Torchlight 2 was released Sep. 20 and the overwhelming demand led to some technical issues with the online features. Runic Games got to work quickly and for the most part the issues seem to be resolved. The large amount of players jamming up the Torchlight 2 servers means that the game is rather popular and it is extremely fun.
The story of Torchlight 2 is as inconsequential as it was in the first or any other hack and slash dungeon crawler for that matter. But for those that are interested the premise will be outlined for you. A corrupted alchemist (possibly the player character from Torchlight 1 a-la Diablo 2 style) is wreaking havoc in Torchlight and you (whoever you choose to be) are the one chosen to stop him. A series of main and ancillary quest ensue as you follow the alchemist through new environments and dungeons. The player characters from the original Torchlight make appearances as NPC’s.
Getting started: The graphics and art style of Torchlight 2 is as steampunk and whimsical as the first game but even better. The controls for the most part are the same with a row of hot keys for abilities and point and click for the rest. The two biggest differences and improvements to Torchlight 2 from its predecessor is the variety of classes, pets and environments.
You can choose from 4 classes the embermage, outlander, engineer, and the berserker. For each class you can choose your gender, skin tone and facial features for more customization than previously experienced. There also is a larger roster of pets to choose from including a panther, hawk, wolf, chakawary, ferret, and multiple species of dogs. The pets have two color options for appearance and can be equipped with special medallions and collars, learn spells, and hold inventory that can later be toted back to camp for sale. They can even buy consumable items on a shopping list if requested.
Variety: Instead of perpetually descending down a dungeon from town Torchlight 2’s home base is more of a hub of which different environments can be reached from. While there’s still your fair share of descending down into dungeons there’s less of it and instead you can explore and traverse some interesting new landscapes. This game refuses to let you get bored by rapidly introducing a variety of environments, maps and monsters to encounter. There are spiders, ratlins, and phase beasts that are fondly remembered as well as ghost pirates, skeletons, zombies and more.
The leveling also happens rather quickly so you always have new abilities to learn and use keeping the gameplay novel. In true Torchlight style there is also a wide variety of perhaps overwhelming loot to be found. There are sets of loot that give bonuses when worn together as well as items with different magical effects, sockets, and items to put in them to further customize your character.
Fishing seems a tad easier in the second Torchlight game. There are some reoccurring specimens such as the web fish and some new ones as well. There’s a wider variety of fish you can catch. You can also catch a larger diversity of fish types in any one fishing hole than in the first game.
Leveling: Traditionally your character will level up with XP acquired through combat. There is also the Fame level which increases with the completion of quests and defeating bosses. As your character levels up you will get to assign stat points for strength, focus, dexterity and vitality. You also get to choose skills to put points in that are specific to your class. As you level you will have more things become available to you such as armor and spells but also resources back at camp such as destroying sockets or items so you can re-purpose either.
Watch out for: Bear traps, mimics, bombs and other booby-trapped loot bins that are scattered throughout the various environments. Though clicking mindlessly through a level may be your default approach there will be the occasional unexpected trap to keep you on your toes. Opening your inventory or stat screen does not pause the game. While your pet can fend off most wandering monsters as you fiddle with equipment be wary of getting ambushed.
Choose early on what weapon you will primarily use. Skills and stats are designed to directly impact your combat style and some are less useful for different weapon types. For instance the engineer can use a canon or a wrench. You can put skill points in special canon skills or special melee skills but if you have a wrench equipped your canon skills are useless and vice-versa.
Torchlight 2 does everything it can to make you the player feel as powerful and awesome as possible, from your rapid progression to your rising social status. The game seems to do everything in its power to make itself enjoyable for anyone who wants to play it. For those who just want to point and click their way to success that’s possible. The map makes it pretty easy to understand where you need to go to progress without much looking and you can complete the game while only finishing the main quests if desired.
For the super munchkin you can spend hours optimizing you equipment and skill set. Yet for the less detail oriented you can just don the highest level armor and click on the abilities that look cool. There really isn’t anything in this game that could frustrate someone. The few puzzle-esque events in the game are simple enough to stumble through though it might take longer. You’ll never be stuck wondering what in the underworld am I supposed to be doing now? If you level up the wrong skills or change your mind later you can head back to town and have a nice old man rearrange them for you. You can change your stats at any point and even retrieve the items you put in sockets.
Perhaps the internet could go out while playing multiplayer but even then you can switch to LAN or single player mode. Runic Games has created a great new hack and slash dungeon crawler in Torchlight 2. The aesthetics, the music, and level design are all great. They took all the best parts of Torchlight and added things that people wanted to see. The game may not have much substance but it’s not supposed to. You really can’t get yourself a more feel-good gaming time than Torchlight 2 and all at the low price of 20 bucks.