E3 2011: Torchlight II (Hands On)

by: Chuck -
Developer: Runic Games
Release Window/Date:
What's polished: Great artwork/tone, multiplayer, random missions mean almost unlimited gameplay
What needs polish: Players looking to bring their characters from the first game will be disappointed

As I clicked my way through the E3 build of Torchlight II I could feel a blackhole forming where free time will be violently sucked and destroyed. I began to see minutes of my life dying the death of a thousand mouse clicks as I explore the wonderful world that the team at Runic is creating up in their Seattle studios.

The problem though is that this time it’s not just my time, it’s the time of my friends as Torchlight II’s biggest new feature is the addition of co-op multiplayer over the internet or local area network. That’s right the folks at Runic are adding old-school LAN support for those of you who want to have Cheetos and coke fueled LAN parties.

Characters will persist over multiplayer sessions so you’ll be able to play with friends no matter how far they’ve progressed in the game. Players will be able to create their own servers and can mark them public or private depending on if they want to play with strangers or not. Loot drops will also be local so you don’t have to worry about fighting with strangers or friends when fat loot is dropped.

Other large additions include Overworld maps which mean that players will explore more than just dungeons in the game. There are still dungeons to explore (and Runic says they are four times as large as the original) but the new addition will give characters the time to get some sun even though the people controlling them won’t. The random events will even feature mini-bosses to make them a bit more of a challenge.

The demo I saw had the familiar UI for the first game in place but I was told that it will probably be changed by the time the final game ships. The magic and skill systems are also getting major overhauls as well but they are still in flux.

The random dungeon generator from the first game returns which means there will be things to do once you’ve beaten the main campaign of the game. Livening things up a bit is a new random event generator which will toss random scripted events in your way as you play through the game.

For those wondering if an Xbox 360 version is coming the folks at Runic mentioned that it’s a possibility but only once they get Torchlight II done as they don’t have the resources for development of two titles.

Runic hasn’t finalized a price yet but they are thinking it’s going to be more than $20 but less than $30. Honestly they could price the game at two or three times that amount and it would still be one of the best values on the market.

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