Playing TL2 is Like Playing a Pinball Machine
RPGs have often gotten the reputation of being lumbering time sucks that maintain a watching-the-paint-dry pace. The only correct part of that statement when referring to Torchlight II are the words “time suck.” While you will be pouring hours into playing this game, none of it will feel lethargic and your character will fly from quest to quest. The break neck speed does not cut down on the amount of content or story to experience, in fact, it enhances it by keeping it fresh for you all the time. It amazes me how Runic Games has managed to expertly blend methodical exploration with on the fly adventuring all at the same time.
Combat is Not Just Point and Click
Combat in Torchlight II is not just limited to just clicking an enemy and hacking him up. You can choose to take things a step farther by capitalizing on the skills unique to the class of fighter you choose. Tank and support fighters will appreciate the unyielding power of the Engineer class. Engineers not only take damage well but can dish it out and heal their party members with the cute little healer bots. Berserkers, a class that relies on hand to hand combat, can break up the monotony of melee and activate a sort of spirit magic that transforms them into a beastly wolf. The fact that no class suffers significant speed, strength, or magical disadvantages makes combat the most enjoyable part of the game.
Pets are Not Just for Show
Runic Games sent all your pets to a top notch obedience school in Torchlight II, which has made the little critters indispensible allies. Whether you prefer paling around with a wolf, a panther, a Papillon, a hawk, or what-have-you ‒ they all will fight by your side, hold onto your heavy loot, and run errands for you. I never understand why so many RPGs make you take the boring trip back to town to restock right when you are in the thick of the action. Your faithful pet will dutifully do this for you as long as you put a few items on it’s shopping list to go purchase. He or she will run to town, sell off your excess loot, and use the profits to spend on buying your dearly needed supplies.
A Dungeon Crawler That’s Not Wall to Wall Brown
Torchlight II has some very lovely outdoor areas and catacombs. You will not be stuck in the dungeons 24/7 and will have a mix of places to explore. When you do finally get to your spelunking, what you will encounter will not merely be wall-to-wall brown. Dazzling bits and bobs of glowing objects and location specific scenery will make your underground adventuring a visual treat. Such elegant touches help imbue copious amounts of life in otherwise morbid environments.
Online Play that Does Not Nag You
The online feature is not a mandatory one in Torchlight II. You can in fact shut off your internet connection and still get your fill of the fun with nary a nag message in sight. Eventually you will probably want to log on to play with your friends and game buddies. Picking or setting up a server with your specific preferences is an exercise that you will finish in seconds. Loot hoarders will definitely have their place amongst the team because all drops on the online servers are instanced to each particular player. So you will never have to go through the embarrassing ordeal of arguing with your buddy that just snagged his 12th set of rare platelegs. The only thing to be wary of when entering this mode are the tons of Leeroy Jenkins moments you will encounter due to the ramped up difficulty.
A Few Gripes Worth Mentioning
There are a few kinks in the works that mar what essentially is a perfect RPG experience in Torchlight II. You do not have access to a grand overworld map and are limited to just the area you currently are in. I often like to see a view of all the continents I will travel amongst as it lets me frame the locations of quest better as well as find teammates easier. The game camera is not necessarily finicky but I am slightly perplexed why it is locked in place and cannot be rotated. Rotation often helps you get a better view of the battlefield and lets you prepare for oncoming attackers from all angles. Finally, pets in the game, while incredibly useful, just cannot cut the mustard with higher level mobs. It gets old fast when you hear the, “your pet is wounded,” message play constantly in the background.
Despite the quirks, Torchlight II is a game that RPG fans have long waited for. It gives you double the content for half the price and double the joy for much less hassle. I hope to see the RPG community truly embrace this game that executes the fundamentals of a classic RPG so well. With the promise of unrestricted modability, hours of exploration, and just plain funness Torchlight II is easily a contender for best RPG of the year. See you online everyone.