One of the great aspects about Torchlight is that it offers a Diablo-like experience while looking good and performing extremely well on low-end machines. The action-RPG (ARPG) title arrived long after Diablo 2 exited the PC gaming scene, launching in 2009, but you can't help be feel like you're in familiar territory. That's because developer Runic Games was founded by developers from Blizzard North who were instrumental in the development of both Diablo and Diablo 2.
But now the studio is seemingly up against the very franchise its members left behind years ago. Diablo 3 was released earlier this year, and has its shares of praises and complaints. Still, it's one of the biggest PC games of the year, yet costing a hefty $60 compared to the upcoming $20 price point of its competitor, Torchlight 2. As IGN states, Runic's sequel will be "on a lesser scale" than Blizzard's current offering, but it will be bigger than the original – 87-percent bigger, according to reports, including a much-needed and requested multiplayer component.
However Runic Games CEO and former Blizzard man Max Schaefer is taking that comparison one step further, saying that Diablo 3 may be a significant product, but his own Torchlight 2 will offer more. Are those fighting words? You bet they are, especially to loyal Diablo 3 fans who have stuck with Blizzard's ARPG since Day One (you know who you are).
"What I think we're offering is something that some players may prefer, things like the offline single-player play," he told IGN in an interview. "Basically, we're not trying to create a secure economy. We don't have to have these crazy protection mechanisms in place. We're giving our development tools out with the game so that the modding community can go crazy with it and make all kinds of cool new stuff."
He goes on to explain that there are two paths to take when developing an ARPG: the quasi-MMO with a secure economy like Blizzard's Diablo 3, or an open game like Torchlight 2 that allows players to build mods. They're both valid formats, he said, but they also offer alternatives to people who are disaffected one way or another.
"A lot of people are very competitive," he said. "They want to play in a competitive game's economy. For them, Diablo 3 is the answer. For people who are more casual and want to have a lot of fun building new crazy characters and enjoying a good hack-and-slash, those are our people."
He goes on with the Diablo 3 comparison, saying that his game is longer, and offers more randomization, more replayability. "I think that Diablo 3 focused a little more on super-polished mechanics and balance and look and art direction. They're on a Blizzard level. They're seriously good. But it's at the expense, a little bit, of the replayability," he added.
Torchlight 2 will launch as a digital download from Steam, Runic Games, Perfect World GamersGate, GameFly, and GameStop on September 20, 2012. Currently fans can download the Torchlight 2 soundtrack for free by heading here.