Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Torchlight II

Steam is giving away cards.  When you collect all the cards associated with a certain game you get badges.  Badges put you up levels.  Being higher level makes it more likely you get more cards.  Obviously people like to collect things and go up levels.

But you can only get half a set of cards by simply playing a game.  After that you need to wait and get lucky or trade for the cards you want.  That will be hard because I only have two friends on Steam an in the end I don't know if I will get any card collections at all.  Even though that is the case, the motivation to at least collect the cards is there, and it is making me revisit the games I own that had cards added to them.

Last night it was Torchlight II.  Torchlight II is pretty fun.  It is so similar to Diablo 2 that if it were not made by the people who made Diablo 2 you would be almost offended.  Much like Diablo 2 it is mod-able, so there are lots of ways you can customize the game.  Before playing last night I downloaded mods to zoom out more and put an infinite dungeon in the game.  What's the point of going through the story again when I can just go down further and further and further?

Torchlight definitely has a certain charm to it. While Blizzard decided to take Diablo in a direction of being more slick and more streamlined, Runic decided that things needed to be more weird and more open for exploration.  There are tons of mods for equipment, gem sockets in nearly everything, and random enchantments to make gearing up very non-linear.  Each class has 27 different skills to choose from and each gets additional abilities as you put more points into them.

Torchlight also has actual difficulty settings - that is, you don't just play through the game more than once as it gets harder, you actually choose whether you want to smash through monsters easily by setting it to casual or to struggle to stay alive on elite difficulty.

On the other hand, Torchlight II is kind of boring in some ways.  While there are many item mods, extra health is so critical to success that you basically can't wear gear without it.  On high difficulties monsters have so much armour that you basically need to rely on damage-over-time effects or armour shredding to hurt them.  On easier difficulties you can just run into the middle of everything and auto-attack to victory.

When I say it's a little boring, of course, that might not line up with the over 300 hours that Steam says I've played it.  A little boring, not a lot boring.

What I really like about Torchlight II is that it highlights what went wrong in Diablo 3.  Games of advancement are more fun when you have tons of choices on how to advance.  Sure, some of those choices will be much better than others, but that's fine.  Balance is a fool's errand where you sacrifice fun and get whining in the forums in return.

I got my cards out of Torchlight and I think I'm moving on to something else.  It's hard to think of any definition by which I could say I didn't get my money's worth out of it, though, and maybe a couple of years from now there will be some truly spectacular fan mods that make it worth playing all over again.  If someone puts in the kind of work that was put into the Diablo 2 Eastern Sun mod, it could be like a whole new game.

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