Torchlight II Review

01 Oct 2012

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Perfect World Entertainment
Developer:Runic Games
Release Date:2012-09-20
Genre:
  • Role-Playing,Action
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
Introduction

Torchlight II is the follow-up to 2009's action RPG Torchlight.  It's definitely a "more" sequel, as developer Runic Games has added in more classes, more pets, more skills, a bigger world, and, well, more.  But do these additions actually improve the game, or is it just meaningless excess?  Keep reading to find out.

Characters

Torchlight II comes with four character classes: Berserkers (animalistic melee specialists), Embermages (magic specialists), Engineers (heavy weapons specialists), and Outlanders (ranged specialists).  Each class gets 30 unique skills organized under three trees, and each skill has 15 ranks.  If you played Torchlight, then you can already see the "more" nature of Torchlight II, as Torchlight only had three classes, 30 non-unique skills per class, and 10 ranks per skill.  The difference is that you're given way more directions to go in Torchlight II, and so two characters -- whether they have the same class or not -- might not play anything alike.

As an example, when I played through the campaign, I used a Berserker, and I had him focus mostly on the Tundra tree.  That meant he could use Stormclaw to add electrical damage to his attacks, Permafrost to damage and freeze all enemies around him, and Cold Steel Mastery to improve his melee and cold damage.  Other Berserkers might choose the Hunter tree for clawing skills, or the Shadow tree for shadow wolf skills, or some combination of the three.  One of the nice things about Torchlight II is that the only prerequisite for skills is your level, and so you can cherry pick the ones you like best.  Each tree also has three passive skills, so if you don't like juggling a lot of active skills, you can make things simpler on yourself.

Each character also has four attributes: Strength (physical damage), Dexterity (critical chance and dodge chance), Focus (mana points and magical damage), and Vitality (health and armor).  This is completely different than how attributes worked in Torchlight, but the change is effective.  All of the attributes are important for all characters, and so you might need to think about how you allocate the attribute points you receive each time you gain a level.

Finally, when you create your character, you also get to choose a gender and an appearance (both of which were fixed in Torchlight), and a pet.  There are eight pets available, including hawks, ferrets and bulldogs, but as far as I can tell they're all identical except for their appearance.  Pets work about the same in Torchight II as they did in Torchlight -- they help in battle and give you extra storage space -- but now along with returning to town to sell items for you, they can also buy staples (potions, scrolls) that you might be low on.

Gameplay

The controls in Torchlight II are identical to what they were in Torchlight.  You left click to move, interact with something, or use your standard attack on an enemy; you right click to use a skill or a spell; you press tab to switch between two right-click skills / spells; you press w to switch between two weapon sets; you press shift to attack without moving; you press alt to highlight objects on the ground; and so forth.  The control scheme was simple and effective in Torchlight (and dozens of other action RPGs that have used roughly the same system), and they work well again here.

One of the main differences between Torchlight and Torchlight II is the pace.  After playing some Torchlight II, I went back and played a little Torchlight, and it sure seems like everything in Torchlight II moves about 25% faster.  For a while this really bugged me, as I felt like I was stuck in permanent FF mode (and worse, when my Berserker started a frenzy, it was like 2X FF mode), but then I eventually got used to it.  However, the pace means that the game is much more hectic than it used to be, especially in co-op games, and once you get mobbed by enemies, it's frequently difficult to tell what's going on, and you just have to start clicking like crazy to survive.  That is, just because you enjoyed Torchlight, that doesn’t mean you'll enjoy Torchlight II, especially if you're a part of the older and slower generation.
 
 

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