Torchlight III came out in Steam’s Early Access on June 13, 2020, by developers Echtra Games, and Perfect World Entertainment as the publishers. The game will officially launch on October 13, 2020, on Steam, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch, with an MSRP of 29.99$ / 29.99€ / 23.79£ (Early Access).
I was very skeptical about Torchlight III’s early access, as there was a big amount of negative reviews on Steam, most of them centering around a scary fact – that the game feels like a mobile port. Being a big fan of Torchlight II, since it came out back in 2012, I didn’t want to see that in the third entry of the franchise, especially after its transformation from Torchlight Frontiers to Torchlight III.
Therefore I decided to try the game during its latest early access stage, just one week before the official release on October 6, 2020, with the last wipe of accounts and the official stress test lasting for a week, and awarding players with a commemorative Banner for player Forts.
I was very positively surprised even with a few minutes in the game! All the reviews weren’t true (or maybe they where, but the end product ended up being better?), since I have experienced already so many mechanics and flavors I’m encountering for the first time in an aRPG!
Totems that are following you in battle, multiple pets, player housing, gathering, crafting, a clean UI that’s frustrating at first – but quickly shows its value, an amazing interactive minimap, and most important of all – what you would really expect from Torchlight III – a better version of Torchlight II! Yes, it’s true, the combat is just as – if not more – satisfying than the previous game, and the overall environment, aesthetics, and storytelling is enhanced and polished.
Polished Presentation – Satisfying Gameplay
Five minutes in Torchlight III are enough to show how polished the game is, and the core gameplay loop offers the right levels of addicting monster-slaying, exploring, and looting!
There are still a few quirks – like not being able to enable item names on the floor, or filter loot in any way for that matter.
I hope that we will get these customization options as development moves further, as the omission of these features can rightfully scare away veteran aRPG players, that I’m sure otherwise would have great fun with Torchlight 3.
Fast-Paced Combat – Interesting Encounters
If you loved Torchlight II’s combat, then you’ll love III’s too! That’s not to say they are identical, but the overall pace and feeling from the previous game is here.
What feels greatly different, is the “hidden global cooldown” of the skills, that won’t let you queue up future skills. For example, if one of your skills are currently executed, you can’t just cancel the animation or expect the next skill press to go off after the current animation ends. You need to use your skills with the right timing – which was admittedly quite frustrating at first, but I ended up appreciating this “strategic” approach to combat.
I’m not sure if the above mechanic was intended, but it would definitely be a great addition if we can see this global cooldown visually on the skills, similar to World of Warcraft for example.
The monster and boss encounters are great, filled with different mechanics and unique aesthetics. You never know what’s hiding behind a corner – from a couple of weak skeletons to a huge group of legendary spiders, there are always many surprises that await you while exploring, and I would say overall the exploration is much more satisfying than the previous Torchlight entry.
Great Performance & Optimization
It’s always comforting to see a game coming out of Early Access with perfect optimization, and the devs definitely deserve some kudos here!
I’m playing with Max settings on a 4K setup, and the frames are stuck at 60! No, seriously, there’s not even a single frame drop, no matter what goes on in your screen!
It almost feels like magic, and you will never have to worry about missing any actions or frames due to the game – a very important element for a hardcore-enabled aRPG, that sadly many top aRPGs like Path of Exile or Grim Dawn, still struggle with.
It’s Full of Cool Collectibles
Pets in Torchlight III won’t just carry your loot to town, but there’s an expanded pet system that will let you collect tons of different ones, while also unlocking special pet skills for all your pets to use.
It’s a great feature, since it doesn’t just add a ton of collectibles in the game, but also a great variety of builds that you can make with your pet’s skills.
What’s more, we get player housing with a multitude of furniture items to collect, as well as functional buildings for crafting, providing account buffs, and a few more neat features. You can visit your friends’ Forts too of course, and even receive special temporary buffs for doing so!
Active Developers – Promising Roadmap
Many have shown discontent with the “new” developer Echtra Games over Torchlight II’s Runic Games, but in essence, both development teams worked under Perfect World Entertainment’s guidance. Keep in mind also, that Max Schaefer – the co-founder of the Torchlight franchise – is actually the CEO of Echtra Games, so there is no room to worry about the game’s guidance.
During the whole early access period, the pace of patches and hotfixes was super agile, and the devs didn’t let down at any challenges the community posed to them.
What’s more, they’ve shared a promising roadmap for the first year of updates after the original launch of Torchlight III, so we have a lot to look forward to! Hopefully some new classes this time, and hopefully some verified Mods support?