Announced in 2010, TL2 expands on the original RPG with a wealth load of new features and content. A major difference from the original is the presence of an online multiplayer mode with peer-to-peer and LAN support. One of the biggest and only complaints of the first release was the lack of online co-op, but Runic has heard the cries and developed the title from the beginning with this addition in mind. The team over at Runic have been very good at updating the status of the game via their website over the past 2 years especially when they pushed it back a year after a scheduled 2011 release. The co-op will fully be open-ended with mod support giving gamers greater flexibility in how they and their friends want to experience TL2. Another element added is the offline single-player mode. It’s great to know Runic didn’t rely solely on just a co-op mode as it may have put off fans of the original.TL2 introduces us to four new classes – The Engineer, who fuses technology with Ember armor, The Berserker, a beast with brutal melees, The Outlander, a precise range-weapon fighter and The Emberage, an elemental fighter skilled in magic and spell-making. Together, these four have their own identifying skill set and upgrades that can be seen immediately when starting the game. There is customization for these classes based on their appearance. You can alter the character’s face, hair style and hair color, but from what we’ve seen so far there doesn’t seem to be many choices in this feature. Hopefully this can be touched upon through the final version or a patch at a later date after release.
Another noticeable element that fans will appreciate is the new terrain your characters can travel throughout. Instead of a more linear approach to the dungeons and grounds in the original Torchlight, TL2 vastly improves in this area with a more diverse selection of above-ground hubs, graveyards, caves and underwater lairs. Quests seem to be more spread out this time around and the levels are better randomized to ensure things will be changing on a play by play basis.The combat system’s mechanics have been slightly improved upon, but the emphasis is more on a better interface which gives players an easier way to sift through their huge inventory of weapons, potions and accessories . As far as the combat itself goes and the amount of action you see, it’s definitely is a bump in the excitement factor. Occasionally we came across a few stragglers hanging around that could be killed rather easily, but when walking into a new area we were suddenly attacked by many foes which actually was a good sign. The action in the beta was well-balanced this time around allowing us not to be bored with repetitive enemies. One the major additions to the on-screen combat meters is the charge bar. With the charge bar, players who hack themselves into a frenzy at a more frequent pace will see their characters perform at a higher level. Yes, your character turns into a mad man with a purpose. All four have distinctive abilities when their bars are maxed out, but more importantly all four deliver critical hits on their opponents. Seeking out enemies and forcing the action is the best way to take advantage of your charge bar because as you rack up the kills with it maxed out you’ll be rewarded with class bonuses that help you gain experience and skill points. It’s a nice addition to keep the player always in the mix no matter where they are in the game. Presentation-wise, TL2 seems to be upping the stakes this time around with a few cut-scenes. We got to experience one in the beginning of the beta, but rumors have also two in the middle and one at the end. Not many, but we think that’s fine for an RPG like this. Matt Uelman is of course back as the composer for the score and it sounds convincing and epic as ever with music cues throughout the journey. Graphically, the game is sound and colorful. It’s a definite contrast to the dark world of Diablo, but they manage to keep things light here and make it their own.
Overall, Torchlight 2 is shaping up to be a great successor to the original. Expect RPG lovers out there to slowly gravitate towards it as we get closer to launch, and with a price point of only $19.99, it’s easy to see why gamers are so obsessed with the franchise as it packs the same punch as other top-tier RPGs. It’s an addictive, well-crafted RPG with some staying power in the genre.
Check out the official opening trailer video: