Since the release of Invention in 2016, RuneScape combat has been on a rapid trajectory towards increasing power creep. The release of Archaeology is no different - we have new best in slot perks, relics that pile on extra damage, and a new best (and by far the best at that) combat familiar. We've also been gifted fantastic new weapons, which following the model of the Terasaur maul, are unlocked via skilling! My experience with the new skill in terms of content has been fantastic. I love the mechanics, which feel like a mix of many of the best elements of existing gathering skills combined with a steady drip of interesting lore. I've always enjoyed the RNG process of going for the best perks and while I think it's probably too strong, PvM with a ripper demon is all kinds of fun. The big question I'm interested in asking: is the continuation of power creep healthy for the game? What are some unexplored benefits? For those interested in detailed perk setups or specific damage increases, feel free to use the PVM Encyclopedia or PM me on Discord at Kabru#4127.
One of the most exciting, and depending on your perspective, potentially scary elements of archaeology is the continued trend towards making high tier weapons obtainable via skilling. The Terrasaur maul, which drops from big game hunter, was the first truly notable example. While it's nothing impressive against most targets, against ranged based enemies, including several bosses such as those in Elite Dungeon 2 and the Ambassador, it becomes the best in slot weapon, boasting ~tier 97 damage and ~t88-91 accuracy. Archaeology brought a similar weapon, the Inquisitor Staff, to the most popular combat style. At this point, Ranged and Melee (shockingly) outclassed magic in every way. A couple years after the combat council decided to compromise with high level players by letting them have four tick auto-attacking while buffing the other two styles to "catch up," magic has now fallen behind. The Inquisitor staff, which operates at that same approximately t97 damage t89 accuracy level against melee based targets seems to work nearly everywhere high end. Phase 1-3 Araxxor, Telos, Vorago, Solak and Nex: Angel of Death are among the places it works, a set of bosses that represent the bulk of end game content.
The Inquisitor Staff is the quintessential example of both the good and bad of power creep all in one. Since it's unlocked via afk/semi-afk skilling, it's incredibly accessible and cheap compared to other best in slot weapons, giving many more players access to top tier damage than before. For players already using the best possible 4taa rotations, it's yet more added on damage. I did approximately 100 Vorago duos and around 40 kills at Telos with this staff and I was frequently impressed by the damage output, frequently hitting far higher than what I seemed to hit with my Staff of Sliske. The big benefit is that it unlocks near-best damage for a lot more players. I already didn't think 4TAA was a requirement for any PvM, but now it certainly is not. Using just staff, it's easy to do enough damage to do things like 1 cycle core and no realm phase 4 at Solak, maintaining high damage without auto-weaving makes for a smooth phase 5 Vorago with just staff, and Nex: Angel of Death can now be efficiently done much more casually. This theme will remain a constant throughout this investigation: the top end gets a bit better, but yesterday's top end becomes much more widely available. For anyone on the cusp of purchasing an endgame weapon but has been on the fence, this staff would likely be my recommendation as the first place to start.
The next section to tackle is perks. Ancient Invention, unlocked at 95 archaeology but made tradeable via blueprints, is another big increase in damage. New perks such as relentless and ruthless add new dimensions to rotation possibilities and each of the old perks having their rank increase by one offers a steady increase in damage. The biggest change is the level of customization offered with new perk combos from the 9 different slots available in new gizmos. Some of my most fun on release was playing around with the new perk calculator and discussing what the top end perks possibilities might be with friends. Around a billion gold later, I now have best in slot perks for my magic setup (although Pop O would remind us here that flanking 4 equilibrium 2 is technically better than the F4E1 I'm using, but that perk is TOO EXPENSIVE for the upside, even for me!).
While the total cost of the new meta might seem too pricey for most, once again, yesterday's perks have become cheaper than ever. Precise 4 Equilibrium 2 (as a combination), formerly a best in slot weapon perk and one of the more expensive and tedious to make (when I went for my dozen or so P4E2s it was over 1/1000) is now super cheap and easily accessible. An even better version P5E2 is also very easy to get with 9 precise components, an uncommon component that is easy to get from a variety of cheaply available sources. Additionally, some super useful perks, such as Enhanced Devoted 4, are fairly inexpensive and incredibly helpful, especially for learning PvM. I think there is some real danger in the trend of letting us pump out more and more damage without releasing more difficult bosses, but the greatly increased accessibility of the former meta is a good thing for most players.
The last and probably biggest DPM increase is the ripper demon. While these are fairly expensive at the moment, anybody with 96 Slayer can make huge money making contracts, or just make them for your own use. This familiar is probably the most concerning in terms of power creep - I think it's simply too good. The number of 12ks I've been doing with magic is just out of control, and the fact a grimoire is now all but required for high tier magic setups is not something I ever thought I'd see. However, this familiar also could make a huge difference in accessibility. For wherever you're at, the ripper can carry you for that little bit of damage you need for that last little bit. Off by a bit of damage on 1-cycle core at Solak? Ripper demon will put you over the edge. Feel like your Vindicta solos would be way more efficient if you could kill the boss before another cycle of attacks? Ripper demon will get that time down nicely. Other places I can think of it making a big difference: getting magister kills fast enough to not deal with annoying mechanics, killing Araxxi fast enough to not deal with acid core, or killing Seiryu in 2 cycles. All of these things could be done consistently before, but for many people the ripper demon could make up for the small gap they were missing.
Overall, my hope is that Archaeology will be healthy for the game. I think that this skill means that they MUST release new content on par with or more difficult than Telos sometime in this year or early next, so a full grade is pending upcoming content. However, if we bracket out the question of players already doing top end damage doing even more damage than before, I would give the PvM aspects of this update an excellent 9 out of 10.
Comped June 2017/Vitalis Owner Before Threshold [hiscores][/hiscores]