Over the years, I watched RuneScape sporadically to make sure my 2005 account was left intact. But it wasn't until about two months ago, when I received an SMS from a close friend "I want to play runescape" that I started my journey to Gielinor again.
It was overwhelming to go back to the Grand Exchange RuneScape and see people wearing armor and wielding swords that looked like they could use divine power to destroy my old gold-embellished dragon armor and whip from the abyss (it would be impressive if you played in my time, kids). Even the menus were different, although it turns out the nice folks at Jagex set up a lot of support for old players, including the old menu mode. With another nod to the old players, I was thrilled that when I went to Lumbridge and spoke to Hans, the iconic NPC from the start, he could reward me with a five-, 10-, or 15-year veteran cape. The 15-year cape is something to behold; it has fire burning the bottom.
After I was so overwhelmed, I decided to concentrate on my life goal: mastering a fire. Skill Mastery consists of hours and hours of repetitive movements to reach level 99 (now 120 in several skills), earning a cape worthy of a master. This cape is trimmed. It is clear. It shows a symbol for each skill and even comes with a matching hood. My brother and a close friend - who claimed to be a powerful mage - also joined the MMO fun, and after I re-explored the RuneScape world (and constantly reminded my team during our Discord chat that I am the strongest among us), yes time to get to work. This crew would become one of the most legendary artisans Gielinor has ever seen, me with my arson, my friend with his magic, and my brother with the herbblore (making potions) he chose because the cape looks like a marijuana leaf.
This mission started the most relaxing month of the pandemic. Yes, it was a monotonous routine, but RuneScape does such a great job rewarding the routine that I thought my friends and I on Discord were having fun as usual, but we were setting goals. And of course, RuneScape is not without microtransactions, the darkest aspect of games that MMOs like RuneScape and World of Warcraft almost came up with, but now, with my adult money, paying for a membership hasn't been difficult and aside from the membership, everything else - cool cosmetics that intimidate other players, XP bonuses, in-game cash - it's almost entirely optional.
Over time my brother got his weed leaf cape, but not before I got his professional RuneScape fire cape. However, our friend has made little progress in his magic as I am still a good 20 levels higher in the mystery arts than he is. But that was just the beginning. We started playing mini-games, doing quests, working on world events ... It's safe to say I'm addicted again, an addiction that only seems to get worse when I can hold Varrock in my hand. RuneScape's claws dug into the most vulnerable parts of my brain, reviving this old love to give me immense comfort during one of the most awkward and restless moments of my life. So while I have to browse Falador and Draynor for hours, the peace of mind is more than worth it.
You RuneScape goblins, fingers tangled in fire and now enchanted by Zamorak, may laugh at how easy it is to achieve the Fire Cape, or wonder why this is the first Skill Cloak after 15 years I've acquired, but in in the end, when I received my first skill cape after this decade and a half, along with my brother and friend, I was beaming. There is something inherently emotional about recreating old games like this one. Sometimes it's frustration that you can't stand up to your younger self. Sometimes it's a deep, spiritual confirmation of how the title shaped your childhood. Sometimes it takes you back to a time when you were a much less experienced gamer and highlights how far you've come in life.