Title: Torchlight III
Release Date: October 13, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Perfect World Entertainment
Heading out into a dungeon with some friends is just the foundation for a tried and true adventure. Since the days of Diablo and Gauntlet Legends, there’s just something so satisfying about roaming countless dungeons as a created character for 100 hours only to restart as a new character and do it all again. It’s almost impossible to bring up this genre without also mentioning the Torchlight series.
What began in 2009 has evolved in many ways over the years, and through a length Early Access period, players are finally able to experience the newest installment, Torchlight III. In many ways, Torchlight III seems to want to be the most approachable entry in the series, but that hurts some of the deeper RPG systems that fans expect.
Torchlight III takes place a century after the conclusion of Torchlight II, and as luck would have it, Novastraia needs your help once again to fight back against the invading Netherim. There isn’t very much exposition to the adventure, and you will be fighting goblins again in a matter of minutes. The biggest problem with the campaign is how I couldn’t play as my singleplayer character in the multiplayer mode. This meant that I pretty much had to start a new game when a friend decided to join me. So if you are planning on ever playing with friends, go online and play your campaign there, it can be played completely alone if you wish, but at least you have the option.
The story was never the biggest draw in this adventure, but there was an attempt to make your own impact on the world through forts. These are pretty interesting since you are slowly able to customize your own area, which can be shared with friends or others can randomly find their way to your base and check it out. There’s a community chest here where you can stash some equipment to share with strangers or develop new resources to construct new structures. It’s a clever way to spend some time, and there are a few ways to benefit from some of the objects placed, which can increase resistance to elements. It’s pretty basic in the end, but it provides a nice way to show off your progress through the campaign.
Torchlight III gives you the option of four character classes, which is rather basic and may leave you questioning if this game has the depth to carry a 60-hour adventure. Well, this is where the Relic system comes in that provides a separate set of skills to learn and also gives players more options in how they can approach gameplay. For example, an Archer isn’t only tied to long-ranged attacks; instead, with the Flaming Destroyer relic, they can cast fire magic and summon flaming swords to cast down on their enemies. It ultimately gives variety to each character and allows them to hold their own in any situation. Each Relic has a variety of upgradeable skills that make the character unique in battle.
While the system works to add depth in the form of new skills and passive abilities, it is extremely straightforward and accessible, to a fault. These skill systems are just inherently limited in a few ways since a character’s class really only has a few choices regarding active abilities. Playing a new game as the same class with a new Relic won’t really have that big effect outside of a few new magical abilities because of how limited the skills trees are.
Still, Torchlight III’s overall gameplay design is sound and fun for hours of mob killing and loot collecting. It mostly comes down to just how cathartic it is to make your way through dungeons plowing past enemies and reaping the spoils of the adventure. Sadly, this does hit a peak because I ultimately felt the loot didn’t differentiate itself enough. I could fight a few bosses and get nothing of substance, but some random enemy would drop high-quality gear.
This is bad, but the boss battles are actually a lot of fun, and I wish the gear they provided after the encounter matched the hectic match. However, I should say that if you are at all versed in action games, you may want to play on greater difficulties because Normal is just way too easy sometimes to the point where you are rarely challenged.
Environments all look great and are fun to explore. The developer loves to surround you with enemies, and this is when Torchlight III is at its most fun. There are just some stand-out areas where dozens of enemies spawn and surround you, and you are forced to respond, or you’ll quickly die. The themes of dungeons change, but they do resemble each other for the most part. It makes exploring feel a little repetitive, but I was mostly focused on killing mobs, so I didn’t care too much.
Torchlight III is best played with friends, but I did play most of my adventure solo and still had a decent experience. However, hanging out in dungeons while collecting loot and taking down bosses with my friends couldn’t be matched. It’s even more fun because Torchlight III seems to be slightly more playful than other titles in the genre. It really matches the adventure’s tone as the game doesn’t really take itself too seriously and understands how to keep the experience fun.
There are high-level dungeons available when it comes to late game, but this may come too late for some of the more hardcore fans. The game is just a little to easy for the most, so if you’re new to the series or the genre, then I’d say you’ll get way more out of Torchlight III than returning fans. However, those who stick around past level 45 will see a nice roll out content to keep the adventure fresh; you’d have to play through a few repetitive dungeons to get there.
Torchlight III is a great entry in the series as it doesn’t explicitly try to be exactly like its predecessors. Instead, it attempts to do new things using classes and relics to personalize the adventure along with a few accessible leveling systems and skill trees. It all works for the most part, but it’s a design that doesn’t allow for the deepest amount of customization. Sure, building a fort and collecting loot with my friends is fun, but there has to be some balance and short term goals that make each level up and new area discovered worth it.
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