Wot I Think: Torchlight II

By John Walker on September 20th, 2012 at 5:07 pm.

I’ve played Torchlight 2 for 20 hours, killed 8339 monsters (1352 of them exploded), gathered 179,463 gold pieces, died 115 times, and completely pointlessly smashed 1,368 bits of scenery. Which I believe makes me ready to tell you Wot I Think.

Edit: Sorry, I completely forgot to stress that I was playing this single-player, as it was pre-launch. We’ll definitely take a look at the co-op soon.

It’s not a competition. There’s a reason we don’t put scores at the end of reviews, and it’s because games shouldn’t be ranked on some giant graph – it’s stupid and arbitrary. We can say which is our most favourite, of course, and we do. But I am not willing to get into a pie-fight between Torchlight 2 and Diablo III. Saying that, Torchlight 2 is WAY better than Diablo III.

Perhaps more importantly, Torchlight 2 is also much better than Torchlight. The lovely, minimalist approach to a dungeon crawler with its linear descent and ridiculous amount of charm managed to woo us despite its limits. Torchlight 2 removes those limits, keeps the charm, and manages to be a vastly superior sequel to an already fantastic game. What it doesn’t do, however, is move the genre forward in any meaningful direction.

So gone is the single surface village and ever-descending dungeon. Instead there’s a far more traditional setup for a Diablo-clone: one town per act, multiple areas all around, portals linking them all together, and a bunch more story trying to justify the click-click-click.

Like almost every aspect of the game, there’s nothing strikingly original about the locations. Deserts, forests, ruins, etc – it’s exactly what you’d expect to see. But like almost every aspect of the game, they’re fantastically well realised. Vibrant, gorgeous scenes, bursting with character, an amazing variety of enemies, lovely features to discover, and packed with secrets and extras. While it would be sheer madness to suggest this – or any other game in the genre – isn’t repetitive, the locations vary enormously, even within themselves, and the enemy mix demands a fierce focus on your skills to stay alive.

There are no limits on difficulty levels here. If you want to start on Veteran or Nightmare, you can. And I did. Veteran that is – I’m not mad. Normal is recommended for players new to Torchlight, and I can assure you that Vet is the one to pick for the familiar. The challenge has been absolutely pitch perfect throughout, the dungeons exactly matching my level as I reach them, the battles always on the limit of what I can do. And I’ve died. A lot. 115 times according to the game, in my first 20 hours. And almost every time it’s been my stupid fault. (Death isn’t a big deal. If you want to return to the beginning of your current area, it’ll cost you a tenth of your gold. Otherwise you go back to town for free. And if you’ve made judicious use of portals, you can be back where you were in just a few seconds. But it still feels like failure – bitter failure – when it happens.)

I played as a Beserker, and I’m thrilled with the choice. The class is superbly structured, the game constantly enticing me to string one fight into the next, not pausing but continuing my rage, going back for loot later. The skill trees are very interesting – three pages with ten skills each, but each with 15 stages to them. So realistically you’re not going to use most of them, if you want any of them to be well powered. You makes your choices, and your play style comes with it.

So for me, Shadow Burst – the first skill available on the Shadow page – is essential. It’s smart – it causes you to dash forward, transformed into a spectral wolf for about half a second, rushing through enemies and hurting them as you go. But more importantly, you’re also draining health from them. The more you swoop through, the bigger the life boost you gain. It means that to get healthier, you have to get deeper into the fight. Then there’s my other favourite, the Wolf Shade. He’s a temporary buddy wolf who brings a mean fight, especially now he’s rank 9, but again siphoning health to you as he bites. The emphasis on combat as healing, combined with your Beserker charge bar (beefed up with Frenzy Mastery and Rampage skills), entices hefty, meaty battles, strung together as closely as possible.

Beyond this, you know the score. A million loots (no inventory tetris here, sadly) a pet to load it onto and send back to town when you want to sell on the move, enchanters for weapons, gems to socket into weapons and armour to boost their states, and the constant chase to find a weapon, hat or necklace that’s those precious few points better than the one you’re currently using. There’s the main storyline (which we’ll get to), and a bundle of sidequests along the way, which all mostly involve hacking your way across country to the next dungeon entrance, then killing everything inside.

But there is some variety here too. Perhaps a bit too rarely, but within the format there are some nice surprises. Moments where just exploring wins you something new to do – perhaps you light a lantern by a river, and a ghostly fisherman appears, opening a portal to a new dungeon. Or there are the Phase Beasts, spectral creatures that take a good deal of killing, but once dead leave behind a portal to a challenge area. They’re most, as ever, just killing lots of stuff, but they’re specific – perhaps an arena with spectators – with abundant gold and loot for victory.

Later, toward the end of the second act, there were some even more inventive moments, a series of challenges from a character that offered a different experience. But all of it is about the click-click-click.

However, in Torchlight 2, more than in any other ARPG I’ve played, I felt like there was more going on. No doubt my being terrible at Diablo II, and not having the patience to play enough Diablo III (and I played a lot) just to be allowed to play it on a fun difficulty level, is a factor here. But where I’ve more usually just worn out my left mouse button while occasionally tapping the right, I realised as I played this that a single moment’s loss of concentration meant death.

I was doing far more than just tapping, instead watching my rapidly fluctuating health gauge as I fired off skills set to a bunch of number keys alongside my house, all at the same time keeping an eye on my pet’s health, healing her when necessary, and checking timers on the Wolf Shade’s next available experience. And doing all of this in the most extraordinarily frantic fights I’ve seen in the genre. Ludicrously busy combat is packed with maybe five or six different enemy types at once, each needing a specific approach to kill. Making sure to take out the spawning roach mages before worrying about the skeletal swordsmen, while deliberately keeping the super-tough Champion beast on the far side of the fight until I was ready.

It’s a beautifully colourful game, visually reminding me of those glorious screen-painting fights you’d get in City Of Heroes, and eschews all of the tedious grumpy-dark that people so ridiculously want from the genre. With such vibrant frenzy, the only serious issue I ever had was losing the dull gold mouse cursor in the panic.

So there is a story. And it’s awful. I think. I’ve really no idea. The game ridiculously expects you to remember the narrative from the original, which I think had something to do with amber or something? You’re in pursuit of the nefarious Alchemist, who is draining the energies of some giant beasties called Guardians, and trying to do something to do with something or other. It’s garbled, horribly introduced, and of course absolutely unrelated to anything you actually do in the game. So ultimately it doesn’t matter, and it certainly doesn’t make anything any less fun. But it could have course made things even more fun had it been more carefully delivered. As it is, it’s: there’s a bad man – hit stuff until he’s stopped.

This puts Torchlight 2 in an interesting position. It’s pretty much perfect. And I don’t say that lightly. The design choices are exquisite throughout, with everything where you’d want it, designed how you need it, and smartly presented. But for one, every menu, option, inventory comparison, pet screen, skill description, quest description, short-cut, and tool-tip is spot on. While I would have liked a second row of skill buttons, that’s not too important. The only possible issue is the lack of a world map, a nice, clear screen to take everything in. The minimap pops out to become an opaque overlay on the screen, and you can put it in three different places, but it’s always too big to leave there without obscuring, and it’s never big enough to properly appreciate. It’s a minor niggle, but in a game that has gone so far to make everything as user-friendly and intuitive as this one, it’s an odd oversight. A proper map screen, that lets you look at the whole world, and specific regions, would have been lovely.

But that interesting position. It’s pretty much perfect at being something we already know. It really makes no efforts to take the genre anywhere new. That was enormously disappointing when Diablo III did it, while also strangling itself in moronic DRM, bugs and issues. With a game in such a fantastic state as Torchlight 2, it’s instead just a bit of a shame. There was a chance to innovate a lot more here, and while I don’t think for a moment that anyone buying this would be the least bit disappointed in any of it, it would still have been nice to see a significant step forward here.

But you can’t take much away from “pretty much perfect”. Torchlight 2 is a stunning game, as engrossing and evening-eating as you could hope, all so wonderfully presented. It’s smart, witty, and pretty, and it stands as a shining example of the genre.

Torchlight 2 is out on Steam at 6pm Queen’s Time.

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236 Comments »

  1. Torn says:

    Happy to hear Torchlight 2 is this good… D3 didn’t last me long at all

    • Shinikake says:

      WTF is Queen’s Time?!?!?

      • JoeyJungle says:

        UK time

      • alundra says:

        Yeah, maybe it’s time for RPS to recognize that their silly antics have become recognized abroad and that’s time to embrace the notion that they are a web based gaming blog with readers from all across the globe.

        Queen time?? What the fuck is that crap?!

        • Aedrill says:

          Seriously? No, it can’t be, you must be sarcastic.

        • skinlo says:

          American sites don’t do it, so why should UK sites?

          • Safewood says:

            So they have learned our language O.o

          • AngoraFish says:

            “American sites don’t do it”… LOL

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            Americanisms are invisible to americans, just as any colloquialism is invisible to anyone from the nation that produced it. Best example ever was talking to someone online in the States who kept asking me what I was doing for Labor Day, like the whole world has it.

        • Filden says:

          As a U.S. citizen who finds exposure to other cultures and ways of speaking educational, and is capable of discerning simple divergent expressions from context, I’m embarrassed by a couple of the comments here. I feel the need to apologize. I fear that only some of my own countrymen could be that easily flummoxed and casually offended by the smallest thing the least bit different from their own particular existence.

          I assure you, we’re not all like that. Sadly, the ones that are tend to be pretty vocal. I blame high fructose corn syrup.

          • Abbykins says:

            I agree! One of RPS’ charm is the British tinge to the writing. Please don’t consider dumbing it down for the more unfortunate ones out there who can’t seem to figure out simple figures of speech!

          • Barackus says:

            ^ This.

          • Wartooth says:

            Good onya Filden, bonzer reply. Personally I have a gutful of all those dipshit seppos who ignore the wider world around them. Shithouse effort those blokes, they all have a roo loose in the top paddock I reckon and they can just rack off.
            Hooroo.
            Jim

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            Ah, clearly a welshman then.

          • ninnisinni says:

            As a Swede, I have to agree with you. I didn’t find it hard at all to understand the meaning.
            It’s one thing if someone actually doesn’t understand, but to demand that RPS stop using whatever British expressions they want to, now that is just moronic!

          • Qazinsky says:

            There is no need for you to apologize, Filden, it’s not your fault how other people behave. I also don’t think most people outside America really believe all americans act like that, it’s probably just the same case of the three loud guys in a crowd being heard.

          • Ragnar says:

            As a fellow American, I too feel slightly embarrassed by some of the previous comments, and feel the need to make amends.

            Please accept my wife’s scotch egg recipe as a humble peace offering: http://tastydesu.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/scotch-eggs/

        • Magraal says:

          I much prefer “Queen’s Time” to “Pacific Standard Time” for example. Do Americans not realise that there is more than one country that borders the Pacific Ocean? While there may be more than one Queen, there is only one that is unanimously recognised worldwide, not matter how uneducated you may or may not be…

          • jjman says:

            We’re currently in Pacific Daylight Time, not Pacific Standard Time.

            With that out of the way, what does being American and saying “Pacific Time” have to do with our borders or implying that other countries don’t border the Pacific Ocean?

          • P7uen says:

            Because it refers to which side of the country but doesn’t mention which country.

            The implication is that either there is only one country, or that there is a default country on the planet people should assume is being referred to if none is mentioned, which in this case is the US of A. The rest of the planet disagrees.

            p.s. Queen’s time actually changes when she visits other countries, so you can’t level that criticism at it. The Englanders sometimes have to get up at night time and go to work, or have a shave at 2pm.

          • jrodman says:

            That’s the name we have for the time. It’s the correct value for both california and british columbia. It’s the incorrect value for most of mexico through chile. Of course, they don’t speak english, so I’m not sure that it’s really all that misleading. It’s also the incorrect value for all of alaska, of which almost all the population borders the pacific. Despite being part of the U.S. So I don’t see how this is a nationalistic/xenophobic thing.

            In any event, I think you’re reaching pretty hard for some kind of imperialism bent.

          • Bam_Boozilled says:

            @Magraal The hypocrisy of that statement is stupifying. One of the reasons I am starting to truly hate the British. World’s biggest hypocrites.

            “Do Americans not realise that there is more than one country that borders the Pacific Ocean? While there may be more than one Queen, there is only one that is unanimously recognised worldwide, not matter how uneducated you may or may not be…”

            How dare a country create a STANDARD time. They are both idiots and xenophobes. But we are completely in the clear to call our time Queen’s time because we are the only country that has had or ever will have a queen as loved as our own.

            You people disgust me.

        • Prime says:

          “Yeah, maybe it’s time for RPS to recognize that their silly antics have become recognized abroad and that’s time to embrace the notion that they are a web based gaming blog with readers from all across the globe.

          Queen time?? What the fuck is that crap?!”

          You mean maybe it's time for the most individual and characterful gaming writing blog on the web to stop being so gosh-darned proud of where they live/how they speak/the language THEIR CULTURE invented and just write the way everybody else writes to avoid upsetting a few over-entitled Americans who think that their way should be the only way?

          Ehh, no.

          • Bam_Boozilled says:

            “being so gosh-darned proud of where they live/how they speak/the language THEIR CULTURE invented”

            That is the exact thing Americans take shit for on a constant basis. So much so you undermine the entire country and it’s history by calling it ‘Murica? You sit upon your high horse and denouce Americans drooling over their culture while you do the same. Hypocrites.

            “over-entitled Americans”
            How dare someone want a site to be more universal! How dare they want to easily understand when a game is coming out than have to figure out from something ambiguous like Queen’s time. How entitled they are! /sarcasm

            You are a hypocrite and an a prime example of an ignorant narcissistic jerk.

        • jalf says:

          You’re absolutely right.

          I DEMAND that all posts on RPS henceforth use MY timezone, Central European Time throughout.

          After all, it’s time to recognize that RPS’ readership is no longer based solely in the UK. Show some respect, guys, use the only sane “default” timezone!

        • zebramatt says:

          Ironically for you sir, if Mr Walker had been unaware of the multinational readership of RPS, he’d have had no reason to use the (completely fabricated) phrase, “Queen’s time”.

      • neolith says:

        Queen’s Time is almost like Hammer Time – only that it’s the Queen wearing those ridiculous trousers and jumping on your TV screen.

        • tobecooper says:

          That is quite amusing, sir. And sexually arousing too.

          • deke913 says:

            First I will say that I am from the U.S. and can’t understand easily a third of the population here either. From ghetto slang to my own personal redneck dialect, believe me when I say Proper english sailed back across the pond years ago.

            Now I would like to add that if the Queen would wear parachute pants and dance to hammer time I will Gladly change my allegiance.

      • Synesthesia says:

        I htink they refer to the pocket watch of a guy who used to write here, but now really likes boardgames. Or something like that.

      • Zorn says:

        It’s exactly one of the reasons I LOVE this glorified blog.

    • groowagon says:

      yeah D3 got old really fast. sounds like this too much same old same old.

  2. CaLe says:

    Having pretty much ignored everything about this game until just yesterday, so it feels great that I can just jump into it in an hours time. I’m hoping it will make up for the underwhelming pay-off I got after being so excited over Borderlands 2.

    • cspkg says:

      Moar info on this please. Did you play BL2? How was it disappointing?

      • CaLe says:

        Yes I did play it (unlocked through VPN). The disappointment is largely a fault of my own bloated expectations. I’ve been unable to play it online (due to VPN) which may be why I’m not enjoying it very much. I find there is too much running between places and so not enough shooting to be had. I’ve also been pretty unlucky in my weapon finding. Nothing seems to suit my playstyle, meaning I’m just standing back and headshotting things with a sniper rifle — because that works best. The humour feels like it’s forced and misses much more than it hits. Still, I’m only level 18 so it could pick up… I’m sure it would be more fun if played with friends rather than alone.

        • db1331 says:

          If you haven’t been playing co-op with friends, then you haven’t really played the game at all. That’s like playing L4D with 3 bots, or getting BF3 just for the single player. Play with some friends, and it will be next to impossible to not have a good time.

          • CaLe says:

            I don’t have any friends.

          • Shezo says:

            That’s kinda not very true.
            A lot of things in BL2 are for one player — music, humor and atmosphere. (also some quests)
            They simply won’t work in co-op environment, at least for me.

          • brau says:

            This is true… if you have not played this online you are missing out. I like games that can be soloed… but once i played it online… it makes a huge difference. More enemies, tougher and just more of everything. Including Loot. it’s too bad that the loot is shared tho. You really have to grab everything that pops up right away or you’ll miss a lot of stuff.

          • JoeyJungle says:

            I’m playing the single player and enjoying it quite a bit. I think Jim’s review was spot on, I’m playing Berzerker which feels like the most wacky, over-the-top classes in the game (which is what BL is all about). I also have been fairly lucky with a couple weapon finds, so every fight is “BLASTBLASTBLAST THAT WAS CLOSE BLASTBLAST” instead of “pew pew- i lost my shield, i’m running away, i’m dead. darn.”

          • mouton says:

            Problem is, unlike L4D1/2, Borderlands (1, haven’t played 2, but videos show it is the same) is not designed for coop. It is simply not a very good design of a game that can be nonetheless fun if you bring some buddies. Then again, most bland games can be playable if you summon some wacky fellows you play with.

          • malkav11 says:

            This is a really inaccurate comparison. Left 4 Dead and sequel are basically unplayable solo, as the bots act as mobile turrets and will heal you, but are completely incapable of accomplishing scenario goals (a problem aggravated in the sequel). And frankly, there’s not much there to reward the attempt anyway – they’re games that are built entirely around the cooperative gameplay, not story or setpieces or exploration or anything that makes solo play interesting in your average FPS. BF3′s solo campaign is perfectly fine, imho, but obviously not the focus of the game and completely unrelated to the multiplayer. Borderlands 2 is exactly the same whether you’re playing solo or with other people. The other people simply drop in alongside you and shoot things along with you. (Literally, drop in – by default all you have to do to join a friend’s game is click on it in the main menu, and you can leave again at any time, completely painlessly. The monsters just get a stat boost/spawn more.) It’s much more accurate to say that it’s like playing Diablo solo. Which, as much as people would like to think otherwise, was how most people played Diablo.

          • Ragnar says:

            Borderlands is entirely designed for co-op, it’s just designed to be played with the same people from start to finish. I played BL1 with the wife, and it was a blast. Far more fun than playing it solo.

            What it’s not designed for is teeming up of people at different levels, and that is a problem. I really wish BL had included a City of Heroes sidekick-like feature, as that would make the game much better.

        • Filden says:

          [Reply error.]

        • Filden says:

          I find there is too much running between places and so not enough shooting to be had.

          I’m really enjoying BL2, both in single player Zero and co-op Maya. Sorry to hear you are not.

          One thing, Re: “Too much running between places”. I don’t find this to be the case at all. The fast travel system pops me immediately to the mission zone, where besides unlimited Sprinting, it’s usually a simple matter to catch a ride for the last few seconds to the destination, which is fast and fun. It’s not like some vast open world MMO. If anything there’s too much shooting to be had, getting into firefights on your way to a mission, and occasionally having to re-fight your way through a zone you’ve already cleared to get to a new quest objective.

          I’m finding BL2 very entertaining, and I particularly enjoy that the side missions are are more intelligently distributed, bits at a time until you advance the next story mission. I’m not out-leveling missions unless I want to, like in the first game where it dumped all the side missions on you at once, which made you out-level the main mission if you did the sides, or the sides if you did the main. I can just sort of play the game and not worry about it, if I do the missions as they’re available before advancing the story.

          I’m actually enjoying single player a bit more than co-op right now, because on the default difficulty co-op is too easy. It’s true there’s a lot of fun to be had from grouping up, and some aspects of the game don’t come into play in single player, but the ability to focus fire and use abilities in concert more than makes up for any increased enemy scaling. In SP, left to my own abilities, there have been some genuinely challenging fights, even fully leveled from doing all the side missions. I very much wish the game had given the option to start on a higher difficulty level like Torchlight 2 does, instead of having to wait until New Game +.

          I love that I can look forward to Torchlight 2 after this, which between the two should keep me occupied until XCOM comes out.

      • Blackcompany says:

        Had the same experience with BL2. It’s good, solid. But where the first was something new & different, BL2 is…well, it improves on the formula well enough. But it remains the formula, make no mistake.

        So king as you temper expectation & recognize that BL2 us simply more Borderlands, done slightly better, I think you will enjoy it. Just don’t get all excited about your ‘brand new game’ cause this isn’t that.

        I wonder now whether TL2 might require the same approach. Still looking forward to it, just as I am to more if BL2.

      • Vagrant says:

        I like the game plenty, but I don’t know if it’s better than the first. It’s better in some points, worse in others. My issues with Borderlands 2 so far (15h, just past WIlhelm):

        The quest / area structure is different. BL1 basically worked like – get quest for zone, tack on 3-4 side quests related to zone, explore zone. Now you may get 1 side quest, and each zone is usually a single mission-focused direction connected by a few major zones, instead of several small areas that you can explore.

        Lots of walking. It also feels like I’ve just traded desert for snow so far.

        Also, they cranked the suicide explosive enemies up to 11. So you ‘last stand’ a lot more, and since the nearest guy blew himself up, you don’t have an easy kill to revive. I’m also always at 10% health.

        Finally, it has (in some places) a worse UI. Granted I thought the old UI was great and don’t know what everyone else is smoking.

        Also, I have yet to play multi. Seems like BL1 had more attackers, this has fewer but stronger. I prefer fighting the Crimson Lance over their new Bandit counterparts.

        Play it, it’s fun!

    • Terragot says:

      I was ready to buy Borderlands 2, until the hype campaign exploded again. The main thing I remember from Borderlands 1 was it appearing everywhere in all my feeds. It was promoted to me so damn much that it became obnoxious.

      Seems the same things happening with Borderlands 2.

  3. Sp4rkR4t says:

    Well it shall be getting about 6 hours of my undivided attention until Borderlands 2 unlocks, been waiting for this one for soo damned long.

  4. TsunamiWombat says:

    Torchlight 2 and Borderlands 2 at the same time

    CAN MY HAND WITHSTAND?

    • Torn says:

      D3 followed by BL2 is already giving me Carpal Tunnel.

      I had to set up an togglable autoclicker on my G15 keyboard towards the end of D3.

      • Ragnar says:

        Am I the only one who just holds down the mouse button to attack?

        • Zorn says:

          No sir, you are not. It is one of the few real inventions of the post modern age and I am using it without remorse.

    • povu says:

      The funny thing is that the same thing happened with the original Torchlight and Borderlands.

    • lasikbear says:

      I am playing a gunzerker too, so now I have to click-click-click both mouse buttons (especially for those. Western Themed Company weapons)

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      And in the game!

      Oh… er…

    • angrym0b says:

      I’m pretty sure the medical term for this affliction is “Diablo Claw”.

  5. elfbarf says:

    -snip-

  6. aliksy says:

    I need more hours in my day to properly enjoy this, borderlands 2, and guild wars 2. All these fantastic games all coming out at once =/

  7. povu says:

    And now that Torchlight 2 has perfected the classic formula, the next generation of ARPGs will have to offer something really different to stand out.

    • CaLe says:

      I propose a modern day zombie apocalypse setting. No magic. You go house to house looking for loot in people’s cupboards and basements. Dungeons are shopping malls, cinemas, bus terminals, airports, and so on. Hubs are fortified survivor camps. The loot is mostly armour and modern weapons/weapon attachments (augments/ammunition).

      Classes would be difficult but it could be split between weapon expertise. Sniper/pistol/shotgun/melee/rifle, etc.

      Skills would be things like traps, grenades, diversions, etc.

      Enemy variety is the difficult part..

      I’d just like an ARPG as polished as this with no magic or fantasy involved. Maybe a Stalker ARPG would work…?

      • Bluemage says:

        That actually sounds pretty cool.

      • mooken says:

        Something like Dead Island, but from an overhead isometric view then?

      • zind says:

        I have always thought a post-apocalyptic ARPG would be fun. Think Fallout 1/2 without the turn-based combat, focusing more on shooting mutants and less on conversation.

        Don’t get me wrong, Fallout 1 is still in my top 5 games ever list and I love the conversation, but I think it would make a hell of an ARPG, too.

      • Dark Nexus says:

        I’d say ability variety might be an issue too, but that definitely sounds like a very cool setting for one.

      • Blackcompany says:

        This. Maybe add in the need to scavenger for food, water or healing items. But, yeah – this.

      • abandonhope says:

        You’re sort of describing Krater. Not sure if it’s gotten better since beta (polish, not really).

      • andyhavens says:

        That zombie ARPG sounds like a lot of fun. Enemy difficulty could be done via distance from any new “source” of the zombie plague. That is, you could either make zombies closer to the source much more difficult or much easier. So you either start at the edge (where they’re mostly fallen apart, dribbling bits because they get weaker as they get older) and work toward the fresh, stronger ones… or flip it, and make them get stronger as they eat each other, people, dogs, frisbees, etc. Either way, you progress either outward/in or in/out towards centers of contagion.

        As far as skills or hero types go… that would be differently fun, too. You could have the Jock, who just gets stronger and/or faster but really is just a tank. The Maker, who can take household items and combine them (he gets more designs as he levels), the Goth, who somehow can mimic certain zombie skills, be stealthy, etc. The Cop, who’s great with firearms, but not much else. The Mechanic, who can get old cars, lawnmowers, etc. going.

        Loot is food, medicine, armor, distractions (cage full of hamsters distracts zombies, you know), lore points (learning more about zombie weaknesses)… plus something stupid. Like maybe, in addition to brains, zombies love to eat and/or destroy eye-glasses… so they’re big for trading.

        I’d play that.

        • Ketsu says:

          If you can get it working on your newfangled computational boxes, Survival Crisis Z is a nice, free game that has brain-eating ghouls and a procedurally generated city to survive in. A game ahead of its’ time, really. :(

          Here’s a link to the Ska Studios blog post with the full, free version of the game: http://ska-studios.com/2007/09/07/just-a-friendly-reminder/

      • Thwick says:

        Doesn’t it ship with mod tools? I’m sure someone could do a total conversion, it’d be a lot of work though.

      • cool4345 says:

        Kind of sounds a little bit like Dead State. Although it’s turn based, you still might be interested in that.

  8. abandonhope says:

    I just started playing Torchlight for the first time a couple days ago (Humble Bundle). It seems to have a lot of S-M-R-T-S, and hits most the right notes. But I miss the grumpy-dark. Diablo scares me, and that’s one of the reasons I can replay it at all. In TL, I’m going along, listening to some really intense Matt Uelmen music, watching a Disney movie unfold.

    • Miltrivd says:

      I respect your opinion, but I’ve never understand this. I played Diablo 1 when I was 11 and getting scared was the thought that never crossed my head.

      It seems weird to me that only graphics can make people ignore the other aspects that set the atmosphere. Anyway, not everyone can like everything, and that’s a good thing.

      • abandonhope says:

        Scared is probably the wrong word. Menaced, unnerved, etc. Diablo is dark in setting and tone, with an archbishop that has been forced to turn on his parishioners, his unholy church, a butcher in a room full of entrails, a kid with a peg leg, a terrified drunkard, crying baby music, and a dying town sitting atop a layer cake of evil.

        The story is not much more than an outline, but it adds to the sense of peril that comes with stepping onto a new level. It makes me go cautiously into the dark. In TL, I just skip along singing a joyful tune wherever I go, not really engaged beyond decent mechanics. The gameplay of Diablo-styled aRPGs doesn’t do much for me, so I really need something more to motivate me to see the world.

  9. Namey says:

    Why do I have to choose allocating my time between this, Borderlands 2, Guild Wars 2 and Dark Souls?

    It’s not fair.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      You don’t you likely have decades of life left, try delaying gratification, it is your friend.

  10. Kid_A says:

    “So there is a story. And it’s awful. I think. I’ve really no idea. The game ridiculously expects you to remember the narrative from the original, which I think had something to do with amber or something?”
    The Alchemist has siphoned the powers of Ordrak, last game’s big bad, and is using them to siphon the powers of the Elemental Guardians to unlock something else even bigger and badder. It’s not a bad story, it’s a simple one, which is all an ARPG needs: here is motivation; now go kill stuff with your friends.

    -edit- And it can’t be any worse than Diablo.

    • elfbarf says:

      Why is this acceptable for Torchlight 2 while Diablo III gets tons of shit its story?

      • Kid_A says:

        Because Diablo has pretensions to being an EPIC TALE OF ANGELS AND DEMONS and (especially in D3) takes itself far too seriously. If you want to accuse Torchlight 2 of doing that… well, that’s your opinion I guess.

      • mittortz says:

        Uh, because?!?!? Duh.

        Get with the program, man.

      • mr.ioes says:

        In Torchlight you don’t have to endure a bad story. You just accept the quest without reading the text.

      • Xzi says:

        Because all the other aspects of Diablo 3 suck, too. People were just looking to the story to make up for that. Which it didn’t. Thus the disappointment.

      • andyhavens says:

        For $20, a roll in the hay is acceptable. For $60 I expect her to kiss me on the mouth, too.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Actually, it’s not exactly that. The Alchemist is one of the heroes from the first game. He killed Odrak, but got “corrupted” by Odrak’s powers, and this famous “ember”. He is trying to contain it, building a suit to allow him to last longer, until he finds a cure. But he eventually gets more and more corrupted. And he must be stopped.

      This kind of story rings any bells? :)

      • Jeremy says:

        Did he shove the ember into his forehead? That would just be fantastic.

        • caddyB says:

          Well I stab myself in the head with a lot of things, it’s a good way of not forgetting something you need to take care of, like the soulstone of the demon lord you’ve just killed, a piece of corrupted ember, or a chunk of uranium ore.

  11. MythArcana says:

    And thus, the legendary torrid tale ends bitterly for the rivaling arch-villian while Torchlight 2 perches stoically upon its’ rightly seat of the ARPG throne. Good job, Runic; we knew you could do it!

  12. DickSocrates says:

    I desperately want to like this game, but I really don’t like the art style. For a good few months I managed to convince myself I did like it, but I admit defeat, I hate it and I can’t tell what’s going on in any video because it all looks so pastel like there’s a permanent mist over everything. And the textures are just kind of bad. It’s like an N64 game with more characters on screen.

    Maybe down the line if someone makes a new texture pack I’ll take another look, but no matter how great the game is, atmosphere is the most important factor to me and I don’t like what I feel from this.

    • derbefrier says:

      yeah me too man. I could put up with it if it offered something different from other ARPGs but if it truly is just another D2 clone (even being a well polished one) I think i’ll skip it . I found the first Torchlight very dull for that reason and it doesn’t sound like much has changed in that regard. D3 has its issues but at least Blizzard had the balls to try something different(for better or worse). honestly the only issue i have with D3 is the boring itemization. The actual gameplay i thought was fantastic its just, without interesting gear to hunt I couldn’t be bothered to keep playing after i beat inferno which isn’t a terrible thing really. It took me 200 hours to do that. I dont know how many hours your supposed to get out of an ARPG for it to have a credible “end game”. Do you think we will hear the same complaints about TL2 or will it be given a pass because its got the indie label attached to it? I realize peoples standards are different for different games but if your going to directly compare them they need to be held to the same standards regardless of the names behind it. I mean unless you just hated the new skill system how is TL2 better than D3?

    • gravity_spoon says:

      There is nothing “wrong” with the art-style. However if you dislike it so much, I’d advice ongoing PoE or the upcoming Grim Dawn (which I am eagerly waiting too)

  13. jealouspirate says:

    I pretty much prefer everything TL2 has over D3 except for the skill system. I thought D3′s skill system was awesome, gave lots of immediate meaningful changes to my playstyle, and the lack of restrictions really allowed me to experiment freely.

    I’m not looking forward to going back to the old talent-tree model, with lots of small “+% to whatever” along the way. Can you at least respec in TL2? I honestly don’t know.

    • elfbarf says:

      In beta you could respec until a certain level (~10-15); I have no clue of if they changed that or not.

      • jrodman says:

        Someone claimed it’s rewind last three points, now. which is even more limited.

        • fiddlesticks says:

          As far as I know, the basic idea for letting you respec the last three invested points is that it allows you to pick a new skill and if you don’t like the way it works, you can always take the point out again. So you get a chance to experiment while still having to commit to some long-term choices. Which I think is fine.

      • jealouspirate says:

        I hope it’s not as restrictive as that. I find that extremely off-putting. The idea that I could have to reroll from scratch if I wanted a new build is tiring just to think about.

        • Hug_dealer says:

          with a statement like that, it sounds like you hate classes all together. Because the only difference in the classes is what abilities you have to pick from.

          So by picking an engineeer, you automatically have to reroll if you want to play other classes.

          The fact is that you can build entirely different engineers based on stats and skill choices, which lead to radically different characters, which could be seen as different classes.

          • aliksy says:

            It’ll probably be less than a week before a full respec mod is available.
            Mods are awesome.

    • lasikbear says:

      At worst someone will make a respec potion mod, I believe that was the only way in Torchlight 1

      • elfbarf says:

        Would you be able to play online with said respec potion mod?

        • Kid_A says:

          As long as the people you’re playing with have it, yes. Worst case scenario, if they don’t have a respec potion mod, you can install it, respec, uninstall it, then go online again.

        • Nim says:

          It is possible, might need some tinkering, but definitively possible.

    • Hug_dealer says:

      that………………is sad.

      The D3 skill system is horrible, as is character building. There is no such thing. Every character stacks a certain stat, and nothing else, then they look for the highest dps weapon because that determines the damage of all their skills.

      Torchlight makes all stats important to a character, and some more important depending on build. You can build yourself tanky, or dpsy, you can make your engineer focus on magical damage on his attacks. Its actually quite deep, something that cannot be said about d3, D3 is about as deep as a kiddy pool. I MOAR STR STAT!!!!!!!!!!! thats your basic depth of d3, where anything but your main stat is utterly unimportant.

      Also, the game is not all % increases to skills. You have to unlock skills, and at intervals those skills actually do something extra than they did before. You will make meaninful choices in building your character, and it is quite unlikely that you will come across another character built the same way as yours.

      • elfbarf says:

        While I agree with you on the stat system, I’d like to see some sort of hybrid of Diablo 3′s runestone system with a more traditional skill tree (or something else entirely). Both skill systems have their faults.

        • Hematite says:

          The skill system in Path of Exile is noteworthy. Skills are attached to gems which you socket in items like in Diablo II, and you can put a support gem into a linked slot to modify the skill. It’s pretty much the materia system from FF7 only in an ARPG

      • jealouspirate says:

        I guess my thing is that I’ve never, ever cared about stats. I manage them as a necessary evil. What I like is lots of different abilities at my fingertips to choose from, which is what D3 offered me in terms of character building.

        • Hug_dealer says:

          those skills you are choosing from. All have stats. Perhaps you would prefer to say, I only care about certain stats.

          • Xzi says:

            Exactly what hug_dealer said. The only difference is that you’re choosing stats for each individual skill rather than stats for your character which affect all skills in a way. Which, turns out, works horribly from a balance perspective, as everybody ends up using the exact same skills/runes in D3′s higher difficulties.

          • Necroscope says:

            blizz are implementing much wider skill diversity according to the sneak peak on battle.net, .they say that defensive build abilities are less mandatory, so the days of 1 or 2 viable builds will be past, and that’s a relief to me because I felt squished into 1 build I could rely on for inferno without any freedom to experiment…

          • RandomGameR says:

            That’s only right if you assume that the different skill trees play significantly differently. I’m OK with playing different classes differently, and I’m OK if the combinations of different trees make the character effectively a different class (WoW for instance and to a lesser extent Diablo 2) but I didn’t like Torchlight 1′s skill trees at all.

            I also think that stat point allocation is ridiculous. If there’s a mathematically correct way to solve the problem, then just do it for me, and there usually is a correct way of doing it for each class in a game where you allocate stat points.

            Diablo 3′s system wasn’t horrible, though I do wish that there was a way to effectively level up or modify the individual runed abilities. I’d love to be able to shoot 7 magic missiles at a time instead of the max of 3, for instance.

            I also am mixed on permanent choices. On the one hand, it is tedious to level through a separate character of the same class, but on the other hand if your skills/abilities are varied enough then it’s interesting to try out a potentially gimped but unique build and see how high of a level you can make it to. Diablo 3 is missing the latter feeling.

  14. x1501 says:

    No mention of the co-op? How is it?

    • mr.ioes says:

      John Walker has no friends, next question.

    • subedii says:

      John was playing the press build , the game only dropped for everyone else today. So I suspect there wasn’t really much chance for co-op during that time.

    • Gorf says:

      3+hrs of playing so far with no way of logging in to the runic servers so i can play co op which is what i really want, but i’m happy at least to be playing offline and it is excactly what i needed after the shittyness of D3.

  15. squareking says:

    Was anyone expecting it to lead a revolutionary change in ARPGs? I mean, no one was looking forward to a Path-of-Exile-esque reworking of mechanics, right? I knew it was going to be Torchlight 2: Light Torches Harder, and I’m glad it’s perfectly fitting in that regard.

    Also I will miss inventory tetris. :c Had to find something to complain about!

  16. derella says:

    I’m passing right now. While I really did enjoy the first game, it is still “just” a clicky-click ARPG… which is fine, but not what I want to play right now. I still have Ch. 3 of the Walking Dead to play through, if I can tear myself away from GW2 for a few hours :P

    • Necroscope says:

      the first game bored me with the repetitive dungeon layouts…shame, as it was good until that point

  17. MistyMike says:

    I don’t really like slash&bash kind of games and I stopped playing the original Torchlight somewhere around the goblin fortress themed levels. I don’t believe in the Zen of grind, it just feels mindlessly boring to me. Still, for some unexplicable reason I preordered this.

    • Hug_dealer says:

      games are made for different kinds of people. I prefer a real rpg compared to ARPG, but sometimes a little mindless slaughter is more fun.

      But i also absolutely hate most fighting games and racing games. But other people enjoy those. No one will think less of you for not enjoying a genre, but they will if you simply say such and such is crap, simply cause you dont like the genre.

      props to you on not being that guy.

    • Baines says:

      My biggest problem with these types of games is that I cannot help feeling that they’d be better as regular third-person action games (or even with a first-person option for range heavy characters).

      The Diablo-style mouse&keyboard combo just seems to limit action. I’m playing the first Torchlight right now as the ranged woman, and I keep wanting to be able to move and aim at the same time, which the game does not allow. When some lumbering beast is coming at me, I want to be able to back up while firing, but I can’t. I have to fire, release shift, click behind me, hold shift, click in front of me to fire, and repeat until dead. When something shoots a slow moving shot at me, my first instinct is to dodge it, but I hardly ever can because my character is stuck somewhere in a firing animation, and the game’s controls aren’t really built around being able to dodge. And click-clicking with a wannabe-button-mash melee character just feels wrong.

      But no one will make those third-person action games. The closest might have been Kingdom of Amalur, and it may also be the last attempt. Maybe Guild Wars 2 might qualify, even though they are more about trying to make an action game out of an MMO instead.

      It isn’t just Torchlight, either. Diablo, Sacred, pretty much all of them. I quit playing Sacred II fairly early because I couldn’t get past the idea that it would have been better as a generic mediocre but large world behind-the-back third-person action game (with the control scheme that would go with such a game) than a generic mediocre Diablo-like.

      • Hug_dealer says:

        its the type of game.

        You would absolutely love dungeon siege 3, its exactly what you are asking for.

        or perhaps games like dark soul, god of war, etc. I think you prefer adventure games with rpg elements than actually RPG or Action RPG games.

        Also check out warhammer 40k space marine.

        • seamoss says:

          What about the Witcher?

          • Hug_dealer says:

            another great choice. Probably the best though.

            I didnt mention if because i’m not sure if he likes to read.

            The witcher 2 is probably the best story ever told in a video game, and it truly reacts to your choices in ways other games have not yet reached.

        • gravity_spoon says:

          KoA: Reckoning ? I liked the game despite EA behind it. Also, it is beautiful looking. And combat is good. Loot not so much

        • Baines says:

          I tried Dungeon Siege 3. It was more action-y, but it felt more like a watered-down Diablo-like than an action game that drew from Diablo/Rogue-likes. I remember people complaining about it being short, and it didn’t seem like it had much replay value. It kept the Diablo-style overhead view, as well. It felt like the developers, while moving away from one of the negatives, also chose to intentionally sacrifice other positives.

          What I’d really like are more behind-the-back view action games with the replayability of a Rogue-like, and the depth of post Rogue Rogue-likes. But developers who aim for Rogue/Diablo-like trappings make Rogue-Diablo-like games, not action games. Action games instead get made to standard action game roots.

          There are exceptions. Console development studio Dream Factory put a Rogue-like based extra mode in each of their fighting games (Tobal, Tobal 2, Ehrgeiz), and later made a straight action game with some Rogue-like elements, though the game was pretty mediocre. Hellgate tried a bit, but was rough around the edges and has plenty of its own issues.

          Consoles also had the Champions of Norrath games, which were more action-y overhead games (and even allowed four player single screen play, I don’t think they had online).

      • Gnoupi says:

        Playing a berserker, dashing all around at super speed in a very crowdy fight to punch monsters…. it wouldn’t be possible in third person. It would or be much slower, or make you sick.

        Same for a teleporting mage.

        I see the point, but that’s actually another kind of gameplay, simply.

  18. Yosharian says:

    Is nobody else bored to tears by all these mindless loot-hunt games? It’s not the 90s any more…

    Meh, just me I guess.

    • Hug_dealer says:

      i’m sure people are tired of MMOs since the 90s, and first person shooters are worn out. Oh those rpgs are also dated……………………….Racing games so totally dated and worn out…….

      • Yosharian says:

        Well… yeah. I am tired of all those things =/

        There’s no innovation anymore…

        • Hug_dealer says:

          its hard to innovate when its all been done before. At this point in gaming. To create a game, you will have to borrow elements, style, and gameplay from other games out there. It is impossible to do an entirely new game. At some point, someone has done it, all we can do now is hope to improve on it, present it in a fresh way, and make it fun.

          • Consumatopia says:

            Nope, wrong. Infinitely wrong. We haven’t come close to doing everything–we’ve only modeled a tiny, tiny slice of human experience. And even human experience itself is an infinitesimally small proportion of possible experience–there is no reason we should be satisfied with human limits in simulated worlds.

            The industry just sticks to those genres its already mastered. Even in the tiny subsets of human experience that games focus on, such as combat, further dramatic innovation is possible (e.g. CLANG). Or consider how many FPS games there, but how little competition something like The Sims gets. Though there are surely an unlimited number of directions you could change the very basic life simulation of The Sims, the only competitor seems to be Zynga making a straight one-for-one copy of the mechanics.

            We don’t see faster innovation not because we’ve thought of everything already (we’ve barely scratched the surface) but because innovation is unpredictable and investors want a predictable return. They want a stable genre they can through better art assets and further metrics-based testing towards. Furthermore, the genres themselves must discourage dynamic behavior with the game–static content and metrics are incompatible with emergent/unpredictable in-game events.

            Combat and obstacle avoidance are a tiny slice of human experience. I’m bored with those slices. If you’re not, that’s fine, but don’t pretend there’s nothing outside those slices.

          • Sorth_31 says:

            Somewhat true, but Clang isn’t an inovation, it’s motion control. Basically a refinement, and frankly probably not going to improve it by enough to be a standout and/or improve gaming in a meaningful way. Consider, for instance, something like Steel Battalion (console I know) that had a completely unique style (basically a full on giant mech simulation if you don’t know, complete with mandatory startup procedures. Oh, ignore the recent Kinect one, I’m referring to the first.) which, while expensive, was in depth and solidly made. It sunk, and I don’t doubt something like Clang will as well.

            As for making a game of everything? Great! As soon as a childbirth simulator comes out, tell me how great a game it is. The reason we’ve stuck with the same genres for so long (besides in some cases technical limitations) is that a lot of the time most activites wouldn’t be fun to play a game of in comparison to what we have. That or the game would have to be controlled in a way so far from the activity represented that it could be anything else instead. Play some facebook games, vast amounts of which have identical control schemes, and tell me they feel anything like the activity they portray. Or indeed different in the slightest. Not that pressing a button to sprint isn’t far from actual sprinting, but a lot of things you try to make a game of would probably wind up with nonsensical controls.

            I agree with the reason for lack of innovation, but when it comes down to it with almost inevitable certainty every time any game publishing/development company has tried to innovate in any major way it seems it’s lost money.

            As for representing things outside of combat? Please! I’d love a wider range of activities to pursue, the problem is always in implementing them in an enjoyable manner. Speech requires solid writing and possibly acting (rare in gaming), while any other task requires an enjoyable form of interface, which is no easy task if you look at the average game and their response to even game basics like lockpicking or hacking.

            I’d love to see a wider range of games, but when it comes down to it making a game about something and making a meaningful, accurate and enjoyable game about something are two different things. Often two worlds apart.

          • Consumatopia says:

            Of course Clang, if it works, would be innovation. Viable one-to-one motion controlled swordfighting would introduce a completely new geometry to combat. You can’t just dismiss it as “motion controls” anymore than you could dismiss any PC game as “mouse controls”. If, for some weird reason, the mouse had never been invented, and everyone was controlling FPS games with keyboards and gamepads, then some one came along later and added mice to games, of course that would represent a major innovation. A mouseless world might even have entire genres go uninvented (RTS?).

            More to the point, I certainly didn’t say that every experience would make a good game. Nor did I say that seeking innovation would always be easy or profitable (in fact, I came close to saying the opposite). Just that the claim “its all been done before” is complete nonsense.

        • Shooop says:

          How exactly could you innovate this genre any more though? It’s like The Simpsons – everything has been done. The only question that matters is will you have fun doing it?

      • Xzi says:

        Another +1 for hug_dealer. New ARPGs are actually a much rarer sight these days than many other genres, most of which have also been completely worn out in one form or another. FPSes, for example, have mostly been moving backwards since the Timesplitters series.

        Show me a new FPS with a single-player campaign, a co-op campaign, hundreds of differently-themed challenge scenarios, hundreds of different characters to choose from, a map-builder, extremely flexible custom games with up to 4 players and 12 bots, and all of this on a console.

        Otherwise it’s just more of the same-old same-old. Bleh.

    • CaLe says:

      They give a feeling of satisfaction.

      I can’t get no satisfaction
      I can’t get no satisfaction
      ‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
      I can’t get no, I can’t get no

      When I’m drivin’ in my car
      And that man comes on the radio
      He’s tellin’ me more and more
      About some useless information
      Supposed to fire my imagination
      I can’t get no, oh no, no, no
      Hey hey hey, that’s what I say

      I can’t get no satisfaction
      I can’t get no satisfaction

      unless I play an ARPG.

    • jrodman says:

      When you feel like this: take a break!

      Take a break from what you’re playing, or take a break from gaming altogether! You’re clearly not really loving whatever it is, so stop bothering to try, at least for a while!

  19. mckertis says:

    “Perhaps more importantly, Torchlight 2 is also much better than Torchlight.”

    Which is not hard to do. Diablo 1 was much better than Torchlight.

    • Jeremy says:

      I mean, that’s really just a matter of opinion. I would guess that quote holds a lot of weight for some people in here, I know it does for me.

    • Xzi says:

      But…the people that make up Runic were the main creative force behind Diablo 1 and Diablo 2…I just…uhh…oww my head…

      http://images.dailydawdle.com/I-dont-want-to-live-on-this-planet-anymore-meme.jpg

      • RandomGameR says:

        That’s irrelevant. I definitely think that Diablo 2 was significantly better than Torchlight. I’m not certain if Diablo 1 was better than Torchlight, but I think the argument could be made.

        I do think that the quote saying that Torchlight 2 is better than Torchlight was the only information in the review that I cared for. Torchlight was only really noteworthy because it proved that a non-diablo game in the genre could be successful. Diablo 3 was significantly better than Torchlight 1 in every regard (including difficulty) except for the online requirement and the auction house existing (which I liked in theory but hate in practice).

        • Mattressi says:

          Yep, I’m still waiting for an ARPG as good as Diablo 2. Other ARPGs have had better settings, some have had better combat – but none, that I’ve played, have had better build variety (not even Titan Quest). Diablo 2 let you play as a sorceress with literally no points in health, but a huge amount of mana (using a mana-based shield) and still be effective end-game. It let you play as a necromancer who ran around with a poisoned dagger, stabbed things and ran away to await the monster’s eventual death. You could play as a barbarian who ran around throwing axes from both hands. There were so many unique, inventive builds possible. With most ARPGs, it seems that the choice is really limited, with just variations in whether you tank, deal high damage or use magic. I’d love to see aura-builds, stab-and-run, mana-only, true glass cannons and all other variations, and still have them viable end-game.

          Anyone know of a modern game like this? One with a huge number of builds which actually feel and play very differently to one another?

  20. Jeremy says:

    I’m really excited for this game, but also interested to see where modding can take this. Considering you’ve said the map leaves something to be desired, hopefully we’ll see someone quickly build a better map for the game. Were there any other areas you could see modding take this in a different direction, or improve something in the game?

  21. Moraven says:

    Can you easily gimp yourself by what stats and skills you invest it?

    Always felt that way in Titan Quest. Sure I got through the game 3 times with another person, but my spec lacked much punch nor could I take more than 1-2 hits then the dps focused person.

    • Hug_dealer says:

      Gimp. depends on if you build your character without any idea what you want to do. If you just randomly throw out stats with no idea what you want to become. Yes you can gimp yourself.

      On another note though. To many people get caught of in the min/max design for characters and then deem content broken because their build fails at completing it.

      You can design any of the characters in T2 around any of the ability scores. It all depends on what you want out of the class.

    • RandomGameR says:

      Yes, absolutely. People like Hug_dealer like this feature. To me, it’s a big negative when combined with the lack of a viable respec.

      I’ve already hit this. I didn’t care for most of the level 1 embermage spells (at least not together, who needs two nukes?) so I saved up 4 points for level 7 skills. I only had 3 level 7 skills that I wanted, and all of them were passives with a small percent chance of doing anything useful… unless you skill them up. What this meant is that I could not respec out of them after I’ve already committed to them, which means that if I don’t like them once I get them to an actual effective strength, I have to either play with a character that has fewer skill points or start a new character.

  22. golem09 says:

    T2 for polish
    PoE for innovation

    • BubuIIC says:

      Yay! Path of Exile really looks promising and the devs have a great deal of interesting ideas. Everyone should go check it out, the public beta should not be too far off (like a few weeks).
      Only thing is I can’t play it right now, because the game crashes with Creative X-Fi cards because of some driver bug. And bluescreens = not good… :-(

      Edit: Actually the latest patch provided finally a workaround for the crash, testing right now.

    • Sabin says:

      I have to say I’m loving Path of Exile right now. So much interesting stuff going on there, and a lot more depth than other ARPS of recent times.

      Still looking forward to my pre-ordered TL2 copy when I get home from work.

    • derbefrier says:

      yes I am waiting for PoE to go into open beta. I want to play more but i cant stand the thought of putting all the time in a closed beta then having to start over. I beat the game on normal difficulty and stopped there so it would still be fresh when it went into OB. cant wait to try out some cutthroat leagues and hardcore races.

      • saginatio says:

        I wanted to wait for open beta for the same reason – but PoE is just too addictive and now i have 48lvl Marauder :|

  23. Moni says:

    An important question that the review didn’t answer is, “Which pet did John Walker choose?”

    I expect it was the ferret, because anyone who doesn’t love ferrets is a heartless monster.

  24. elmo.dudd says:

    “So gone is the single surface village and ever-descending dungeon. Instead there’s a far more traditional setup for a Diablo-clone: one town per act, multiple areas all around, portals linking them all together, and a bunch more story trying to justify the click-click-click.”
    You mean Torchlight was a Diablo clone, and Torchlight 2 is a Diablo 2 clone.

    • Henson says:

      This is exactly what I wanted to say. Why does everyone forget that Diablo 1 existed? I find it to be the more atmospheric and satisfying one.

  25. Swabbleflange says:

    I hope they don’t have any problems with the launch because, well, you know what people are like.

    • derbefrier says:

      indie companies tend to get a pass on things like this so i wouldn’t worry. apparently you have to have an account with runic to play online and its giving people trouble. I have seen multiple comments on this curious how it doesn’t get a mention but i bet having an actual offline mode helps alleviate that frustration where as with D3 you just couldn’t play at all so people may be more forgiving with this game because of that combine with my first point you get what we see here, nothing but praise for a generic D2 clone.

      • Hug_dealer says:

        the fact that it is only $20 and provides more content than d3 with more features doesnt hurt either.

        • emertonom says:

          Plus you can play offline! I’d have to imagine that dramatically reduces the server load.

  26. Bhazor says:

    So it’s basically Diablo 3 without the “FUCK YOU”s.

  27. TsunamiWombat says:

    Considering Torchlight 1 mimics Diablo, and Torchlight 2 Mimics Diablo 2, I predict always on DRM and a 10 year wait for Torchlight 3

  28. seamoss says:

    Just by coincidence, I’m currently slogging my way through Titan Quest (IT) which I started at least a couple of times before but never had the will to persevere through it. TQ pretty much mirrors TL: it’s a prety game, with relatively interesting weapons, skills, loot, etc. (as far as such things can be “interesting”), but the lack of an interesting storyline keeps it from being actually *fun* to play. I realize that the primary goal of this genre is loot & levelling, but if they could just write in a good story to with it, it would be a so much better game.

    Oh, and the fact that TQ makes me go through the entire game in normal difficulty (which, after you gear up a bit makes it a bit too easy) also drives me nuts – thankfully TL2 lets you start at the difficulty level you want.

  29. reggiep says:

    A glowing review of TL2 was already a forgone conclusion on RPS given the amount of Diablo 3 hatred easily found here. Methinks a little confirmation bias is at play.

    After Diablo 3, skill trees in any game seem awful to me. Just the existence of a respec proves that. And skill trees without respec are just cruel.

    I think TL2 is a big pass for me until it inevitably hits $5. This review left a lot of unanswered questions.

    • Lemming says:

      That’s not too unreasonable, considering the Torchlight 2 beta was very much in full swing when Diablo 3 was released. There was already a very good idea of what to expect.

    • Hug_dealer says:

      it is odd that one game makes decisions based on what they think will make them more money, and 1 bases their game on what their customers want.

      The difference there is why 1 is a steaming pile, and the other is a golden nugget.

      D3 was about the money, TL2 was about creating exactly what customers wanted.

      Seriously though. Skill trees are bad? WTF man SKill trees have been part of RPGS since oh i dunno the first one. Think about DnD without a skill tree or list. Everyone has access to everything at all times. Wow that is some meaningful character progression. NOT. Requirements for skills in RPGs is natural and allow for a distinct character even when its still class based. Everyone in D3 is the same as the other person in their class.

      • Brun says:

        He means trees as in talent trees, similar to what WoW, Diablo II, and the original Torchlight had, where you spend points and move your way up the tree, collecting some talents while leaving others.

        This is in contrast to Diablo 3 and a few other games including Guild Wars 2, where everyone of a given class eventually has the same set of skills and your “build” is based on the skills you choose to equip at a given time. That’s why he brings up respecs – both of those games let you change your skill loadout at any time. The biggest distinction is that changing your loadout can be done anytime, anywhere, at no cost – if games with traditional “trees” let you do that there’d be less of a difference and he probably wouldn’t feel that way.

        • Hug_dealer says:

          GW2 has traits.

          I know exactly what he is saying, but it is rubbish.

          • Brun says:

            It does have traits, but those generally make a lot less of a difference in how you play than the slot skills you pick, and which weapons you choose (although they may influence those decisions), because most of the traits are things like “Increase healing by 10%!” passive bonuses that alter the effectiveness of your abilities, only a few actually change the way you use those abilities.

            Anyway, we can all see where this argument is going – you think that people should have to sacrifice something to change the skills they have in an RPG, because otherwise they could cheese the system by changing their build up before every pull to suit the mechanics, making their choices pointless, yada yada. I disagree with that because such a system discourages experimentation and forces everyone into cookie-cutter builds that ultimately result in everyone of a given class being one of three or four known viable builds.

            WoW’s old talent system was a great example of this. Every Feral Druid in WoW (prior to Patch 5.0) used the exact same talent build because it was proven to provide the highest DPS. How is this any better than Diablo 3′s system, where “everyone of the same class was the same?” Everyone of the same subclass was the same in my example.

          • Hug_dealer says:

            they both end up with cookie cutter builds. As everyone generally flocks to what is percieved as the best.

            The amount of variety for skills though. Favors torchlight 2.

            First D3 has at most 6 skills you can use at a time. Torchlight 2 allows for up to 12 skills at a time to be used. As you put points into your skills, those skills then unlock additional abilities for that skill. So Cleave could then unlock a knockback in addition. In D3 altering a skill locks you out of other skills, which lowers your ability to truely customize. Lets not mention that all the spells in the game can be learned by any class, making the total amount of skills to use in the game more than you could possibly have in d3.

            Just like D3 requires you to reach a certain level to unlock skills, So does torchlight 2, there is no need to waste skill points in T2, you simply have to reach the appropriate level just like in d3.

            lets factor in that all skills in the game are tied to weapon DPS, which means that your weapon search is always about DPS, not really anythign else, and that stacking your Preferred stat is the only important thing. Atleast in T2 you can spec your Engineer into a a mage of sorts and provide an entirely different way of playing the class. Not so in d3.

            Also lets factor in that T2 lets you mod, and a respec mod will likely be out within the day. D3 is inferior in every way. No way around it.

    • Brun says:

      This, really. I knew long ago there would be much fapping for TL2 on RPS simply because it doesn’t have always-on DRM, and given RPS’s general stance on that issue I knew they would try to prop up TL2 as much as possible, to hold it up next to Diablo 3 and scream to the world “SEE?! This is how it should be done!”

      Still, Diablo 3 had other flaws that (personally) I think deserved much more attention, and are the real problem with that game. Instead, due to DRM-hate, we got a news article every time the servers went down. I think we did get one article on why Diablo 3′s gameplay was bad, but we got about 4 articles about how evil the DRM was.

      • MythArcana says:

        I believe the core issue that most unhappy folks have with Blizzard is the fact they completely lost touch with their user-base years ago with that massive money crown swinging around in the wind up there on the hill. All the collective twists and turns they throw at everyone simply adds up over time and people look for a focal point to seal their argument. Given the two products and price points, I’d say we have a clear winner if there was to be a true comparison in value.

      • John Walker says:

        Seriously, go take you conspiratorial nonsense somewhere else.

    • NathanH says:

      Strictly speaking the Torchlight games don’t have skill trees: the skills have no dependencies on other skills, you just need to be high enough level and have skill points available.

    • John Walker says:

      No, the review was not a foregone conclusion, but thanks for the unfounded accusations of corruption. The review is based on the experience of playing Torchlight 2.

      If you don’t trust this site, can I recommend not reading it?

      • Azru says:

        Why so angry?

        There weren’t any accusations of corrupion in that guy’s post. If anything he was only saying that considering how much the general population of both the RPS staff and it’s readers hates on D3 it was obvious that the very first sentences of the review will say how T2 is better. I expected exactly that and was not disappointed.

        I think that’s the point he was making not that you got paid for giving T2 a good review or whatever.

        • Enikuo says:

          The implication is that this review isn’t honest. The accusation seemed pretty clear to me.

        • caddyB says:

          He pretty much said that John gave Torchlight 2 a good review because he hates Diablo.

  30. pilouuuu says:

    Yeah, take that Blizzard! In your face!
    I don’t want my single-player games always on-line. Torchlight II seems like a fantastic SINGLE-PLAYER game.

    • Brun says:

      You can say that when TL2 sells 6 million copies in a week or whatever Diablo 3 did.

      • Hug_dealer says:

        britney spears has sold more records than bob dylan.

        Is there any question who is honestly more talented and creative…………………………………

      • Kaira- says:

        A million flies can’t be wrong: shit tastes great. In other news, argumeniumt ad populum is still a bad argument.

  31. daphne says:

    “I just start thinking about Grim Dawn and Torchlight II, and how much I can’t wait to see what they add to the genre.” — John Walker, “How Diablo III’s Solo Experience Reveals A Hollow Game”.

    But you don’t seem particularly disappointed here, Mr. Walker!

    Never mind my snarkiness, though, I just think D3 was treated a bit harshly around these parts. Torchlight II is admittedly great. Now if only I could actually get a Runic account… I wonder why they did not use Steamworks?

    • Joshua Northey says:

      I agree this whole paragraph was hilarious “But that interesting position. It’s pretty much perfect at being something we already know. It really makes no efforts to take the genre anywhere new. That was enormously disappointing when Diablo III did it, while also strangling itself in moronic DRM, bugs and issues. With a game in such a fantastic state as Torchlight 2, it’s instead just a bit of a shame. There was a chance to innovate a lot more here, and while I don’t think for a moment that anyone buying this would be the least bit disappointed in any of it, it would still have been nice to see a significant step forward here.”

      RPS is constantly excoriating games as “me too”, but then when it is one of their indie darlings it is suddenly gets a pass. I liked torchlight II back when I played it the first time 12 years ago.

      Why they felt the innovations in D3 were disappointing I’ll never know, the game certainly had flaws, and it was not perfect, but it was well worth the money and it made several concrete improvements to the genre. The price point between the two games is not different enough to merit the kind of discounting between the two reviews, D3 was 3 times more expensive, not 40.

      For your average gamer the marginal difference between $20 and $60 is nothing compared to getting 20 vs 200 hours out of a game. i understanding grading them on a bit of a curve, but this just seems silly.

      • Hug_dealer says:

        you might think that d3 improved things, but alot of people also feel it was a failure. Such as myself. The character building and tactics in the game is horrible. Loot variation is horrible. The fact that all skills are tied to weapon DPS is horrible.

        The game didnt move shit forward for the genre, it dumbed it down even further. The fact that normal is a joke in terms of difficulty, and you are forced to play the joke of a difficulty to even get to the part that just starts to get difficult.

        I could continue to go on about the terrible parts of D3, but that would actually require me truly care about when a better game has come along for cheaper.

        Neither game is a huge step forward for the genre, but one takes all the right steps to insure a long lasting and fun game.

        • Azru says:

          If you actually didn’t care you wouldn’t write ~10+ comments bashing D3 here. But you did. Just pointing that out.

  32. Emeraude says:

    That birthday LAN party week end can’t come soon enough.

  33. DuddBudda says:

    I’ve basically ostracised myself from my gaming group by not liking dungeon crawlers – BL2 and TL2 being the games du jour

    should I just take the plunge?

    • Hug_dealer says:

      no, if you dont enjoy something, dont do it.

      Saying that, playing with friends can make games and things you might not normally like, quite enjoyable. Its only $20 to give T2 a try.

  34. Lemming says:

    Small question as this is latest Wot I think: Are you guys going to do a Black Mesa Wot I think?

    • Yosharian says:

      I’ll save them the trouble – go and play it. It’s brilliant.

    • Lemming says:

      I’ve played and finished it, I just thought it would be a nice acknowledgement that this is actually a very full game, not just a mere mod. I think it deserves to be looked at like one. The fact is missing Xen doesn’t make it incomplete IMO, as it ends on a cool cliff-hanger ending. Xen is coming DLC, in modern terms basically.

    • bill says:

      Would be interested in this. Both for knowing what it’s like and also it’d make an interesting article to compare old style and new style FPS. DO IT!

  35. Fumarole says:

    You died every 10.4 minutes?!

  36. rockman29 says:

    Why oh why did I buy Diablo 3…?

  37. Lagwolf says:

    Runic took the idea that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it just do more. I am meant to be reviewing it & I am trying to come up with something clever & snide to say about as to be not too gushing. So far it is #epicfail time. Damn you Runic!

  38. Euphoric says:

    “But that interesting position. It really makes no efforts to take the genre anywhere new.”

    So wait, why should I bother with it then? If it’s not at least trying to take me somewhere more than everything past – then what’s the point?

    • Hug_dealer says:

      because its fun.

      Why else do kids play baseball, or basketball etc. You can do the same time over and over, and have fun doing it.

      • Consumatopia says:

        Kids are smart enough not to shell out more money for Baseball 2, though.

        • MacTheGeek says:

          EA’s annual iterations of sports titles sell amazingly well, especially among the console set. Kids will not only buy Baseball 2, they’ll buy Baseball 3, 4, 5, and 6.

    • Filden says:

      You’re saying you’ve never gotten any mileage out of genre fiction? Sometimes you just want to watch a horror movie that is well made, and you know. Scary. It doesn’t have to reinvent the genre to celebrate it.

      In terms of Torchlight 2, the refinement of a genre to the degree that it does is an advancement in itself.

  39. JiminyJickers says:

    Yeah, I think veteran level is perfect. I started playing on Normal and it was pretty boring, once I started playing on Veteran, I started enjoying the game a lot more.

  40. Vorphalack says:

    Dear developers, please stop putting hints and tips on the loading screens. Sincerely, everyone ever.

    Apart from that it’s all gravy. Wont be getting bored with this one for a long time.

    • JiminyJickers says:

      Dear developers, please keep putting hints and tips on the loading screens.

    • Qazinsky says:

      W-what? But having something to read while the game loads are great, maybe you learn something you didn’t know before!

      If anything, I’d prefer if you could see the last shown tip in the game menu in case the load screen are too fast!

      • Vorphalack says:

        ”W-what? But having something to read while the game loads are great, maybe you learn something you didn’t know before!”

        Oh i’ve learned a few things, such as:

        ”Attacks which cause fire damage also have a chance to-”

        and

        ”Any loot you find in multi-player games is-”

        and

        ”In multi-player games, the monsters you fight will do more-”

        I’m training myself to read 60 words a second so that one day I can complete these nuggets of knowledge.

    • Nim says:

      Dear developers, give us users a setting in say torchlight2.ini to enable/disable hints on loading screens?

  41. alundra says:

    Here’s what I think of Torchlight 2:

    https://twitter.com/RunicGames/status/248832360517349376

    congratulations for them!

  42. phenom_x8 says:

    And, damn ! They’re become top seller on steam now (beats Borderlands 2). Nice!!

  43. killuminati says:

    I had a couple of hours yesterday with the game. I bought it some months ago and I was waiting for it to hit in July. If it was so I would have enjoyed it way too much.
    I personally found my self itching to go back to GW2 and even if TL2 is a great game I find it lacking of some more “action” like a dash/evade button to use and TBH even if D3 was a real disappointment, I think potions spamming is getting really hold. Even GW2 removed it and it makes the game so muc better.

    • Qazinsky says:

      You know that skill John mentioned in the article, Shadow burst? Can totally be used as the dodge button in guild wars 2 (aiming with mouse might be needed)!

      Be careful as to not burst through the enemy though, since you tend to carry the enemy with you sometimes, means that attack you try to dodge will come along with you.

  44. drewski says:

    I don’t think it would have mattered what the reviews said, I was still going to buy it, but it’s nice to see that people who know games are enjoying it.

  45. ZephyrSB says:

    By jove, I think they’ve finally done it. It’s taken them 3 games, but they’ve finally managed to recapture the inexplicible charm of FATE.

    Loving the weapon arcs in melee – finally two-handers are useful in a ARPG! Fear my wrench!

    But as much as I love the Diablo I-style music, it still feels at a bit of a disconnect with both the art style and game tone. Not that I’d want something vibrant-happy-sunshine-land style obviously, but something a bit heavier and steampunky than those creepy strings just would seem a bit more appropiate I think.

  46. ShinRyuuken says:

    I wish I could get rid of my D3 x.x
    Guess I’ll give T2 a try then. Wasn’t enjoying much of the beta, but things have probably been changed and tweaked.

  47. Nim says:

    The loot, the boss fights, the random events, the challenge rooms, the colors, the enemies. This is… this is… this is bliss!

  48. Yar says:

    Nothing added to the genre? What about the new technology they invented that allows you to play by yourself offline on your own computer, regardless of how many other people in the world are also trying to play on their computers?

  49. Flea says:

    I really want to like this game, I really do. And it’s nice to hear that it’s not the same deepest dungeon in the history of gaming where the only way is down, down, and down some more. But I just can’t get over the overly cartoonish graphics and fonts that look like comic sans. I know it’s part of the game’s charm, or it’s supposed to be, but it bugs me.

    Maybe I’ll get it on sale some time down the road, just like Borderlands 2 (again, cartoonish graphics), it’s not like I don’t have enough games to play throughout the fall and winter months.

    • x1501 says:

      The cartoonish graphics look far worse on the static screenshots than they do in-game. You should at least try the demo before you make up your mind.

      • Flea says:

        I’ve played the first one and still have it installed. Haven’t gotten too far for reasons I’ve already mentioned. And I’m not talking just about the screenshots, I’ve seen gameplay videos, video reviews, I know what it looks like. Anyway, I don’t mean to take anything away from the game, a lot of people obviously like it, it just doesn’t seem to be “my thing”.

  50. MysterD says:

    Thought the TL2 Beta was awesome; and loved the TL2 Demo that I played last night. I’m gonna eventually have to get this game.