Torchlight 2 [2] – Buyer’s Remorse?

I bought Torchlight 2 when the free weekend was on, but I was in the middle of other games at the time, so I installed it a few weeks later. The title should probably tell you where I’m at with the game now, but keep reading if you want to know the details.

I’m writing this on a Sunday morning. I had about 5 hours of sleep, so I’m tired and that might have something to do with it, but I honestly don’t think this is the case.I don’t like how Torchlight 2 feels anymore. In fact, I have zero desire to play any action RPG at this moment.

I started the second chapter last night and I got through a couple of quests, unlocking the gambler and crafter NPCs along the way. I also got to a point where I had skill points left over on each level up, so it was finally time to start investing into a second offensive skill. I actually had even more leftover points than expected, so I went with two extra skills.

Embermage build

Just to elaborate, my Embermage used primarily the Magma Spear spell and nothing else in the offensive department. I also invested into several passive skills. I was maxing out Charge Mastery, Elemental Atunement and Fire Brand and I also put two or three points into Prismatic Rift. The second offensive skill I started using now was Infernal Collapse, which is basically the Diablo 2 Meteor without the damage over time part. Actually, it has damage over time, just like every other fire skill, but it has it because of the Fire Brand passive.

Torchlight 2 - Embermage fire skills

Pictured: The biggest part of my embermage build – the fire skills.

As I said, I had a few points left over, even after that, so I put them into Death’s Bounty, because I was running out of healing potions quickly, so I thought it might be a good idea to have an alternative source of healing.

Game feel

And the skills are fine. They are flashy, feel powerful and work well. It’s fun to use them.

I just don’t feel it, though. I’m trying really hard to think off why I don’t feel it, but I’m not finding any reason I could be sure is the right one.

Torchlight 2 has variety and options in every aspect of the game. There’s a multitude of class skills, extra skills you can find like items, plenty of item sets, unique equipment, stats. There’s even fun item effects such as the upgrade option or spells that trigger on attack.

Now that I’ve played some more, I also know there’s crafting and gambling. Torchlight 2 is Diablo 2 with a metric ton of added content and yet, the last few hours felt more like a chore. I felt that I was required to play through it and see it all. When I decided it was time for breakfast, I went on HowLongToBeat to see how long the campaign is.

According to the site, it takes about 20 hours. When I saw that, I lost any immediate desire to go back to the game. I still don’t feel like abandoning it altogether and I kind of want to see the later skills and items, but I’m not looking forward to the idea of playing the game at all. Why is that?

Lackluster story?

Part of it has to be the story. I mean, I have literally zero involvement with it. I have no idea who the main baddie is at this point, and I have no idea what my goal is. All I know now is that there’s this Djinni in the desert on a mountain, he just got me through an annoying dungeon full of traps and now wants me to kill his rival or arch-nemesis or something. I don’t care about the Djinni, I don’t care about the rival, I don’t care about the quest and I don’t care about the world. How could I when the game didn’t bother one bit to make me care?

Torchlight 2 - Djinni

Pictured: The Djinni I don’t really care about.

Diablo 3’s story was lackluster, sure, but the story of Torchlight is thousands of miles behind in quality.

I can’t say I played any Diablo game for the story, but I can say I enjoyed the story and atmosphere in those games. Diablo 3, I enjoyed the least and I hated the way it panned out in the end, but I still enjoyed most of it. With Torchlight, there is no part that I can outright say I like.

Sub-par controls? 3D?

Maybe it’s because skill targeting can be annoying?

I died a lot of times in these two sessions. Magma Spear is a projectile spell. It’s called Magma Spear, but it’s pretty much a Fire Bolt that pierces. Since the world is in 3D, the projectiles often hit hillsides instead of the enemy you’re trying to actually hit. This is annoying and what’s worse, it’s inconsistent with what you’re actually seeing on the screen. You hit the broad side of a hill when, from your perspective, the situation looks like you should be able to hit the enemy without any issues.

Torchlight 2 - Ember mage

Pictured: My embermage on the character select screen. This is the latest “look”.

Infernal Collapse, on the other hand, is a spell you target at an area, just like Meteor. It causes a ball of fire to fall from the sky on that area. Except, just like Meteor, if you target an enemy with it, you actually hit them. In Diablo 2, this worked OK. It had issues and you ended up not doing what you actually wanted at times, but for the most part, holding the Shift key would give the player enough control to avoid any annoyances.

Again, Torchlight 2 is 3D. The enemies are a lot bigger than in Diablo 2 and your mouse tends to get captured by a nearby target, instead of the game allowing you to actually target the floor. This causes issues both Infernal Collapse and Magma Spear type spells.

Sometimes, you get surrounded by enemies and you want to get away, but no matter where you click, your character just keeps casting spells instead of actually moving, because there’s always an enemy close to your mouse somewhere on the screen. It’s annoying. I understand why it happens, but it’s still annoying. It’s enraging!

Diablo 3 also had this issue, but less so.

The part that really irks me here is that the enemies could be smaller, but with 3D, size makes them look more imposing, so style got in the way of good game feel here. Again, Diablo 3 had the same issue, but less so. It was more obvious in later chapters and some areas where the enemies were bigger.

Torchlight 2 - Quest scene

Pictured: Part of a quest. You put something in the bowl, which triggers a sequence where a boss appears.

If I’m playing a game where dying is easy and difficulty is part of the appeal, then I don’t want to feel like I died due to something I couldn’t control. I want every death to be completely my fault.

Diablo 3 didn’t give me that. Torchlight 2 doesn’t give me that even more often. Sometimes, Diablo 2 and Diablo 1 didn’t gave me that, but it was a much less common occurrence.


Is there a conclusion to this?

Probably, but it’s not a conclusive conclusion. The extremely poor story is part of why I don’t enjoy Torchlight 2 any more. Control issues and polish are a slightly bigger part, probably.

Maybe I’m just jaded and need to take a step back from it.

The thing is, I don’t feel like installing Diablo 1 or 2 either at this point. Maybe the newer games ruined the idea of an Action RPG for me. Maybe I just outgrew the genre. Maybe my tastes changed.

In any case, the magic of Diablo clones is gone for me. There’s some residue left over, but for the most part, it’s not there any more. Maybe it will come back some day, maybe I’ll find it somewhere, but it’s gone now.

As for Torchlight 2, I’ll see if I can dredge through the campaign, but I’m having difficulty in seeing the point of investing another 10 or 15 hours into it. The story doesn’t interest me and the loot and leveling lost the appeal. What else is there in it?