by Josh Butler
previewed on PC
Those familiar with Torchlight will know it to be a stylish, steampunk-style dungeon crawler which offered a bargain RPG experience when users first started discovering it in Steam sales. After multiple plays and hundreds of hours squeezed from the budget wonder, fans will be happy to hear the sequel is on its way, heavy-laden with all the improvements they’ve been dreaming of.
And for all intents and purposes that improvement is co-op. Sidelining the suggestion of a Torchlight MMO for the time being, Runic say Torchlight II will be a single-purchase multiplayer experience, free of the subscription fees many feared. Co-op has long been the most demanded feature among the multitude of addicted players, but rather than being an afterthought to placate fans, Runic have said that Torchlight II will in fact be ideally played as part of a 2-4 character party.
Four’s a party
While this decision appears to be a no-brainer, a lot of effort has in fact gone in adapting Torchlight’s gameplay to the multiplayer model. Loot drops are still typically abundant, yet each player will only be able to see the items that result from their kills, thereby eliminating the scrum for items which can undermine the atmosphere of co-operation. Items can then be dropped to share them with comrades and you will often come across items and portals which have been left by your fellow players. The HUD displays the current activities of your allies at all times, which detracts a little from the uncluttered design of the original but the trade-off is undeniably convenient.
This focus on multiplayer functionality isn’t to say that the traditional single-player experience is now irrelevant. The four new classes each have hybrid disciplines, offering enough balance and flexibility to survive in solitary questing. Relegating the three original classes to NPC cameos, Runic have chosen to adorn the sequel with all new classes – two of which have so far been revealed. One will be the Railman, an engineer melee character with charged ‘ember’ energy attacks; the other, the Outlander, a ranged type with low-magic attacks. One aesthetic change is that now all classes can be played as male or female, and customisation is also possible both in appearance and choice of animal companion.