The Difference Between Old School Runescape and Runescape

Operating continuously since 2001, RuneScape is a true classic MMO both in terms of its innovative features as well as the fond memories so many have of playing it. For many of these people, RuneScape was what first introduced them to the genre. The history of RuneScape’s many updates over the years provides an interesting snapshot of the evolution of MMO games; however, many older players did not appreciate the updates, prompting developer Jagex to release an August 2007 version of the game referred to as old-school RuneScape (OSRS), while the current version of RuneScape is officially known as RuneScape 3. The existence of two different games, both with the same name, has led many to ask “What’s the difference between old school RuneScape and Runescape?”, which we will answer comprehensively below.

Graphics and Presentation

Upon first inspection, the most obvious difference between modern RuneScape and old-school RuneScape would be the graphics and overall presentation. Obviously, the newer version looks more pristine and visually interesting. Whether or not a gamer cares about graphics, however, depends on their personality; some enjoy feeling more immersed by having a more realistic looking world to explore, while others care solely about gameplay and interactivity. The interface of modern RuneScape is more advanced, giving more options to the player for customization as opposed to the somewhat “barebones” UI of OSRS. Modern RuneScape is, naturally, a much larger game than old-school RuneScape, with a bigger game world, more quests, more detailed lore, and much more overall content, which funnels players towards the endgame.


The gameplay of both games is radically different. In the past, the grinding aspect of RuneScape was considered legendary – players would sink hours into trying to upgrade a particular skill, and this remains the case with OSRS. It could be argued that the main goal of OSRS is to max out all of your skills, a true badge of honor. Modern RuneScape, on the other hand, is sometimes considered to have gone too far in the opposite direction, making the game too “easy” and player dedication less relevant. However, since modern RuneScape has much more endgame content than old-school RuneScape, the leveling could actually be considered more relevant as it is an end to a goal rather than a goal in and of itself. A controversial aspect of RuneScape 3 is the use of microtransactions – instead of grinding to max their skills, players can pay money and instantly get the same effect. If you want buy RS gold you can come to!

Like other modern MMOs (for example, World of Warcraft), Runescape 3 is largely focused on endgame content which the player reaches after going through a “theme-park” of zones. Compared to modern RuneScape, old-school RuneScape is more of a sandbox MMO. Besides the tutorial, players are given very little direction and have to forge their own path through the game, but this is one of the things fans of OSRS love most about it. If you’re brand new to RuneScape you’ll have to rely on trial and error as well as the kindness of community veterans. Whether you want to go your own route through a game or receive a lot of direction depends on your personal preference.


Combat is another major difference between the two games. Old-school RuneScape’s combat system is more reminiscent of an old click-and-point adventure game – the player merely clicks on the enemy, occasionally using special weapons, while stats and experience sort out the rest. Modern RuneScape relies on using abilities (and hence waiting on their cooldowns) much like other more contemporary MMOs. This more complicated combat system allows for more strategic and engaging boss fights, something the game excels at. However, the PVP aspect of OSRS is much more important due partly to the more competitive clans that exist in that game.


It goes without saying that if you’re someone who enjoyed RuneScape years ago, you’ll probably want to relive that nostalgic period by starting out with old-school RuneScape. One interesting thing about OSRS is that any updates can only be mandated by the community – the players decide whether or not any new content reshapes the game. This is one of the things fans of old-school RuneScape love the most about it, claiming that constant new updates for modern RuneScape erase the significance of players’ achievements by forcing everyone to the same level to experience that content. The community of OSRS is known to be more connected, since many members are RuneScape veterans with friendships going back years.


Overall, whether or not a player will prefer modern RuneScape or old-school RuneScape comes down to a matter of taste and what that person values most in their MMO experience. Playing OSRS is an excellent approximation of the many things older players miss about the early days of MMO games, while RuneScape 3 is more of a “cookie-cutter” MMO that mixes elements of old RuneScape with the direction of other popular modern MMOs.