding achievements to the game again and we want to stop comp cape being the de facto combat cape. We want to give you more ways achieve in the game, but we also want to celebrate the truly exceptional players. This will be a large-scale overhaul, but we will be sensitive to those who have already achieved their comp cape.
Then it's time to bring the power-tools to another part of the game that could do with improvement: Firemaking. While Firemaking has never truly felt broken, it's rarely given players a reason to train it. We plan to change that with a suite of Firemaking updates that includes Incense Burners. Think of these burners as dozens of potions that can be made at almost all Firemaking levels, using wood and herbs. When activated, they will provide passive buffs to your skilling about the game world, including the ability to auto-manufacture items, reduce prayer drain and replenish resources.
Rounding out the Firemaking updates will be buffs to fire spirits and improvements that should make the balloon network worth using.
The Firemaking updates are the first of a slew of Game Jam updates that are planned in this period. Next up is the end of Bounty Hunter and a redistribution of all its rewards. For those of you who have played Bounty Hunter, you will know that there are some awesome rewards, including large rune pouches, adrenaline crystals and powerful tier-87 weapons. These will be scattered about the world, from the Wilderness to the wider realm, so get hunting.
The Game Jam goods keep coming with PvM week, which looks to improve Nex: Angel of Death, introduce some new slayer resource dungeons for abyssal demons and dark beasts, add practice modes for Raids, and combine them all with combat-focused ninja fixes.
Finally, Easter will be celebrated more heartily this year. We haven't started development for this one quite yet, but we're eager to ensure that something remains in-game once Easter has been and gone, similar to Violet is Blue. And you can be sure that Guthix's butterflies will be returning too.
And a little note...
As we come into the New Year, Mobile will remain in Beta for you to play and enjoy. A quick thank you to everyone who's been enjoying it since we opened the Beta: your feedback and gameplay has been invaluable in improving the experience that we want RuneScape on mobile to be. Key focus at the moment is a mobile friendly user interface and as we work on different approaches for this, we will open up the beta to more players to get your input on what works best. Check out the latest Mobile blog here for an update on our progress, and watch out for news on Twitter, Facebook and the forums for further news.
Finally, a note to two teams who haven't been represented in any of the above updates. Our Black Ops team are working on something special to be released in the summer, while our Fate team have been working on something for early 2020. More info will come, particularly in the spring and at Runefest, and we're salivating at the prospect of them.
In the meantime, keep following our weekly livestreams on a Tuesday at 5pm Game Time, as we are going to be ensuring that they are regular and chockful of your questions and our answers.
Plus, if you like what you've seen in our Introduction to 2019, make sure that you catch the final few days of Premier Club, which will be available until the start of February.
Thank you for watching, and have a truly awesome 18th Birthday! We sure will!
The RuneScape Team