Update 09/06/2019: A patch was released with the following fixes:
– Fixed A desync issue where players sometimes don’t see the same things in multiplayer
–Fixed an issue where scrolling through the stat UI highlights the wrong items and the description is mismatched
–Fixed an issue where pressing Left on the D-pad in any menu will pop up the “View Invites” screen
-Fixed issues with initiating the “Ghosts of Plunder Cove” quest
-Still no fix for the Transmuter NPC
After 7 years, Torchlight II – an action-RPG dungeon crawler from the developers at Runic Games, ported by Panic Button – finally makes its way to consoles. Gear, gold, and grinding is still the name of the game, with time spent in your inventory as important as on the battlefield. Featuring a completely revamped UI, with online co-op for up to four players and an ever-changing dynamic world, Torchlight II feels right at home on the Switch.
Torchlight II spans three Acts, each one loaded with more and more deadly monsters to match your rising gear level. Like Diablo, you hack your way through an onslaught of enemies who litter the ground with gold and loot. I honestly don’t know what’s more fun, melting beasts with a newly acquired skill, or pouring over inventory loot to min/max your way to ever-greater heights. Along your journey you will acquire skills, allocate stats, enchant gear, socket gems, equip legendaries…. Have I piqued your curiosity yet?
Choose Your Hero
The story to me is rather forgettable, but that’s generally true for any
dungeon crawler. You come for the action, the loot, and the levels. The general
through line is the Alchemist destroys the town of Torchlight and you, the
hero, track him down to exact justice. You’ll take on many quests, both main and
side, but with the frantic pace of the hack-and-slash action, combined with a
blah story, you’ll generally want to skip through the quest givers’ ramblings
and get on with it (in which case you won’t be missing much, honest). Speaking
of heroes, Torchlight II offers four unique character classes to
choose from at the start of the game:
Beserkers – Melee DPS, focused brawler
Outlanders – Ranged DPS, specializing in guns
Embermages – Ranged DPS, specializing in spells
Engineers – Melee DPS, jack of many trades
I, as always, am a caster, so I chose the Embermage for my first Switch
playthrough. After picking your class there are a few sliders to personalize
your character, but the main choice is your pet. With options like a ferret,
unicorn, panda, owl, panther, and more, your decision will be a tough one. Pets
fight alongside you in Torchlight II, but their DPS isn’t their only
redeeming quality. Pets are great for lending extra inventory space and making
trips to town for you to sell your junk, or bring back potions and scrolls of
identification. One of my favorite aspects of pets is that you can teach them
spells! That’s right – I had a Silence casting, Fireball slinging, Nether Imp
summoning, Healer Yapper (a troll looking pet). The only downside to my Yapper
pet is his battle cry sound bite, which he performs whenever he charges in to
attack; it gets real old, real fast.
As we all do once hitting the starting map, I immediately opened the
character menu to check out the nitty gritty. The left analog stick cycles
through gear slots around my Embermage, while Inventory/Equipped panes appear
beside him. Above that are tabs that can be cycled through with the L and R
shoulder buttons. At the Skills tab I spent time studying my skill tree,
reading up on which skills sounded the most devastating and trying to decide
whether I was going to be a Fire, Ice, or Thunder Embermage, or some
abomination of the three. Ultimately, I went with Fire as my main skill tree
for damage, with a few Ice skills to slow and immobilize the masses. There’s an
option in town to respec, but it costs gold, and is only good for the last
three skills obtained. Choose wisely.
I was disappointed to find there was no “undo” for skill point assignments.
Anyone who plays both PlayStation and Nintendo games knows the frustration of
the confirm/cancel buttons across the two systems. I chose the wrong skill on
more than one occasion, and it would have been nice to have had the option to
undo. Oddly enough, the Stat point allocation menu does let you undo point
distribution, prior to leaving the menu, so this may be an issue that will get
patched upon release.
In the Stats tab I also noticed the description next to the icons was wrong.
The Strength icon gave a description of Dexterity, while the Focus icon
describes Vitality, and so on. Only after adding a point does it seem to auto
correct and match the right description. The biggest technical oversight,
though, would have to be the Transmuter vendor not working. He’s the NPC that combines
lesser quality gems into better ones. I had 75 or more gems, all begging to be
upgraded, but alas this and other minor bugs will have to wait for a patch.
The controls for Torchlight II feel great and are all customizable
(there’s a Binding tab in the character menu that allows for you to remap all
the face and shoulder buttons). Initially, L and R are mapped with the health and
mana potions. I left those alone, as one needs those readily accessible, and
they felt right from the start. As I gained more skills, though, I switched the
face buttons around to my liking a few times before settling on my personal
setup. The right analog stick zooms in and out on your character, so if you
want to be right up in the action you can, though the tactical way to play is
more zoomed out. The Select button brings up the Options menu. Here you can
invite players, view invites, save games, and toggle genre standards like Show
HP Bars or Show Helmets. Finally, the D-pad offers control over your map.
Pressing right on the D-Pad toggles the map – mini, large, or off. Pressing up
or down zooms in or out. Unfortunately, there’s no control scheme in the
Options menu to tell you any of this, so I had to learn through
A Quality Port
The rest of the game is a pretty faithful port of the original PC title,
with the major difference being the reworked UI. The art style is unique and
timeless, similar to World of Warcraft; it shows its age, but is
somehow still pleasing to look at. Load times are short and map transitions are
quick. With no one online yet, I was unable to test the multiplayer component
of Torchlight II, but solo play was responsive and clean. Levels are
randomized, so you’ll always be getting new layouts, paths, loot, and monsters
every time you play. If a greater challenge is what you’re after, the game also
features NG+, allowing you to carry over your character, skills, gold, and
Some of my favorite features in Torchlight II are easy to
overlook, but the details are what move this game into the upper echelon
of dungeon crawlers. For starters, skills have level restrictions, preventing
you from sinking all your points into one skill and attaining God-level damage
before it’s time. Further, skills have Tiers (1,2 and 3). After enough points
are invested, you’ll cross a Tier threshold and that skill will get an added
boost (extra damage, longer duration, higher burn chance, etc.). Additionally,
gear has equip restrictions, but with two means to achieve it – level or stats.
So if you want to wear that level 16 helm, but you’re only level 14, you can
equip it regardless of your level so long as you meet the stat requirements,
and vice versa.
Torchlight II should have come to consoles long ago. A leader in the genre, its non-stop action loop hits all the right notes. While the story doesn’t make an impact, everything else is so incredibly well done that you're unlikely to even mind. Being able to cast Blazing Pillars and Firestorm from the comfort of my bed with the Switch is worth the price of admission alone at $19.99. With Torchlight Frontiers coming soon, now is the right time to play Torchlight II again, or experience it for the first time on the go.
Top-Class dungeon crawler
Portable and Affordable
Transmuter needs patched
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