Torchlight 2 vs. Diablo 3: Two Different Approaches to the ARPG
D3 offers up to four-player co-op through Battle.net, and games can be set to public or invite-only. If the Battle.net servers are down, not only can players not partake in multiplayer games, they can’t play at all.
TL2 offers up to six-player co-op — seemingly to spite D3 — via private servers or LAN. When hosting a server, players can stipulate the maximum number of players that can connect and set a password to keep the game private.
TL2 will not have public servers hosted by Runic, so there is no way to play in a truly secure environment. Players are encouraged to play with friends and people they trust. Given TL2′s moddability, anyone can create an artificially powerful character.
D3′s always-online requirement is intended to ensure a completely secure environment and to protect the legitimacy of the game’s Real Money Auction House.
Bottom line: If you want to be able to play LAN or without an internet connection, pick TL2. If you want a completely secure multiplayer environment in which all players are on equal footing, pick D3.
While Diablo 3 currently features no form of player-versus-player combat, a future patch will add a dedicated PvP mode in which two teams of four players compete in an arena. Matches are expected to last up to ten minutes and play out in a familiar deathmatch format.
TL2 allows players to flag themselves for PvP and attack anyone else who has also flagged themselves for PvP, which would allow them to duel or simply enable friendly fire damage for an added challenge as they work together. Once the game’s mod tools are released, modders will be able to flag entire levels as PvP areas.
I’m surprised that Blizzard did not implement a PvP feature similar to TL2′s — at the very least, as a temporary measure until the arena is patched in — because PvP fans can’t be expected to wait six months or longer for a feature that should have been included at launch.
Bottom line: If you prefer to duel anytime, anywhere, pick TL2. If you prefer organized team deathmatch-style arena battles, pick D3. In the future.
Diablo 3 costs $60 retail or through digital download via Battle.net, whereas Torchlight 2 costs $20 retail or via Steam digital download. Because it’s on Steam, you can expect to get TL2 for even cheaper in the future through a Steam sale or bundle, whereas Blizzard games often don’t drop in price until long after release.
At one third of the price of D3, TL2 is the more accessible game. How can Runic turn a profit at that price? According to Max Schaefer, “We couldn’t make money selling $20 boxes only,” but “digital distribution, like on Steam, makes this [price] more economically viable for a company like us.”
Bottom line: If you’re on a tight budget, pick TL2. If you don’t mind spending extra for glitz and glamor and fancy cinematics, pick D3.
Torchlight 2 and Diablo 3 are two different games that approach the ARPG genre in very different ways: one, an open system that allows players to enjoy the game however they please to; the other, a secure, multiplayer-centric environment in which players don’t have to question the legitimacy of another player or his items.
Personally, I believe that TL2 is the more rewarding and ultimately fun game to play, though there are certainly elements of D3 that I prefer, such as the skill system. This begs the question: had Blizzard North developed D3, how different would it be from its current incarnation?
That’s a question no one can answer; however, we can shed some light on the closure of Blizzard North and clear up some of the misconceptions that have been circling the issue for years.
Why did Matt Uelmen and the Schaefer brothers leave Blizzard? Matt Uelmen told Game Front:
“I can’t speak for the Schaefers, though I know the two years following the release of “Lord of Destruction” were a little frustrating, because of chaos affecting Vivendi at the highest levels and the fact that WoW was a resource-hungry project. Of course, the decision to invest heavily into WoW turned out to have been very, very smart.”
Rumors stated that Blizzard Entertainment closed Blizzard North in 2005 because parent company Vivendi was unsatisfied with the branch’s development of Diablo 3, but Matt Uelman debunked this:
“That statement is based totally on speculation. I will say that the idea that Vivendi would be in a position to tell Blizzard what to do with an internal division immediately after WoW had been released is laughable.”
Erich Schaefer weighed in on the issue on Reddit:
“That reason is a joke! (…) The reasons we split were many, but the main one was that Vivendi was shopping our studio around to buyers with no input from us, the team (both Bliz North and South). And the process was taking a long time, during which they kept deferring renegotiating our bonus structure. (Our profitability was still growing, but the bonus structure wasn’t keeping up with it due to a lot of complex crap.)
“So we said: “Hey, either we get some say in this stuff… you know, our whole future… or we’re going to resign.” And they said: buh-bye. Another reason for me personally was just sort of some wanderlust, though. It was time for some new adventures. I was getting fat and lazy at Blizzard.”
That’s one Wikipedia entry that needs correcting.