Jagex Shelves ‘Avatar Refresh’ Update
No graphical updates in the near future.
RuneScape 3 is a 22-year-old game at the time of writing. Throughout the years, it has kept updating and riding the trends of the time. It wouldn’t last as long as it has if it didn’t, after all. The Avatar Refresh update was proposed as a graphical overhaul that will put the game on par with the current times. It would improve the experience of questing and farming RS3 gold.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.
When it was first proposed in December 2020, it was received with much approval. A month afterward, Jagex released project details for it, outlining what they were planning to do. Player avatars would have a whole new look with increased fidelity and details. There would also be more realistic interaction with the new lighting system.
In another month, another livestream showcased the progress of the project. Following some player feedback, the male avatar’s head would look more egg-shaped. At the same time, his female counterpart would have a more muscular body. Later, in May 2021, the project entered full production.
There were about two years of silence, and now there’s the announcement that it’s shelved.
They’ve misjudged the project’s scope, as this kind of thing would also need a graphical update for every wearable piece of equipment. There was also the coding for the character’s face popping up in dialog screens. Each of those will have to be fixed with new expressions under the new systems. That realization blew up the project’s intended scope, and the workforce was spread too thin.
As an ongoing live-service game, it will keep adding more items and dialog, creating even more things to update. Players were understandably disappointed by this decision.
There was also the fact that the Art Director for the game, Mod Iroh, left the company in November 2021, which was a massive blow to the team working on this.
Aside from general anger and disappointment, players were quick to suggest a smaller scale for the project, such as focusing on hairstyles and face models. Some even recommended that they continue it throughout patches, upgrading graphics gradually over time. What they were trying to do was to do it all in one big swoop, which predictably would be a huge undertaking.
On a bigger scale, players are losing hope in RS3. After all, another graphical update was axed after they shut down the HD mod being developed for the game. Considering that the game is a bit more than two decades old, it needs to keep up, or it will get left behind.
A Ray of Hope
Okay, axed was too harsh a word to use. The devs used ‘shelved,’ which means that they have intentions of going back to it, eventually. Of course, that’s no guarantee they would, but there’s at least a shred of hope to come from that.
They might be looking for a new Art Director or other artists to fill in the void. They could also have so many projects running in parallel that they couldn’t spare any for this one. There are a host of other reasons that can influence their decision.
We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, so we can’t say for sure that Jagex will never revisit this project. Although we can speculate and predict through past actions, that’s all they are. They’re not prophecies with 100% accurate predictions, just the most likely course of action they will take. It can still go either way, no matter how small the chances for one side are.
You Can Still Enjoy RuneScape
Despite the outdated graphics, there’s much to enjoy in RuneScape 3. Those who like stories can do quests and lore. Competitive players can do PvP or rank in the leaderboards. Achievement hunters like those wanting the Fire Cape have so many to collect. There are even activities for businessmen, people who love the grind, and those who want to hang out. It has something for everyone.
You can’t deny its success when it’s been running for two decades. Still, all good things must end someday, but RuneScape 3 (or is it Jagex) won’t let it go down without a fight. When all else fails, there could be another reboot. This is the third iteration of the game, after all. The developers could be considering a switch sometime soon, though they have to deal with the higher-ups too.
Have fun playing RuneScape 3! While its inevitable end is coming, it wouldn’t be sometime soon. It is, however, starting to get tired, like a marathon runner panting almost toward the end of the race. Enjoy it while you still can.