Torchlight 2 Review - ARPG? More Like A++ Would Play Forever
Fans of the ARPG genre are always looking for an experience to rival that of Diablo II's dungeon crawling lootathon.The first Torchlight came close to that experience thanks to its deep dungeons, loads of loot, and expansive character build options. Torchlight II expands on everything its predecessor did right with even more customization and depth, along with the much sought after multiplayer missing from the first game.
Classes - Pew Pew? Engie Smash? BOOM
With the original Alchemist, Destroyer, and Vanquisher classes unavailable, Torchlight II presents players with four new class options: Berserker, Embermage, Engineer, and Outlander. Each one has its own place and plays differently from the other, and even deeper still is the variations in playstyle between skill tree specializations.
Despite being the primary melee classes in the game, the Engineer and Berserker both play very differently. The Engineer is generally more tanky, and focuses on AOE damage, constructing robot companions, and buffing his own defenses. The Berserker lacks in sustainable AOE damage and tankiness. Instead he is focused around single-target damage, AOE slows and debuffs, and helping himself survive.
You can usually throw yourself in the middle of a huge wave of enemies with an Engineer and expect to survive -- not so much if you're playing a Berserker, who needs good positioning (and a ton of health pots) to stay alive against multiple foes.
The Embermage and Outlander are both more squishy than their melee counterparts, but they have the range to survive stressful encounters. The Embermage lacks the summoning (Lore) skill tree that made the Alchemist from the first game a fan favorite, but instead comes with a wealth of AOE CC and burst damage in the form of fire, ice, or lightning skills. The Outlander is the most mobile class in Torchlight II, with more snares, slows, and jukes than.. well, than you would expect. You won't be able to clear a room as quickly with an Outlander as you would with an Embermage, but you can expect to be able to get out of sticky situations quickly.
I speak so much about the characters because they are unique, they are flexible, and they are something you are going to find yourself playing around with and tweaking throughout your time with the game just because you can. I made a Berserker built around Tundra skills (and stacking focus) because it was funny, and you will probably find yourself doing impractical builds just because it's possible to do so. Pistols on a Berserker, a polearm on an Embermage -- the game lets you do what you want, and usually you can make it work.
Okay, Let's Actually Talk About The Game
If you just want to know if the game is as good as or better than the first Torchlight and don't feel like reading, here's a TL;DR for you: Runic went and took everything good from the first game, improved upon it, and threw in the kitchen sink. There. That's it.
The first game's two biggest downfalls were that there was only one town, and that there was no multiplayer. Torchlight II has both of these things, on top of non-dungeon maps, even more loot, and gear for all levels all the way up to 100.
Huge randomly generated maps serve as hubs and exploration zones in between dungeons and towns. You may find yourself in one of these zones for more than an hour killing mobs, finding and defeating champion monsters, fishing, completing side quests, and seeking that ever-elusive golden key to open the map's one and only giant golden chest. Though these large maps are really no more than a kill and loot-fest (with a few events here and there to keep things interesting), it is a blast to explore the expanses between dungeons.
The dungeons for both side and story quests all have their own flavor and are an adventure to explore and conquer. Every dungeon has at least one true boss monster, and slaying even side quest bosses feels rewarding. The story bosses take things to the next level, with each fight feeling like you really are fighting a powerful being worthy of your fear and awe. It's hard to really describe the rush of taking on and defeating these boss monsters on Elite mode with a party.
Thankfully finishing the main story isn't the end of the game. You can choose to carry on with your character in New Game+, which allows you to restart your journey with your current level and gear, with the monsters' base levels raised to 51. You can also access the Mapworks in NG+, in which you can buy maps for randomly generated dungeons -- so no, you don't have to do the same areas over and over again to reach level cap. And yes, there is enough variety in these maps to keep you entertained for hours. Modifiers, such as the one that makes every enemy explode after death, keep things fresh time and time again.
Fans of the first game and ARPGs in general can find a lot to love in Torchlight II. The addition of multiplayer to the original formula may have been enough for some, but Runic Games took it further and made a sequel that is leagues beyond what the original tried to accomplish. It's all too easy to get lost in what the game has to offer, and it's only going to get better as the community releases mods to further prolong your stay in the world of Torchlight II.