Torchlight II Preview

Torchlight II 1

In hindsight, I honestly don’t think anyone should of been geniunely surprised by the arrival of the original Torchlight and the warm reception it received from fans and critics alike. Though we had been promised the world by more than one previous member of Blizzards development team over the last ten years or so, this one seemed to have it right from the beginning.

First, it kept the formula of simplicity that drives the best of the action RPG’s and didn’t try to revolutionize the entire genre. Gamers that enjoy these hack and slashes, generally want to do just three basic things, kill, loot and level. Torchlight captured all of these and packaged it in a bright wrapper that was optimized to run on a wide range of hardware. The fact that they had the obvious inspiration and gameplay mechanics from the Fate series of games wasn’t exactly a negative either. Fate and the sequels that followed it delivered the classic dungeon crawler that we have been detailing with the inclusion of a pet and plenty of opportunity for loot, both from drops and from fishing. This lighthearted take wasn’t for everyone, but in most cases the gameplay overrode the casual look. This following coupled with the influx of gamers who were interested in something to tide them over till Diablo III and a bargain price, made Torchlight an almost instant success.

Originally, Torchlight was only a digital download, that was promised to be followed up with a boxed copy for those who prefer that form of media. They didn’t include multiplayer, but were at that point discussing a second game that was more of a MMO style or a persistent online world than a true sequel. Perhaps it was the success of the first title or the opening left by the perpetually slow march to release for Diablo III and subsequent mixed reception. More likely a combination of both, but Runic Games is readying a full scale package with a host of improvements for release to anxious gamers quite soon.

As with many smaller development houses, Runic has listened to the concerns and request for features and made changes based off of fan feedback from the first title and are addressing them as best they are able. The most obvious difference will be the second games multiplayer offering, which is slated to allow between 2 and 4 players to form a party and venture forth together. This seems wise, as it allows a variety of dungeon structures to work with a number of party builds and if they get the scaling and balance pegged, it should be great fun for many hours. Parties at this point are focused on cooperation, there isn’t currently a player vs. player or duel feature being crafted for the initial release, but this hasn’t been ruled out in the future.

The changes to the character classes and overall gameplay structure will prevent a carryover of any Torchlight toons into the second game. Being able to import characters is always a welcome option for fans of previous incarnations, but the lack of it is understandable in this instance. Torchlight II proposes to offer four new selectable classes for players to choose from, with a variety of builds for each. One staple of the game, the companion or pet who accompanies you on your journey and offers protection as well as the ability to transport your stash will return. This will be true for any number of players, a four player party will also have all four pets on hand, which should make for some rather impressive and chaotic battles.

The game itself will take on a broader focus, as the first title was very much like the Fate series with everything emanating from a central town, off into the dungeon and downward you went. In an effort to provide more variety, the sequel includes both the standard dungeon scenarios as well as outdoor adventuring and a more advanced backdrop, with the day progressing and potential for varying weather conditions both being new additions. Multiple towns will also add to the larger scope of the game, though it is still focused from a central point, there will be other destinations to explore and from which to obtain quest. Though the end goal in a game of this nature is the loot you find, the change of scenery should be a welcome one and add some diversity to monster types as well.

Speaking of loot, the fine tuning that has gone into this department should make many a dungeon crawling veteran smile. Drops will now take into account the type of the character and should actually be usable for that individual the majority of the time. When they aren’t meant for you to equip, you will not be left only the option to sell them for often unneeded gold, you will be able to trade them for gear you may actually use. Online play will be simplified and build off the formula that prevents “ninja looting” and will only show a players haul to that individual. Both features should prevent some of the frustration and bad blood that can occur when a total random open loot system is in place. Anyone who has ever played a game and had someone in their party snatch drops they couldn’t even use and disconnect should especially appreciate this.

Torchlight II is now tentatively scheduled for a release in the summer/fall of 2012, though at this point that could move either direction. The fact that they already have so much of it operational and playing smoothly and are making adjustments and tweaks off beta feedback prior to release bodes well. If Runic can deliver on these additions and maintain a similar price point to the first title, it may well bring the Torchlight franchise into its own as a true heavyweight in the action RPG kingdom.


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One Comment on "Torchlight II Preview"

  1. Venger February 17, 2013 at 8:18 PM - Reply

    For those who don’t have the original Torchlight, a pre-order of Torchlight II on Steam will currently secure you a copy of the first game to play while you await the upcoming release of the sequel.

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