Published on July 31st, 2012 | by Jonathan Beck23
Torchlight II: Diablo’s True Successor
Oh Blizzard, how the mighty have fallen. There was a time when a Blizzard game would suck weeks, if not months, out of your life. The amount of time I’ve spent on Starcraft, Warcraft II, and World of Warcraft is downright embarrassing. While I was never a Diablo II diehard, the previews for Diablo III had me moist with anticipation. Then the game came out, and well…we all know what happened.
Thankfully, there’s still hope–a new challenger has arrived in the form of Runic Games’ Torchlight II, which promises to be everything a Diablo player could want and more. As someone who spent a copious amount of time with the beta, I’m going to tell you why it will be the true successor to Diablo II and why you should pre-order it the second you’re done reading this article.
No Always-Online DRM
This is arguably my biggest gripe and Blizzard’s biggest failing with Diablo III. The game’s launch was rocky, to put it lightly. Some (like myself) might even say it was a complete disaster. Error 37’s, absurd lag, random disconnects–you name it, Diablo III was plagued by it. Now, to be fair, it was one of the largest PC game launches of all time, and it’s understandable that millions of people logging on simultaneously might cause some server hiccups. However, Blizzard’s inadequate planning rendered their game completely unplayable for many eager fans, resulting in a ton of bad press that could have been avoided by simply including the ability to play offline that so many people begged for.
Torchlight II doesn’t have this problem. In fact, you can play completely offline. Play alone, play at your grandmother’s house (where even dial-up is a foreign concept), play 30,000 feet in the sky on a long plane trip. It’s your game–you purchased it, you play it whenever and wherever you want. Not only that, but Torchlight II is including LAN play as well, so you can kick it old school in a friend’s basement, wired to a switch and yelling at one another, just like the good old days.
No Auction House
I can’t fathom why Blizzard thought an auction house was a good idea, let alone one involving real money. Everyone knows that the end-game for an ARPG like Diablo or Torchlight is about grinding bosses for phat loots. But with an auction house, why bother? That rare drop that used to represent hours of slaving away in dungeons is now just a click away with some in-game gold or a few dollars out of your pocket. In knowing that you’ll have to go through the auction house to get the game’s best gear, the sense of excitement as you land the final blow on an end-game boss is all but gone.
Now, enter Torchlight II. You want that epic Long Sword of Beaver Punching +12? Buckle up and prepare for some grinding because it’s a 0.1% drop rate off of one specific type of rare creature. So have fun with that. Some may argue that’s annoying, but I would counter that it’s what makes the journey worth taking in the first place. And since the game offers multiplayer, you can show off your beaver-punching sword to all your friends as they swell with envy.
The Skill Tree
One of my biggest gripes with Diablo III is no permanent skill tree. As I played my Demon Hunter, new abilities unlocked. In classic ARPGs, this would have presented a very specific strategic choice. Do I hop on this new skill, or would it maybe be better for me to wait a couple of levels and put my points somewhere else? If you made a wrong move, it could cost you everything to re-spec a character.
Diablo III doesn’t have that problem. Some of you may say that’s great, but you would be wrong. In Diablo III, when you unlock a skill, it’s just there for you to use whenever. There’s no weighing pros and cons to determine the proper choice. If it doesn’t work out, you can just switch back to the last one. Being able to switch skills on-the-fly completely removes the need to make any real investment into the way your character plays.
With Torchlight II, you’re forced to choose. Do you want to purely tank and suck up all the damage while your high DPS Mage buddy wrecks opponents from afar? Maybe you just want to get in, deal a ton of damage, and jump back out, rogue style? You’d better plan that out ahead of time too. That sense of permanence is what drives a good ARPG. You form a personal connection to your avatar, catering it to your play style and sticking with those choices, for better or worse. Torchlight II still lets you re-spec if you’ve made some terrible decisions, but it’s going to cost you.
Procedurally Generated Worlds
I don’t know how Blizzard got this one wrong, as it was one of the best parts of Diablo II. Worlds were generated on-the-fly, so you could play endlessly. The argument can be made that random dungeons show up in Diablo III, but the world itself changes very little from one playthrough to the next.
In Torchlight II, a new character generates a completely new world–that is, a completely new set of dungeons, loot, and enemies to conquer. This feature should serve to create a game with nearly infinite replayability. And even if you get tired of the stock world generation, there’s always…
Diablo III has none, and it never will.
Torchlight II will feature extensive mod tools that allow the community to change, add upgrade, and augment every aspect of the game. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Torchlight II utilize the Steam Workshop to give the community a great place to store and promote the various mods that are sure to follow the game’s launch.
The Original Diablo Developers Work at Runic
$20. ‘Nuff said.
I’ve been saying since before the launch of Diablo III that Torchlight II was going to be the ARPG to beat this year. As Runic announced more and more features, and more and more restrictions put on Diablo III, it became apparent who would reign supreme. And once I had beta access, any lingering doubt had been removed.
Torchlight II is everything a Diablo II fan could possibly want. You can mod it, you can play offline, you can LAN party that sucker, and it’s from the developers of the game we all wanted a real sequel to. If you weren’t lucky enough to play it during beta, trust me when I say that Torchlight II will be money well spent.
Set to release before the end of the summer, it’s going to destroy your social life once it drops, and you’ll love every minute of it. Say farewell to your loved ones, buy a palette of Red Bull, and get ready for the ARPG that, unlike Diablo III, is worthy of your time and your money.
Torchlight Comparison Image Courtesy of Runic Games