Torchlight II

Torchlight II

Did you play Torchlight? No? Then first things first, go play it.

Back? Now you can show the proper enthusiasm: I’m going to tell you about Torchlight II.

Developed by some of the same folks that worked on a little game called Diablo, you’re going to see a few of the same pleasing similarities – loot, potions, loot, portals and scrolls, loot. Of course this isn’t Diablo, this is Torchlight, and where the first game brought fun and addictive gameplay in fantastic style the sequel adds a generous helping of multiplayer and new environments. This is not an add-on, folks, this is a full sequel that makes a good game great. Or a great game greater. Whichever it is it’s good stuff.

In Torchlight II we venture beyond the town of Torchlight into the randomized expanse of the surface – though still finding plenty of entrances into the dungeons. The gratifying exploration of the first game is amplified in the sequel, with travel to additional towns, day-night cycles and weather effects, and loot drops that have you seeking out additional chests.

One of the biggest changes from the first game are the characters you go action-adventuring with – though you can bump into characters of yore as NPCs. Of the four newbies, two are revealed: The Railman and the Outlander. The former is a melee-centered blue collar brawler, while the Outlander fills the predominately range combat role of rogue with both a rifle and a magical glaive. Along with the new characters comes some additional customisation, like sex, hair, basic facial structure and even more armor. While I generally prefer a ranged class the Railman packs such a satisfying punch I ended up playing most with him. As he fights he acquires orbiting sparks that spin around his character until they’re channeled into an attack, so I guess what it comes down to is that I enjoy being orbited by sparklies.

Current pets are the familiar dog, cat and ferret – and as the ferret was only available with the boxed copy of the game this was my first time adventuring with him. While I’m definitely still a dog person, there’s whimsy to going adventuring with your battling ferret that I find appealing. Additional pets remain veiled in mystery for now.

Torchlight the second brings the one thing our reviewer mentioned he wished the first game had – multiplayer. Online multiplayer features LAN and a lobby server. It was easy to drop into the multiplayer and do a little solo adventuring before I ultimately chose to meet up with some friends. Getting crushed by a giant ogre-like creature reinforced how important the co-op in the multi-player is, these bosses are definitely scaled to be taken on by more than one person and their suddenly-looking-very-small fighting ferret. When you realize, as I did, that you need help there are icons on the map cuing you to where the other players are. No need to get loot greedy, either, the only items you’ll see onscreen are the ones you can pick up.

Accessibility is a big part of Torchlight’s charm and that is retained in the sequel, even with the addition of multiplayer (which would understandably complicate things). It’s still remarkably easy to drop into the game, which includes specific areas to pick up quests or teammates. The number of players able to party up is subject to change as they toy with the best combination, and right now they’re recommending groups of 2-4. Doesn’t seem like a crowd until you add n 2-4 pets, and 2-4 people that may have the ability to summon other creatures and suddenly you see how that dungeon could get mighty crowded, mighty quick. Should close quarters prompt infighting you’re out of luck, there are no current plans for PvP.

The menu bar is tweaked, pushing mana and health to the outside and a better focus on the action items. Of course, I need to improve my own focus since I was fond of perishing without regard for so much as a modicum of health potion while I gazed at my sparring ferret’s robust health bar. Yeah, that’s my ProTip: pet’s health is upper left, yours is down centerish.

TorchEd, the game’s editor, is still readily available for modders – with Runic’s blessing, of course – and while final pricing isn’t firmly announced the team still plans on a $20 price point for Torchlight II. Meanwhile, the Torchlight MMO is still in progress, and with enough new content and ideas for a sequel Torchlight II’s much asked-for multiplayer is a natural step. Action RPG lovers can expect to feel all new-quest tingly in Spring 2011.

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