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Just a few days away from release, we had a chance to play a near-to-final release version of Torchlight II courtesy of our friends at Runic Games. While you can expect our full review of the game in a few more days, I figured I’d at least give a bit of impressions of what we know so far and what we like about the game.
Of course, immediate comparisons to Diablo III are evident, but considering the fact that the game was developed by many members of the original Diablo team, it shouldn’t be surprising. There are improvements that Torchlight II makes that are very similar to the system Diablo III uses while also keeping certain elements consistant with the previous title. For example, you are still able to individually improve certain skills of your character in addition to adding points to a familiar tree-style skill system. The ability to add points to your core statistics can also effect what items you can use, as many items not only have a level requirement but may also have an alternative minimum stat requirement. This is contrary to the automatic statistic upgrade system used in Diablo III.
Right off the bat, you’re given a companion pet of your choosing in Torchlight II. While this does somewhat limit the sense of story and creative development that Diablo III used in their companion system, you’re essentially focused on your own story and development and not that of a companion whose actual history never really comes to fruition. When creating your character – either Berserker, Engineer, Embermage or Outlander classes – you can then choose a pet, whose design and name are mainly aesthetic.
The new character classes allow for a bit more creative customization this time around, and are semi-inspired by the original three classes. The Berserker is a slightly refined version of the Destroyer, the Embermage a refined version of the Alchemist, and the Outlander a bit similar to the Vanquisher. The new class system allows for a bit more specialization, which I like, and a bit more variety overall. Once you’ve set your character’s look, name, pet and pet name, it’s off to the world of Torchlight yet again.
However, you’ve probably read a thousand previews for this game by now. The core of the game is still the same and the combat is fun and intense, the skill system is personable and interesting, the companion system is fun and extremely useful, but most importantly than anything else? Multiplayer.
A feature that was left out of the original Torchlight, multiplayer comes to TL2 with a bang. Allowing up to six-players to play together, the game world scales in difficulty appropriately and also like it’s spiritual sister game, every player has their own specific loot – no sharing with friends or splitting rewards. The multiplayer is just as fun as you can imagine and the game gets significantly more fun when you’re playing with friends, a sentiment that also applies to Diablo III.
Okay, but I know what you’re saying. “Why do you keep comparing it to Diablo III?” Well… duh. There are only so many Action RPGs out there and Diablo was the biggest, baddest predecessor on the planet. It’s only natural to compare and contrast the current iteration of both the Diablo series and the Torchlight series to one another. So far, of what I’ve experienced with Torchlight II, however, it’s safe to say that a lot of the issues and complaints folks had with Diablo III (offline single player, anyone?) are not present in this game. And I can even say, before we officially review the title, that there’s no good reason to NOT spend the $20 they’re asking for on this game. Heck, it’s even more deserving of a $60 price tag than Diablo III was, and that should be saying something.
All I can say is that expect a lot more of these direct comparisons in our final review, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised, especially if you’ve already pre-ordered the game.