E3 Impression



Anna Marie Neufeld

While I was in the Perfect World booth, one of the PR guys pulled me aside and said "Have you checked out Torchlight yet? It's hiding around the corner." I hadn't even heard of the title, so I happily followed him over and wrangled an introduction. Torchlight is the tentative title of two upcoming games. The single player version will be available in Fall 2009 while the MMORPG is slated for a 2011 release. They will share similar stories, being set in the same world, but will ultimately be two separate games.

Torchlight is being produced by the former employees of Flagship Studios Seattle; one of the guys I talked to said they managed to buy back from the sale of the company's assets and keep almost the entire team together. Considering this is purported to be the Diablo team to the person, I have pretty high expectations. It's hard to say "ridiculously cute art style" with "blood, gore, the undead, and good killing fun" but it's the perfect way to describe my experiences in Torchlight. My guide assured me that players will be regularly assaulted with hordes of mobs and that talent trees will unlock abilities such as powerful AEs, ghost allies that watch your back, and other handy methods of dealing with the hungry monsters out to eat your hero for lunch...and dinner.

I was playing a heavy class, and my pet was a collie-type dog. Upon character creation, the player may choose a dog or cat ally with a few variations of each and set off for adventure. Your pet companion can carry loot, return it to town to sell while you remain in the dungeon, run ahead to see what dangers might lurk around the corner, and attack various mobs. I played a heavy tank type that attacked with a weapon in each hand. Partway through the dungeon I picked up a gun, and I switched to a sword in my main hand and a gun in my off-hand, which worked fantastic for me: I'd shoot things far away, do a big area effect stomp as they got near that knocked them back, then shoot some more. If the gun wasn't enough to finish them off (it was pretty wimpy) I'd automatically hack with my sword when they got close.

Along the way I met several mini-bosses marked as Champions. When they were defeated, I received fame; fame can be used to buy special perks which were not yet available in the demo. Once I explored all the various menus, it was time to take on the lich boss at the end of the third floor. I switched to using a single large attack, and was able to use tab to switch back and forth between it and my area attack to finally take down the boss and the minions he summoned from the balconies above.

At that point the hero moved off into the next dungeon area and my demo ended. I'm interested to see how the final copy of the game pulls together and what sort of names the items will end up with, as at the moment they are all named after their Diablo counterparts. It's probably my diamond-in-the-rough discovery of the show this year and I'm expecting a lot of hype as the game gets closer to release.

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