In the Game – The Fires of Diablo in ‘Torchlight II’

In the Game – The Fires of Diablo in ‘Torchlight II’

Let’s get this clear: The only experience I had with Diablo III was the beta. Perhaps it was because it was only the beginning of the game, or maybe it was just that it didn’t feel like the Diablo I knew. Whatever it was, the game was a bore.

When I caught wind of Torchlight II, I was immedi-

ately interested. I decided to take a chance and pre- purchase the game, and I was able to play the first Torchlight to get a feel for the series. Granted, it started slow. But after the first boss, it became challenging, and my character began to learn interesting abilities.

Fast forward four months, and Torchlight II comes out. I start it up, customize the look of my first char- acter from the Engineer Class and name him, Ward Emberlain.

After enjoying an interesting cinematic – the style is different from standard cinematics – my character spawns in Echo Pass, the starting area.

The resemblance between Diablo II’s and Torchlight II’s first Acts are striking. Even the music sounds simi- lar. Of course, there’s a reason for all that.

Runic Games, the indie game company behind Torchlight II, was founded by some of the developers who were instrumental in the first two Diablo games. Composer Matt Uelmen even created the soundtrack for both game.

Let’s discuss Torchlight II’s features.

The first, and one of the most prominent features, is that the game has offline single player, LAN and on- line multiplayer. The character you play offline can also be played online.

At the character creation screen, you can select among four classes: The Berserker, The Engineer, The Embermage and The Outlander. Berserkers are a melee-heavy class, Engineers use heavy melee and ranged weapons, Embermages rely on spells and Out- landers are a ranged-heavy class.

After you decide on a class, you are allowed to choose your character’s gender, customize the appear- ance of your character, and pick a pet – there are eight animals to choose from – to accompany you on your journey.

Pets, besides helping you kill enemies, have an inven- tory of their own that you can use for extra storage. Pets can be sent to town to sell whatever is in the in- ventory. Unlike the first game, you are now allowed to send pets to town to buy potions, town portal scrolls, and identify scrolls. This is very handy when you’re in the middle of a dungeon with little to no supplies.

Torchlight II has skill trees that are reminiscent of Diablo II. However, there are no prerequisites in order to learn a skill other than needing a certain level. Skill points are obtained through leveling up and acquiring fame. Fame, which is obtained by slaying champion monsters and completing quests, is only used to earn additional skill points and obtain non-displayable

Like early Diablo II, unfortunately, placing skill

points and attribute points can be done incorrectly, leading to a character that is fairly weak. Unlike Dia- blo III, there isn’t way to re-spec your character, which can be frustrating on one end and encourage replay value on the other.

Throughout Act I, my engineer came across three uniques, quite a few rare-quality items, and many uncommon-quality items.

Drop rates in Torchlight II feel reasonable enough. Unique-quality weapons and armor drop rarely, but not to the point where you expect never to see them.

Click away and watch everything around you die.

Combat plays about as well as you’d expect in a hack- and-slash dungeon crawler. The combat isn’t entirely stiff, but it’s not as fluid as Diablo III. It can sometimes be frustrating when you’re playing a ranged charac- ter and the character doesn’t seem to respond to your clicks like you want it to.

Despite some minor complaints I had about the game, Torchlight II does its job well. The content this game has to offer is impressive considering the $20 price tag.

Don’t pass this one up.

Frank Garza