Torchlight Preview

Torchlight is an upcoming action RPG developed by Runic Entertainment, a relatively new development studio formed by the team at Flagship Studios that created the short-lived Mythos, and back in the day helped create one of the greatest games of all time, Diablo 2.

Like Diablo and Mythos, Torchlight is an action-RPG, heavily relying upon fast-paced combat and lots (and I mean lots) of hacking and slashing. The game is due to launch the single-player version later in 2009, and after that sometime (possibly) in 2010, we’ll be seeing a separate MMO version of the game, a la Mythos.

So what makes Torchlight so promising? Aside from the people behind it, the game itself has quite a bit for the hack-n-slash action RPG crowd. Runic is combining a lot of elements from the games they’ve worked on — from Fate to Mythos — in Torchlight. For example, like Fate, players will begin with a pet. This pet will level with you, and grow bigger. It can morph and transform into various creatures as well, and all you need to do is go fishing in town, and feed it specific fish. Feeding it a mackerel, for instance, turned it into some sort of demon-thing.

The combat in the game is standard action RPG fare. You move and attack with the mouse keys, and you’ll have a couple of skills to utilize at any given time. Unlike most games, players can only actively use three skills at any given time; a tough choice to make when each of the classes has between 10 and 12 unique abilities.

Progressing through the dungeons, players will fight many foes, including boss mobs, and obtain loot they drop. Simple, classic hack-n-slash stuff. One difference will be that players can use any base items, such as weapons. So if you want to use a gun and a wand, and you’re a melee guy, you can. You won’t be as good as someone more skilled with certain types, but the option is there.

Perhaps the most impressive feature of Torchlight, though, is the modding tool. Seeing it in action, even someone like me whose extent of coding knowledge ended with HTML in the year 2000 could understand what everything does. It’s a very visual tool, similar to the one used in Fallout 3, but even simpler.

Players will snap together pieces of the environment (like LEGOs!) building their desired landscape. There’s also no real limit to height, so if you had the time and skill, you could theoretically make a gigantic 100 story tower.

Not only is it easy to build the world, but you can also import pieces very, very simply, as the modding tool utilizes Ogre, giving it a huge range of already-established support. Will you be able to use your own animations? Not sure yet. But want to toss in a new texture you made, or some cool item you want in the world? You can do that.

There’s also a logic editor window that uses a very visual representation. All you need to do to set up logic, AI, and cause-and-effect actions is drag the items you want involved into the window, an image representing them shows up, and then you connect the lines, and set how they interact. For example, you can drag a quest you just wrote into it, and a drawbridge, and make it so that when the quest is accepted, the drawbridge lowers. Very easy, and very intuitive.

Not only will players be able to design the level and events on it, but they can also alter values, such as monster damage, experience caps, etc. So if you wanted to make monsters have a ton of HP and do little damage, or vice versa, you can just crank the damage of the highest level monsters to a lower level, and pump level 1 monsters up to the max. That way, you’ll have guys doing as much damage as possible, but easily killed in one or two shots — as well as guys who barely damage you, but may be a nuisance for a few minutes until they’re dispatched.

Runic’s hope for the modding tool is that they can inspire at least a few clever folks to utilize it, and create spectacular additions to the game. Even dated games like Fate which have subpar editors in text-only are still getting mods, so why not a game like Torchlight, is basically what they’re asking. And, if players can make some really, really cool stuff… Don’t be surprised if some of it shows up in the MMO version of Torchlight coming out in the future.

If you’re interested in that and want to know what will be different between the MMO and single-player versions, you can read all about those differences here, at the Torchlight MMORPG preview at MMO Hub.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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