Torchlight 2 Beta: First Impressions
Complaints and berating aside, having (strike: tried to) played Diablo 3, I must concede it’s undoubtedly an awesome game that easily does more good than it does wrong. Having said that, and in an attempt to appease the anger many must be feeling over Diablo 3’s gameplay changes or networking infidelity, I offer up Torchlight 2 as the next best thing. Actually, it’s the best thing since Diablo 2… scratch that, it’s better than Diablo 2. Don’t believe me, well here’s why.
I’m assuming of course that you haven’t been convinced by the beta gameplay video I posted, and if not, why not?!
Title: Torchlight 2
Developers: Runic Games
Publishers: Runic Games
Expected Price: R160 (It’s a Steal)
Release Date: ‘Apparently’ One Month After Diablo 3′s Release
Torchlight was an awesome little RPG, it had everything you wanted and more; like pets, fishing, side dungeons and stupid amounts of loot, that being said, it had its own little foibles to address. Chiefly among the things on the list of features missing was co-op multiplayer, I know, it’s a biggie, but despite that however, Torchlight was a critical success and a firm fan favourite. So what is Torchlight 2 adding to that formula? I think the more accurate question would be along the lines of what isn’t Torchlight 2 adding? Four new and thoroughly unique classes; eight (and counting) differing pets; a much larger and more dynamic (it’s randomised world gives a lot of variation) overworld that links to an absurd amount of extra paths and dugeons; unique attack animations for each and every weapon and ability; a larger, more varied skill tree; new abilities and options for your pets; and MULTIPLAYER! Anyone who reads that impressive list of additions and still isn’t interested has no soul and I pity you.
So, those classes then, what are they?
Engineer: “The workhorse of the Empire, the modern Engineer’s strength lies in his Ember-fueled, steam-driven armor—a technological marvel devised by top scientists at the Industrium (the Empire’s academy of science and technology), and crafted personally by the Engineer as his journeyman project.” The engineer seems to serve as a ‘sort of’ tank, semi-support unit, by means of constructing various support machines, with extremely hard hitting abilities to make him/her, when alone, more than a match for the adversiaries you’re sure to encounter.
Beserker: “Driven by a lust for adventure and a savage determination to win fame, fortune, and glory, Berserkers wander the wild places of the world in search of formidable foes, fabulous treasures, and the sheer joy of a worthy challenge.” If you imagine the Barbarian from Diablo 2 and 3, well then you sort of have an idea of the Beserker. The difference is the Berserker is not as much of a tank, having lower health and armour than the engineer, and more a pure damage ruffian that uses totem-like forces to increaser that.
Embermage: “At the forefront of the Empire’s colonization of Vilderan are the Embermages—highly-trained spellcasters renowned for their skill, dedication, and arcane power. No Imperial army is complete without these fierce warrior-wizards in the vanguard.” Embermages are exactly what it says on the tin, nukers who make use of the varying elements and hard hitting spells to pummel the enemy into submission.
Outlander: “Born to roam, Outlanders are the vagabond adventurers of the world. They come from a wide variety of backgrounds, cultures, and even races—but all share a lust for travel and excitement, an appreciation of eldritch lore, and an appetite for danger.” Think of the Outlander as a Diablo 3 Demon Hunter, making use of magic and ranged weaponry, but that uses less dark forces and more martial arts as well as the occasional relic.
As far as class building and their skill trees are concerned, well it’s all very Diablo 2. There is plenty of choice and lots to wrack your brain over. As you’d expect, each class maintains 3 unique skill tabs, complete with the appropriate skills, both active and passive. Each skill tree adds a lot of diversity to its class and the skills give you all the needed stats and info needed to make an informed choice. Best of all, they are primarily affected by the attribute your class most ascribes to, as well as your weapon or magic DPS, which means that no class should fall by the wayside as their abilities will continue to improve rather than remain stale.
Loot wise, well you carry all the equipment you’d expect, though there are some awesome tweaks that just make so much sense. The most obvious example would be the requirements to equip items to your character. In previous games of the genre there was always a worry that favouring specific attributes (like magic for example) on say, your mage, would mean any really good equipment that required even a modest amount of strength would be lost to you. In Torchlight 2 however, each piece of equipment comes with an attribute requirement and a level requirement, and they’re mutually exclusive of one another. By that I mean, if you meet the level requirement then you don’t need to meet the required attribute; so an item you’d not be able to wear due to your dexterity being too low can now be worn by your embermage when he eventually reaches the required level, that is assuming the attribute required is harder to reach than the level. It’s all very well thought out and everything works so well together that you’re never really left wanting more from the system.
There’s still a lot to learn from playing the beta but so far I can say that there is a lot to do in the game. The dynamic nature of the maps allows for a good amount of variation and there are so many awesome areas to travel to and discover. More than that, the game just spits and shouts of polish, running as smooth as silk and portraying so many little animations and particle effects you’d never notice but are there because Runic Games took the time and love to put them there. Characters are affected by the armour you equip them with, giving awesome little detail tweaks to your character, as well as your pet being able to not only return to town to sell your loot as before, but can be tasked with bringing back certain consumables like potions and scrolls. Beyond that there is still the fishing game which allows you to use fish as unique consumables for your pet, each giving varying stat boosts and temporary transformations into creatures and beasts you’ve encountered in your travels. And let’s not forget that you can pick up scrolls of spells, which aren’t part of your skill tree, each allowing you to add yet more abilities to your character or pet; it’s a great idea and allows for more range and diverse builds.
For now that’s all I have to say, well except for the fact that I really love Torchlight 2 and it’s shaping up to be the best game of its type… ever. The only thing that trumps it is that if you pre-order it on Steam you get the original Torchlight for free; now is that a deal of a life time or what. And as for those of you who are loving Diablo 3, as I am, I know you’ll love Torchlight 2 as well; don’t not get it because you want to be stubbornly loyal to a single franchise.