Ever since the days of Runescape Classic, Karamja had expanded from a simple addition to house a couple of quests like the Pirate's Treasure and the Dragon Slayer quests. For a while, not even the volcano existed; it was a big black square. Then, the volcano appeared, and there too was a fence for "future content" for a bit. Then came Brimhaven, and then the jungle, and before we knew it, we had the Shilo Village quest that spanned the entire area. Add the shipyard for the Gnome Tree quest, and we had ourselves a bit of a fun, though somewhat scary jungle place. And I say scary because back then, poison was a really, REALLY big deal. You take one step south of Brimhaven, you'd best be carrying anti-poison.
And then as the cherry on top, the Legends Quest came out. It was the last quest Runescape Classic would ever see, and it spawned forth the hard-to-access, harder-to-navigate Kharazi Jungle and its, at the time, ridiculous dungeon. Trust me, it was much deadlier than the Underground Pass. It also accidentally spawned one of my most favorite activities back then; barrel-training. There was a room there with barrels that you break, and you get a random spawn, sometimes some valuable drops... just the sheer randomness of it made it exciting.
And then came Runescape 2. And Runescape 3. It's had its fair share of updates: one somewhat early graphical rework, Tai Bwo Wannai village became involving, Divination and Slayer targets spawned within, it got a few more exciting quests and features like the Herblore Habitat and the Vine Maze, and several quests.
But after that... nothing. The rest of Runescape branched into a huge, world-scaled graphics reworking. Whole towns and dungeons burst forth with epic NXT graphics and a stunning visual that really made the game immersive. But the Karamja Jungle is still about the level of Runescape 2.
How come it hasn't caught up? First off, because it doesn't have a large amount of attention. Places like Prifddinas and the Archaeology sites look visually stunning because that's where all the action and attention is. Karamja doesn't have much to offer anymore. It's got a bunch of mid-level content like nature runes, some divination memories, and you go there all the time for hard and elite treasure trails.
Basically, it's spent middle-of-the-road content. Too dangerous for a newbie and not worthwhile for a pro. And aside from the quests, there are plenty of other things all over Runescape that are, by all accounts, better than what Karamja has to offer. It's, for lack of a better term, "spent".
And it's not alone. Ape Atoll is much the same. It did have a nice graphics update once, but it's ultimately still very low-res compared to other things. Of course, like many areas, this place is more or less a location mainly for quests, and back when the dragon scimitar was the best weapon in the game (I'm serious), there was some merit to hanging out there despite being so out-of-the-way to get to (had to get there via gnome glider each time).
Can something be done? Can these jungle biomes be saved?
... the answer is yes, but it's going to be very difficult for the folks at Jagex.
First off, both Karamja and Ape Atoll, which I'm lumping together because they are aesthetically similar, will need a graphics overhaul. I'm talking full-on concept art and redone ambiance SFX. Jungles are complicated and diverse, so it would be a challenge both balancing that clustered, claustrophobic environment while still allowing players to navigate through relatively easily.
Naturally, this won't be done unless there's an epic quest to go along with it so players will spend a good and proper amount of time there. See the sights, enjoy the visuals. Unfortunately, with the excitement of the Elder Gods awakening and Anachronia taking all the jungle-themed hype with... well, dinosaurs, this quest would have to be very lore-heavy into the history of Karamja. Maybe it'll introduce a new God, or some sort of Jungle King, or maybe you'd have to save the land from becoming a desert because some other God wants to turn it into their own spawning ground...or, maybe Marimbo will go nuts. Either way, this would be an interesting update if they pull it off.
Next, we'd need some kind of hook. Something to make training and being there worthwhile. Menaphos did it with the grind-happy reputation system. Karamja already has a sort of build-up system in the form of trading sticks, where various activities net you this currency for exchange of good things. Right now, they're not worth much because the stuff they bought are quite easily obtained now (the three low-tier gems), so an entirely new economy will need to be built around Karamja. I'm talking expanded Herblore habitat, potion shops, and Runecrafting aids and all that kind of stuff, supplementing what Karamja's already got and making it a viable mid-level training method.
That, and we'd need something new in the form of all-around benefits. Something that can only be provided by the jungle. Maybe we'll find special idols that, when in your inventory, activate on a timer and benefit the player before needing to be recharged back on Karamja. For example, an idol that will double the time stat boosts last. Or an idol that constantly applies a bleed effect to your weapon. I could go on with ideas, but you get the idea. Something that benefits the stuff players usually do outside of Karamja. ... although, maybe they should be more potent while on Karamja, like the Stone of Jas proximity buff in the Glacor Cave...
Ape Atoll, I'm thinking that the only way to get people to really want to hang out there is to provide it with a special Grand Exchange, where the monkeys there operate it a little differently that slightly beats the regular Grand Exchange. For example they could have a trade point system where the more GE trades you do, the more points you get that you can spend on stuff. Or you can only have 3 trades active at a time, but you get 2% more coins (out of nowhere) on your trade there like some kind of credit card cashback feature, making it worthwhile to go out of your way to travel there and disguise yourself.
Of course, adding more quests to the area and expanding on the lore is the easiest way to warrant a graphical rework, but again, there are already so many exciting things happening in Runescape that I don't think we'll see it happen very much.
... unless, say, a new archaeology area opens up there...
Until next time,