Torchlight first came out of nowhere on 28 Oct 2009 and impressed many people with its slick action RPG style gameplay that bore a lot of similarity to the Diablo series. Despite its success, many players (including myself) wished Torchlight could have been more than just only a single player experience.
Well, it looks like our prayers have been answered. Runic Games unleashed Torchlight II (TL2) to the world about a month ago. We here at GamesWarp have been playing the game during all this time and are very glad to report that TL2 is way bigger and better than its predecessor. In fact, the game probably puts its closest competitor Diablo III to shame – that is because there is no draconian style DRM here and the game will only cost you not more than US$20.
We shall be covering the game in several key areas. Namely: Characters, Pets, Dungeons and Quests, Monsters and Treasure, and Miscellaneous Facts.
You get four different characters to choose from in TL2 (instead of the original 3 from the first game). There is the Outlander – a gunslinger like those you see in a Western movie, the Embermage – he is the game’s regular spell caster, the Berserker – this barbarian who hails from the frozen north has a strong lust for battle, and the Engineer – here is a master technologist who wields steampunk armor and weapons with ease. The gameplay style is very different for each character type, so expect to spend some time playing each in turn until you find one you prefer to stick with.
Every character is represented by four Attributes – Strength, Dexterity, Focus, and Vitality. The first attribute Strength determines weapon damage, while the second Dexterity tells you how well you are at dodging and performing critical strikes. Your mana and chance to strike with both hands is represented by Focus, while the last attribute Vitality determines your health points, armor bonus, and chance to block with shields.
To survive in the world of TL2, you will need to battle monsters and get experience points (XPs). Whenever you reach a target number of XPs, your character goes up in level. In the game, you are given 5 points to spend on increasing your Attributes plus you get to pick for your character a new skill. All characters come with three skill trees and each tree comes with seven active skills and three passive skills to choose from. Active skills are further divided into three tiers of mastery with each tier giving you a unique advantage. If you are not happy with the skills you have chosen, you can even look for a respec shop to re-select your last three skills.
Whereas Torchlight gave you the choice of only a cat or dog, this time round you get eight distinct choices – panther, bulldog, cat, chakawary (imagine a velociraptor crossed with a cassowary), papillon (a Spaniel dog breed), ferret, hawk, and wolf. The best improvement for pets is their new ability to purchase potions and scrolls for you whenever you send them off to town. Don’t forget, you can still go fishing in the game to hook up pet treasure and some choice fish delights for your pet.
Dungeons and Quests
The main quest in TL2 has you trying to stop “The Alchemist” from the first game. This former player character has become corrupted by the Heart of Ordrak and it is up to you to stop him. Besides the main quest, you also get the chance to complete a large number of side quests. You can find quest giving non-player characters in hub towns or overland areas.
The game is divided into four Acts, with the first three of these having expansive overland areas for you to explore. There are also a great many underground dungeons you get to explore in TL2; these dungeons consists of one to two levels with the deepest one providing you access to a boss fight. The automap feature in TL2 makes sure you will never get lost. Look out for hidden areas and phase beasts as these usually contain interesting treasure for you to loot. The Last Act is a pure dungeon crawl for… well, we shall not be spoiling your fun; play the game to find out.
Monsters and Treasure
All kinds of monsters will be attacking you in TL2; there are 300 monster models in the game alone and you will be surprised by the variety you find in the game. Monsters range in size from teeny-tiny spiders to huge hulking trolls and everything else in between. They usually form up in groups and may sometimes contain a leader. The ones you should fear are champions – these monsters are much stronger versions and their health points bar are colored purple for easy recognition. The worst of the lot however are the behemoth sized bosses; these monstrosities follow set attack patterns that mix spell casting, monster summoning, and attack moves. Make sure you have lots of potions on hand to survive a fight with any of the bosses.
TL2 possibly has one of the most complete randomized treasure generators that we have ever seen. Treasure you find can range from armors and weapons to magical stuff like amulets, spells, and potions. Even prefixes appended to an item can make quite a difference. You can also tell the difference between the color hue surrounding an item – clear indicates non-magical treasure, green are standard enchanted items, blue are rare items, gold are unique items, and red are the stuff of legends. Another popular feature of the game are socketed items where you can place ember chips to bestow power on an item.
Besides the single player experience, TL2 allows you to go multiplayer on the Internet with up to 6 players ranging from level 1 all the way to level 100. Players have their own loot, so there is no need to worry about someone stealing your stuff. There are four difficulty levels in the game – Casual, Normal, Veteran, and Elite, so pick one that you fancy. Hardcore mode is an extra variety for those who want the ultimate challenge – your character is killed off permanently if he/she dies during the game.
After completing the main campaign to TL2, you get two new options enabled – Mapworks and the New Game Plus mode. The former allows you to purchase randomly generated maps with the gold you have collected; you need to pick a map with the Map Selector to start playing it. The latter mode (known also as NG+) resets you to the very beginning of the game, but with everything (including monsters and treasure) scaled to start from level 51.
There will be modding support for TL2 with GUTS (the new editor that will replace TorchED) although everyone is still waiting with bated breath for its release. In the meantime, you can try playing the game again for the hundredth time on hardcore mode. Or, you could just enjoy watching the fully animated cutscenes with full voiceover, or perhaps play the game just to get to listen to the soundtrack by Matt Uelman all over again.