Torchlight II has been one of those top-down ARPGs I just happened to love because it was something different from Diablo, but at the same time was just like it. Originally published by the now-defunct Runic Games, Torchlight II is now under the publication of Perfect World, and ported by Panic Button.
Torchlight II boasts a much more colorful palette for their environments and also let you choose an overpowered pet that seems to be invincible compared to the pets in its predecessor. Torchlight II is an amazing game, that I’ve put a decent amount of hours into on PC, simply playing with mods, and I’m willing to do that all over again “vanilla” on the Xbox One.
With the console port having just released on September 3, 2019, Torchlight II has arisen from the depths of the shadows to compete in the race of memorable ARPGs, along with Diablo III and Path of Exile – who both have similar styles. Torchlight II has a story where you play a hero and have to save the world of Torchlight from the chaos bestowed upon it by an evil Alchemist. The story is broken into four acts and has some good voice acting and animated cut-scenes. Though the story could be quite epic, I treated this game, like I do with most ARPGs, by focusing instead on looting, leveling, and slaying of various evils that get in my way.
The character creator is pretty basic, you can choose from a few options, such as hair, hair color, gender, face type. In the character creator, you also pick your pet and your class. The classes in Torchlight II aren’t super unique with a Ranger class in the Outlander, Melee classes are Engineer and Berserker, while the Magic class is the Embermage. However, each class does have its own unique “charge” mechanic, that is filled via damage, and is used to amplify either skills or stats for the character. For example, on the Xbox One, I played an Outlander and when you fill up your charge meter, you gain a buff to critical hit chance and attack speed, allowing you to eliminate enemies faster.
There are a few unique aspects to Torchlight II that makes me a fan including the utterly amazing array of pets you can choose from to accompany you. From a simple bulldog to more bizarre creatures like a head-crab, there are a wide array of options. Additionally, players can choose from various color choices for each pet.
But your pets aren’t just here to be a steady companion, being that there’s no local co-op, your pet is a strong sidekick and pack-mule. Pets can be placed into one of three modes: defensive, passive, and aggressive. Defensive means the pet will only attack an enemy once you’ve been attacked by them. Passive makes your pet literally a basic creature. While aggressive has your pet running headfirst into the fray and helping you achieve your goal of carnage, gold, experience, and fame.
Fame is a special system in Torchlight II where players hunt down special monsters with auras or big bosses to gain recognition for these feats. As you level up your fame, which is separate from your character’s experience bar, you earn a new ranking. When you begin your adventure, your character’s Fame rank is “Unrecognized”, or rank 0.
As you play through the game and hunt down all the bosses and champions, you can eventually attain the highest rank of Fame, “Demigod”, which is rank 33. As you “rank up” your player earns a skill point, maxing out in a total of 33 extra skill points on top of the skill points you earn from leveling up via experience. Leveling up does take a bit of time since these monsters are sparsely scattered about their respective maps.
The maps players can explore in Torchlight II are rather large; some maps took me about 20 minutes on average to clear completely. I did this because the maps can be lined with special goodies from special events to golden chests, whose key requires you to hunt down a special fairy. You will also come across various side missions that you can complete for gear, money, and experience. At times, players can even find hidden caverns to explore or even the very rare Phase Beast, whom upon killing leaves behind a portal to a unique location that is accompanied with some form of puzzle in order to receive a reward.
Though I could go on even longer with my fanboyism of this game, I have to be fair and speak on some of the issues I’ve had with this port. The most egregious offense in this game would have to be the aiming system. I play as an Outlander, so I focus on using ranged weapons. If I use a shotgun or a cannon, I’m much better off at making sure to hit my target because of its width arc compared to the more linear motion of pistols, bows, or crossbows. Due to this issue, there are times that I will be shooting at my enemy and miss. Additionally, there are times that I’ve ended up dying because my DPS stopped due to my aim being off.
I also experienced input lag for my skills, going for as long as three seconds before the game is able to register me attacking. Sometimes the lag will hit at awkward times, usually when I had a mob of enemies attacking me and I got an achievement because I killed a major boss, which resulted in my either taking massive damage or flat out dying because of the lag.
Another gripe that I with Torchlight II would have been the lack of a better skill respec option, meaning the ability to unlearn your skills and learn new ones. This issue was present in the PC version as well, but due to the modding community, it was “fixed” with the usage of downloading the “Respec Potion” mod and being able to get all your points refunded. The mod allowed you to be able to rebuild as many times you’d like until you found the build you truly enjoyed. Sadly, in the console versions, you can only respec the last three points you’ve spent, so if you spent points beyond that and want to go back, it is impossible.
This design choice makes it feel a lot more punishing to players as they can’t really try random new builds in the game, but yet have to methodically think of what skills they want to learn or level up. The fact that in order to go from a poison focused Outlander to a fire focused Outlander, you would have to make a brand new character altogether and re-level up to where you were just to see if you like that build better than your previous, and if you don’t, well you just spent X amount of hours grinding for literally nothing of value in the end.
This decision is probably one of the biggest reasons as to why people enjoy playing Diablo III more, as in that game you can respec your skills however you want and don’t require the usage of skill points to unlock them, but yet simply leveling up.
I have to say that Panic Button and Perfect World made my heart sing when they announced that they were bringing this game to console. I don’t regret this purchase at all and for $19.99 I can say I’ve been getting much more than my money’s worth out of this game. If you’ve ever been curious about or looking for a more “light-hearted” Diablo-esque game, I would highly suggest you pick this game up.
Torchlight II is available now on Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One.
Torchlight II has arisen from the depths of the shadows to compete in the race of memorable ARPGs, along with Diablo III and Path of Exile – who both have similar styles.