Diablo III is a well thought out, extremely polished game that for the most part stays true to its spirit of its predecessor. However, as the weeks go by more and more inherent design flaws are being unveiled, most of them related to server stability, class balance and difficulty. Ultimately, this leads one to believe that Blizzard may have lost their way over the course of a grueling and mysterious 11-year development period. Invariably, most of these problems will be rectified over the coming months, but some gamers are convinced that the “positive” changes will only lead to more, albeit different, problems. It may seem a bit rash to say now, but by the time Torchlight II comes out, droves of gamers might jump ship in order to play a less expensive, more user-friendly ARPG created by some of the same guys who developed Diablo II. How’s that for retributive justice?
Hardcore fans of the franchise wanted a more sophisticated retread of Diablo II, and didn’t get it. Their complaints begin and end with Diablo III’s lack of an offline mode and LAN multiplayer. Ironically, it is these features, which were staples of games from the early-2000s (before DRM), that are missed the most. Torchlight II, on the other hand, allows players to both play single and multiplayer games Internet free. So when you’re on that long car ride and crave some ARPG mayhem, Torchlight II will be your savior. Oh, and those 10-15 hours a week the Battle.net servers are down – Torchlight will be available for play 24/7, as it should be.
Torchlight II allows gamers to customize their characters – a novel concept, I know. Having played enough of Diablo III’s endgame to know that only a select few builds are viable in Inferno, Blizzard’s ideal that the D3 skill system was natural evolution over the more traditional points system kind of falls flat. It’s not that it doesn’t allow for experimentation, it’s just that most experiments don’t work. If a game developer is going to pigeon-hole players into one of five builds, at least allow them to have access to skills that others would not. The Diablo III skill system completely negates the need to create more than one character for each class. Part of the fun of leveling up is meticulously choosing where to allocate that next point. Now everything is done automatically. Give one “point” to Torchlight II for using an updated version of a proven system.
Speaking of customization, what about mods? PC gamers expect, even demand, that they be able to use third-party tools to shape their gaming experience. Diablo II has them, WoW has them, Torchlight II will have them, but what about Diablo III? Most game developers realize that not every member of their target audience will be happy with all of their decisions. By allowing mods, players can forge their own paths, at least to a degree. The extent as to which modding will influence Torchlight II is still yet to be seen, but given the creativity of the average gamer, we should see some interesting stuff.
The list goes on and on. Pets feel more personal than followers. Players won’t have to deal with an auction house, and certain not a real money one. Future patches will probably be implemented rather quickly, and the price will be significantly cheaper. That’s not to say Diablo III isn’t a fantastic game, because in many respects it is. However, as opposed to its forerunners it just feels a bit too corporate. Torchlight II on the other hand feels like a game made entirely out of love for the genre and as a tribute to its fans.