I think most players would agree that 2019 has ushered in some exciting changes for the game that will fundamentally change how people play on an everyday basis. The Mining and Smithing rework, with some relatively minor problems, seems to have received general praise, 2018 ended with one of the most unique and novel quests in RuneScape history, and Elite Dungeon 3 looks to continue the successful model for mid-mid high tier PvM that began last year. While a lot of these bigger updates are flashy, exciting, and crucial to the game's future, equally important are the fixes, patches, and tweaks that come along with the oft-maligned patch weeks that sometimes feel like a substitute for real content but in actuality are vital to the health of the game.
The January 21st combat week patches are one example of this type of work that will do more for me, as a player who almost exclusively does high level bossing, to change the way I interact with the game on a daily basis than a significant portion of this year's showcase updates. With this in mind, I will be highlighting a few of these changes and do my best to both explain why they're important, and defend the notion that sometimes it's worth sacrificing "real updates" for "patch weeks."
Category 1: Long Overdue Bug Fixes
"An issue causing AoE spells, such as the burst and barrage ancient magicks, to not award adrenaline correctly has been fixed." This has been a bug that was leftover from the very beginning of EoC. With the advent of using ancient magicks with spell book swap becoming the PvM Meta around a year ago and becoming cemented with the introduction of dyed rune pouch, this has been one of the most requested changes. It was always frustrating to switch spells between blitz for single target and barrage for AoE throughout the course of fights like Telos and Hardmode Vorago. Now, players can conveniently just camp barrage the entire time which is a nice change - for anyone who does Runecrafting for money, this will double the amount of blood runes consumed while using 4TAA which I think might increase the price of blood runes!
"Added a small delay when equipping items from the action bar so that they can't accidentally be instantly removed." My goodness what a godsend! I can't tell you the number of times I've died to double clicking my shield when I was going for a resonance - never again!
"Using a basic ability while running in to combat will now award adrenaline correctly." I thought about putting this in category 3, but essentially this takes care of the issue of always having to begin boss fights with an auto-attack (often an auto-attack may still be better) because basic abilities will give normal adrenaline instead of nothing.
"Added a small delay after first activating the Reprisal ability so that its effect cannot be immediately triggered by accident." This has been frustrating ever since they changed Reprisal to allow it to be manually activated. Double clicking this ability on accident prior to this update would consume adrenaline but cause the ability to completely fizzle.
Category 2: Fixing Ability Queuing
This is a difficult process that hasn't totally resolved, by the January 21st patch notes included several fixes to ability queuing such as fixing its interactions with needle strike and puncture, solving the animation delays, and stopping tick heals with resonance. While I personally find it clumsy, there are many advantages to using ability queuing, and many of the best PvMers in the game swear by it. The only downsides were that it was functionally impossible to use while ranging and it can cause some problematic interactions. Hopefully, these changes will fix these issues and make combat option - which can sometimes serve as a very helpful transition for people going from revolution to full manual - a better experience for everyone who might utilize it.
Category 3: Game Changers
"The damage modifiers from damage enhancing scrimshaws, Berseker [sic] auras and the Metamorphosis ability are now calculated earlier. This means that bosses phase correctly when they reach their HP threshold and mechanics that rely on damage to progress (such as Telos' tendrils or Vorago's pushback phases (Phase 5 - Normal Mode, Phase 10/11 - Hard Mode)) will now take the additional damage from the modifiers into the equation." I don't think it's an exaggeration to say this update will fundamentally change strategy for approaching Vorago, perhaps most popular boss (among high level PvMers) in the game. While I haven't yet had time to test out new strategies, the significant boost to damage from Berserker, the flexibility to use Metamorphosis, and the fact Superior Scrimshaw of the Elements will finally work (previously it did nothing) opens up a lot of new exciting possibilities and has been an issue for years. Given that the same problem existed for the Telos tendril, it seems like this is a vital future proofing for the game that also clarifies the ambiguity that previously existed on the ways damage was calculated.
"Allowed a worn slot to be added to an action bar slot, allowing you to use that slot's options even when switching items." More action bar flexibility is a huge boon to improving both accessibility and ease of use for many PvM situations. As we increasingly move towards "switchscape" with each new set of items - especially if the developers continue the trend of "weapon diversity" having worn slots will be super helpful.
Finally, I would be remiss to not include at least a few words about the new tier 92 trimmed masterwork armor. After the update happened, I purchased a set of this armor for around 250 million and custom fit it immediately upon logging in. So far, I'm tremendously satisfied. While I think it's possible that adding set effects to power armor might be too much power creep, this set effect seems very well balanced. It's simultaneously good enough to justify the use of this armor over malevolent (something that can't be said for the T92 Sirenic or Tectonic) yet it's not overpowered because it doesn't provide a direct offensive boost. The reason it's so good is that it essentially resolves the inherent downside to using melee over ranged or magic: KO potential.
The berserk ultimate ability provides by far the most powerful burst damage in the game, doubling damage (aside from bleeds and onslaught) for 20 seconds, but comes at the cost of damage dealt to the player increasing by 50%. The combination of this and non-halberd ranged weapons forcing players into melee distance could result in huge amounts of damage. A missed prayer flick at Nex: Angel of Death could easily result in a 7-8k hit, a Vorago melee hit can easily do 5-6k damage through prayer, and anyone who has fought Araxxor with melee almost certainly can tell horror stories about being instantly dropped by the bosses web attack when they accidentally hurricane or cleave a web (or even just an auto-attack/crackling in duo mode at high enrage). This armor, while wearing the full set, cuts that damage in half and turns the rest into a damage over time, which massively reduces the likelihood of death and gives you a chance to heal yourself. Throughout my PvM career, I would wager that I have had hundreds of deaths - if not more - where I would have survived had I been wearing a full set of armor. Additionally, this armor makes a lot of things far more convenient. Tanking the Kalphite King's green attack while soloing is made far easier, tanking a green bomb at Vorago - which causes an instant reflect - is far less terrifying, and learning mechanics of bosses such as Araxxor and Telos will be far more forgiving. For anyone looking to get into the highest levels of PvM, I would highly recommend either purchasing this armor or working towards making it yourself.
Comped June 2017/Vitalis Owner Before Threshold [hiscores][/hiscores]