Torchlight 2: Restoring My Faith in Action RPGs

         Just like with movies, great sequels are hard to come by these days.  With that being said great game sequels shouldnt  just get larger in scale, they should add a new layer of depth to the past experience.  When I loaded up Torchlight 2 for the first time my brain couldnt help but to prepare itself for some sort of login error.   I was very thankful that wasn’t the case this time. First, let me say my enjoyment of Torchlight 1 was short lived; I did not experience it to its fullest because a behemoth of a dungeon crawler title was on the horizon and the hype level was beyond the point even I could resist. However, as time went on, that feeling of grandeur fell with that title, and I decided it was time to move on. For those of you not familiar with Torchlight and its history, the game was developed with a team of about 30 people, and included developers Max Schaefer and Erich Schaefer (co-designers of Diablo and Diablo II). Torchlight 2 holds a lot of similar gameplay to Torchlight 1 but with new features such as day cycles, weather effects, and a slew of new interfaces. Lore wise, Torchlight 2 takes place years after the end of the original Torchlight. The Alchemist gets corrupted by the Ember Blight coming from the Heart of Ordrak, the evil being who had been the source of the corruption under the town of Torchlight, and then destroys the town. Your character takes on a quest to stop this villain, who is using Ordrak’s power to disturb the balance between the world’s six elements.
Instanly upon starting up Torchlight 2, I am greeted with having to pick my option for difficulty, shortly after my choice of wanting to play online or offline. Fantastic, I won’t have people interrupting me and joining my game unexpectedly.  After doing this, you are then onto choosing your character class where you choose between

  • The Outlander – an agile character who specializes in ranged weapons and “low magic.”
  • The Berserker -a savage melee fighter who uses fist weapons and can summon spirit animals.
  • The Engineer – a heavy melee fighter who can construct bots and has ember-powered armor that collects and releases energy charges in combat.
  • The Embermage – a powerful elemental spellcaster.

By having the option to choose my difficulty right away, I didn’t have to go through the game once under a tutorial mode either, where I basically get to eat the icing on the cake and grind away at consuming the mass of bread left behind after completing it…over and over again. As Im progressing through ACT I , I realize that combat is very satisfying and my experiences as Im turning quests in seem very personal. This is how a dungeon crawler should feel. Not only those two particular things, but I actually had to spend some time and plan out how I want to spend my skill points and build my character as I am leveling. Re-specs are limited and don’t completely give you a clean slate to work off of. Some people will enjoy a certain type of permanency in their characters, and some will not. After all, if you don’t pay attention, this type of system indeed holds consequences for those that do not take their time and plan their character. Who would have thought, a game with consequences and permanent decisions. Blasphemy! At the end of the day,  even if you play alone all the time, the feeling of having something different from another player is what makes you feel like your character is indeed yours. One of the other must haves in any dungeon crawler, is the loot. Everyone loves good loot and equally opposite sides of the scale, everyone hates garbage drops. The first small boss I encountered, I actually got a piece of gear that I could use,and it didn’t look half bad either.

 My Final Boss Encounter of ACT I (No spoilers/Only the beginning of the encounter)

(What? Decent loot with no BS stats? WHAT GAME IS IT?! Oh…its Torchlight 2)

When it comes to smaller game developers, you tend to find they listen to their community of fans most of the time. At the end of the day, who are your main customers? You guessed it, your loyal fanbase. While improving and adding a lot from their first installment, they’ve kept a lot of what people loved  about the first, in the second iteration. From socketing, earning fame to get more skill points, enchanting, and of course who could forget fishing holes, are all back. Torchlight 2 has a very large scope of environments, enemies, and challenges. Just take a look for yourself at the amount of changes implemented into the game compared to the first.

You’ve heard me go on about what I absolutely loved about Torchlight 2 in the period of time I have played it, but now a bit about the things I did not like as much. To me there doesn’t seem a to be a major escalation point in the game so far, areas and Acts seem to mesh into the next and and the lore hasn’t necessarily grabbed me and make me say “Holy Shit, I was not expecting that”. Other things that glare out to me are pet attack priorities (not attacking nearest target or stuck on a wall because it has honed in onto an enemy on a different level/platform), the targeting of my character just seems off sometimes which may just be me or only with the Embermage, but there have been a few times where I sense a bit of lag in target acquisition. The final thing I was not a huge fan of was, that ability to jump back into a fight so soon after dying to a boss encounter. The consequences to me did not seem harsh enough, especially at my Veteran difficulty choice. Some encounters I was able to simply respawn and chip away at boss health over and over until the job was completely, with the only consequence being losing some gold.  I would have liked to have seen the boss regain health a bit every-time I die.
No game is perfect, that is very clear, and despite some of Torchlights 2 shortcomings it’s a VERY solid and well thought out game. There is plenty of content to keep you enthralled and coming back for more all the way up to Level 100. Along with the abilities to implement community based mods, it’s a no brainer on if you should pick up Torchlight 2. The fact that it’s only $19.99 US Dollars just goes to show that sometimes you get MUCH MORE than what you pay for.


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