The original Torchlight took many ARPG veterans by surprise with its art style, storytelling, loot system and much more. However, it lacked multiplayer and had many wanting more than just a single player experience. Torchlight II brings multiplayer and a wealth of other changes to the franchise; do these changes herald a new king of ARPGs?
Introduction, Style & Classes
The story of Torchlight II picks up a few years after the original and follows the journey of the Alchemist, a playable character class from the original Torchlight. The old heroes lay defeated by the hand of their former comrade in arms, the Alchemist. The Alchemist has been corrupted by the Ember Blight from Ordrak’s heart and has set out to cure himself.
All the while not concerning himself with who gets in his way or what drastic measures he has to take to achieve his goal; in the process, disturbing the balance of the six magical guardians. A new group of heroes arrive to answer the call to overcome the horrors left behind in the Alchemist’s wake, and to stop him before unleashing an even more terrifying evil upon the world of Torchlight.
Torchlight II‘s story is told in three major chapters and one minor, four in total. The average solo playtime will range between 20 to 30 hours, depending on your difficulty. The playtime is guaranteed to change when you increase the difficulty and the amount of people who join you in co-op, sure the minions will become more difficult but the loot will be even more rewarding. The loot rewards vary with the distance between you and the other players, so make sure the group you run with can stick together.
Torchlight II‘s gameplay is reminiscent of past ARPGs like Diablo II, but with Runic’s unique art style, easter eggs, music, story and so much more. Torchlight II manages to maintain its own identity throughout. A minor, but in my view, a critical way it does this is with potions; they are no longer in your action bar, they have their own mapped keys for use, freeing up more space for more skills. Torchlight II does follow in its predecessors footsteps with many of its features. Runic has made it very clear it wants players to mod this game (just check the achievements) and they will provide tools to make that happen. Unfortunately, those tools have not yet been released, but there are several unofficial mods out now.
There were some launch issues with Torchlight II‘s multiplayer. I was one of many users who could not link my Runic account to my Steam account for a couple days after launch. The Runic authentication server also suffered extensive down time during this period and those who could link their account, were unable to login through the game to play co-op. These problems were resolved in a matter of days and there has been limited down time since. This only affected multiplayer games, Torchlight II ran just fine in single player and when I was able to finally play co-op with others, I had no issues using my single player character online.
I just want to point out I was luckily enough to be able to participate in the beta of Torchlight II back in May, and I must compliment Runic’s staff’s ability to listen to its testers. This was the first beta, in which I can recall in recent memory, where I had an issue with something and was told on the forum that it would be resolved in a future patch of the beta. The beta saw many complaints about how to spend the skills and we were assured that it would addressed when the game would be released, and it has. There are many times when developers believe they know better than testers, and I did not get that impression from Runic.
The four classes of Torchlight II are Engineer, Embermage, Outlander and Berserker. All of the classes have three skill trees, which can benefit a group, solo or a mixture of both. There is an opportunity to buy back recent skill points, but it is limited to the last three bought and does not include stat points. When stat points are used, they are set in stone. The lack of not being able to reset all of your character’s stat points is very frustrating, especially when you consider players might want to change up their skills between co-op and solo play.