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Old School Runescape Sailing goes to the polls as its first new skill

Old School Runescape Sailing is the first new skill ever added to the long-standing classic MMORPG, but it’ll only be introduced if players decide they like it.

Old School Runescape unveils its first new skill, Sailing, and the team at Jagex wants to know if you like it enough to keep. The OSRS Sailing skill will be the first ever skill introduced to the classic MMORPG since its launch a decade ago, but it’s only staying if Old School Runescape players vote to keep it. It’s already looking rather spectacular, though, so read on to set sail and see what you think of Jagex’s new creation.

The desire for a new skill has been strong among the OSRS community – when Jagex initially polled player interest in the idea of adding a skill, the results came back with 80.9% of players in favor. It’s exciting news, because along with the skill itself comes new training methods, quests, and even places to explore – meaning it’s much more than a simple number.

Sailing, then, is the skill that the team has developed. First pitched in March 2023, the skill has now been fully fleshed-out to create “a varied utility skill that’s all about adventure and discovery.” The team says it hopes Sailing successfully “retains an Old School feel while providing fresh new content for you to enjoy.”

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As you might expect, you’ll start your Sailing journey by visiting a port, where your ship can be stored safely while you go about your everyday, on-land business. These are natural community hubs for other budding sailors. You’ll have the option to buy, build, or even steal a ship, and can then upgrade it using Crafting, Construction, or Smithing to improve the likes of its health and defense, speed, and steering.

There’s all manner of customization options, of course – new looks can be unlocked with levels and the right materials, and you can hire and manage NPC crewmates to help you actually sail the thing. You’ll be able to head out and take on Sailing-specific requests, as well as find oceanic loot out there as you sail, which can then be sold to or traded with merchants when you return back to port.

So how does Sailing work in Old School Runescape? It uses the standard point-and-click controls, although you’ll have to deal with the natural turning circles. There are three different ship sizes – small, large, and colossal – so you can choose to be light and nimble or opt for a more durable vessel with additional facilities, capable of stocking up on crewmates and storing your plunder.

Old School Runescape Sailing - Jagex infographic detailing the new OSRS skill.

The ship controls are handled separately from your character, so you’ll be able to control your actual character and interact with their surroundings even while the ship is moving. There are three ocean types to explore – shallow seas, open seas, and deep seas, with the latter being particularly dangerous to navigate in anything but the largest ships.

You’ll gain Sailing XP any time you interact with your various ship facilities – this includes trimming the sails to catch the wind as it shifts direction, as well as all manner of other tasks within the categories of Skilling, Combat, and Utility. Skilling includes the likes of using harpoons and trawling nets, Combat covers the various weapons including cannons, ballistae, rams, and spears, and Utility involves maintaining lanterns, the cargo hold, the crow’s nest, and so on.

Old School Runescape Sailing - Jagex infographic detailing the new OSRS skill.

There are also ‘pure Sailing activities’ including charting the sea, ship combat, shipwreck salvaging, port tasks such as courier jobs and protection assignments, and even ocean trials run by a group of thrill-seeking sailors known as The Barracudas. These will be more intensive than the basic interactions but will reward suitably more XP as a result for players who want to engage with them.

There’s also a whole range of lower-tier ‘secondary gameplay’ activities, which include diving into coral reefs (which makes use of your Farming skill), deep sea trawling (tied to Fishing), mineral dredging (Mining), and hunting fearsome sea monsters (Hunter and Slayer). Then there’s even more to do, including expeditions, ocean raids with multiplayer, ship-on-ship PvP combat, ocean-based treasure hunts, and the option to cultivate your own Aquarium.

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That’s a huge amount to do and see – personally, I’m already sold. If you are too, you can vote to confirm that you want to see Sailing added to OSRS permanently. If it passes the vote, it’ll be moving into beta, where additional community feedback and polls will help refine exactly how the final version of Sailing looks. I can’t wait to hit the high seas!

Take a look through our OSRS beginner’s guide if all of this has you tempted to try out Old School Runescape for the first time. Alternatively, we’ve picked out the best classic PC games that you can (and should) still play today.