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Torchlight II Preview

Nick_Tan By:
PUBLISHER Runic Games 
DEVELOPER Runic Games 
T What do these ratings mean?

If it looks like Diablo, smells like Diablo, sounds like Diablo, it might just be Torchlight II.

Torchlight II is everything the first Torchlight wanted to be, now that Runic Games has the resources and fan base to be not only inspired by Blizzard's Diablo franchise, but to rival it. In other words, I have three words: Six-Player Multiplayer! I think I just made myself drool.

Indeed, for old-school Diablo players, Torchlight II potentially represents the traditional style of the dungeon crawling genre and the more consumer-friendly side of the coin with no real-money auction house, LAN support, mod support through Steamworks, and a one-time purchase of $19.99. That's an incredible bargain, given that it's one-third the cost of Diablo II when it first released in 12 years ago. Amazing how time flies, doesn't it?

Torchlight II expands upon the its predecessor in several significant ways, the first being the introduction of four acts, each with its own area and part in the overarching storyline. The addition of multiple hub towns and randomized dungeon areas naturally extends the campaign, while the consistent change in scenery and high frequency of randomly occurring events keeps the gameplay fresh.

As opposed to the original's class offering of Destroyer, Alchemist, and Vanquisher, this sequel provides four options: a heavy melee, drone-supported Engineer; a primal, animal-channeling Berserker; a magic-wielding Embermage; and a roguish, nomadic Outlander. Similar to Borderlands 2, all four characters are ready for multiplayer right out of the gate and will encounter the previous class types as NPCs, particularly The Alchemist who destroys the town of Torchlight at the start of the game after becoming corrupted by Ordrak. The story will be told through voiced dialogue and cut-scenes surprisingly produced by Klei Entertainment, which is known for their cel-shaded prowess with Shank and Mark of the Ninja.

The undeniable experience Runic Games learned from the first Torchlight can be seen in all of the minortweaks. In the past, pets can be sent back to town with excess loot and return with gold; now they can be called back during their trip in case you need them immediately and they can shop at stores for basic items like health and mana restore items if you're running low. If fishing makes you impatient, you can throw a stick of dynamite to get some quick items, and basic swings of a greatsword or hammer can deliver damage to multiple targets at once within the weapon's range. Also, if those red and blue orbs in the screenshots annoy you too much, you can place them in the middle if you prefer; that's just one of many HUD elements that can be altered this time around.

Torchlight II will be completely ready in about two weeks, releasing September 20 for PC through Steam and Perfect World, and for Mac at a later time. There's no word yet whether the Xbox 360 and PS3 will receive the same treatment, but it shouldn't be too far out of reach if the PC version sells enough copieson that note at least, I believe that it will.

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