First Impressions: OARPG Torchlight III just hasn’t click-clicked with me yet


Since it never hurts to be honest, I should say upfront here that Echtra Games’ decision to radically retool Torchlight III from a F2P MMO to a buy-to-play multiplayer experience greatly disappointed me. I saw a lot of potential for this franchise in the massively multiplayer space, but I was also willing to give this reworked — and now, officially launched — game a try on its own merits.

Having shelled out my own money to buy it, I genuinely was hoping that Torchlight III would vindicate itself in the end by being a go-to game for when I wanted a half-hour session of rapid combat and mass looting. How did it turn out? Read on, McGuff, and see!

At launch, Torchlight III offers four classes: the Dusk Mage, the Forged, the Railmaster, and the Sharpshooter. I went with the Railmaster because the idea of having your own pet train trailing behind seemed novel enough.

You’re not going to find the most robust character creator here, but at least there are some options like switching your gender, picking out your hairstyle, and selecting your relic skill set (which is matched with your class’ two established skill sets to make your own personal hybrid). I was slightly put out by the fact that you can’t spin your character around, but I did like how the female Railmaster is boasting a serious set of muscles on a slightly stocky frame. Coming from MMOs where all female characters have to have pin-up dimensions, this is a welcome change of pace.

There are a few other options — pets, difficulty levels — but soon enough and I was off to the races!

One very good sign of a well-designed game is that its interface and design is intuitive rather than overwhelming or obscure, and in this, Torchlight III acquits itself well. The UI is a minimalistic as it needs to be, and all of the menu pages are easy to understand and navigate. Right away, I was laying down rails for my little pet train car and smiling like any kid who used to have fond dreams of a model train paradise in their basement.

Another thing I noticed right out of the gate is that Torchlight III is brimming with that trademark Torchlight personality. If you thought Diablo III was too bright and cheery, well, play this for a while and go back to enjoy the contrast of perspective. The gobbos are adorable and goofy, the color palette popping without venturing into neon territory, and every map is chock-full of little bits of eye candy to enjoy.

Of course, the core of any ARPG is its combat, and if Torchlight III didn’t get this right, any other details would be for naught. My verdict? It’s… adequate? That’s damning it with faint praise, but that’s also all I can muster at this time. Combat works, but it’s not nearly as snappy as I found in Diablo III. There’s something slightly off and slightly awkward about fighting that kept me from feeling like I was getting into that groove — and the lackluster sound effects weren’t helping matters, either.

That said, I was happily puttering around exploring the map, attacking different camps, and being the glad recipient of any loot explosions that so happened to go off in my vicinity. It was fun to slot my Bane relic and summon a ghost spider as a bonus pet, too. And speaking of pets, by the time I had finished my tutorial, I had looted three additional pets from bosses to go with my faithful golden retriever. That was pretty neat.

I do wish that the game would fade away structures that get between the camera and your character, however. Torchlight III elects to use outlines instead, and often I lost visual track on what was going on during these moments.

It’s clear to me that the move away from an MMO has hurt the game’s changes to forge a more involved community. As of right now, there are no guilds in the game, so any connections you’re going to make with others will either be shouting in the hub chat, forming a PUG, or hooking up with a Steam friend or two.

(By the way, Echtra, I really don’t appreciate that you use my Steam name instead of my character name for chat. That’s always super-annoying and kind of defeats the purpose of character names in the first place!)

At least the game was more flexible when it came to the other hallmark of ARPGs: loot. I was delighted to discover that I could equip pretty much any weapon or piece of gear I found, so I had some fun experimenting with different loadouts. I’m sure there are incentives to staying in your class’ lane, but kudos for giving us the option, at least.

Another fun option is the choice of contracts. These are reward tracks that progress, as far as I can tell, from fighting and questing and whatever else you typically do. However, you can pick either an adventurer’s contact, a crafter’s contract, or a homesteader’s contract to earn rewards in the area of the game you most enjoy.

I continually got the nagging sense that Torchlight III isn’t fully formed quite yet. This doesn’t come from huge bugs or glaring design holes but rather smaller things that point to a lack of polish. One such example would be the lack of consistent map and minimap markers for quests. Sometimes the game shows you where you should be going, but often it simply doesn’t, leaving me to wander the map until I stumble upon whatever lair or objective I need.

At least it’s a pretty map with some fun details to discover and “clickies” (such as cannons that fire) that offer amusing interactions.

Torchlight III’s marquee feature is its fort system, which is part virtual dollhouse and part functional base. In this, at least, I’m pretty impressed. Despite it only existing on one plane due to the camera angle, the fort itself is extremely flexible in how you can design and arrange it. Everything, down to the pavement stones and individual mushrooms, can be moved, deleted, and rotated until you make the place truly yours. Add in the ability to create useful structures, such as a pet shelter or a sawmill, and now you have a reason to return here more often than not!

As I told MOP’s Bree when we were sharing our mutual experiences from the past week on the MOP Podcast, I never felt like playing Torchlight III was a burden or a responsibility for this article. I really did enjoy myself for the most part, even if I never did get sucked in as deeply as I would have hoped. Maybe after more time has gone by and Echtra has a chance to polish this up and flesh it out a bit more, Torchlight III will click-click for me in a way that it isn’t right now.

Massively Overpowered skips scored reviews; they’re outdated in a genre whose games evolve daily. Instead, our veteran reporters immerse themselves in MMOs to present their experiences as hands-on articles, impressions pieces, and previews of games yet to come. First impressions matter, but MMOs change, so why shouldn’t our opinions?

No posts to display

newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Chosenxeno .

No ARPG is going to topple Grim Dawn(NOT THAT GAME YOU ARE THINKING OF!) from it’s throne until the Next Wave of ARPGs.


Playing in the several alpha and beta tests, it just seems like the devs didn’t know what they wanted and really kind of missed the mark on what made the first two games a blast to play. I loved the first game for the storyline and just how cute the art was. Loved the second game for the mod support that even worked online. The third game started as a hot mess with the confusing decision to limit your gear and levels based on “frontiers” (wonder who was the dope who thought that was a good idea) along with other just very strange decisions such as always online. When they swapped it to being sold as a retail game it still feels like they took several steps back with the skill system and the lack of any mod support. Heck I’d rather they go the dungeon defenders way, have an official online character for no mods, open for modded characters, and offline for singleplayer and the like. Having no mod support when it was such a blast and even completely changed how 1 and 2 played just means nothing to me. Add onto the stupidly expensive price of 40$, even at 15-20$ it’s a tough sell for me.

Kevin Smith

As someone who played their version of the MMO I can say you didn’t miss anything. Nothing about the way they were making this an MMO was good. It is part of the reason they scrapped it. Those of us that tested it said it was bad. I really don’t expect this to get any support outside of bug fixes at this point. They went back to the drawing board with to many things to have the funds to keep working on it. The best thing they could have done was release the API so modders could do what they have with the last two iterations.

Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron

It’s been 8 days post launch now, and we still have no info on what kind of post-launch support to expect. (that fact is probably a big hint).
I joined in closed alpha 2 and I’m not sure why they had a feedback system because of the unwillingness to make even minor usability changes. There are pages upon pages with good feedback of the problems with the game and plenty of them offer good starting points for solutions too.

Zulika Mi-Nam
Patreon Donor
Kickstarter Donor
Zulika Mi-Nam

I played a lot of this in its alpha stage and less and less with each update as it moved further away from entertaining for me.

The last few tests I did not even participate in because they are not really tests at that point, feedback is ignored or it’s just too late to make major changes, and I had lost all interest….at any price….including zero.

I loved TL1 & 2 though.

Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron

Given the generally luke warm reception I do worry that they don’t have the funds and won’t get the funds to develop this any further beyond light bug fixes.

Corners have been cut and that becomes more evident the further you get through the game.

I mean technically a purple goblin that hits you with lightening is different to a green goblin that hits you with fire but not really. Maps that are the same but with different furniture are among the things that stood out to me. Everything just starts to blur and feel the same.

Then there are character oddities, take the sharpshooter class for instance. I find it odd that if you equip a gun of any sort non of the skills apart from the basic attack will actually use it.

If you hit a skill you seem to pull a bow out of thin air, fire off the skill with arrows then magically your gun comes back. So if you actually want to see your shiny legendary gun of awesome as a sharpshooter then get used to using basic attack.

Despite all this I am having fun going through the game. I put on a podcast, blow stuff up and try not to think about it too much. At this point I am not sure if I will be playing through it again with the other classes maybe after a break so I forget stuff again.

sigh ……

Kickstarter Donor

I continually got the nagging sense that Torchlight III isn’t fully formed quite yet. This doesn’t come from huge bugs or glaring design holes but rather smaller things that point to a lack of polish.

Yes. There are so many missing elements like customizable map overlay positioning/transparency. Some of the game is pretty polished, but overall its old F2P bones are still evident (Why do we need to wait to process resources, again?) and it’s pretty hit or miss.

And I’ll throw a shoutout for bugs being annoying as hell. Quest drops, especially when starting mapping, sometimes…just don’t drop. Or the mobs you may need to kill for the map may not exist. And in both cases grats on wasting time, log out and restart the map.

I want to like the game. I like a lot of the core of the game, and I’ve been enjoying my duskmage for the most part. But it seems very apparent that they needed more time with the game, months at the very least. And with how they’ve decided to price it, $40 (2x the price of TL1/2) I don’t think the game earns that pricetag in the slightest. Forts are a neat addition, but the rest of the game doesn’t have the same kind of quality and quantity of content and polish that TL2 did for sure.

I’m hoping they at least fix this soon. It’s crushed my desire to continue playing, because I do enjoy the game overall.

Dug From The Earth

Its a VERY hard sell for 40 bucks.

I think a decent amount will jump on board if it ever drops to about 15 during a sale. 20 at most.

The game treats players like dummies.

If Diablo 3 is Legos, Torchlight 3 is Duplo blocks.

Loyal Patron
Kickstarter Donor

Was bored so I bought the early access last month. Refunded it before the 2 hour mark was up. Actually I refunded it after 1 hour. Yes, in the state it’s at the moment, I would pay maximum 15€ for it.

Jeremy Barnes

I wouldn’t play it if it was free. I have better arpgs to play.