Torchlight 2 – PC – RRP £15

I remember the original Torchlight, grabbing it during one of Steams famous XMAS sales for only £3.74 or something insane like that, and really digging it. I thought the combat was neat, and the premise of the game was fairly new to me; the action/rpg dungeon crawler genre not being one I’d played before (no, I never played Diablo II). You had a lot of customisation of your character, there was hundreds (if not thousands) of different items to pick up, reminding me very much of Borderlands, and there was something about gibbing an enemy into a thousand pieces that appealed to me. Because of this I was very excited for Torchlight II, the direct sequel which packs even more of a punch than the original game, building upon everything that made it absolutely great, and then some. Fans of Diablo 3 better step back, because I believe Torchlight II is here to take the title.

The only thing I don’t get about Torchlight II is the story, I’m sure there is one, but I can’t follow it. At the beginning, you start as your character and begin questing, levelling, and searching for loot. And for me, as a gamer, and a fan of the genre, that’s good enough. Diablo 3 had the same problem; nothing really comes of the story. If you want to watch it and pretend it’s some marvel of a story like Mass Effect 3 then sure, but an Action RPG game like Torchlight II is all about the levelling, the loot, and the awesome. Also, you will probably see comparisons to Diablo 3 a lot, because that’s a very similar title and wasn’t released terribly long ago. All this said, most of the quests have their own little tale or story attributed to them, and that’s pretty good.

The core gameplay is similar to that of the original Torchlight, as well as other Action-RPGs. You traverse various dungeons and overworlds, seeking items or monsters to kill for quests. Other enemies will try to hinder your progress along the way, and it’s upto you to destroy them with as much mighty pain as possible. All the while, you’ll come across many thousands of items, the majority of which are randomly generated, including weapons, armor, rings. You augment your items with Enchantments, as well as gems/stones, to give them bonus stats. You’re also actively levelling up, very frequently (my average time per level is around 17 minutes) in which you unlock skill and class points, to level up your core stats, as well as allocating skill points into the many skills your particular Archetype has on offer. In the meantime, you’re acquiring spells dropped by the foes you vanquish, and allocating them not only to yourself, but also to your very useful pet. That’s right mother-readers, you get a lovely pet!

You have a choice from 8 different animals, including wolves, bulldogs and hawks! But the aesthetics of the pet are far from their greatest feature, though it is pretty damn good. The pets serve as allies in combat, and your own personal super assistant. You can teach them spells, and it’s common to teach them the summon spells that’re a bit awkward to cast yourself when you’re surrounded by a dozen enemies. As well as this, your pet has no issues with taking all the loot you don’t want to town and selling it to the merchant, as well as picking you up potions; that’s right, you trust your Pappilon with 5000 gold, and unlike your friend who never delivers the goods on time, your trusty sidekick never lets you down.

The main additions to Torchlight 2 in comparison to the original would new classes, and fairly revised combat. The four new classes are the Berserker, Engineer, Embermage and Outlander, the former two being primarily melee oriented and the latter two being proficient in spells and ranged weapons like guns and bows. One of the main things that Torchlight 2 does differently is that any class can basically equip and use any weapon, and all classes can duel wield. This doesn’t necesarily reflect the best way to play each class, for example a duel claw wielding Embermage is arguably not the most efficient way to play the class, but it is possible. Likewise, there’re popular, albeit crazy builds on the internet involving melee based Outlanders, a class mainly used to using duel pistols or shotgonnes (deliberate spelling). While playing with my main man Nick, he rolled Embermage and myself Outlander, and he used a Shotgonne as his second weapon set for a while, and had a Mace and Wand in his other equipment set. When enemies were far away enough, he attacked with his class specific abilities, and when they neared in he’d pummel them to oblivion with the mace. It was a bloodbath.

The other neat addition to combat is the Charge bar which works slightly differently on each class but is generally filled up by doing as much fighting as possible. My main character, md, the Outlander (and his sidekick chubs, after you bro, you know who you are) fills up his Charge bar by fighting monsters and using his abilities, and when the bar is filled he gains +10% in his core stats, crit chance, attack+casting speed, and it stays full as long as you remain in combat; when you don’t fight for a while the bar starts to decay. The Charge system works slightly different with each class; the Engineer for example gets several ‘blips’ which can empower his various abilities to perform extra effects; his main Hammer ability can do extra damage or scorch enemies. The Berserker gains 100% crit chance when the Charge bar is filled, but it only lasts for a short amount of time before completely decaying and having to be filled again; but a lot of his passive and active abilities will have extra effects activated with crit chance, like life regen, making the Berserker a super tank but only for a brief time.  The Embermage also has to have a full Charge bar, but when it is full spells and abilities cost no mana for a set amount of time, meaning you can really rain down spell-based destruction in a big way.

Each class has 3 different skill trees, with a variety of active skills as well as passive ones, each with a possible 15 points being able to be allocated. To reward the player for sticking with their favourite skills, for every 5 skills points you place into the skill, you gain a unique ‘tiered’ effect. This makes the ability more powerful, or have a bonus extra effect. Example of this may make your skill shots break into extra pieces, or travel a further distance. It’s significantly more clear than Torchlight too, which I believe was a little bit cluttered.

Rather than spending the majority of the game in dungeons, like in Torchlight, in TL2 you spend a lot of the time in the over-world, and it’s spread over acts based in different locales. There’s a desert area, a woodlands and allsorts in between, as well as the super popular dungeon crawling aspect. It has different main towns, and you can expect a playthrough to take around 20 hours per character, depending on difficulty. There’re 4 difficulties, Easy, Normal, Veteran and Elite, and a hardcore mode where death is permanent. After you finish the main adventure, you can play a ‘new game plus’ mode, where enemies are more difficult from the get-go but you get to keep all your items and skills developed.

Torchlight 2 has also introduced multiplayer to the series, allowing up to 6 players to adventure side by side. You can also play over a LAN or single player, and you can carry your characters between each of the different game modes. You can play with your friends in the same game even if they’re at different parts in the story, so that’s also quite neat.

Torchlight has a very low minimum spec requirement, especially in comparison to Diablo 3, meaning everyone except those with the oldest computers should be able to play it. This however doesn’t stop the game looking absolutely great. The colours are vivid and bright, and the graphics take a realistic/drawn style, similar to Torchlight but also reminscient of games like Team Fortress 2. Character models and enemies, especially some of the bosses look truly spectacular, and in some fights there’s so much action happening on your screen even the hardest of tech fans would be impressed. Lightning bolts flying around, bullets, tornados and enemies exploding into little piles of gore. This is all complimented by Torchlight 2’s sound effects and soundtrack, who I’m led to believe by the many viewers of my stream (frequently live on www.twitch.tv/winreview!) was done by a veteran of Diablo 2, the game that Torchlight 2 is most reminscent of (also apparently!). The music is a delight to listen to, and the many sound effects of weapons, abilities and squashing and pounding make Torchlight 2 a treat on the ears.

It’s at this point I’d like to take my time and describe what makes Torchlight 2 better than Diablo 3, preferably without a lot of fanboy hate or rage, and while being totally professional.

  1. Torchlight 2 has a stat and ability system, and great character customisation. You choose what skills to level and use. In Diablo, you unlock skills at certain levels, and some of which aren’t particularly viable or useful for the type of character you wish to play. It feels like a real RPG, and isn’t totally linear.
  2. Torchlight 2 has a wider range of quests and missions, and ultimately a larger selection of skills and abilities. The loot system more infinite than Diablo 3, and there’s no real-money-auction-house to buy your way to being the best.
  3. The pets on Torchlight 2 are just down-right awesome. Diablo 3 doesn’t have pets, per se.
  4. Torchlight 2 retails for only £15. Diablo 3 is £45 retail.
  5. Torchlight 2 has Steamwork support, meaning people can mod the game easily and play with friends. This stuff is free. Expect new chapters to the story, game modes, even a League of Legends-esque 3v3 match system, or a ‘horde’ style game mode. It’s all possible. Diablo 3 doesn’t want anyone to mess with their game files.

That’s just a few of the things that really make Torchlight 2 stand out not only as a video game, but as the new leading title in the genre. To be frank, people who are a fan of Diablo 3 will not only be a fan of this game, but I’m more than certain they’d prefer it. People who are wanting to give the genre a try out for the first time, or are interested in getting comepletely addicted to a loot fest, then Torchlight 2 is a great way to jump in at only £15.

The Bottom Line.

The time I’ve already spent on Torchlight 2 has been a lot of fun. The classes are all varied, the skills are insane, the levelling is fast and constantly rewarding the player with new skills, abilities, loot and progress; all of which add up to be one addictive game. Considering Runic Games are a relatively small (almost indie) company, like a lot of other websites have said, they have created the game here that Diablo 3 wishes it was. It oozes charm and playability, all the time not forgetting that the player is the one who wants to enjoy it all. You’d really struggle to find a game that you like more than Torchlight 2 at the pricepoint, and the amount of play you will undoubtedly get out of it, possibly in 5 or 6 hours stints (like I found myself doing!) feels very rewarding and justified. Everything about Torchlight 2 seems to sit perfectly, and right now it’s the pinnacle of the Action-RPG loot based dungeon crawler pet lovers genre, complete with tons of enemies and 5 other buddies. I’m real excited for when Steamworks goes live with this game to see some of the insane mods people will be pumping out. Seriously, I want a ‘zombies’-esque game mode where you gain money to unlock skills and weapons. Someone make it real! Torchlight 2, you freaking rock!

Gameplay: 10/10 – The definitive action RPG game. This is the standard for all others to be compared to.
Bang for Buck: 10/10 – Many tens, if not hundreds of hours of gameplay for only £15. You can even buy a 4 pack for £45, if you have buds, to save a little bit of dough! Insane value!
Graphics: 9/10 – The game has a great aesthetic to it, combat looks swell when it’s all going down, and all the models look real swell.
Sound: 9/10 – The soundtrack is spectacular and the sound effects just add to it. It’s available free online (real free, not illegal free) if you look for it!

Accessibility: 2/2 – Pick up and play for newcomers and those returning to the genre.
Presentation: 2/2 – Menus are extremely efficient, compressing a lot of information into only 6 clear to read menus. HUD is also efficient, and resources/xp are always clear.
Immersion: 1.5/2 – The story didn’t exactly pull me right in, but the gameplay is so addictive. Real easy to sink several hours into this title without realising. (so an honorary .5)
Innovation: 2/2 – Everything that made Torchlight great and then some; new pet features, better skill trees, huge maps, and the Torchlight mod support. This game is so good!

Torchlight 2 – 9.7/10 (and deserves every point!)

This review is based upon a review code of the PC version of the game. Torchlight 2 was provided by Runic Games for review purposes.

Mike Davenport the author

Mike D is the founder of winreview.com, an avid gamer and beard enthusiast. You can catch him @winreviewmiked on Twitter, hashtag MIKE D on xbox live and MIKED! on Steam. Add that guy! Play some games!

1 Readers Commented

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  1. NINJA_F15H on 26/09/2012

    Great review just wish I had more time to play!

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