Torchlight 2 vs. Diablo 3: Two Different Approaches to the ARPG
Ultimately, story does not have to be an integral part of the ARPG experience. However, both games do contain a story, so I will compare them.
TL2′s story exists solely to propel the action forward from quest to quest, act to act, without ever getting in the player’s way or slowing the pace of the game. In that sense, it succeeds in accomplishing its goal.
D3′s story is the driving force of the game, with full voice-acting and a bounty of cutscenes delivering a complete narrative experience throughout play. If you’ve read my full dissection of the game’s story, you know that I’m not particularly fond of it, but the reason myself and countless other players have taken issue with its clichéd plot elements and hackneyed dialogue is because the game places importance upon them by keeping them at the forefront.
From a narrative experience, D3 tells the better story, despite that story’s shortcomings. However, TL2 doesn’t place nearly as much importance on the story as D3, so its weaknesses aren’t cast under a spotlight.
Dialogue aside, D3′s cinematics are to Blizzard’s usual standards, in that they’ll leave you slack-jawed and drooling over the graphical goodness. TL2′s cinematics appear to be Flash cartoons that border on being amateurish.
Bottom line: If you’re not looking for a story, pick TL2. If you are looking for a story, regardless of its quality, pick D3. In fact, if you enjoy clichés, or have never read a story or seen a movie before, then definitely pick D3.
In an MMO, the “endgame” begins once your character has reached the highest level attainable, and many fans of the genre claim that that is when your experience with an MMO truly begins. For purposes of this comparison, we’ll dial back that definition to include everything you can do once you’ve beaten the final boss and completed your first playthrough.
Both D3 and TL2 allow you to play through the game again, with monsters scaled up in difficulty to provide a challenge. For D3, attempting to beat the game’s highest difficulty setting, Inferno, was intended to be an endgame challenge of its own. Once you reached the level cap of 60, players were meant to keep hunting for loot until they were powerful enough to make meaningful progress in Inferno, which was initially designed to take months to overcome.
However, in response to complaints about Inferno being too difficult, Blizzard mollified this difficulty level, which left players with no endgame other than to keep replaying content in order to find better loot so that they can keep replaying content in order to find better loot.
Blizzard then implemented the Paragon System, which kicks in at level 60 and provides an additional 100 “paragon levels” for players to gain, a goal that would take much longer to achieve than attaining level 60. A future patch will implement “the Infernal Machine,” a mechanic that will allow players to unlock a battle against two bolstered bosses.
As for TL2, beating the game unlocks the Map Room, an area in which you can purchase access to randomized dungeons of various levels of difficulty. According to Travis Baldree, this Map Room is a superior alternative to a bottomless dungeon, although such a dungeon could easily be modded into the game once the mod tools release.
Baldree further explained that modders will be able to create endgame content, which means that there’s no ceiling on the amount of unofficial endgame content TL2 will see.
Bottom line: If you want easy access to an unlimited number of random dungeons, pick TL2. If you want to hunt for an exceptionally rare encounter with especially difficult boss monsters, pick D3.
Diablo 3 does not support modding, even though the game’s technology makes it “the most moddable version of Diablo there’s ever been,” according to lead technical artist Julian Love. Speaking with Game Front at BlizzCon 2011, Love explained how other goals superseded modding — namely, providing a safe and secure experience for players to play in and trade items in.
Torchlight 2′s mod tools will be released in the near future and will make use of the Steam Workshop. The mod kit is designed to be a content generation tool and will allow players to create new classes, dungeons, monsters, quests, and more. Runic Games Vice President Marsh Lefler said on Reddit, “If you like Legos, you’re going to love our editor.”
Bottom line: If you like mods, pick TL2. If you don’t care for mods, pick D3.