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Torchlight 2

October 24, 2012

Dear Reader,

As I promised a few weeks ago, I have a Torchlight 2 review for you.  I’ve put in several hours now and am most of the way through the game.  I’ve played exactly 1 class in normal mode.  In other words, I’m letting you know up front that I’m not the most experienced player.  However, I feel I’ve gotten a solid view of the game and can go forth and write.

Instead of a traditional review, I’m going to pretend I’m speaking to a rabid D3 fan (few that there are) and explain how Torchlight differs.

What are the major differences between D3 and Torchlight 2?

Well, for one, TL2 is fun!  ZING!  Seriously, though, TL2 is really a rollback to the best things about D2 that Blizzard seems to have discounted that’s merged with all the good things of the first Torchlight.  It utilizes talent trees instead of an open progression system.  It limits your choices in what’s available to you without limiting you to what you use.  In other words, you wont necessarily get every ability in the game (though you could) for your class, but you’ll be able to use whichever ones you want and about as many as you want.

So you’re saying D3 was better, then?

No.  Not by a long shot.  Making choices and having to stick with them is something that a lot of players missed; having to learn every single ability and where and when to use it was a pain in D3.  I’d rather choose what I like and stick with it rather than being essentially forced – which tougher levels of D3 did – to choose certain talents.  Additionally, the gearing system is TL2 is much more friendly.  Armor can be worn by anyone and every stat has some use, so you’re throwing a lot less away.  Weapons are the more limiting factor, but not really that limiting.  Every class has at least 3 different weapon types it can work with, with a lot of overlap, so again, Tl2 did better.  Lastly, there’s set items from the very beginning, giving players direction and purpose in their itemization from the start.  That’s a great feature that I hope to see in many more games of this genre; sets shouldn’t just be for the top levels.

But… but…  D3 had more classes and levels!

Yes, it did.  Torchlight 2 only has 4 classes instead of 5 and 3 acts instead of 4.  However, everything I’ve seen about TL2 is of higher quality, so while I may not get as much in a single playthrough, I’ll probably want to continue playing after my first round, unlike D3.

What about the control system?

It’s similar to D3 and most games in that genre; click to move, attack, and pick things up.  Not much new stuff going on there.

Are there elements from the first Torchlight that still stand out?

Yes, the pets are still around, and they’re great.  I like that some classes – mine in particular – can take talents to make summons and pets stronger; it gives weaker ranged classes more meat in between them and the enemy.  Additionally, the pets can still go to town and sell – and now buy – things for you.  D3 didn’t have anything like that, though of course town was only a button click away.

Fishing is also still around.  It was wildly popular in the first game and appears here in basically the same fashion.  I never really got into the fishing craze, but I do drop a line in the “secret” fishing holes around the maps; sometimes you can find really good items in there.

Enchanting returns, as well.  You can pay an enchanter to get a random enchant on your weapon.  Each enchant is much, much more expensive than the last, but you can also play to have the enchants removed.  In other words, it’s yet another form of gambling (there is also a traditional “gambler” vendor in the game).  My wife claims one of her weapons lost DPS after an enchant that she removed, but I haven’t heard nor read of anything else like that; in the original game, you could accidentally destroy an item from getting too many enchants on it, so it’s possible that there are some curse-like effects that may occur.

What else makes TL2 better than D3?

Oh, lots of little things.  The maps encourage exploration; there’s hidden rooms and chests with keys that you have to find on mobs elsewhere in the zone.  There’s secret portals only accessible through finding special mobs, too, so there’s more to keep you looking around than just more xp.

How would you rate the classes?

Well, I’ve only played one, but in my group of 4 everyone has a different class, so I’ve seen them all in battle.  The most cool looking seems to be the Embermage, which my buddy says is like the Wizard (obviously) with more buttons.  I’m not sure if he meant that as a good thing or a bad thing, but he’s certainly enjoying the game.  Of course, he enjoyed D3, as well.

The outlander would compare to the demon hunter.  My wife played both, but likes the outlander more.  It’s a bit closer range than the DH, but that lets her feel like more of a part of the action, whereas at times in D3 she felt outside and separate, to the point where she wouldn’t even get health globes that melee automatically picked up.

The Berserker is similar to the barbarian; my buddy plays that one.  He enjoys it, but is rather closemouthed about things, so that’s about all I can say.

My character, the Engineer, is hard to compare to a D3 class; if anything, it’s probably like the paladin of D2.  It has a 2h melee, sword and board, and summoning tree.  I’ve mostly played with the 2h and summoning trees, and I’m quite happy with the outcome.  It seems for once I’ve chosen a strong class and spec, and he obliterates things.  With a fair amount of life leech, he’s nigh-unkillable.

Are there things that D3 did better than TL2?

Absolutely.  The grouping system in TL2 is rather primitive by today’s standards, and there’s been a lot of crashes in the most recent patch in Multiplayer games.  D3′s grouping system is the best I’ve ever seen, so Blizz can pat themselves on the back for that one element.

So, your final comments?

Well,  my buddy and I refer to the “Ed Standard,” which is a comment an old acquaintance of ours made: you should get at least as many hours of enjoyment from a game as dollars you pay for it.  At 60 bucks, D3 is my biggest gaming regret in a long time. I doubt I played it 60 hours, and if I did, I wasn’t enjoying it for most of them.  TL2 at 20 bucks is an amazing buy that will entertain people of that genre for at least as many hours if not many more.    Go buy it!

Sincerely,

Stubborn (with special thanks to unnamed D3 fan, whoever you are)

Edit: well, this was supposed to be tomorrow’s post, but I misclicked the date.  Enjoy it early!

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