Torchlight 3 Review

Torchlight 3 opens by forcing players into a conflict they can’t fully understand, only to be told to immediately fight, kill, and run errands that ultimately don’t make much sense. This shock eventually wore off, opening players’ eyes to a beautiful game world, some unique class designs, and a solid dungeon crawler, but it must be said that the shock never completely wore off. This is mostly due to Torchlight 3’s attempts to reconcile so many moving parts that, while delivering a mostly fun and workable experience, can feel overwhelming.

There are 4 classes in Torchlight 3, each with their own unique characteristics and playstyle. There are hints of the common warrior-rogue-mage structure, but each class has its own flamboyant personality. Sharpshooter is all about precision and controlling swarms of enemies. Dusk Mage has access to light and dark spells that rely on and build into one, while Railmaster delivers massive melee damage backed up by a literal train. Forged is a robot not unlike a Dungeons and Dragons Fighter that can deal serious damage.

Each of the classes has two skill trees and a third unlocked depending on the relic players choose. This means no two classes will play the same, as one Sharpshooter can unleash poisonous attacks and summon spiders, while the other slows and freezes enemies with ice. One Torchlight 3 Forged class can heal itself while dealing damage, and another can double its already heat-focused abilities with the “Flaming Destroyer” relic. Combine the different pairs here with one of Torchlight 3’s pets with different buffs, and it’s easy to get lost in building the perfect class.

torch 3 mobs

This mostly translates well into Torchlight 3’s gameplay, which sees players clicking their way through a few basic attacks with a few skills at the ready. There’s just enough variety where it’s fun, but not so much that players feel overwhelmed. The standard controls feel a little clunky at times, but for the most part, this can be ignored.

It wouldn’t be a good isometric dungeon-crawler without interesting dungeons, and Torchlight 3 delivers on this front as well. The game’s natural graphics are quite nice, and the artsy design of its dungeons strikes a nice balance. Whether it’s literal dungeons or the larger map areas in Torchlight 3, the more appealing design helps the game stand out from its darker contemporaries.

However, it’s worth noting that Torchlight 3’s core parts shine the most. Its classes are interesting, its gameplay is solid, its dungeons do their job, and the graphics are different from Diablo 3, Wolcen, and others. Beyond that, however, Torchlight 3 has various features that go against the very nature of the game. It’s worth noting that, before being released in this state, Torchlight 3 was actually a free-to-play MMO called Torchlight Frontiers.

While the developer has reportedly cut out many of those early elements, the game still feels like an MMO. It’s much better in multiplayer, but there’s a distinct divide between having characters that can do multiplayer and characters that can only do single player. In the game, there is a vendor that allows Torchlight 3 players to spend in-game currency to roll for random weapons and loot, despite the in-game loot being plentiful on its own.

Similarly, solo players can spend in-game currency to avoid death and respawn where they were killed. Because players can always buy their way out of a mistake, the act of dying gives off the feel of a gacha-style mobile game. There’s no premium money in Torchlight 3, but the respawn mechanic feels like it’s by design.

torchlight 3 adventure contract

There are also game “contracts” that give players one of three options: the Adventurer’s, the Craftman’s, or the Homesteader’s. Each faction offers rewards upon leveling up, which is done through the accumulation of “fame.” It’s earned by defeating rare or legendary bosses throughout the game world, but it’s remarkably similar to a battle pass like Modern Warfare or Apex Legends. The UI of any contract is almost indistinguishable from a battle pass, and while it is ahead by popularity, it feels like it was designed with microtransactions in mind as well.

On top of that, there’s almost no story to speak of, but it’s noticeably less than most games of the genre. The player lands in the middle of a stereotypical conflict, and the overall story, the various big bads the player faces, and even Torchlight 3’s support cast of characters barely make an impact. Of course, there’s the caveat that loot-based dungeon crawlers aren’t usually known for their stories, but there’s usually some narrative thrust to the proceedings.

At its best, Torchlight 3 is a fun and colorful (if pointless) romp through mobs of enemies in search of loot. At its worst, it’s a premium game that feels like an empty, free-to-play MMO, and it’s becoming clear that the game has an identity crisis. That doesn’t mean it’s not fun, it just means that “Frontiers” feels like an invisible subtitle in Torchlight 3.

Torchlight 3 is out now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, with a Switch version in development. Today Technology was provided with a Steam code for the purposes of this review.

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