Torchlight II

With the recent release of Guild Wars 2 and now Torchlight II I’ve spent a good deal of time gaming on my laptop recently. I used to be a PC gamer but it all got a bit much for me; fixing PCs was my job so it made for a poor hobby. This laptop runs games just fine and is put together very well so I’ve been dipping in here and there lately. As it happens my laptop, Guild Wars 2 & Torchlight II have something in common – they all seem to have been designed with the express purpose of not getting on my nerves.

The original Torchlight was a critical success. It came at a time when people were more than ready for something new in the genre and at the time Diablo 3 was nothing more than a rumour. It offered an enjoyable adventure for a budget price and scored very well. Almost uniformly reviewers felt let down by the omission of any multiplayer modes and the general lack of direction in its campaign.

Well you could never criticise Runic Games for not listening. Torchlight II is here and the features list reads an awful lot like the wish list players lobbied at the first game with the added bonus of some beautifully revamped graphics. With all the talk of a Torchlight MMO being on the cards it’s no surprise that this new release has adopted a very familiar MMO style quest hub system of towns and other world areas leading to the randomly generated dungeons. This gives the world a feeling of being much more alive and makes for a more exciting adventure. Areas are nicely themed and subtly play off of an array of fantasy and movie tropes – I stumbled across the corpse of Chester Copperpot.  The story now has focus and drive behind it; a necessary change that has been handled with style.

Customisation has been beefed up as well. You can now choose the sex, face and hair of your character as well as there being an expanded choice of pets. News classes and skill trees compliment this customisation – all very important in a co-op game where you don’t want a bunch of clones running about.

But let’s not mess about here;  fans of Torchlight (and Borderlands) will know that it’s really all about the loot and of course that’s still the case here. Literally everything you can kill, smash or open can drop loot to the point where you will easily fill your inventory. As with the previous game this is where your pet comes in. By giving it up as a combat partner for a short time you can have them haul some unwanted swag back to town and sell it for you, freeing up space. A nice addition to this is that you can now give your pet a shopping list of consumable items to collect for you while they are away. However there is still an issue with being given so much loot – you need to check it all. What if those rare shoes you just picked up offer an additional 2% ice protection over your current ones? They’re just sitting in your inventory, being wasted! Well there is nothing the game can really do to stop loot OCD but it can discourage it. Each class has a charge meter that works slightly differently but it essentially boils down to ‘kill things, get stronger’, the meter fills with each kill and when full you’ll be getting a significant boost over a range of stats but once you stop killing it will empty fast. This trains the player to leave loot checking till there is some downtime in combat, especially important for not annoying your co-op partner.

Co-op works perfectly and just as you’d expect. Any time you load up a save you can choose to play solo, LAN or online co-op session. Co-op allows up to six players in a session and while I was unable to test this many players things do start to get a bit busy at four so it would be best to split up into two teams as the numbers get higher. But remember that enemy stats scale with player numbers so don’t go running off from the group as you might get stomped. Any loot or levels you earn in co-op carries over to your character save to be used in other sessions but quests track.







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