I enjoyed playing and reviewing both Diablo III and Torchlight II. The production values are through the roof in Diablo III and I love the lore of that franchise. I really liked the art style and general presentation. Let the argument commence:
1) Torchlight II is $20
“From a substantive standpoint this doesn’t really say anything about the game itself. How is this a reason the core of the game is better?” you may say. Or, “But wait David, isn’t that just because Diablo III is a much bigger budget and more robust game?” Neither of these things are true. Not in the slightest. Torchlight II is every bit as amazing as Diablo III in every single way, for a third of the price. I’ll elaborate more later on.
2) Blizzard isn’t the Same Anymore
Activision owns Blizzard now. Whether or not this is really contributing negatively is unknown, but there is definitely a correlation between them being bought out, and consumer growing disgust. Additionally, all of the original developers that worked on Diablo, Diablo II, and even its expansion are not there anymore for the most part. Most of them went on to start their own companies, and Runic is an example of that. The CEO and co-founder of Runic Games is Max Schaefer, an executive producer from all three of those projects. This means that the fundamental mindset and design decisions present in Diablo III are not reflective of how the series began.
Instead of being about deep character progression with many layers and endlessly exciting gameplay, it’s became a game of numbers. They streamlined the overall design of the game, removed many customization elements, removed the ability to selectively increase your stats and skills, and changed their focus. Not only is there a real money and ingame money auction house (which ruins the excitement of finding new loot) but you always have to be online to play the game. Even single player. Torchlight II is more of a Diablo sequel than Diablo III is.
3) Runic Designed Torchlight II with the Players in Mind
This is sort of a hard statement to make since I don’t work for Runic and you can’t really know whether it’s true or not, but I think it’s pretty clear at this point. The game is cheaper. The value for your money is greater. They allowed their players to play it how they want (customization, offline and online play with any characters, open modding abilities, guaranteed free DLC.) This is literally the opposite of Blizzard’s choices.
4) What happened to roleplaying in roleplaying games?
Action-RPGs aren’t exactly a complicated genre to play (although I’m sure they are immensely complicated to make.) Gameplay generally involves clicking your mouse until it’s bout to break, cycling through your various skills, upgrading your gear, leveling up, and repeating the process over and over and over and over… That is fun in and of itself. The constant quest to improve your character further and become the most devastating force the world has ever seen is great motivation to keep playing. Torchlight II and Diablo III both have this. Where they differ, however, is in the details.
In Diablo III when you level up, that’s it. The game literally assigns your stat points and skill upgrades for you. Do you want to focus your skills and become the most amazing Lightning Wizard of all time? Tough luck, you’ll end up literally identical (as far as abilities go) to every other Wizard your level. Sure, you can choose which skills to equip, but that hardly adds any depth. If you just don’t like the skills you’ve unlocked and upgraded for the past 5 levels, that means for the past 5 levels you haven’t made any progress, functionally.
Torchlight II is vastly different in this regard. Not only do you get to assign skill points, as you invest in skills you unlock different tiers within those individual skills, as well as unlocking more powerful abilities farther down the tree. Pretty cool, right? Multiply that by two more skill trees. Now multiply that by four vastly different classes. That’s a lot of choice, isn’t it? Now, take into account the fact that on top of this, every time you level up you get 5 stat points to invest in either Strength, Dexterity, Focus, or Vitality. How you spend these various different stat and skill points is completely and totally up to you. Isn’t that the point of playing a roleplaying game…to, I don’t know…play a role?
5) Literally Ludicrous Loads of Loot
As you can see in the image above, I found a lot of loot. That is not the only time my screen exploded like that either! In an average hour of Torchlight II, you’ll probably have cleared at least two dungeons, completed a phase beast challenge, fought multiple mini bosses, and gained at least two levels. All while doing this, the dozens of monsters you killed will have erupted into a ridiculous amount of money and loot. Torchlight II is so full of content, it’s actually almost overwhelming. It feels like no matter where I go or what I do, the game is just throwing gear at me. My inventory is almost always overflowing with gratuitous amounts of delicious loot. Sure, there is a lot of it in Diablo III, but good lord, nothing like this even compares.
6) Torchlight II is $20
This bears repeating. You can buy the game that was made by some of the original developers of the Diablo franchise, with a much more open design, freeform character customization, at least the same amount of content, and tons of loot for $20. You could buy Torchlight II for you and two of your friends and you would spend the same amount of money it would take to buy a single Diablo III account, of which you aren’t even guaranteed access to if it get’s hacked (which it very well may) or if the servers are having issues. Ultimately the choice is yours and if you’ve made it this far in the article without rage-commenting or exiting out, then bravo. Hopefully you make the right decision.
In Conclusion: I don’t think Diablo III is a bad game. I don’t think Torchlight II is the best game ever made. I genuinely enjoyed playing both of them, but this question is going to get asked a lot: which is better? They are so incredibly similar (for obvious reasons) that this question needed an answer. Be sure to check out my reviews of Diablo III and Torchlight II as well!
What did you think of this article? Agree, or disagree? Do you think Diablo III is a better game than Torchlight II? Continue the debate and let us know in the comments below!