Almost 11 years old, and still fun
Torchlight II (opens to Steam page) was released in September of 2012, several months after the release of Diablo III. Max Schaefer and Matt Uelmen, both developers who worked on Diablo and Diablo II, helped form Runic Games, the company behind Torchlight II. While both Torchlight II and Diablo II are considered ARPGs (Action Role Playing Games), Torchlight II feels like it has less linear gameplay. Both games drive you to destroy an end boss, and both have side quests, but Torchlight II is purposefully moddable, and a lot less dark. In Diablo and Diablo II you fight demons, devils, undead, and other demonic monstrosities. In Torchlight II you find yourself pitted against more Dungeons & Dragons variety monsters, Mind Flayers, Werewolves, Bandits, Manticores, and a more mixed variety of monsters. Torchlight II doesn’t have the variety of classes of Diablo II or III, but it shines in other areas. Fishing, you can stop to fish in the middle of the wilderness, and there’s a chance of finding rare, or even unique items. The scenery in Torchlight II is a lot more varied, and it feels more 3 dimensional. When you go up a hill it feels like you’re going up a hill, and not an isometric drawing. Another great feature of Torchlight II is the ability to send your pet to town in order to sell equipment you’ve collected, and buy potions and teleport/identify scrolls..
Classes in Torchlight II
As mentioned earlier, classes in Torchlight II are a bit weak compared to Diablo II, or III, but an interesting side effect is that all classes have 4 scroll slots that act like extra abilities. The classes in Torchlight II are Berserker, Embermage, Engineer, and Outlander. Given the right stat arrangement any class can use any weapon not marked specifically for a particular class. That said, the classes tend towards particular weapons. Berserker, for example, tends to be a dual claw-wielding class. But the level 31 Berserker shown above is wielding a sword and a unique claw. Embermage’s tend to use wands, (they can dual wield wands), or a single staff. Engineers are oriented towards heavy two handed melee weapons, though they also have skills related to hand cannon use. Outlanders tend to be the gun-wielding class, with both hand guns and shotguns featured.
Of all the classes Outlander is my least favourite because of the movement, it’s just hard to get used to a class that flips backward rather than forging ahead. The other 3 classes all have movement skills that increase their distance going forward.
Similar to other ARPGs, Torchlight II has skill trees you can progress through as you advance in level. Each class has 3 skill trees that focus on different aspects of the class. Lately I’ve been playing the Engineer class and my main focus has been advancing the Blitz tree, in particular the first skill Flame Hammer. The Engineer class also has a couple of other skill trees: Construction, which is built around summoned robots, and cannon skills. Aegis is a shield-based skill tree that also features some other defensive skills.
Every 5 points in an active skill adds a bonus to the skill. Passive skills don’t add extra bonuses after 5 skills. One of the downsides to Torchlight II is that you cannot completely re-spec your skills. You can remove the last 3 points assigned, but not a complete re-spec. This means thinking a bit before investing in skills.
Cooperative online play
I played through Torchlight II with a group of 3 other people over a period of several weeks. Cooperative play is fun, and adds the benefit of more loot available through trading. One thing that annoys me quite a bit about Torchlight II is that I find more Unique equipment that isn’t for my class, than is for my class. There is a vendor who can “re-roll” equipment, but it takes 4 unique pieces of equipment to create 1 re-rolled piece of equipment, and my luck has mostly been unique equipment that doesn’t fit the class I’m playing. Group play solves this problem a bit, especially if everyone chooses a different class.
Works on my Lenovo ThinkPad T430s
Torchlight II works really well on my Lenovo ThinkPad T430s laptop, running Xubuntu 22.04. While I haven’t tried running Grim Dawn, another ARPG, on the T430s, Grim Dawn has issues with my 10 core 20 thread workstation, so I expect it doesn’t work well on the the T430s. It’s worth mentioning that my T430s has the best screen available for that model. Some T430s’ only have a 1366×768 screen, my particular model has a nice 1600×900 resolution screen. While not 1080p, the game looks and runs great at 1600×900.
Torchlight II has Windows, MacOS, and SteamOS+Linux variations of the game. I’ve always just played the Linux version as it works really well in Xubuntu 20.04 and 22.04. System requirements are pretty minimal, a 2.0GHz CPU, 2GB of RAM, and an OpenGL 2.0-compatible video card with 256MB of VRAM (Video RAM).
$21.99CDN might seem like a fair amount for a game made in 2012, but Torchlight II frequently goes on sale, and it’s worth mentioning that the Mods system lets you add a bunch of mods for free, unlike games like Grim Dawn where you pay for extra DLC. Visit the Torchlight II Workshop page for a good list of downloadable mods (without the need to sign up for something): https://steamcommunity.com/workshop/browse/?appid=200710
Some mods increase the drop rate of items, others are completely new classes. So while vanilla Torchlight II is limited to 4 classes, mods can add a whole slew of new classes, monsters, weapons, etc. Yes, if you want Pokemon Pets, that’s possible with a mod. If you like the darker look of Diablo, there’s a mod for that. I previously mentioned that one of the downsides to Torchlight II is the fact that you cannot completely re-spec your character. Yes, there’s a mod for re-specing too.
Overall, despite the age of the game, I find myself drawn back into the world of Torchlight II. It might be old, but the flexibility of the game makes it playable, even in 2023.