World of Warcraft Vs Runescape – What to Play?

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Choosing an MMO game to immerse yourself in is a big choice, mainly because the time that you will invest into your character over weeks/months/years. World of Warcraft & Runescape both have that exact immersion that you will be looking for, but both WoW & Runescape do this in such different ways. This may leave many of you wondering, which should I play? WoW or Runescape?

In this article we will explore the positives and negatives for both World of Warcraft and Runescape and break it down to give you that informed opinion. Please note the opinions given in this article is from a player (myself) who has played both games continuously over the last 15 years and has experienced all that is to offer from both games.

World of Warcraft

Firstly, let’s explore World of Warcraft as a game. World of Warcraft is an ever expanding universe of which you can immerse yourself in. Whether that be going into depth with the lore and storyline, collecting rare and hard to find items, or just experiencing the end game content of raids and dungeons, WoW has everything to offer to either the casual gamer or the more refined and committed player.

World of Warcraft has a devoted player base well over 1m players across the world so you are never alone in whatever quest you may be trying to achieve. The opportunity to create over 50 characters to a single log in as well as being able to explore all previous expansions that were released since 2004, World of Warcraft really gives you that feel of a game that has tackled all manner of threats and storylines whilst keeping you in the game.


Now, let’s explore Runescape as a game. Runescape is a game of several maps that you can follow. Whether you want to complete quests, kill bad guys (or a few cows maybe), level up one of the 28 skills that runescape give you the opportunity to level or you just want to play on a casual basis through the game.

Runescape gives you the option to either pay a monthly subscription or play a reduced version of the game on a free basis where you get a small taste of the game. Runescape gives you that feel at every turn that there is a story to each area and you can undertake any story at your own pace.

The cost of each game

  • World of Warcraft currently has a cost of £9.99 per month to its subscribers with discounts offered if you subscribe for a longer period. However you are able to play a restricted version up to level 20 and as such you can have multiple characters at level 20. The average cost for each expansion works out at £39.99 for the standard game whilst buying the heroic or epic edition can set you back £74.99 which is quite a bit of cash.
  • Runescape also has a subscription model, this costs the standard user £8.99 a month however again similar to World of Warcraft they offer discounts for longer subscribers with the 1 year package costing £59.99 which includes things like rewards and benefits. As an example, the 1 year package is only £7 more expensive than the 6 months subscription package offered by World of Warcraft. There are no additional costs in the way of expansions and these are inclusive of the subscription fee. Runescape also does not require the player to have a subscription to play content (albeit a lesser amount of the game similar to WoW).

The Player base in numbers

  • World of Warcraft boasts a stronger player base throughout all of their worlds. They currently have on an average day 750k players of which are logged onto the game at any given point with nearly 8.3 million connecting to the game over the course of a standard month (as of september 2022). This will ultimately shrink and grow depending on the expansion cycle and hits a peak when newer content is released.
  • Runescape has a decent daily average player base however on the website it shows all players playing including their OSRS platform as well. Taken into consideration the peak average on a day to day basis hits around 120k players across all countries. On a monthly basis on average around 2.1 million unique logins. This is far below World of warcraft however in september 2021 the unique logins were nearer 7.1 million unique logins in compared to WoW showing at 9.15 million unique players thus showing a severe downward trend.

Pro’s of World of Warcraft?

  • There is a fixed path of progression. Whether that is from leveling your characters from level 1 all the way up to the maximum level, or progression through gearing and end game content. WoW gives you that satisfaction feeling of really progressing through a storyline
  • All expansions are open. This means that you can explore all of WoWs storylines from over the years at your own pace and really understand the meaning behind each zone/storyline with strong quest lines and notable character involvments.
  • Gold. making gold in the game through literally any activity means that you will always gain gold for doing something. There is something for everyone in this area and it is a really great way to spend your time and enjoy your time
  • Constant release of new content. WoW brings out new large expansions every 2-3 years to continue to keep the gamer involved and within each expansions there are extensions to each storyline, new raids and dungeons as well as new gear.
  • The profession system. The game gives indepth profession work which expands to all content that has been released. There is alot of things to explore in this sense whether it be making armour to creating powerful potions.
  • Collectable items. Within the game there are well over 855 mounts to collect and 1522 companion pets to collect. Along this there are also hundreds of armour sets to collect in game which means that no matter what you do, there is always something you can gain in the game from playing.
  • The achievement system. There is an extremely diverse achievement system in WoW which will keep you playing for hours. At the time of this article there are more than 4200 achievements in the game to get which will keep you busy and are based all over the WoW universe.

Negatives of Playing World of Warcraft

  • End game content. The end game content whilst enjoyable at the start can become repetitive and as such feels like sometimes you may not really progress. This was evident after the release of Shadowlands where there was nearly 250 days between the release of Shadowlands and the release of the next larger patch which introduced a new Raid and a new zone for players to explore. The longest wait for a patch was 399 days which was for the Siege of Orgrimmar during Mists of Pandaria expansion.
  • Repetition. World of Warcraft over the last few expansions has become more grindy and more about you being logged in to complete daily tasks. This is in the way of you completing daily quests and grinding for items or currency to really push you to try and add an extra bit of power to you. This was evident especially during Shadowlands when the main grind has been for Anima power and more recently Cosmic flux and Cyphers which has been put in to get the player base to just log in and do their “chores”.
  • Lazy Storywriting. This is more of an opinion around how the storyline just feels lacking and has been really low quality over the past couple of expansions. Previous expansions such as Wrath of the Lich King and Legion really brings the game to life but this has felt more lacking over the past years. Here is hoping for a stronger storyline for future expansions.
  • The community. The WoW playerbase is well-known for being rather negative especially towards the newer player. In this way this could be insults based around players ability when completing mythics, raiding or player vs player content as well as just negative comments around how the game is portrayed rather than trying to support the game or the players in it
  • Region lock. Playing WoW will require you to pick a server whether that be horde or alliance. There has been recent introductions to play with the opposite faction or others within a different server which is great, however there is no support to integrate players from different parts of the world unless you have purchased the game within that region. This as such means that if you have players from other parts of the world you may not be able to link up with them to enjoy the game together.

Pro’s of Runescape?

  • The “Free” aspect. Runescape has some uniqueness around the fact that a portion of the game is free to play without any real restrictions. This means that you can play the game, level up a portion of the skills, complete an array of quests and tasks as well as explore a decent area of the game world without hitting your pocket.
  • An array of skills. Runescape has 28 skills for you to explore, whether that be combat, gathering skills or crafting skills. Runescape has the lot. This gives alot of players the opportunity to explore a vast array of things within the Runescape world and unlock new and exciting items whilst leveling. The max level currently stands at “99” however some of the skills have an extra mastery level of “120” for the committed players.
  • Different worlds means that you can hop to whichever world without losing the progress of your player and also means that you can play with other players from anywhere in the world. 
  • Magnitude of storylines. Whereas WoW has some elements of a set path, Runescape does not have this. Anywhere in runescape you will be able to do quests all over the game world which will give you depth of storylines whether it be an interaction with “Excalibur” or interfering with love stories. Runescape has its own lore storylines based on the gods worshiped in-game and really gets you into the story of the world you are playing in relevant to the zone you are in.
  • In game content. Runescape’s end game content has evolved over the years from the basic boss killings to more complex elite dungeons and extremely harder world bosses. Runescape has everything for the common player to complete. Loads of mini games available to the average player such as runespan and castle wars to the more dangerous such as Barrows or Bounty hunter. Runescape truly caters to all players’ needs through this.

Negatives of Playing Runescape?

  • The grind. If you want to succeed in this game then you gotta be prepared to put the hours in. The average level 99 will take you around 250 hours to get this. With the fact that there are 28 skills within the game to get to the level you will be taking well over 7000 hours to get there. If you played the game solid without logging off that is the equivalent to 291 days. This is based on conservative playing of the game and not min/maxing everything.
  • Quests. Whilst questing is a big part of the game the majority of quests require you to have some skills or other quests completed before you can do them. This can be frustrating because it may require further grinding to get to this level before you can actually enjoy what you are doing.
  • Emergence of OSRS. Old School Runescape has been out for a number of years and is a breakaway from Runescape (otherwise known as RS3). With this emergence it has meant players are moving away from the newer game similar to the efforts of WoW Classic and its further iterations. The older game is even more grind intensive and is not recommended for the newer player.
  • AFK. The game doesn’t always need you to be at your keyboard to play and most skills give you that option to be able to press a button every 15/20 seconds. Whilst this may seem like a positive to me this drives away from being immersed into the game and really makes us switch off. It just means the game is a time sink rather than an attention sink.
  • Microtransactions. You can play without them, but to be efficient and to be able to grow quickly then you cannot live without them. Microtransactions in games have grown and grown to the point now that the games point towards it. Runescape has treasure hunter in game which allows you to purchase “keys” of which can be used to gain rewards such as XP enhancers to support you with gaining experience quicker. This is great however the average cost of keys works out extremely expensive and encourages things like gambling as it rotates around a “luck” system.

Final thoughts

WoW and Runescape both have some very strong positives and negatives and are clearly tailored to the MMO fan. Both have their own grind features, both have their own lore but most importantly they both have their own unique take on the genre. WoW has kept its player base relative over the course of the last 12 months whereas Runescape has been hemorrhaging players over the same period.

The model for gaming from a Runescape perspective is really good around the free model with no restrictions however the cost of the Membership is rather high based on what you get for the game. By no means be put off playing the game as there’s so much you can do with your time. However Runescape is a very grind orientated game which in our opinion struggles to keep the interest for long bursts unlock WoW which keeps you focused with its more powerful end game content.

Both games in their own right are perfect for the MMO player however it all depends on exactly what you are looking for in a game whether that be a progression to end game or something that you can AFK and play more loosely. This writer prefers WoW based on its diverse gameplay but that is only as it suits the style of gameplay! 

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