How To Properly Use Ranged Weapons in Runescape

One of the things we love about Old School Runescape, and we talk about it constantly, is the Jagex mod team’s commitment to continued game improvement. We are talking about a 20-year-old game that sees continued new, improving, and updating content with a dedicated development team. That just isn’t something you see very often. Now, does that mean they get it right all the time? No, but they do admit to getting it wrong, which is something you see even more rarely. One of the most recent things the mod team brought up is what went wrong with changing how ranged weapons worked and what they are considering changing this time around.

            The two weapons that the mod-team are most focused on fixing, and the larger motivations for their last changes, are the Toxic Blowpipe and the Twisted Bow. The Toxic Blowpipe is considered the hands-down best weapon in the ranged arsenal, beating out the “stronger” Twisted Bow mostly for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the Toxic Blowpipe is much more accessible, partially because the Twisted Bow is rare drop endgame content and partially because bots have been impacting the economy and making the Toxic Blowpipe more accessible. The second reason would be power scaling. The Twisted Bow should be stronger and is, but only technically.  Both these weapons will cost you a pretty penny in the Grand Exchange so consider buying Runescape gold if you do not wish to farm the gold yourself.

            The problem is that both weapons have drawbacks that are supposed to balance them in general but that hasn’t been the case. The Twisted Bow deals damaged based on the target’s magic stats, which makes it very powerful against many late-game enemies. Unfortunately, this means low magic or no magic enemies, the bow is all but useless. The Toxic Blowpipe, on the other hand, is regulated by the drawback of having to overcome low defense which is a lot less detrimental. The Toxic Blowpipe also has less to overcome as a ranged weapon when it comes to its ammo use. The Blowpipe’s ammo is much cheaper and there is little drawback to using less costly ammo like there is with other range weapons.

            Putting it bluntly, the issue with the meta is these weapons shouldn’t be as comparable given where and how you obtain them in the gameplay. And this is an issue because these items becoming fixed in the ranged weapon meta means there is little room for growth. Any new items are automatically better or worse. What a game wants is for a players to favor pros and cons of each weapon for the situation and favoring a play style, not to have an obvious correct choice.  So how did Jagex try and fix this?

            Ultimately they would want new weapons in the same tier in order to give the players more choices. Before they can do that though the existing weapons have to be per-balanced to make other choices viable. The mod team tried to do this by heavily altering the Toxic Blowgun. They wanted to make its special attack more potent, but reduce the power of its regular attack. They also wanted to make the players more dependent on the Blowpipe’s ammo for its performance, rather than having it be similar no matter what you use. This was done to widen the gap between the Blowpipe and the Twisted Bow, to create room for growth and giving each weapon its own distinct identity.

            Jagex did succeed in making the weapons feel distinct, both from one another and secure in specialized roles in the ranged weapon meta. But Jagex wasn’t necessarily satisfied with all the consequences of the changes. They thought that the Toxic Blowpipe still had too much potential to be exceptionally good against targets that it shouldn’t be. They also felt the changes to the higher tier darts and the impact on the Twisted Bow meant that many of the power reductions hit non-paying accounts more heavily and that was not their intent. This is a pretty glaring flaw, but one that the mod team was willing to own.

            So what changes do they think could work instead? As per the norm that has posed several possibilities and would like the players to vote on what changes they think could have the most potential for success. The added benefit of player-voted changes is it’s a lot rarer for a whole disliked change to be put through, which is nice.

            One of the big choices they’re proposing is making range combat more similar to melee and branching it into several types of ranged damage. While this would definitely fix the current balance problem, it has a good chance of creating a host of others. The mod team acknowledges that this large change to the game would require tons of effort and an almost complete rework of the entire NPC roster. And that doesn’t even touch on how much of the game’s meta would change. Needless to say, while the dev teams see the potential of this fix, the drawbacks are enough to make them consider the choice seriously before acting. It also makes them consider any other alternatives they have access to.

            The other option would be to change the bosses rather than the weapons to create unique challenges for the players. This wouldn’t be the first time Jagex has done something like this. TzKal-Zuk is intentionally placed out of range to get hit by the Blowpipe, for instance. This would be a specific and effective fix but tends to be a bit more unpopular with players, which is understandable. It is frustrating to depend on powers, abilities, and/or stats only to find out they are ineffective against the strongest enemies.

            Whatever your opinion is on the matter of fixing the range weapons you are able to voice it in the poll that Jagex provided, which is more than you can say about most game balances. We are curious to see what the consensus will be and where the mod team will go from there. Regardless there are some clearly exciting changes on the horizon for OSRS and its ranged fighting mechanics.

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