E3 2011: Torchlight 2 Hands-on — Berserker Class Reveal

Torchlight is not about reinventing the wheel. Runic Games’ Steam-powered 2009 smash took Diablo’s timeless gameplay and swathed it in an inventive, colorful new package. Torchlight 2, like Diablo II before it, expands the scope and scale of the original game. Instead of Torchlight’s ever-deepening caves and catacombs, the sequel allows players to traipse through massive, above-ground environments, full of quests, lumbering boss mobs, and, of course, plenty of loot.

The Runic devs I met were funny and self-deprecating, cracking jokes about their bouts of indecision — a lot of the explanations they provided ended in the phrase “at least, for now.” Sitting down to give their pre-alpha build a test drive, I was confronted with a trio of important new features.

See James’ Torchlight 2 adventures and more on the Game Front Youtube Channel.

First, the Berserker class, whose presence is Runic’s big E3 reveal. Focused on fast, dual-wield meelee, using claw and fist weapons, the Berserker furnished a fun, brawling playstyle. When his Wolverine-style claw attack falters, he can call upon the spirits of various animals to do magical damage. By experimenting with the buttons in the hotbar, I summoned the spirit of a ghostly dragon to roast my enemies, then sicced a spectral wolfpack on them, resulting in a neat, multi-target homing spell.

Along with the game’s other two classes, the Railman (bruising, two-handed melee) and the Outlander (ranged), the Berserker is now fully customizable — players can control their character’s appearance and gender. This is all due to Torchlight 2′s second important new feature: multiplayer. The sequel will feature a full suite of online, LAN, and direct-to-IP multiplayer modes, enabling players to clear out the game’s sprawling areas together. Increased customization means that no two Berserkers will look exactly alike. It also has a fringe benefit: the game will be easier to mod. Runic were enthused by the modding community on the original game, and want to throw them a big bone this time around — a full dev kit will be released eventually.

You’ll be able to drop in and out of multiplayer Torchlight 2 games on the fly — enemy HP and spawn ratio will adjust automatically. Each player will receive his or her individual loot, so there’ll be no need for squabbling. Paired up with a dev at the helm of a Railman, I took my Berserker on a trip into the world.

It was at this point that Torchlight 2′s third important feature came to light: the world itself. Realizing that the initial game had a simple story and levels somewhat circumscribed by limited tile-sets, the Runic team hired a full-time story editor, commissioned some cinematics, and began work on an ambitious open world. Players will traverse frozen taiga and sun-baked deserts, contending with weather and time-of-day effects, dangerous “valley” areas with special content, and various instantiated dungeons. There are also a number of randomly spawning boss encounters and player-activated, monster-powered events.

Warping into the gameworld from a tranquil, lush quest hub, the hallmarks of Torchlight were immediately apparent. We were immediately swarmed by all manner of imaginative, lovingly-rendered enemies, who fell like wheat before the scythe. By opening a particular sarcophagus, we were able to follow a spectral being to the entrance of the “Sepulchre of Sorrow,” an instanced dungeon full of skulking skeletons and wraiths the color of blue cotton candy.

Eventually, we reached a giant hole in the floor, from which emanated a giant ogre in surprising and captivating fashion. After much travail, he hit the floor. Before surrendering control, the doughty Berserker and his Railman buddy (who had begun wielding a cannon, a ranged AOE weapon) warped to another area and bested another triggerable world event, interrupting a fell ritual and putting paid to the toothy demon it was summoning.

There’s no doubt that Torchlight 2 will be a bigger, deeper game than its predecessor. It remains committed to it’s bargain price point — no less than $20 and no more than $30,” the devs were fond of repeating. Convince a friend to shell out for the bargain, and the two of you can wear down your mouse buttons together.

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6 Comments on E3 2011: Torchlight 2 Hands-on — Berserker Class Reveal


On June 8, 2011 at 4:14 am

This is what the game development process should be like. The development of a sequel should involve looking over a normal gamers impressions/reviews/suggestions and considering them seriously. And guys from Runic Games have done that.
I am sure this game will turn out x10 times more awesome than the first already plenty awesome Torchlight. Just because Runic Games are more open, fans can see that they are being noticed and they love it! And because Runic Games never relied on stunning visuals to cover up for other features. All of their efforts went into game design, gameplay structure and multiplayer. In the end we will get a polished, well-made game that will keep our eyes glued to the screen until we die from starvation.


On June 8, 2011 at 9:09 am

Looks great. Caster class?


On June 9, 2011 at 7:51 am

With the railman and the berserker both being dual-wield, close-up brawler classes and only four classes total, doesn’t that sound like a little bit too much overlap?
I found the first game and its spiritual predecessor, Fate, really playable and and if the focus is supposed to be on characters who carry a weapon in each hand now just because of the steadily growing popularity of dual wields in so many games (probably starting with the dual wield barbarians of Diablo II), I’m not complaining, it just seems like a strange design decision.


On June 10, 2011 at 11:06 pm

No no Railman is 2 HANDED not dual wield. Railman will probably be a caster class in a way. Needing to use combos and stuff to actually be effective. And you read the part about how the railman picked up a cannon instead so these 4 classes will be a bit more flexible it sounds like


On July 4, 2011 at 8:35 pm

I have to agree Eltaro I love the respect that these game designers have for their fans. If they keep it up they’ll take all the money blizzard would’ve gotten with their game.


On July 14, 2011 at 11:21 am

Join their forums, it’s a great community that helped shape the future of torchlight and a lot of our ideas were considered and implemented.
The Dev’s are great and the fans are great and thus the game is great.

My name on the forums is as i listed it here, “adoomgod”.