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Sep
28
2012

Torchlight II Review

– Scott Ellison

Our Score: 5 / 5 – Incredible

Torchlight has been set aflame from the now Ember-crazed Alchemist after the ending of the first game. The Destroyer and Vanquisher have fled the little town to where new heroes can now take on the new threat set to conquer everything.

Character creation opens the door for four new classes to choose from. The Berserker is a melee and rage driven character that is your huge damage person. The Embermage is your magical wizard type who is easily crushed by melee attacks. The Outlander is a brazen, gun toting hero willing to put holes in anyone from a distance. The Engineer is a two-handed heavy hitter who can take a bunch of damage. There are bits and pieces from each class you remember from the original, but the skill trees are completely redone here allowing for a fresh experience. A new player will have to try them all out to get a feel for their playstyle, but not one character is bad here.

The game starts you off in the middle of nowhere as you make your way to the Estherian Plains where people have taken refuge. The story then takes a backseat to the action. Here, at least in the first Act is your home to return to from questing to go fishing, access different areas, buy potions, weapons, and other gear. You’ll also find your Stash to store items for your character or the Shared Stash for your other characters to reap the benefits of your looting. Subsequent Acts there is  place to go to as a safe haven from all the danger.

One of the largest complaints about the original Torchlight was the lack of online co-op. It is now, here for you and up to five other people to enjoy. That makes it so six people can join a co-op game.  Runic Games is handling the servers and matchmaking over Steam and it works pretty well. There is some friend and lobby issues still being sussed out and there could be improvements on how to join friend’s games. But I’m sure that’s in a patch coming shortly.

As you gain experience from killing monsters, you’ll eventually level up – as you’d expect. Once you attain a new level, you’ll be given one skill point and five attribute points. With skill points, it has three branches in the tree to choose from. Each character class has something different. The skills come in two forms, Active and Passive. Active means something you actually activate from a click or pressing the corresponding key on your hotbar. The passive abilities are always on and activate based on a certain damage taken or ability charged up. You can do a respec of your character at a Vendor, but you can only refund 3 of the latest skills you’ve invested into.

A big change is your Charge Bar, which gets built up by getting hit and giving damage to enemies. Once you get it full, it’ll automatically activate to devistating attacks. From there you’ll gain buffs to your character given the class you are in. You can spend skill points to increase the charge timer so it lasts longer or make it so it is easier to build up the charge, either way will make the charge more potent against enemies.

Questing is really well done. The main story missions are standard fare and follow a progression, though it is clear you should do as many side missions as you can so you are properly leveled for each area. Even playing the game alone, the difficulty scales quite nicely. And when other’s join, the game adjusts accordingly to keep things challenging. I played through on Veteran and anyone who’s played an Action RPG this year or even Torchlight coming up to the release should play it on this difficulty. Easy and Normal are just far too easy. After Veteran is Elite and that provides the grueling of enemies and something I am not yet prepared for. There’s also the Hardcore mode if you want to play a character with permadeath. I created a character at 5:22pm, got an achievement and at 5:23pm my character died with another achievement.

In Torchlight, you had one town and an ever deeper dungeon to delve into. Here, you you have seemingly a whole world to explore, there are many secrets to be found, from treasures to areas and even secret rooms hinted by a small shimmering piece of cobble on a wall to reveal a trove behind it without a monster in sight. It’s this little nooks of detail paid so much attention that makes this game stand out over the original and the competition.

Killing enemies also drops loot, whether it’s new items or gold. A nice addition is that your your character acts as a hoover for gold and no longer needs to click to pick them up. Some items will auto-equip if you have nothing selected. Items can also carry magical properties and are indicated by colors of green, blue, purple, and orange. Items with no color are usually vendor trash that can be sold for gold. Later in the game it becomes less important to even pick it up as it isn’t worth the inventory space to be sold. The pet system is much improved, no matter if you have a hawk, dog, cat, etc. you can send them with your loot to sell and even give them a shopping list to purchase potions for you. This saves you an incredible amount of time travelling back and forth.

Torchlight II’s graphics and art style cannot be understated. They are far from “cartoony” and “kid-friendly”. There’s plenty of gore and gnarly looking beasts to be found. The framerate is smooth as butter, and will run on nearly any system. The game’s visuals coupled with fantastic weather effects such as thunderstorms and gently falling snow, it is a breathtaking sight and make you feel immersed in this world.

Sound design is roughly the same, but new effects and sound bytes with great voice acting. The music is all-new and returning to compose is Matt Uelman and creating some beautiful music that also has some battle anthems that drive with power and intensity.

Delays be damned, Torchlight II is everything you want it to be and has been worth the wait. It’s full of explorable areas and secrets to be uncovered. At $20, there is no better price you could pay. It’s nearly dirt cheap in comparison to the content contained within and there is a true sense of ownership when playing this game.

Retails for: $19.99, recommended purchase price: $19.99

A download code was provided by Runic Games for review purposes

One last thing…

[table]

Is it better than Diablo III?

YES

Torchlight II has the ability to play the game offline and requires no authentication to access your account. You can also play with up to 6 people instead of 4 players. While Diablo III was one of my more enjoyable games earlier this year. It has since been eclipsed by Torchlight II in it’s complete freedom to mold your character how you please. Diablo III’s methodiology has changed and forces you down some paths with the skill unlocks. Both stories are a bit underwhelming. Torchlight II edges out the competition in better loot drops and it’s New Game+.

[/table]

Aug
31
2012

Torchlight II finally releases on September 20th, 2012

Runic Games, Inc. (“Runic Games”), a developer of PC and console game entertainment software in the United States, announced the official launch date of Torchlight II this morning at the kickoff of PAX Prime 2012.

…continue reading » Torchlight II finally releases on September 20th, 2012

Jul
18
2012

Armed Heroes Online looks awfully familiar

You can’t plagiarize and expect not to get caught, it just doesn’t work this way anymore. You can’t hide on the internet.  But somehow, Chinese developer EGLS Ltd. (Electronic Game Labs) thought no one would notice that the assets that appear in this free-to-play game were ripped directly from Torchlight, developed by Runic Games.

Currently this is still available on the Canadian App Store: http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/armed-heroes-online-3d-mmorpg/id533790395?mt=8, I spoke to Runic Games’ Community Manger, Brian Ward via Twitter:

[tweet https://twitter.com/brianward/status/225287851405881344]

A thread started by Serena Zhang at EGLS, Ltd on TouchArcade went on to discuss the differences between their game and Torchlight – which they have been accused of stealing assets from. Travis Baldtree, who has worked on Fate and Torchlight stepped in to point out some of the things EGLS failed to mention or completely sidestepped.

A comparison image provided by Travis shows the artwork is identical, save for some alterations made by the developer to appear different. Also included with Travis’ post is the fact that misspellings existed in the files used that were never fixed. Having unpacked the files for Armed Heroes Online, he found the exact same misspellings.

Can you spot the differences? I can’t.

It’s deplorable that EGLS expected to profit (through microtransactions) in their free-to-play mobile game. It’s sickening that they defend their position that they did not steal assets and then try to turn the tables on Runic for borrowing from other games.

Hopefully EGLS or Apple will do the right thing and remove the game from the App Store and so the game can be redesigned to be re-released. I just hope they don’t steal from a different game next time. #StolenTL

UPDATE: Armed Heroes Online has been pulled from the Canadian App Store and the developers will be “modifying some things”.

Jun
09
2012

E3 2012: Torchlight II

So I got to sit down and play with Wonder Russell (Runic’s Community Manager) and talk with Max Schaefer about the game. The build was the beta version that was available in late May, so nothing new to see but I played a new class and heard musings from Wonder. This time there won’t be an infinite dungeon for the game as there was for Torchlight, in it’s place will be “New Game+” and no limit in using it. Though there is a level cap of 100.

I do have a release date to share with the world on Torchlight II, Wonder stated that it will come out “Orange” – I think she is messing with me.

May
14
2012

Torchlight II (Network) Beta Impressions

Happening right now is Runic Games and thousands of players worldwide stress testing the servers for the upcoming summer release of Torchlight II, an action RPG sequel to the PC and Xbox Live Arcade smash, Torchlight. The reason we’re seeing a Network Beta, to aid the developers wrangle any and all issues with the netcode, addressing the complaints of the first game not including any local or online co-op. Runic heard those complaints and made it the primary focus. But what else is new?

Pretty much everything. They threw in everything but the kitchen sink. As mentioned above, the inclusion of multiplayer co-op is now present. You and up to five other people can drop into the world and work together, or go off on your own ventures in the same world. The network in my experience was easy to play on and I didn’t experience any lag. That may not be the case for everyone as people mix and match various internet types, which is the whole purpose of this Network Beta.

The game includes Act I of Torchlight II. I’m not sure how many total acts there are, but Runic Games is generous to allow you to play a large majority of the game to help them test out any networking bugs while you hack n’ slash and claim victory and loot. The overworld was something you never got to experience in Torchlight, and is now present here. You have the Etherian Ruins as a hub for vendors, trainers, etc and as a central waypoint location. From there you can leave through several exits that lead to diverse locations that have rain, snow, and other improved location weather effects.

As before, the game anytime you play it – whether you create a new game or join someone else’s, the worlds are randomly generated. New dungeon types starkly contrast from the previous area. All of which I think improve on the prior game ten-fold. Torchlight II is very promising in exploration and allowing you to experience something new all of the time. It’s highly unlikely you’d see the same path twice. In doing so, you’ll click on a wide variety of enemies that was lacking in the first game, ranging from the game’s enemies to feral animals that just don’t like you.

Torchlight II features an improved graphics engine, dynamic weather, and spectacular particle effects that are vibrant and a spectacle to behold. You’ll see the improved UI that makes it minimal when you don’t need it, but when you are using it, it is easy to understand and follow. Everything you’d expect is laid out before you, allowing you to customize your hotkeys and transfer items from your inventory to your pets and so on.

The most outstanding and wonderful feature of Torchlight was the pet system. You could have a cat, dog, or in retail versions of the game – a ferret to travel with you and defeat monsters. You could outfit them with armor and spells allowing them to heal you or spawn skeletons to aid in battle. What truly made the game, was that you could put your unwanted gear and items into the pet’s inventory and send him to town to sell it for you. Then would return minutes later with gold.

This time, there are more pets to choose from, I chose the Hawk (obviously). The pet system also got an upgrade, as you can send pet to shops with a shopping list for health and mana potions and other basic necessities like identify scrolls. That is, until you learn the Identify Spell. The pet will return with the gold from selling your items and bring you the items you requested.

Torchlight II features the same, great action you’d expect from the Action RPG genre. In the network beta, there was no import feature or anything that rewarded you for playing the first Torchlight, but perhaps that’s a feature that will make it into the final game. The musical score sets the tone wonderfully and gives you a whole Act to explore. The most depressing thing while playing Torchlight II Beta, was realizing that all my hard work and effort is going to be wiped away at the end of this network stress test. My engineer and pet hawk will be no more.

Torchlight II is expected to release Summer 2012.

Apr
26
2012

Torchlight II Pre-Orders are now being taken

Runic Games, Inc., a specialized developer of PC and console game software in the United States, launched pre-orders today for their upcoming PC APRG title Torchlight II.

The highly-anticipated sequel is available for pre-order through two platforms, Steam, and Perfect World Entertainment, and retails for just $19.99 (£14.99, €18.99). Players who pre-order through Steam will receive an added bonus, a free download code for the original game, the award-winning Torchlight.

“As we put the finishing touches on Torchlight II, it made sense to start pre-orders after the great response we received at PAX-East,” said CEO Max Schaefer. “Fans have asked us for a pre-order, and we are planning an imminent network test, so the timing was perfect.”

In other news, Torchlight II’s “Friday Updates” are moving to Thursdays. Gamers can visit the official website at http://www.torchlight2game.com/ to see the latest Thursday Features, news updates, game play details, trailers and screenshots.

And of course you can visit the official Torchlight II page for more: http://www.torchlight2game.com/news/2012/04/26/torchlight-ii-available-for-pre-order/

Nov
21
2011

Torchlight 2 delayed for all the right reasons

So you may have been wondering what’s going on with Torchlight II (or Torchlight 2). First, Runic released Torchlight XBLA in the Spring. Then it was stated that Torchlight II would be out Summer 2011. Last we heard, Fall 2011 for the game. Now we have an official update from Travis Baldtree:

“Well, yeah. We did – and we made a good run at that. We’ve come to the realization, however, that getting a game of this scope up to the quality and polish level we want to achieve is going to take a little longer; especially since we want to run a small beta before release to ensure that our launch is smooth.”

 

“Besides, you’re all playing Skyrim right now anyway, aren’t you? Or Battlefield 3? Or Uncharted 3? Or Saints Row 3? Or Arkham City? Or Skyward Sword? Or Minecraft? Or Modern Warfare 3? Or Dark Souls? Or Assassin’s Creed Revelations?”

Runic Games has recorded their first ever podcast with Travis, Max, Marsh, Art Director Jason Beck, Lead Level Designer Patrick Blank and Producer Brock Jones crowded around our solitary microphone to candidly address the State of the Game. Listen here: http://www.torchlight2game.com/news/2011/11/18/community-qa-podcast/

Fans were invited to the Seattle office to preview Torchlight II. The Runic Games Fansite has all the coverage you need: http://www.runicgamesfansite.com/content/1284-runic-games-2011-fansite-event-coverage.html

I think this is a delay we all can settle on. We would love to see Torchlight II make it for this year, but not at any expense of the game’s quality or content. So instead, we’ll accept this delay so that they can make the game the best they can. And when it does release, we’ll all be in for a real treat.

 

 

Aug
26
2011

Torchlight II final reveals happening at PAX

We were given some amazing news regarding Torchlight II. Runic Games is at PAX in Seattle, and today (at this very moment) the website Torchlight2game.com is revealing both the price point for the game and the fourth character class. The only thing left for reveal is the actual date of release. Though, it is stated in several places that Torchlight II will release on PC in 2011. …continue reading » Torchlight II final reveals happening at PAX