Torchlight Frontiers launches this summer as Torchlight III – and it’s not an MMO now

The business model is now 'premium' rather than free-to-play

So here’s one nobody quite got right in the 2020 predictions: Torchlight Frontiers is changing its name to Torchlight III, with a summer launch planned. Notably for MMO fans – and yes, Torchlight Frontiers lingered in alpha all last year as an MMOARPG, happily accepting MMO awards – PWE and Echtra Games are heavily downplaying the MMO elements of the game, saying it’s “[returning] to its roots” for “ARPG fans,” and that means a buy-to-play “premium” model with “a new focus on linear progression” and (most of) the online multiplayer stripped away. Here’s Max Schaefer on the big switcharoo.

“When we started developing Torchlight Frontiers, we were focused on creating a shared-world experience. […] During development, you often discover what type of product a game was meant to be and we found Torchlight Frontiers was meant to be a true successor to Torchlight I & II. Based on this and extensive feedback from our Alpha testers, we decided it was time to take the game back to its roots and model it after the classic Torchlight games that ARPG fans have come to love. We’d like to thank our dedicated player base for supporting us and providing such insightful feedback during early development.”

Closed alpha testing apparently begins on January 29th. Existing testers who’ve been playing the open alpha for the last age will be granted Steam keys to continue testing there.

“We’re also taking this opportunity to adjust our approach to Alpha testing. We will be wiping character progress with the release of Update 10 and the move to Steam. At least one more wipe will be coming prior to launch so that all players will start the retail release with a fresh account. This will allow us to streamline our development development and testing methodologies. We’ll be able to release updates on a tighter schedule and our players will be able to more easily jump around the content providing us with greater feedback and deeper testing capabilities. Don’t fear, if you’ve been with us on this journey, any Alpha-exclusive collectibles you earned are being tracked and will be made available to your retail account.”

According to the dev blog, the game will no longer offer horizontal progression and scaling, and most zones are still private. There is still an element of multiplayer, but it’s much more like the earlier two titles. The main upside? No more in-game real-money cash shop.

“Most zones are now private by default to give a better play experience. Players can still meet each other in public town levels and form parties to play together in instanced combat zones. When creating your character, you can now select Online or Offline Mode. Characters made in Offline Mode do not require an internet connection to play, but will also not be able to participate in multiplayer games.”

This marks the second MMO under the Perfect World banner to shed its MMO trappings in favor of ARPG stylings in recent weeks, the first being Magic Legends.

Click to show more from the press release.
When Torchlight III releases on Steam this summer, players will be able to purchase the full game and play however they like (online or off) with access to all playable content. Rather than focusing on horizontal progression, the game shifts back to the familiar linear world structure that was introduced with Torchlight I & II. Longtime Torchlight fans will be happy to hear that the game features the same mechanics that set the original series apart from other ARPGs on the market. After selecting from Torchlight III’s unique character classes, players will choose a pet to accompany them on their new adventure: a fluffy alpaca, a swift owl or a loyal canine retriever. From there, they will explore forests filled with dangerous creatures and participate in thematic quests to earn powerful rewards. A full list of game features includes:

  • Travel the Frontier: Players can explore the wilderness, party with friends, gather materials to craft loot, use magical maps to enter unknown dungeons, or show off their spoils in town! There’s always something to do in the new frontier.

  • Build & Upgrade Your Fort: It’s time to rebuild! Players will enjoy their very own account-based fort,where they can upgrade gear, and make renovations to show it off to their friends and the world. The game allows them to build monuments of power, pet stables, and more!

  • Choose a Relic:  Relics are objects of great power that grant players a suite of active skills and passive skills. Players can craft them, level them up and store them in their fort. The relic is an important part of a character’s strategy – choose wisely!

  • Collect Epic Gear – Whether it’s armor, weapons, dyes, recipes, ember cores, or even new pets … there’s always more to find as adventurers battle through dungeons and take on dangerous foes. Every randomly-generated area can be replayed over and over again since each instance brings different items. Those who want even more epic gear can run maps from the Mapworks, or take on a contract to earn Fame and unlock elite items.

  • Pets are Back: Players can fight their way to fame and glory with loyal companions! Each of the many species comes in a myriad of colors and styles so adventurers shouldn’t settle for the first one they find. They can also make these pets stronger by adding skills, equip them with gear to make them hardier, and together battle enemies as a team.

  • Build Your Hero: With four classes to choose from, players can utilize class-specific mechanics to maximize damage and their odds of survival. Torchlight III lets them gather epic gear, select your Relic powers, and customize loadouts to create a unique combat style for their heroes.

Torchlight III features diverse hero classes with unique abilities and powers:

  • The Dusk Mage is an enchanter who harnesses the power of light and dark energy to conjure devastating attacks.

  • The Forged is a powerful robot who relies on an arsenal of weaponry to build up heat and unleash explosive assaults.

  • The Railmaster is a locomotive savvy powerhouse who steams into combat with a massive hammer and heavily armed battle train.

  • Plus, a brand new class which will be revealed soon!

Source: Official site, press release

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I’m happy with this change. Didn’t play torchlight for the mmo aspect. It will still be nice to see people in the towns, but I felt like seeing people out in the world didnt really add anything to it.


Wow this is great news, had 0 interest in a f2p always online Torchlight but this is definitely on the radar now!


I would love to see a mmoarpg.
I never had much confidence in Torchlight delivering something noteworthy as a mmoarpg though. The torchlight games were always on the last half of my fav arpg list, boring, simplistic, and lacking the most important aspect an arpg needs..servers.
With that in mind, they really really needed to up their game in order to make a Torchlight work as a mmoarpg, like more or less reinvent everything. This would be in odds with the other very simple Torchlight games, so maybe it was a clever move to ditch the mmo part… Still, would be great to see a real mmoarpg (as in a co-op arpg in a shared open world) from someone, someday.

Rodrigo Dias Costa

I guess it’s what Torchlight fans wanted so great news for them. A friend of mine is also pretty excited now that it’s truly a sequel (he wasn’t planning on playing it because of the f2p thing).

As for me, I’m stopping following it now. I’m not a fan of the IP, so my interest was mostly on the MMO-ish parts of the game.


IMO, they are going to have to make the game unique. I think some sort of multiplayer has to be in the game to make that work. This game will be long forgotten when both Path of Exile 2 and Diablo 4 gets released (the top 2 upcoming ARPG’s that come to mind). What the hell were the alpha testers thinking?

Kickstarter Donor

Yea, no thanks.


The game they had wasn’t really that great, but scrapping the multiplayer in favor of making it single player isn’t going to change that. The game needed some major overhaul and Torchlight touches.

They also simply couldn’t get the multiplayer code done right. Whenever they had the zones be open multiplayer, they’d have these horribly long load-in times every time you’d zone. At least a few minutes each zone. They jumped around between open areas, instanced areas, and very mildly multiplayer areas because they couldn’t get the massively multiplayer code done right. They never got over that hurdle.

I’m ticked off. I was so excited about having an MMOARPG for Torchlight. Their progress did seem like they had a group of three-toed sloths programming for them but I was hoping they’d get it together and really start to move forward one day.

If they give me the game free for being a tester from day 1 I’ll play it, but I honestly don’t think I’d buy it now unless they really made it into something amazing (which could happen I guess with a complete overhaul, but I won’t be holding my breath or anything).

Ben Stone

The top down ARPG always feel like a hot mess when they become open world. I think this was a good move.


I can’t disagree more. Can you give me some examples of some MMOARPGs you’ve played that you feel are hot messes specifically because they’re open-world ARPGs?

I really feel that’s limited thinking and great MMOARPGs could be made for sure. It’s basically the same as multiplayer in ARPGs which works just fine. You would usually just have a small limited number of people playing together with people all spread out around big maps. Lots of soloists doing their own thing places too while passing each other, etc, just like normal MMORPGs.

If you increase the difficulty and lessen the crowd killing abilities and length of abilities too (so they don’t spray full screens worth), you know some minor alterations. Make it so it took a little bit of actual playing skill rather than spamming pots and skills, and I’ve seen a number of ARPGs do that and do it well lately.

Ben Stone

Torchlight Frontiers and Marvel Heroes both were very messy when too many people crowded the screen. And the limited hero options of this type of game means you are going to see a dozen people that are either the same character, or the same model with a different hat.

I just think the topdown ARPG works better with small group multiplayer where the screen clutter can be limited.


I suppose I was only excited about this as a new mmorpg.

I’m a fan of a dead genre aren’t I?


Nah, many of us are with you. We want a massively multiplayer online action role playing game. We want this big open world setting MMOARPG. Torchlight Frontiers wasn’t going to be that anyway with the direction they were going (it was limited multiplayer at best in smaller areas, every time they let more people into the area their multiplayer couldn’t handle it), but many of us are hoping to get that kind of thing still.

Maybe someone will come along and offer up what we want on Kickstarter. I know I know, but hey a lot of games there actually do make it and end up fairly decent :D (Seriously do a web search for all the successful Kickstarter games, far more than one might imagine). With enough of us backing it and showing we want it, who knows what we could get.

Obviously it would be better if a big studio got behind doing something like that.

There are great numbers of people out there that want that kind of thing, although many of them are hoping that maybe Blizzard will turn the world of Diablo into an MMOARPG. I think Diablo is a bit too “level up and spam skills and pots” and doesn’t take enough skill to be that fun but I’d definitely still take a Diablo MMOARPG from Blizzard.

I’d take an MMOARPG from just about anyone though, as long as it wasn’t Open PvP that is.

Castagere Shaikura

So happy about this change. The alpha was crap and the idea of a Torchlight MMO never really sounded like a good idea either. We have enough crappy MMO’s coming out. Now the mod community can get back to work on a new T3 game. I wonder how much it will cost though. The other two games were around 20 bucks but this is 2020. If it’s more than that it better be a huge world to play in.


Game prices really haven’t changed much. We have far more people buying games today than before, and for PC especially the vast majority of those sales are digital. Because of the increase in sales and digital distribution, there isn’t a lot of reason to increase the prices.

$20 budget games are still $20. Just like $60 games are still $60, although then they try and kill us with that DLC :D

Movies went digital and the market increased a whole lot and the price went way down even. I know it’s not a fair direct comparison, that’s not where movies make the bulk of their money, but still. They’re easy to distribute to people and many more people buy them, so they don’t sell them for $80-$90 anymore like research says they did in the 80s (for a crappy VHS tape and with inflation that looks like over $200 today!).

Sure, there will come a day when the growth in sales does not even out and game prices actually do have to go up. I don’t think we’re quite there yet. Though I don’t think anybody would bemoan a $30 price tag either on a new Torchlight game.