July 11th, 2012
Author: Sonny Williams
Diablo 3 had an amazing launch, but with Torchlight 2 on the horizon is the crown going to be Diablo's for long?
Diablo 3 had one incredible launch, despite initial launch issues, Diablo 3 has broken Blizzard's own sales records and gained a significant community of loot hoarders and demon slayers. The build up behind Diablo 3 was so powerful that it left a significant void in the gaming landscape, no one was making top-tier dungeon crawling games anymore. The team at Runic Games noticed this and decided to make their own interpretation of the addictive subterranean adventure, and along came Torchlight. Torchlight was well received and praised for its achievements as an indie title. It did well enough to warrant a sequel and Torchlight 2 is scheduled for release this summer and boasts a significant amount of new features and mechanical changes. So, how does Blizzard's 12 year Diablo 3 project hold up against Runic’s Indie adaptation?
Gameplay: Even though the two games are very similar, there are mechanical differences that may sway some people. Combat in Diablo feels very refined and quite smooth, which can be both good and bad. It gives the game a very polished feel during combat, as if all the moves and combos were designed to fit together very well, but it can also make it feel less natural and less involving. Torchlight, while obviously having a very similar style of gameplay has a playful flourish to its combat that’s very hard to explain, there is less rigidity in the classes, more experimentation and a fun new take that is very refreshing.
The area where Torchlight may start to pull ahead is in its non-mechanical features. Based on current information, Torchlight 2 will have an open world feel, with quests and dungeons instead of a linear A-Z of story. It will be modifiable, which opens it up to a plethora of community designed gems, how much can the game be modded is yet to be revealed, but one is only limited by their imagination in the possibilities that such an open world modded environment can bring.
Considering the development lengths for each of these games, it’s astonishing what the Torchlight 2 team have managed to create in comparison to Diablo 3. Both games look fantastic and the gameplay, while similar, is definitely leaning towards Torchlight 2 in terms of replay ability.
Presentation: When you compare the presentation of Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2, the reasons behind the discrepancies in development times become clearer. While Torchlight 2 has its flourishes it can’t match the presentation of Diablo 3. Diablo 3 has a dark and dreary look and it perfectly gives across the mood of the game’s story, while Torchlight 2 stuck with the visual style of its prior game, opting for a more cartoonish, playful style of artwork. They are both too distinct to pick a favourite and part of me wants to say that it’s completely down to personal preference. The one thing that is unquestionable is the cut scenes in Diablo 3 will blow you away. Clearly, the cut scenes in Diablo 3 had the effort and care put into them that is expected from a Blizzard title.
Conclusion: Despite Diablo 3 reportedly being in development for 12 years and having Blizzard’s full backing, arguably, they have been matched by a small indie team. Runic Gaming has managed to create a fun take of the dungeon crawler that can hold it’s own to the behemoth known as Diablo 3. The mods, single player and the LAN access, the open world, replay ability, and flexible classes with diminished min/maxing puts Torchlight 2 a lot of bang for your buck in terms of gameplay. But if you’re for a more polished title with great presentation you may want to stick to Diablo 3. Or you might just play both.