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It goes without saying that for many people – especially those who didn’t play the original Torchlight – the comparisons between Runic Games’ Torchlight II and Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo III are inevitable. However, it also goes without saying that, for many other people – especially those who HAVE played the original Torchlight – no comparisons are necessary. Torchlight II is everything they could have expected out of a sequel and it’s everything you could have expected out of an Action RPG whose roots are deep in the original Diablo titles.
Torchlight II does a lot of things very, very right and in doing so, does everything in its power to avoid the backlash that came after Diablo III following the game’s launch. Many of the issues that plagued D3 aren’t present in Torchlight II, so the game can simply be enjoyed by Diablo fans or Torchlight fans of any generation. With no Real-Money Auction House – or Auction House of any kind – to hinder gameplay or allow players to “buy power”; with no reliance on internet connectivity; with a brand new multiplayer feature - it all spells out good things for players.
For those new to the series, Torchlight II is a classic Action RPG title that pits you in the role of one of four character classes – the Berserker, a heavy armor wearing melee machine; the Engineer, a melee class with an affinity for steampunk toys; the Embermage, your long-range wizard-style class who deals in elemental magic; and the Outlander, a ranger-style class who deals in ranged weapons and minimal magic. The original classes from Torchlight are not playable in this game, but do appear throughout as NPCs or quest-givers.
I’ll be honest, if Torchlight II has a big, deep story, it wasn’t something that grabbed me. Coming into TL2 as a person who barely played the original, I still managed to thoroughly enjoy the game for what it was: sweet, sweet click-click-boom action. TL2 does a great job of balancing destruction, exploration, loot and everything else without overwhelming the player or spitting you into one gib-fest after another. TL2 is just satisfying, in just about every sense of the word.
Some of the more noteworthly elements of Torchlight II include the full character stat customization that we’ve come to expect. Instead of having your stats automatically inflated as you level – and you will level, a LOT, with a default 100 max levels – you’ll get to customize your point spending. This can actually effect how you gear up in the game, as well, since most of the gear you’ll get will either have a minimum level requirement or the option to meet a minimum stat requirement instead. For example, a level 26 weapon could also require 80 points in Strength instead, meaning you could use that weapon prior to the minimum level depending on how you allocated your points.
Another great feature is the pet system, a carryover from the first game. In addition to providing you with extra storage, your pet is also a valuable battle companion. By using fish which you can score from various fishing holes throughout the world – some of which also contain rare gear and other upgrades – you can also transform your pet into a more dangerous beast for use in battle. Let’s just say the ability to load my pet with all the loot I accumulate throughout my trip and send it off to town while I quest or kill things is a nice touch. In addition, the pet can also be given a “shopping list” of potions or scrolls to purchase while in town, meaning you don’t have to always rely on a drop rate just to get another Identify Scroll for that new Unique you just got.
And speaking of loot, there’s a lot of it – a LOT of it – and you’ll either love or hate sorting through it all. With gear sets that have bonuses to various socketable gems and items to even fancy collars and tags for your pet, there’s a boatload of loot to sort through and the potential to farm up a ton of gold while you’re at it. The loot you get from quests is also nice, considering you’ll almost always have a choice of a few weapons that suit your class or an item for your pet, a system that reminded me a lot of Star Wars: The Old Republic in how quest rewards are dolled out.
There are a few small things along the way worth noting, though, on the other side of the coin. Some of the boss fights are big and fun but sort of uninteresting, at least compared to a lot of the battles I did in Diablo III. The fights were still definitely challenging and there was a lot to deal with, but they felt… different, I guess. Another small issue is in multiplayer, but generally only applies if the players have a major level discrepancy. In those cases, it can feel a bit overwhelming for the lower level player, but most of the time you’re dealing with like-level co-op experiences, so it’s a lesser concern.