While E3 is synonymous with giant booths, scantily clad women, rattling sound systems, and flashing lights, there are also the other teams who manage to get through the show without all of that glitz and glam. Nestled in betweeen the Los Angeles Convention Center's two massive show floors was a room full of temporary meeting areas, and quietly nestled inside one of them was Runic Games. While the company may not have had the powerhouse of a Vegas cabaret show behind them, they don't really need to. They were showing off Torchlight II, which pretty much spoke for itself.
For those of you who haven't checked out the original Torchlight, the short version is that it was designed by Travis Baldree (designer of Fate) and Max and Erich Schaefer (co-designers of Diablo and Diablo II), and it arose from the ashes of Flagship Studios as they abandoned work on Mythos, which is now being handled by the South Korean company HanbitSoft. While all three games are action role-playing games, Torchlight had the advantage of being first out of the gate in late 2009 for the PC, in 2010 for the Mac, and was recently ported to Xbox Live.
But the sequel aims to put that game in the rearview mirror as it introduces one important thing that players have been asking for most: multiplayer. You'll finally be able to play in the world of Torchlight with friends, either online or through LAN play, or direct IP connect, and you'll discover how much fun dungeon-looting can be with a buddy. It will have a lobby and matchmaking system, and it won't require a subscription or fees to play. As someone who put a ridiculous amount of hours into Torchlight, adding friends to the mix will make things infinitely more enjoyable. Especially since you'll each see unique loot whenever a chest opens, meaning your newfound buddies can't gank your sweet loot. The LAN play will support "no less than four," but they aren't sure about a player limit yet. The co-op is drop in / drop out, so you'll be able to join games at will and not have to worry about screwing up someone else's experience.
But that's not all the game has to offer. Besides multiplayer, the title has a completely redesigned user interface, new classes, abilities, enemies, an open world outdoor system (the original Torchlight was mostly underground), and more. At E3, they were showing off the newly-announced Berserker class, who joins the Railman and the Outlander. While there's a fourth and final class yet to come, this session was all about tanking with the Berserker.
The Berserker is all about dealing out damage through fast attacks and using his animal-based magic powers. He's focused on up-close melee attacks, and he uses claw weapons to deal out damage, which designer Travis Baldree says "are the fastest weapons in the game right now. He can also wield a giant two-handed cannon, which does huge amounts of damage, but is slow to reload. Our Berserker was outfitted with both, and while the cannon was a lot of fun to use from a distance, the claws were where it was at. If you're a fan of blood and gore, then you'll love his in-your-face moves and the gouts of gore he can create.
Additionally, he can dual-wield those claws, and occasionally, he'll attack with both of them at once in a move they call "executes." But don't ignore the Berserker's animal powers, which come in extremely handy. I became addicted to his "Spectral Wolves" ability, which sends out a small pack of ghostly beasts to attack the nearest enemies. They don't last very long, but they do a lot of damage and are good when you find yourself stuck in a group. There were different skills ranging from Wolf Slash to Dragon's Breath, and the Berserker has three different animal paths that his skills branch into: Raven, Wolf, and Dragon.