in Review

Torchlight II

Torchlight II is an excellent counterpoint to Diablo III. Despite them outwardly appearing to be incredibly similar games, they actually differ in a lot of key areas. That, coupled with the hyper fanatic nature of the video game industry, meant an imaginary war went on between these two titles last years, as fans picked sides and set forth on campaigns to destroy each other. But the reality is that both are really great games, and I had a lot of fun losing a lot of hours to both of them.

If you haven’t been paying attention, the Torchlight series is made by the guys who made Diablo II – the game a lot of people hold up as the greatest of the dungeon-crawling action RPGs. These are loot-driven games, players pick characters and go out exploring, opening chests and killing thousands of monsters, looking for new gear so they can keep exploring and killing monsters. It’s a very addictive cycle, as the charm of cool looking armor and more destructive weapons is pretty hard to resist.

While the first game basically just sent players deeper and deeper into one cave, Torchlight II is full of different environments. Over the course of the story, you’ll be fighting in snow, deserts, and forests all of which are home to dozens of mines, caves, ruins, and plenty of monsters. The change of scenery is a something you wouldn’t expect to make as huge a difference as it does, I found it way easier to play this game longer than the original.

You can play as four classes: the Outlander, the Berserker, the Embermage and the Engineer – essentially ranged DPS, melee DPS, mage, tank. I initially chose the Outlander, but as that class started turning from a ranged DPS class to a caster, I decided to reroll as a berserker, which I stuck with. Unlike Diablo III, which encouraged experimentation and did away with skill trees, Torchlight II has very deep skill trees and punishes experimentation. There is no way to respec stat points and you can only undo the last three skill points invested, meaning you basically have to play the game with one build in mind. Some more old-school players might be into this, but I think it’s a terrible choice. I don’t want to make another character in the same class just to try playing a little differently.

Look, I can keep comparing this Diablo III if you want, but it’s getting kind of tedious. That game was really fun, but marred by the realization that there really wasn’t any endgame outside of the auction house. Torchlight II has New Game +s coming out the wazoo. Diablo III is always online, Torchlight II supports any kind of play imaginable – offline, LAN, online. Diablo III has a great look and amazing cinematics, Torchlight II has a great look and silly cinematics. Neither story is that great. And in the end, Torchlight II costs $20. So if you haven’t gotten either of them, get this one.