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E3: Hands-on with Torchlight II

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I had the opportunity to sit down with Travis Baldree, President of Runic Games, for some hands-on quality time with their upcoming sequel to the wildly successful Torchlight. Luckily, I was able to check out what is perhaps the greatest (and most requested) feature of Torchlight II, the inclusion of multiplayer! While currently capped out at eight players, this number is subject to change as the game is still being tweaked to find the perfect balance between chaos and fun.

The multiplayer will be available via Internet and LAN play modes, allowing players to use the same character between both. Runic doesn't want to put up any unnecessary barriers that would prevent players from simply jumping in and enjoying the game, nor do they want to penalize players who choose to alternate between the single- and multiplayer modes while progressing through the game.

Torchlight II is going to be huge, the sheer amount of content will practically dwarf the original Torchlight. Runic boasts that the first act already contains more unique assets than the entire first game combined. Players should find things much less linear this time around as well, as it is no longer a straight up top to bottom dungeon crawl. The game will contain three primary acts and a final "endgame" act with numerous outdoor areas and dungeons to explore.

To ensure that Torchlight II is not simply just a larger version of their first game, Runic has promised a variety of other improvements as well. In addition to a ton of under-the-hood optimization to the engine and combat mechanics, Torchlight II has also received a much needed upgrade to the wardrobe system and character customization features as well. Even loot has gotten an overhaul, with tons of new items being added, including unique equipment and armor sets.

Although I didn't personally have any major issues with the user interface, I've been promised that practically everything shown right now is being thrown out and rebuilt from scratch. Runic feels that the UI needs to be far less obtrusive and more user-friendly.

Torchlight II will definitely be a solid title to look forward to this year, especially as new content and improvements are unveiled leading up to the launch.


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Chris Morris
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