DISCLAIMER:I’m not against Diablo 3. I intend on buying it and loving it and anything that appears to be anti-Diablo below is simply done in an attempt to highlight what Torchlight has to offer as an alternative to Diablo 3 (or as a game that can peacefully sit beside Diablo on your desktop). Both will be great! So take anything that appears negative with a grain of salt.
Blizzard Entertainment. Diablo. These two names have become legendary in the gaming industry. Blizzard rose to fame by churning out RPG and RTS titles during the mid to late 1990s that were literally unmatched in quality, and it garnered them a lot of respect. If gamers were to be polled several years ago and asked who they thought were the best video game developers in terms of integrity and game quality, you can bet that the top three would’ve been Blizzard, Valve, and perhaps Bioware. If the same gamers were asked to name some of their favourite games of all time, quite a few of them surely would have said Diablo or Diablo II.
Oh, how times have changed…
Diablo III is rumoured to be on the way to store shelves as early as this November or December, but something interesting is happening… People are turning their backs on the game, but why? Aside from Blizzard throwing in some questionable new features and gameplay mechanics, the answer to the question lies in the year 2009 when a little known company known as Runic Games released an action RPG called Torchlight. It was quickly labelled a Diablo clone by many angry Blizzard fans until they realized that, hey, Runic Games WERE Blizzard! Well, maybe not by name, but Runic is made up of former Blizzard North employees who left Blizzard a few years back. What is Blizzard North, you ask? It is the division of Blizzard Entertainment that planned, designed, and developed Diablo and Diablo II. That’s right, the guys at Blizzard who brought us two of the absolute best action RPG games of all time founded Runic Games and decided to stick it to Blizzard by releasing Torchlight.
So what was so good about Torchlight aside from the fact that the developers of Diablo and Diablo II made it? Well, it was pretty much a carbon copy of the original Diablo with the main overworld town and lengthy monster-infested dungeon that keeps descending lower and lower into the bowels of the underworld. It had three classes (a warrior, ranged fighter, and magician), scrolls of identify and town portal, and… Well, face it, Torchlight was just Diablo. Runic knew that they wouldn’t be able to sell a fifteen year old game all over again though, so they essentially made Torchlight into a vastly superior version of the original Diablo. Overall gameplay was better and the game was very user-friendly. It also introduced a few neat concepts like having a permanent pet companion that can transform into monsters and take your items back to town to sell, and you could even relax and go fishing in the same style as World of Warcraft.
Torchlight was the smash hit of 2009, and droves of Diablo fans urged all of their fellow action RPG loving friends to give Torchlight a try. Well, all of those friends did try Torchlight, and they loved it. Torchlight took the orginal Diablo and then not only modernized it but also perfected it. With the same guys working on Torchlight who made Diablo (heck, they even have the same music composer), it was indeniable that Torchlight would be the spiritual successor to the Diablo series. Runic’s little discount gem retailed for only $20, and it made a lot of folks happy as it looked like the wait for Diablo III wasn’t going to end any time soon.
It is now 2011, and boy does it ever look like we’re in for one heck of an exciting final quarter of the year. Aside from about a dozen amazing games being released in October and November, we’re also getting Torchlight 2 and, supposedly, Diablo III. This truly will be clash of the titans. Allow me to explain why in a silly way.
In the red corner, weighing two hundred and ten pounds, we have the reigning heavy weight champion of the wooooorld… The Diablo franchise’s new contender, Diablo III! This title defending warrior is sure to sell millions of copies by sheer popularity alone even if the game does not meet expectations! But will the hype be met? With practically all of the former Diablo designers having left Blizzard, and with a whole slew of new faces working on Diablo who obviously worked on World of Warcraft (you’d be a dummy to not realize this), is the magic still there? Will fans love this fighter as much as past champions Diablo and Diablo II?
And in the blue corner, weighing one hundred and ninety four pounds, we have the challenger from Seattle, Washington! None other than Runic Games’ Torchlight 2! This ambitious young contender has the same faces, ideas, and voices behind it that orchestrated the creation of the original two Diablo games. There is more knowledge of the action RPG genre behind this game than there is behind Blizzard’s fierce title defender. Torchlight 2 is indeed the spiritual successor to the previous champions Diablo and Diablo II. Resembling Diablo more than Diablo III actually does, can Torchlight 2 topple the well financed giant and become champion of the genre?
Here are the facts which favour Torchlight 2.
1. Torchlight 2 is developed by the same people who made Diablo, Diablo II, and Torchlight. These people are NOT working on Diablo III.
2. Torchlight 2, despite being a high quality title, will sell for either $20 or $30. Diablo III will be available for the standard $60 before tax, but could run higher at some retailers (I’m looking at you Gamestop).
3. Torchlight 2 promises to be what Diablo II was, only improved and refined significantly. Diablo III is a huge unknown and has only maintained two series mainstays… The barbarian class and Deckard Cain. Yay?
4. Diablo III is not going to be moddable and will have many features that are being made to suck extra money from your pockets. Torchlight 2 will be fully moddable and, once you buy it, you will never have to give Runic any further cash except to buy the inevitable Torchlight 3.
5. Diablo III requires a constant and persistent internet connection to play on even singleplayer mode. If your internet dies, expect to be taken out of the game in an awful hurry. With Torchlight 2, no internet connection will be required except to play multiplayer.
6. Torchlight 2 promises to give us all of the features we are used to and enjoy while Diablo III is wiping the slate clean and throwing questionable features at us that are intimidating many long time fans.
7. Torchlight 2 will allow players to select faces and hairstyles for each individual class as well as choosing the gender they wish to play as. In Diablo III, players will only be able to select the gender of their chosen class.
Torchlight 2, made by guys who created the Diablo franchise, will cost $20.
Diablo III, made by a bunch of folks who had to step into a vacant void at Blizzard to create the game, will market for $60 or more.
The choice is yours, guys! I’m excited for both games myself, so please don’t paint me as having a bias or anything of the sort. I will definitely be buying both games and will surely love them both! Anyway, to finish things off, here are some pictures of Torchlight 2. Since a lot of folks are still unsure of what Torchlight is since it is still a relatively new series and is living in Diablo’s shadow, these pictures may help a little.