Developer: Runic Games
Genre: Adventure RPG
Beta Weekend Date: May 18 – 22, 2012
It seems to be the time for beta testing. So many larger name games are coming out this year and most of them are having relatively open betas… open so far as all you really need to do is sign up, either to the game site directly or through a gaming website which has been given multiple codes. If I ever hear about these beta code giveaways I always pass them on through my Facebook page or Twitter. This beta review, however, is about Torchlight 2, so here we go.
The first thing you do is create your character. There are 4 classes to choose from and minor customisation: face and skin colour, hair, and hair colour. You also get to choose one of 6 pets to accompany you, some of which have alternate appearances. This is already an improvement on the predecessor, which only had 3 classes and the appearance they each came with, and 3 different pets, also with no customisation in appearance. I can understand why they would keep this customisation to a minimum, as the game itself is very simple. I’d go so far as to say simpler than Diablo, a game that it shares many similarities with, including a majority of the development team, as many of the people involved in Diablo and Diablo 2 became what is now Runic Games.
Once your character is created you must pick a game to join or create one. There are 4 difficulty levels and a hardcore mode. Each level of difficulty has a list of games that people have created to play in. You can either choose to join one or create your own. When creating your own, you can choose whether you want it to be open to everyone or only those on your friends list, and you can also choose whether or not to put a password to limit entry to those whom you give said password to. Also, with each time you log in, you must choose a game to play in, so you could have three games running for all of your characters, all with different parameters. So you can choose to play by yourself, with friends, with anyone you give your password to, or with anyone. With the open games, people can just drop in whenever they like. They do not need your permission even if you created the game. It’s kind of like them just walking into a room that you have set up to play in. Your quests and where you are up to are based on your character and not the game. The game is just the room. But don’t worry too much, loot is individually dished out so no one can take what is meant to be yours.
The opening movie is class based, and is in even simpler design style than the gameplay graphics, but they both look good. It is a very cartoony style which is bright and colourful, but it looks good. The edges are defined, the character faces aren’t horrible, and the background is distinct. Plus movement is smooth and effects are exciting. The audio is… well, what it is. The team involved in the soundtrack was involved in the Diablo soundtrack, so what does that tell you? Overall, it is lighter than Diablo, in looks and sound, but each attack is accompanied by a satisfying ‘thud’ and each kill is signified by a horrible ‘squelch’ as the flesh explodes, or the sound of falling components as the skeleton crumbles, or wisping noise as the spirit dissipates, etc. I found it pleasing enough.
Gameplay is pretty much the same as in the original Torchlight: top down point and click, much like Diablo. The HUD has only been changed in minor ways too. Side menus, character and pet inventories, skill progression and simple trees; a skill bar allowing you to use the 1-0 buttons for skills and items, as well as the left and right buttons on the mouse. You can change the placement and covered area of the mini map, which is handy as the default only shows you a small portion of it, and maps are randomly generated for each area. Just remember that the swirling blue lights around a blue ring on the ground is a teleportation ring and they only go one way so clear each section of map before you continue.
Your pet can still go to town and sell items for you, but now it has the added feature of a shopping list for basic common items such as health and mana potions and scrolls. It can also still transform and cast spells of its own. I had mine summoning warrior and archer skeletons and healing itself. Some handy information for gameplay: hold down on the left mouse button to continue walking as opposed to constantly clicking to the next screen’s length to travel, and hold shift while fighting to stay where you are or get your pet to pick up items for you. The amount of times I would click on an enemy to shoot it, just to walk over and stand a ranged character right next to it instead. These tips and more can be found on the loading screens between areas, which is the least patronising and intrusive way to get these points across in my opinion.
Within a day of playing I reached the end of the beta content, and it left me wanting more. I came across no glitches or issues whatsoever, so this felt more like a free demo than a beta test. Whether you like Diablo or not, I would still recommend this game. While the gameplay is very similar to that of Diablo, the atmosphere and story are completely different and there are features that make this game stand apart from its darker older half-brother. I can honestly say that as much as I like Diablo, I am looking forward to this game more.
Story so far 7
Game Play 9
Ease of Play 9