Torchlight II - Hands-on with Co-op, Random Events, and More

Torchlight II is set to deliver even more of the exceptional gameplay you love from the original, but expands on the formula in plenty of new and interesting ways.
Runic Games' Minister of Culture, Wonder Russell, shows us Torchlight II's E3 award nominations

There are lots of different types of gamers out there. Some thrive on seeing their user name climb to the top of leaderboards, unlocking that final pesky achievement, or even tanking during particularly difficult boss fights. Others wholeheartedly subscribe to a House of Pain gamer lifestyle and enjoy nothing quite as much as jumping around in a good platformer.

But for some, the one thing that really makes their virtual socks go up and down is the kind of addictive gameplay that only a good dungeon crawler can provide. And while the core concepts of collecting mountains of loot from randomized dungeons may be deceptively simple on the surface, there have really only been a handful of truly great titles in the genre over the years.

The original Torchlight is among the all-time greats of the genre, so it was no joke when I met with Vice President of Runic Games, Marsh Lefler, during E3 2011 when I told him that I was lucky enough to save my best appointment at the expo for last. But what exactly is it about upcoming Torchlight II that should have gamers excited?

Torchlight II - Frosted Hills Torchlight II - Sepulcher of Sorrows

For starters, Torchlight II features not only online co-op gameplay, but as we learned at E3 the game will also support LAN play as well. Thankfully it didn’t take much persuasion to bring Jeff along to meet with the fine folks at Runic, so we go to see the most recent iteration of co-op gameplay in action during our hands-on session.

This was also a perfect opportunity for Marsh to show us how some of Torchlight II’s random events work, and how much more detailed and expansive the game’s countless dungeons are this time around. And if you're one of those types of gamers who fully believe that size matters, you'll be pleased to know that the exterior areas alone account for 4 times the amount of explorable content than the original game.

Due to the randomized nature of both the interior and exterior areas in Torchlight II, even something that may seem like a scripted event won’t play out exactly the same way for two individual players. I shouldn't even have to spell out for you what that means in terms of Torchlight II's replayability. Putting this concept to the test, Jeff and I ran through one of the game’s many random events twice, and both times we had a unique experience even if some key elements may have been similar.

For example, triggering the event the first time involved defeating a number of enemies who were guarding a sarcophagus that we needed to interact with which would then unlock the entrance to a nearby dungeon. The second time around we were pitted against fewer weak enemies, but squared off against a fairly difficult boss instead, and had a wholly different experience all around.

So not only will you be able to share tales of your personal experiences in Torchlight II with your friends, but I fully expect there will be a lot of late night calls to encourage people to drop into their friend’s games to check out some exceptionally cool thing they just discovered.

Another nice touch in co-op play is that any loot you personally see drop during your adventures is assigned specifically to your character, so you’ll never have to worry about someone else in your group snagging that awesome pair of pants that just dropped. Direct trading between players wasn’t active in the demo build we played this time around, but Marsh explained that a complete system for it is currently in the works. Or, if you decide you really don't want those snazzy new pants after all, you can always drop them on the ground for anyone else in your group to snatch up, or even give them to your pet to chew on (aka take back to town to sell).

Speaking of loot, the number of interactive objects in dungeons has greatly increased, and you'll definitely want to keep your eyes peeled for some cleverly hidden treasure rooms along the way. The handful of bosses we encountered while exploring the local dungeons also felt like a perfect fit for co-op play. Since bosses can have any number of tricks up their sleeves (or tucked behind their ears for those who feel more badass going with a sleeveless look) I found that our tactics also had to follow suit to be ready to deal with any of the nutty things the bosses had to throw at us.

Even with all of Torchlight II’s randomized content, there’s one constant that you’ll absolutely want to take note of: regardless of what type of gamer you are at heart, Torchlight II is one title you’ll want to keep an eye on. We still don’t have a firm release date, but Runic is currently aiming to release the game on PC before the end of the year and something tells me that it’s going to be huge.

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