Torghlight 2 is due for its summer release. What will we get: another Diablo clone or Diablo II as it should have been?
As we have already said in our previous article, Diablo III arouses mixed feelings in the hearts of old-school RPG players. For one thing, the new Blizzard title is an expectedly highly addictive game with smooth, thoroughly thought-out gameplay and enormous munchkinism potential, both of them being key elements to the success of a hack'n'slash RPG. For another thing, loss of the series' dark atmosphere and dropping half of the highbrow features in regard to skills and items could not but put off many oldie players from the third Diablo installment. Visceral scathing of enemy hordes can be and is fun; moreover, it lies at the very core of the hack'n'slash genre concept. However, counterbalancing it here and there with a little piece of thinking is always a good idea. Unfortunately, Blizzard has reduced the thinking part in Diablo III to 'a very-very really extremely tiny piece of thinking'. Instead of contemplative hour-long reflection over the skill-trees and distribution of the stat points, you just go straight ahead, swinging with your weapon over your head and raising the dead with your battle cry.
Thank God, Torchlight 2 came to the rescue the very moment I started losing my faith into the future of the RPG genre. Despite its unimpressive graphics and the overall jolly butterflies-and-flowers look, the upcoming title by Runic Games lives up to everything we lacked in the new Diablo. Here for the top 5 things that are so damn cheesy in Diablo III and so awesome to see in Torchlight 2.
1. Selectable difficulty levels
The most irritating thing about Diablo II and Diablo III is that you cannot select the difficulty level from the very beginning. Like it or not, before you get to the real game, you have to walk through the dead easy Normal and the only slightly brighter Nightmare. Don't even think you're good enough for Hell, unless you've spent days yawning on Normal!
Torchlight 2 gives us the alternative we haven't had since the first Diablo olden days: you can change the difficulty level any moment you like. Yay!
2. The loot display filter
Sad but true: most of the loot dropped by monsters in any hack'n'slash game is poor regular stuff nobody needs anymore after the first several hours of gameplay. Still, eradicating the regular items loot altogether is an option that any long-time ARPG player would definitely reject. As a result, you've got to tediously click out the better stuff out of the 'white' loot ocean each time you slaughter a bigger monster crowd.
Torchlight 2 comes up with an ingenious compromise that is simple and elegant at the same time. After a bit of fumbling around in the setting of the loot display filter, you will get only the titles of magical or unique items displayed on-screen. No more 'bucklers' or 'short swords' trashing your field of vision. Finally...
3. Item identification
There's no item identifications in Diablo III: your character seems to be as knowledgeable in the magical armory of Sanctuarium as Deckard Cain himself. To justify this gameplay change, Blizzard introduced a major storyline twist in the Diablo universe and (SPOILER ALERT!!!) killed the poor old Horadrim. Now, the kids won't have to bother identifying the loot they've found, a task Blizzard thinks is well beyond the gamers' capabilities.
Torchlight 2 retains this game element, however, having modified its concept by introducing an alternative identification procedure. If you prefer to save a precious indentification scroll you can wait, say, till level 8 and the item statistics will be automatically revealed.
4. Skill and stat points
The intellectual part of almost any old-school ARPG, the part that calls for some brains and not the ones of your enemies. The primary holywar reason on almost any Diablo II forum. The part that has been almost completely crossed out in Diablo III.
Torchlight 2 is no revelation in what regards the skills and character stats. In fact, it is a rather mediocre game when it comes to the intricacy and originality of these gameplay aspects. On the other hand, Torchlight 2 is tremendous in that it leaves it up to you to decide what skills and stats you want to upgrade or boost. It's so tiresome when the developer spoon-feeds you the way to develop you char and leaves no room for some creativity...
5. Old-school dungeon maps
The dungeon maps in Diablo III are pretty iffy for those who purged the Tristram Cathedral catacombs in 1998. They're so Call-of-Duty-ish that you can't help trying to switch to the first person mode. You come in. You see the way. You go down that way. You kill the bad guy. You pick up the loot. Over. Next dungeon. You come in...
Torchlight 2 offers us nostalgic old-school random mazes with dozens of dead-ends and (God Almighty!) uncharted secret areas. I repeat: uncharted secret areas. Like you're back in the 90-s, huh?
The Best Part of It All
However, all the things we've just been talking about bleak in significance to the über-important old-school feature found in Torchlight 2. There's an OFFLINE play mode! OFFLINE!
Just imagine: no more server downs due to the daily maintenance, no more account hacks, no more deaths of your hardcore high-level character due to server lags. And above it all, no trammels for your misanthropy. There's just you and the mobs. And then there's only you left.