Torchlight III by Echtra Games originally began development as Torchlight Frontiers and was meant to be a shared world F2P ARPG. During development, the team shifted gears due to feedback focusing instead on creating Torchlight III which would have more of a traditional character level progression and linear storyline. I was initially interested in a shared world ARPG experience but after having spent limited time in the Alpha and Beta I think that the team ultimately made the right decision. While a number of the concepts introduced during early development were interesting, they didn’t make for engaging gameplay or an easy to understand character progression. But has the shift into this new direction been enough? This is our Torchlight III review.
Initial impressions of Torchlight III are great. The stylized graphics are well done and the environments look spectacular. Enemy animations are excellent and I love the various sound effects from goblins and the other creatures you encounter throughout each map. UI pages are easy to understand and transition smoothly from one to the other. The tutorials make the game easy to pick up and understand. Overall, almost everything feels polished.
Once you decided on creating a multiplayer or single-player character the introduction catches your attention and gets you right into the character creation. Character appearance options are limited but I was happy to see that each class did have the option of being male or female, except for the forged. In Torchlight III there are 4 character classes: Dusk Mage, Forged, Railmaster, and Sharpshooter. Each class has its own unique aesthetic and their abilities really illustrate this well. If you want to play a mage who wields light and darkness then the Dusk Mage is for you. Or perhaps running a heavily armored construct that barrels into combat would be of more interest, the forged is right there ready to go.
Unfortunately, this is where Torchlight III starts to lose me. Even though the classes are well designed they create an immediate split between the fantasy and steampunk genres. While Torchlight has always shared elements of both it has never been this jarring out of the gate, I simply don’t have an interest in two of the classes, Forged and Railmaster.
Each class has two skill trees that are unique and can choose a relic that has its own set of 5 passive and 5 active skills. Each relic acts like a subclass changing up how a class plays and focuses on one type of weapon for extra bonuses, for example, Bane revolves around summoning spiders, poison abilities, and staves. At one point during development, when relics has only one ability, you could unlock different ones beyond your initial choice during gameplay and swap between them, but now the relic looks to be a permanent choice at character creation. This feels like a missed opportunity and introducing relics through a story/quest unlocks along with some lore could have been quite interesting. Even being able to swap between 2 or 3 relics during gameplay would have added more to build depth and a unique mechanic to the game. Legendarium skills do make for an interesting addition to character builds as well and I am looking forward to exploring them further.
As you rank up abilities using the skill points from leveling different tiers unlock improving it or add a new effect. It was simple to pick out what abilities most interested me in the Dusk Mage and Sharpshooter skill trees. Gaining access to respect points during gameplay also meant that I wasn’t stuck with making permanent mistakes if I just wanted to try out something new.
Chris also had the opportunity to try out Torchlight III, as a brand new player to the Torchlight series here are his initial impressions.
Torchlight III is my first introduction to the series, and boy do I wish I had played the other ones. At face value, it looks like Diablo 3 with a World of Warcraft cartoon type art style. To begin with, it gives you a comprehensive but easy to understand tutorial of actions as you play through it. You pets that help you in battle as well as helping you store items for sale in the town, you level up to three different trees of skills, and you can use weapons beyond what you would think your class can use in other games of the same genre. For example, my sharpshooter can wield swords, bows, and even long rifles which is cool, and it doesn’t make you lose any playability.
The quests are simple to find but a little more on the difficult side to complete which is perfect for me as I like a little difficulty. The different classes are fun to choose from, especially the robot character as that is a different type than I have seen in other games of this type before. The story and lore seem very set, as it should be for the third title in a series, and it makes me want to go back and play the other two just to get a sense of completion. The rest is silence, at least until you crack that next level and let out a woot of victory. Truly an amazing title so far.
Combat in Torchlight III feels good but still needs some tweaks. Mowing my way through goblins and other enemies looks great. As I progressed in the first act though I would run into champions or bosses that just felt like a tedious chore to kill. Champions weren’t a challenge to take down but felt like a sack of hit points that pulled me out of rolling across the map, even some of the smaller enemies would be slow to go down. Bosses are visually interesting with a few mechanics but again felt like I was just putting in the appropriate amount of time for them to die. This feeling of tedium was not helped by having to stop and harvest resources for my fort from the various nodes scattered across each map. Thankfully by gaining fame as I completed quests and killed monsters I did pick up some additional rewards depending on the contract I chose that could be used in my fort. I could also see the speed of kills improving with more skill points, abilities, and better gear but at the low end, it felt like I was plodding my way along.
Your personal Fort is a bright spot in Torchlight III and somewhat unexpected since the game moved somewhat away from its original design of a fully shared ARPG I didn’t expect it to still be that much of a focus, you will do all your crafting there once you build the appropriate structures and can feed your luck tree for a bonus to drop rates. The area is entirely customizable and I can see a lot of players spending quite a bit of time designing/decorating their personal space. Not sure how much they will show them off to other players, but I will be curious to see if it becomes a popular thing to do overtime.
I enjoyed the time Chris and I played together as well. Though there were a few things I found lacking from the multiplayer UI. I would have liked to see my other party member’s quests so that I could more easily help them out and there really needs to be an arrow or indicator pointing you towards each party member. A good location would be on/around the character portrait, while I could pick out Chris’ character at times on the minimap I lost track of him easily.
I was hoping that the story of Torchlight III would also pull me along through the game and be more engaging. While it started strong, the narrative became a slow burn after having cleared the docks. Thankfully the lore you find along the way is well voiced and added some interesting moments during exploration. Unfortunately, voice acting throughout the rest of the game was hit and miss, varying from being really good to horrible. AS I head into Act II the story so far does have some interesting elements but it still feels lacking.
The atmosphere of Torchlight III is great and with the release, the game feels polished. But the issues with character build depth, elements of tedium, and some missing UI features keep the game from being a great ARPG experience. If you like the Torchlight setting and/or are looking for a new ARPG then Torchlight III is a good game, just not a great game… currently. With more content and a few patches, it could become something special.
Game keys were provided for this review
COMPARE TO: Diablo 3, Grim Dawn, Torchlight II