I spent several hours playing Torchlight 2 with Phil this morning. It’s been The Year of Trying Games around here; I’ve forayed into everything from Shelter to EVE Online. There have been several that I enjoyed, and a few that I loved. Phil and I have played several things together, with varying degrees of success and/or longevity. But Torchlight 2 seems to hit a sweet spot of seasoned-gamer-plays-with-relative-newbie for us. The game’s balance of challenging-to-unfussy is the most satisfying of any I’ve played so far, and I really love it. We both like the mechanics of the game, and its Diablo 3-like sandbox appearance. It’s got a lot of really nice quality of life features, like being able to send your pet back to town to sell gear and restock potions for you. The character builds are flexible and not fussy (I’m learning, but I still get overwhelmed when I look at a skill tree and see dozens of options branching out in every direction). You can apply almost any combination of magic/strength skills to any character.
Which is how I ended up playing an engineer whose entire build is magic, in order to power a gigantic hammer with fire. THIS IS EXACTLY AS FUN AS IT SOUNDS. Her name is Rime. She has shock-white hair, aviator goggles, a steampunk backpack that puffs smoke, a HUGE hammer, and a pet badger. She hits the ground with her hammer, and a sizzling pinwheel of five fiery spokes shoots out around her, striking foes and causing mayhem. It’s immensely satisfying.
My only disappointment with the game so far is that the world feels fairly small. There are three segments to the storyline, and three main towns that lead out into the maps. We’ve gone through two of the three already. I know there’s quite a bit more to do, with achievements and random dungeons. I don’t feel like the game itself will be over soon. But I wish there was more to just wander around and explore.
My second character is an embermage, and she’s a good bit squishier than the engineer. I play her on my own (I play the engineer with Phil, so in addition to being just a stronger class she also has backup), and she’s died quite a bit more than Rime has. After I finished the first segment of storyline with the mage, she needed some bulking up before she was ready to take on the second section by herself. I ran her around every inch of the first section of the world, killing every last spider and tiny, quivering rodent until she was strong enough to move on. I wish there had been more room to wander. That may come with the higher levels and later section of the game, but after playing WoW and Guild Wars 2, I’m a bit spoiled for worlds to wander in for their own sake.
The satisfaction I’m getting out of this one more than makes up for that slightly small feeling, though, and I’ll be sticking with it for a long while yet.
(Today marks the start of week 2 of Blaugust. One week down!)