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Torchlight 2 Beginner's Guide -- Double The Loot, Double The Fun

cassandrakhaw

Posted September 24, 2012 - By Cassandra Khaw


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Torchlight 2 Hands-On Preview

Runic Games' sequel to their highly beloved action-RPG makes no pretenses about what it wants. It wants to be your obsession. It wants you to furiously, feverishly trudge through every square inch of the sprawling landscape in a vain attempt to feed that desire for 'more'. More loot, more skill points, more levels, more quests, more everything.

Ultimately, Torchlight II is a game built around greed and incremental satisfaction. Though ostensibly a quest to save the world from evil, it's all really just a big excuse to build the biggest, baddest character ever.

Characters And Classes – Kill The Way You Want

Let's talk classes. In Torchlight II, you'll be able to choose between the Outlander, the Berserker, the Ember Mage and, my personal favorite, the deliciously steampunk-flavored Engineer, all of whom come with their own specialized set of strengths and abilities.

The Outlander is a long-range weaponry specialist armed with magical Glaives and a few eldritch tricks. His command of wizardry is certainly limited, but who needs grandiose displays when you can slow, cripple, poison, and summon Shadowlings from the broken corpses of the opposition?

The Berserker, as you might have guessed already, is a berserker. His skills are all centered around fists, fangs, interrupts, crits and sudden burst damage - anything that gives him a double-handed edge when up close and personal. Depending on which skills you invest in, you also find yourself wielding ice and lightning or playing pack leader to half-tangible wolves.

Torchlight 2

As for the Ember Mage, he closely follows the familiar 'ranged caster' paradigm; big, incandescent pillars of flame, targeted thunderstorms, icy prisons, and astral allies. You name it; the Ember Mage has probably has it hidden up his sleeve.

Lastly, we have the Engineer, a minion-happy, multi-purpose heavyweight who is the closest thing Torchlight II has to a tank or a support character. Though you can easily opt to make him a battle wrench-wielding agent of doom, the Engineer can just as easily be turned into the dude with the grenades, the walking mines, and the steampunk robots.

In life, there are certain things you tend to take for granted, things like sunsets, warm winter hats, and classes that don't come with per-packaged genitalia. If you wanted to play a no-holds-barred-in-your-face melee combatant in the original Torchlight, you had to step into the leather-lined soles of the unquestionably masculine Destroyer. Gender selection simply wasn't an option. Mind you, this wasn't a sexist oversight. By and large, character customization in Torchlight was, er, threadbare at best but that has all changed with the sequel. While it's definitely no Skyrim, it's now possible to not look like carbon-copy of your friends (which is nice when everyone wants to be an Engineer.)

Interestingly, in spite of how everything comes with three skill trees each, Runic Games did not supply a skill calculator with their game. (Though if you’re really into that sort of thing, you can find one

If there is anything you need to keep in mind while you're musing over which class you should dally with, it's probably how much space you enjoy between yourself and your enemies. For those who favor point-blank conflict, the Engineer and the Berserker will most likely make you happiest. Prefer dealing multi-colored death from afar? You're more likely to jive with the Ember Mage and the Outlander.

Asides from that? Go wild.

A quick word of caution: you won't be able to do a full respec. At best, you'll be able to adjust the last three points you spent. That is all.

Torchlight 2

Pets – An Adventurer’s Best Friend

Pets in Torchlight II rock. Not only are they exempt from messy biological functions, they're also capable of doing things like summoning spectral skeletal archers and casting area-of-effect heals -- if you teach them how, of course. Unlike real pets, however, the menagerie in Torchlight II is uniformly obedient and uncommonly smart. More than adept at negotiating with town vendors for the best price on your potions and the junk you've had them ferry back, they're quiet, loyal, equipment-friendly, completely okay with strange dietary supplements and are, occasionally, even capable of hitting harder than you.

This time around you can create a shopping list for your pet if you happen to running low on milk or identify scrolls. If you don’t have enough money to get what you really want, you’ll have to wait until you have the gold.

Best of all, they come in eight different flavors. From wolves to cats to bulldogs, Torchlight II will give you your pick of the litter.

Loot, Equipment, Weapons, And More Loot

I've said it before; I'll say it again. Torchlight II has a LOT of loot. From the word go, the game practically bludgeons you with gear. Common, every-day pottery and deceased bosses will spit rare items at you alike. At times, it can feel as though Torchlight II was built on piñatas. Round a corner and you'll find any number of pots, urns, sarcophagi, and pagodas all waiting for you to disgorge their contents in a hedonistic show of destructive intent.

It's glorious.

Torchlight II exemplifies the 'click-and-collect' mentality that makes ARPGs so agonizingly addictive. Within the first twenty minutes of gameplay, you've most likely gone back to town to pawn off the spoils of your adventures at least once. However, the idea of an endless avalanche of loot can seem tiresome. Fortunately, Runic Games was smart enough to continue something they began in the first iteration of the franchise.

With the exception of certain class-specific items (and these crop up with surprising irregularity), everything in the game is usable by basically anyone. Though Berserkers do best with fist weapons, you can just as easily equip them with a shotgun or a staff. A dual-wielding, attack-stacking Engineer? Sure, if you want to. Just bear in mind that you may be inadvertently handicapping your character. What is possible is not necessarily what is good.

Much like in most other titles out there, loot in Torchlight II can be divided into several color-coded categories: white for garden-variety items, green for those enchanted with one or more enhancements, blue for rare and so on.

Unlike certain titles that will not be named, Torchlight II will let you enjoy the results of your continued avarice. Each and every piece of armor you don will be visible to the outside world. If you socket a gem that lends increased fire effect to its metallic host, you can be certain that your weapon will proudly exhibit the nature of its symbiotic friend. It's a feature that will occasionally make your character look like a clown (or a class that they are not, as my fur-flaunting Engineer can attest to) but it's one I would much rather not do without.

Torchlight 2

Combat, Gameplay, and Doing It With Friends

Pleasantly, Torchlight II won't hold your hand through the first twenty minutes of the game. At most, it will relay bits of vital information via discreet pop-ups. Nonetheless, even those aren't entirely needed. The controls are intuitive. When the WASD keys prove non-responsive, you'll automatically switch over to left-clicking to get to your destination. In the presence of an enemy, left-clicking from being a navigational tool to whatever combative skill you've assigned to it. Your right mouse button works in a similar fashion: a single right-click will activate whatever you've mapped to that action.

There is a hotbar as well, of course, with the numbers 0-9 for skill assignment. The Z and X keys will, by default, cause you to drink the best available health or mana potion you have available. Feel like making your right-click button a little more exciting? Hit the [Tab] key to switch between two possible skills.

Everything about the controls feel like they're geared towards streamlining the experience, towards ensuring that nothing comes between you and the act of acquiring more loot. Nonetheless, in spite of the simplicity of the combat, the battles can be an alarming amount of fun. Bosses will send whirlwinds into your face, divide into duplicates and imprison you in cages of stone. They'll rampantly fling tentacles across the map, blast you with ice, teleport in circles and do everything they can to ensure that you die horribly. Kiting is an inevitable requirement in some of these confrontations as is luck, timing, and the ability not to be one-shotted.

If that sounds like a barrel of fun to you, which I hope it does because otherwise you've wasted your time on this article, here's another thing to remember: everything is better with friends. Be it real-life comrades or temporary acquaintances you acquire over a game on the Internet, Torchlight II is considerably more satisfying and far less monotonous in the company of others.

After all, what is the good of having a new toy if you can't loft it to the sounds of another's admiration?

(It's also useful to remember this nugget of wisdom: it's not how fast you can run, it's whether you can run faster that the other guy.)

Torchlight 2 Beginner's Guide -- Double The Loot, Double The Fun

And Now For The Rest Of The Story…

The antagonistic force from the first game defeated all three of the heroes from the original Torchlight. Of the three, the Alchemist ends up terribly corrupted and, after beating down the Destroyer and the Vanquisher, he goes off to ruin the balance between the world's six elements. You, as the fledgling hero, are responsible for stopping him.

It's a familiar tale that makes no attempt at being more than what it really is, something that goes highly appreciated in an industry often touched by overwrought drama. And, really, even though it isn't the most inspired story around, the question is: does it matter?

As I've mentioned early in this article, Torchlight II is, really, all about unadulterated capitalism and habitual genocide. It's a simple, elegant ode to the things that make ARPGs tick and honestly, that's more than enough for me.

Torchlight 2 Beginner's Guide -- Double The Loot, Double The Fun
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