In Oct 2009, the well-received RPG Torchlight, came on the gaming scene, and the fantasy-themed game had a fair bit going for that pleased fans of the genre. It’s hack and slash indie style, combined with it’s rebelliously low $20 price tag, won the game many fans, and now these same fans that have patiently waited out the close to 2 year gap between the original Torchlight’s release, and the now pending July release of the sequel, the aptly named Torchlight II. During this 2 year span between titles, avid fans of the original have been unusually vocal about the improvements and innovations they would like to see happen in the second Torchlight offering. So has developer Runic Games and publisher Perfect World been listening and taking all this fan input to heart? Early indicators all point to a definite, hell yeah!
The original Torchlight’s strengths were an attractive graphic appearance and strong soundtrack, but above all were it’s responsive, addictive gameplay. In similar fashion to the recent indie breakout hit Minecraft, the gameplay was kept compelling by non-repetitive dungeon creation, that allowed the RPG gamer to choose his/her own path between essential, story forwarding primary-quests, and dungeon branching, loot gathering side-quests, and of course fiendish and challenging bosses. The gamer also had their choice of three familiar classes of character with which to seek; a “Destroyer” (Warrior) class akin to that of your standard melee hack & slasher, an “Alchemist” (Mage) class for those gamers that prefer to quest with heavy emphasis on their magical attributes, or the “Vanquisher” class (Thief/Archer is the closest comparison) for those that like a character capable of strong ranged combat. So how does Torchlight II improve upon this already popular format? Apparently by not fixing what wasn’t broken, and adding in some elements that were badly missed the first go around…
Click here for a Torchlight II Gameplay Video
In Torchlight II, the elements that were executed well in the first edition haven’t been altered all that much, such as the sequel’s overall near identical appearance and responsive style of hack & slash gameplay, still quite similar in function to the arcade classics’, Gauntlet and Gauntlet II, but there are now four character classes in Torchlight II. The extra choice in characters I’m sure can only be viewed as a bonus, although they are not the same original three from Torchlight I. The original Torchlight 3 are still present in Torchlight II, but only as non-player controlled characters, and so far only two of the four character classes have been identified. The two that have been named are an “Outlander”, that so far sounds to be Torchlight II’s “archer” (character that excels at ranged combat), and a “Railman” that seems to be the sequel’s primary melee hack & slasher. Another improvement is the gamer can now customize the appearance of many aspects of their chosen character, such as hair, face, and gender.
There are other welcome new innovations to Torchlight II such as changing weather, day to night time of day cycles, and a longer single player campaign that features a larger overall playing field with multiple hub towns instead of just the one as in the original Torchlight. Features that already worked well in the original, such as pets that travel with you, and the ability to go fishing are back and expanded upon in the sequel. Another slight knock against the original version was the plot/storyline was a little thin and/or sketchy at best, but it now sounds like the sequel has made improvements to the depth and detail of the game’s storyline, continuing the story about how the quest for riches in the original Torchlight. There was only one major faux-pas about the original Torchlight, and Runic Games has taken the not-so-subtle hint from critics and RPG fans in their developing of Torchlight II, as the sequel now offers more gameplay than the single-player campaign alone.
Music to the ears of all fans of the original, Torchlight II has co-op multiplayer! Although numeric details of the max amount of simultaneous adventurers has still yet to be revealed, it sounds as though as many as 4 gamers will be able to plunder, loot, and pile up experience points at the same time, an innovation that may make the sequel Torchlight II, a near perfect RPG gaming experience to those that were already big fans of the original. Attractive looking trailers that show multiple questers firing, slashing, and spell-casting look very encouraging, and as an avid RPG fan myself, this gamer will certainly be looking forward to a hands on tryout.