After a quest, slayer creatures, and a boss, Senntisten now also comes outfitted with skilling content: a mini Archaeology dig site. Kerapac must have had the most confusing of days with hordes of adventurers showing up, outright ignoring him to start digging in the arena to find artefacts of a long bygone past.
Last year, Archaeology was considered a widespread success. It was perhaps one of the most popular updates of all times, and on average, the skill remains popular with many players. As the months went by, the skill started settling itself among the other skills. Then, Archaeology got an extension with its sixth dig site: Orthen. This especially helped filling out the top level content, and was a welcome sight for those who needed an extra bit of motivation to hit 120 Archaeology. It didn't feel like a content release, it felt like Orthen was the last puzzle piece in making the skill complete.
Senntisten shows us the true potential of Archaeology as a skill. Unlike Orthen, the Senntisten dig site is not an integral part of the skill, but rather an extension. At levels 60 to 67, Senntisten is medium level content, yet even master archaeologists settled in to further explore the secrets the soil of Gielinor keeps hold of for us. Senntisten shows that many people do Archaeology for reasons beyond experience: the skill itself is interesting and rewarding. I wouldn't be surprised if this is the most popular skilling update that doesn't provide best XP per hour or best GP per hour in many years.
Just next door from Senntisten is the empty throne room with its Agility bicycles that go largely unused. I find it hard to believe that adding any skilling content besides Archaeology would not be dead on arrival without the prospect of high XP rates or amazing rewards. Archaeology succeeds where all other skills fail: it can provide engaging content without luring players in with powerful rewards.
Until the mini digsite at Senntisten, Archaeology was merely a very well designed and enjoyable skill. This is no mean feat by itself. The two skills before Archaeology - Invention and Divination - were both released with major design flaws, and it took years for both of them to be considered good and enjoyable (and even so, Divination is widely considered unpopular even to this day). Archaeology has received no significant changes to its core mechanics, showing how solid the core game loop design really is. In the end, it was still just a single skill. Senntisten shows us the true form of Archaeology: a framework where content can be built that stands completely by itself. Content that engages and tells the smaller stories in the world as well as the big one. Content that enriches areas of the game, rather than requiring areas to be built around it.
I thoroughly enjoyed exploring Senntisten. I have no affinity with Zarosian lore, but the site was well executed, and the core game loop immediately sucked me back into the skill. To me, that proves the formula hasn't become stale yet. As a matter of fact, it feels that Jagex was trying to refresh by scattering the pages for the mysteries all across the excavation sites, rather than sticking to the proven method of tying mysteries to one cluster of excavation sites. I think that particular experiment failed, especially because it relied on finding pages in a particular order without telling the player clearly in the journal. That wasn't enough to spoil my enjoyment though.
I'm looking forward to the next area that gets equipped with a mini dig site. It is such an enrichment of an area. Every new area now fills me with anticipation, because we have a chance of learning more about the world through excavation. No longer do new areas need to be limited to pretty views: Archaeology dig sites are a perfect tool to add a new dimension to Gielinor.
The Senntisten mini dig site was the big test for Archaeology. Can it stand on its own? I'm pleased to say: yes. Archaeology continues to prove to be one of the best additions to RuneScape ever. Senntisten shows Archaeology's true form, and I dig it.