The first Torchlight was a fantastic game. It had a vibrant and colorful world that mixed fantasy and steampunk, but because of its many similarities to Diablo, many saw it as a dungeon crawler to keep them busy until Diablo III released. With Torchlight II, Runic Games has decided to up their game. Find out whether or not they succeeded, after the break.
The Baby Factor: If the epic story and cooperative, dungeon crawling RPG deliciousness of Diablo got together with the gorgeous, hand-drawn steampunk fantasy world of Torchlight, Torchlight II would be the result.
Just a heads up — yes, there will be numerous comparisons to Diablo III, because I can’t help it.
Much like Blizzard’s approach to Diablo III, Runic has gone and created four brand new classes for us to experiment with. They’re not quite as unique as I would’ve liked them to be, but it’s still nice to have four new characters to mess with. The Engineer is the heavy weapons expert, who enjoys bashing in skulls with blunt objects and constructing bots and ember-powered armor. If you’re the type of gamer who likes creating weapons of mass destruction that can do your dirty work while you proceed to two-fist your way through hordes of enemies, then this class is for you.
If you like to sit back and absolutely ruin everyone’s day from a distance, the Outlander could suit you better. Much like Diablo III’s Demonhunter (reference #2!), this guy (or gal) likes to use bullets to keep some space between them and their foes. Of course, you don’t have to play it that way. If you’d rather get up close and personal — maybe you like watching the light face out of the eyes of the monster you just pumped full of lead — there’s a bevy of shotguns at your disposal with which to wreak havoc with.
Still not happy? Perhaps you prefer the “glass cannon” approach to RPG whoopassery? Then I suggest the Embermage, who, much like the name infers, is the game’s resident mage/wizard/sorcerer class. This is one of the more disappointing classes, because it’s easily the most generic. In fact (get ready for it…), this class is very similar to the Sorceress class from Diablo II (reference #3!) whose skills were divided into fire, ice, and lightning. The same goes for the Embermage.
If none of those tickled your fancy, hopefully the final one will. The Berserker is the type of warrior who takes ‘up close and personal’ to a whole new level, because their primary weapons are hand-claws and assorted other things you can put on your fists that makes beating monsters to a pulp exponentially easier. You have to get really close to make full use of these things, and while the Assassin class in Diablo II (#4!) was one of my favorites, the Berserker comes off a little dull. The novelty of curb-stomping monsters from within their personal bubble wears off pretty fast, and unfortunately, other than that, the Berserker doesn’t have much more to offer.
There are two major additions to Torchlight II that make this game incredibly exciting, and the first is co-op. Runic heard our pleas and finally gave us the multiplayer we’ve been begging for since the first game released without it. They also went all out with it, as you can play with up to six players, and, thankfully, each player sees their own loot — so you don’t have to share. You’d think this would be the standard for any online loot-based games, but even Borderlands 2 doesn’t support such a feature, so I’m thankful when I get it. Runic also made it extraordinarily easy to find your friends online, and they’ve added many filters to aid in searching for the perfect game that much easier.
The other crazy exciting new feature is Torchlight II’s shelf-life. There are three things that will make this game something you can play for years. The first is the editor, GUTS, which will release soon for free and allow players to create their very own campaigns, levels, and items. The second is New Game+, something else I wish was more of a standard in these types of games, which replaces Retirement and the Shadow Vault from the original game. The final, and possibly the most exciting addition is Mapworks. Mapworks has returned, though much like everything else in Torchlight II, it’s bigger and more badass. It lets you use the gold you accumulate while raiding dungeons to purchase randomly generated maps that come in a variety of flavors, varies by level ranges, enemy types, boss types, and special conditions.
There are a few other features making a glorious return, including the Pets, which are to me, the best thing about this game. I love having a companion that tags along with me on all my adventures, I only wish I could customize my Pet more outside of equipping a tag and collar on it. You can use your Pet to help you mow down the hordes of monsters that try and get in your way, or you can use it as an errand boy, sending it to town to unload your loot and even buy potions and scrolls.
If you get sick of your Pet’s ugly face, there’s always the option to go fishing with the hopes of finding a gigantic fish that can permanently change your Pet’s appearance and give it new powers. Unfortunately, those fish are rare — trust me, I fished a lot and only found one super-sized fish — so you may have to be content with smaller fish that offer temporary reprieves from your Pet’s hideous appearance.
Now, this is a loot game, so it needs to have good loot, right? Well, duh. For the most part, I enjoy the loot in Torchlight II, though like all things, it could see a little improvement. I like the idea of finding new and better gear fairly quickly, but I also rarely found anything spectacular. When it comes to loot in games, for me, there needs to be a balance between finding new and better gear, and finding the occasional thing that I know I’m going to be using for quite some time. In Diablo, (#5!), this comes in the form of unique items, and in many cases, gear sets (Torchlight has sets too, but the ones I found were rarely worth collecting), and in Borderlands they’re the elusive Pearlescent weapons. I must’ve played 50+ hours of Borderlands and I only ever found a single Pearlescent weapon. This game needs more of those, the items that when you find them inspire a childlike glee.
Torchlight II really does improve on its predecessor in every possible way. Well, almost every way, because the fishing is still pretty damn boring. The co-op, New Game+, mountains of loot, new classes, and a lengthy campaign all come together to make this one of the best dungeon crawlers to date. At $20, this is also quite possibly the most high-quality content you’re like to get for so little cash.
The Final Word: There’s no reason not to own this game. It’s fun, addicting, and brings with it a ton of content for a great price.
This review is based on a digital copy of the Xbox 360 version of Torchlight II, which was provided by the publisher.