We thank Pyrnassius for this guest article for Informer. As the month of June draws to a close we at Informer would like to think that this is a fairly accurate and thorough summary of Menaphos. You can listen to more of our Menaphos coverage on RSBANDBUpdate!
It was with great anticipation I looked forward to this update. Jagex's first foray into a new type of update system, known as expansions. Menaphos was going to be the make or break poster child for this new direction. For months, we the players watched on with interest as the developers let little snippets of information out. Senior Mods were even sent to Morocco to film segments for YouTube, all whetting our appetite for the release of the desert city, almost as long in its release as the elven city of Prifddinas.
Our very first task was a quest to get into the new area. Awesome; a quest is always the best way to introduce new content in my own humble opinion. So, off to Al Kharid we traipse and we are sent on an envoy to open trade relationships with the people of Menaphos once again. A beautifully done carpet ride through the newly graphically updated desert seemed to really enforce that voting for expansions was the best idea in a long time. And finally, we reach the great gates of the golden city. So far, everything is looking fantastic. The developers have gone beyond expectations with the graphics. We are escorted from the gates to the Grand Vizier of Menaphos to begin negotiations. And this is where the real quest begins. The criminal known as the Jack of Spades appears and steals from the Grand Vizier, setting the player in motion to track the thief down. In all honesty, this is really just to familiarize the player with the four separate districts of Menaphos, but overall, a decent way to introduce us to the area. From the Merchant district, we are led to Port district, the Imperial district and finally, the Worker district. It is in the Worker district that we discover there is an underground section of Menaphos, introducing us to the new minigame in the area, Shifting Tombs. We head down the tunnels and find the Jack of Spades, who is really our old friend Ozan. He gives us the items he has stolen from each of the leaders of the four districts so that we can return them, thus introducing us to the new reputation system that we will need to build up points to open new content in Menaphos.
Another interesting distraction here is the Menaphos Journal. A direct cut and paste from the Arc Journal sees bird watching replaced with cat petting and seed hunting with gem hunting, it is nevertheless a fun diversion that is not any way diminished by the fact it is a carbon copy.
Now, a quick break for my thoughts here. This is what I call the Good in Menaphos. A nice introduction. The quest was very basic and more a go fetch style than normal, but adapted well to open the city and the districts to us. The graphical rework really takes full advantage of the NXT engine and the whole city really looks spectacular. The voice-acted NPC's around are a nice little addition too. Overall, I would give section a 7/10 score.
Now, onto the bad. Shifting Tombs is pretty much a skillers version of the Shattered Worlds minigame we got a few months back for pvmers. It seemed very laggy when I went down there, very repetitive, and the rewards were different to what I originally thought we were getting. From the early days, I believed this was going to be high-risk high-reward minigame. This is not to blame the Mods in any way, just my perception taken from descriptions given when this was initially discussed. I had assumed this was not a safe minigame; that there was risk of death, but that the rewards for success were going to really help skillers. Rewards other than just chunks of xp drops. I was expecting decent xp, but more than that, I was expecting some real rewards to either make gp by selling, or by keeping to help out our own training. I realise that the feathers for slayer are decent money making, but it would have been nice to see things like the corrupted magic logs from the slayer dungeon, as well as some other similar items for other skills. Overall, it just doesn't have that high-risk feel that was initially sold to us many months ago.
Moving onto the skilling plots in Menaphos. Again, we were told to look out for new ways to train. I took that to mean unique ways to train, but alas, again I was disappointed. The fishing is pretty much a carbon copy of the barbarian fishing area. 3 different types of fish, with similar xp drops to the ones near Otto and great for afk fishing, especially if you have the elite shark outfit set to consume. The mining is pretty much the concentrated coal and gold mining from the LRC area, the woodcutting is like teak (although, to be fair, it is hard to think of a different way to do this), the plover birds is just another deadfall trap hunting method no different to everywhere else, and the thieving is the same as at every other training spot other than Prifddinas. Surely, the pickpocketing could have allowed the player to perhaps attempt it 5-10 times before clicking again. Not as OP as elf city thieving, but a nice midway between the old way and the elves.
There was so much I was looking forward to here, under the total understanding it was aimed at mid-level players and not maxed players like myself, but some diversity is not too much to expect. My overall opinion of Menaphos itself is lots of glamour, but little in the way of substance. That is not to detract its usefulness for mid level players, but more that there is nothing special or unique about it. Mid levels could train just as well using the standard methods and not notice any real difference in gameplay. And that, ultimately, is what Runescape is about... playing a game. It needs to be fun, entertaining and have the ability to hold our attention and offer that diversity for players.
Okay, so to end off this portion of my thoughts. Shifting Tombs is in no way the earth shattering minigame for skillers I was hoping for, or expecting. The skilling, while completely fine, is in no way unique and does not stand out as a "wow, I really want to train up to get to that area" update. I would give it an overall score of 4/10.
Now, onto the truly awesome part of this expansion. The slayer update. While lifting the Slayer skill from 99 to 120, is not directly attributed to Menaphos, it is linked because of two of the best updates I have seen in a long time. Firstly, the Sophanem Slayer dungeon. 15 new monsters exist in this newly opened dungeon at the south end of Sophanem, ranging from combat level 98 up to 130 and requiring a slayer level starting at 88 and going all the way to 117 (I will say 15, although officially it is 12; however there are 2 versions of corrupted kalphites and 3 versions of Imperial akh). Again, hats off to the artists for the fantastic environment they have created down here. It really does look great and again, takes full advantage of the NXT engine. But this time, I will not stop at only congratulating the artists. The creatures have really good mechanics the higher you move up, with different EoC abilities to contend with, as well as some new mechanics that I won't spoil here. Just remember, if you are fighting the soul devourers, keep your eye on your monitor! We have a good mix of afkable monsters in the corrupted creatures, as well as ones to engage with properly in the ahk creatures. If I had one criticism of this new dungeon, it is that perhaps they could have made killing the creatures on task free, or at least cheaper, and kept the 1 feather per kill for those off-task, similar to the gemstone dragons. However, that in no way detracts from this update.
Okay, now onto the best update of the year... the player-owned slayer dungeon, or as it is known in game, the Sunken Pyramid. What a fantastic idea, and what an awesome way in which we interact with filling it up. A slayer skill level of 99 is required to unlock it and it gives us a new use for all those slayer points we accumulate, as well as a new Slayer Codex, in which we can unlock the souls of all 146 slayer creatures currently in the game! This Slayer codex is filled with shadowy outlines of unknown creatures that the player must then set about finding and slaying in order to collect the souls and "discover" it in the book. The Sunken Pyramid has 3 rooms available, and as we capture the souls of creatures, we have to ability to place up to 5 in each of the 3 rooms. And you can place different souls, too, not just all 5 of 1 creature. These slayer monsters also have the ability to spawn elite versions, just like those in the open slayer dungeons, and what's even better, is that we can invite friends in to slay with us!
This is the uniqueness that I was looking for from the Menaphos update. It is a little ironic that finding that uniqueness happens on either a separate island to Menaphos, or under Sophenam, while everything in the golden city itself is kind of "ho-hum, I've seen this before, it's just copy and paste", I am ecstatic over the slayer update. My personal score for this is 10/10. It has hit the mark on everything I was expecting and it is still not complete with a mini-boss coming later in the month.
Ok, so I have told you my good, my bad and my awesome so far; now comes the truly ugly part, and that is the implementation of the reputation system. Taking one look at the pop-up windows and it reminds me of the Deathbeard's Demise treasure hunter promotion and all the other ones that follow that same cookie-cutter update we saw week after week. While we don't get keys to help unlock things and speed it along, it is nevertheless just a super-long extended version of these events. Rather than earning doubloons (Deathbeard's Demise), Zamorakian Emblems (Agents of Fury) or Burning Embers (Birth by Fire) by skilling and handing them in to unlock a step-by-step cosmetic reward for each 1000 or so, with the occasional small reward between items and ultimately ending in a unique pet, we now skill and get the reputations points automatically handed in to unlock cosmetic outfits, a few small rewards between each piece and ultimately a unique pet. Unlike the treasure hunter events though, which only takes an hour or so each day and ends in 14 days, this is going to take 50+ hours, even when you include the soul obelisks released on day 2. For something that took basically 9 months of development from when they told us about it back at Runefest, I was bitterly disappointed in what they produced. Especially since we had one quest released in 2017 waiting for this. And to really slap me in the face with a dead fish, they then locked the 3 quests behind this reputation system! I found it truly infuriating that a game known for its unique quests would do this; and even worse, while there are 3 quests to do, they are pretty much one single quest broken up into 3 chapters. Now, the reputation system, slow and underwhelming as it is, I could live with, but to actually lock the only genuine content a maxed player wants and needs to do behind such a system is repugnant in my opinion.
I know they want players to experience the new city, but honestly, forcing maxed or high-level 96+ players to play hundreds of hours of mid level content really missed the mark. Surely, players with 99 in skills could have been able to unlock shops with a certain amount of reputation, rather than having faster fishing, woodcutting, mining or thieving chances and had the opportunity to sell the items they collect to those shops for bonus reputation in much the same way as we do in the Arc. The whole area is very reminiscent of the Arc, albeit for lower level players anyway, why not adopt a few more quality of life mechanics from it. And while on the subject of the Arc, collecting one of the gems in this mid level city requires a 5 bamboo from the high level Arc region, requiring level 90 woodcutting to obtain. Is it only me that makes no sense to? That is just one of the little issues in the area. City quests are another. They are supposed to be small fetch quest for a reasonable drop of reputation. I did one that took me 35 minutes for 100 reputation and another required me to have 1000 seeds. It took me 3 days to purchase these seeds, as the GE has a 100 by limit every 4 hours and by the time I returned with them, the quest was no longer active. These are the issues that make the expansion update poor in my opinion. And for all you quest cape holders out there, I ask this; why are the Completionist cape and the Master Quest cape given a 3 month amnesty on the content so they can continue to wear it, yet the standard questpoint cape wasn't given the same?
Overall, my score for the implementation of the Rep system and what it actually unlocks, mainly because of its unoriginality and especially because of all the content they could have copied from, they chose cookie-cutter treasure hunter events, I give it a 2/10.
For an update that we have anticipated for months, receiving limited other game updates and only 1 real quest (and I do use the term real loosely here, because while Back to the Freezer was fun, it wasn't a long involved high impact quest), introduced in that time, I am disappointed with the first expansion. I am waiting the next one with trepidation, rather than anticipation, now, which is sad, but that is how this has made me feel. All I can say is thank you slayer update team, because without that, I may not even be playing at the moment.
N.B. These are all purely my own feelings. For everyone's information, RS is the only game I play and quests are my favourite part of the game, although I do enjoy the majority of it. Thus, my thoughts on Shifting Tombs and Shattered Worlds are probably skewed from a lot of other long term, multi game players. Also, slayer has long been my favourite skill since the release of EOC, while fishing is probably my second best.