Torchlight XBLA better than on PC?

Runic Games details meaty changes.

Torchlight is set to arrive on Xbox Live Arcade either next month or the month after that, but when it does there will be changes, developer Runic has said.

Character control has had to change, most obviously, as a cursor-lead point-and-click, click, click action-RPG does not translate to console without some adjustments.

"Control is [now] direct," explained Runic on its forum (via VG247). "No virtual cursors ever."

As enemies can't be click-selected, you now move forwards slightly with each swing, smashing whatever is closest (this will be highlighted red) and bruising anything nearby. Animations have been "redone" accordingly, and it all "feels natural and does what you expect", apparently.

Ranged combat is "in many ways easier", thanks to auto-targeting and more comfortable dodging, and "Lobbed" skills are handled by the analog triggers - a light squeeze throws near, a heavy squeeze throws far. Overall, combat is said to feel "faster" and "more manoeuvrable".

The only feature that hasn't carried over from PC is secondary weapon sets, "because there was no way we could find that didn't feel horrible in inventory management".

Speaking of which, the user interface has been "completely overhauled". "Nothing works the same," according to Runic, and "all new art and navigation" had to be created.

"The concept of item 'slots' is done away with - you just have a number of items you can hold (50 - ignores stack counts). Potions and scrolls stack up to 99. Potions 'auto pick' the best potion to heal you or regenerate mana. You don't have to think about it or map it.

Four skills can be mapped for use at a time, plus a second set handled by the d-pad. "Most of us actually find it easier to use a variety of skills on the console vs. PC, oddly enough," Runic said.

What's more, the Xbox 360 pad will rumble for quakes, low strikes, low health heartbeats and tugs on the fishing line - obviously.

Runic has also employed some improvements from Torchlight II on PC, such as quicker loading times, better animations and automaps.

Finally, each of the three classes has a new armour set, there are new random quests and there's something called a Chakawary pet.

All that in one pint-sized 200MB download.

Torchlight is a bold and imaginative action-RPG that takes its lead from Diablo. Eurogamer pinned an attractive 8/10 rosette on Torchlight PC over a year ago now, complimenting the game on how "confidently and prettily it takes the fight to [Blizzard]".

And with Blizzard not planning on a Diablo III console conversion, Runic Games' manouevre onto Xbox 360 could prove to be a masterstroke for players and accountants alike.

Incidentally, Runic has "no plans to speak of" for Torchlight to PS3.

Why? "Microsoft is acting as the publisher on this one," Runic explained. "And given how much work it was to get one console game done, I'm a little relieved we didn't attempt both platforms at once anyway."

Microsoft announced Torchlight as an XBLA game to be released under the House Party promotion period - a timeframe not unlike Summer of Arcade, where MS tries to concentrate its big-hitters. The House Party kicks off on 16th February with the release of Hard Corps Rising. Beyond Good & Evil HD, Bejeweled Blitz, Full House Poker and Torchlight will follow in subsequent weeks in an undetermined order.

Runic Games is also making Torchlight II for PC, and has a spring 2011 release in mind.

Torchlight II on PC debuts multiplayer.

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