Torchlight 2

Relight my fire.

Max Schaefer's tasted success, and he's got the scars to prove it. The CEO of Runic Games, a man with an engagingly gentle demeanour, placed a bet with his colleagues that the studio's first game wouldn't break a million units. If it did, he'd get a tattoo - and so too would the rest of his team.

Ask most people and they'd happily take that bet on. Torchlight was a humble action RPG from a fledgling studio, yet its loot-happy mechanics scratched an itch that's been nagging at players for years since Diablo 2's release in 2000.

"There were so many risks with what we did, because we were making a single-player RPG, which was poison," says Schaefer. "You don't do that, and we were releasing it primarily on digital distribution and at 20 dollars, so we had no idea if we would sell 50,000."

Over a million copies later and he's the proud owner of a neat etching of one of Torchlight's alchemist robots on his calf. "The other two haven't done it yet," he admits, "but they're still working with their artists."

Its success didn't just lie in the fact that it filled a hole that Diablo wasn't yet able to; it was a perfectly crafted take on a genre seemingly deserted, and it's little surprise the result was so satisfying. Schaefer and his team worked at Blizzard North on the first two Diablo games, and are intimate with the delicate formula that makes such games so compelling.

"It's actually very difficult to make that kind of game, to have it play right and feel right, and have something in which you can have a lot of repetition with. I'm happy that no-one else is doing it, but I also understand that it's difficult. Making an easy, simple game is difficult."

Sadly, due to the size of Torchlight 2, an Xbox Live Arcade version isn't currently on the cards.

So difficult that Blizzard is famously taking its time over Diablo 3 - a game that Schaefer and his team worked on when they were still working at Blizzard North. Torchlight, on the other hand, took some 11 months to complete, and its sequel is following an equally accelerated development period.

As such, it's familiar enough - though when it comes to the loot-heavy RPG, gaming's culinary equivalent of comfort food, familiarity's a welcome trait. Set immediately after the first game, Torchlight II disposes of the previous classes and introduces four new flavours.

First there's an engineer, a moustache-sporting, monocle-wearing dandy with a flair for melee combat and wielding mechanical things. He is joined by a berserker, a blue-furred beast with a tendency to destroy things, and an outlander, who'll be providing the ranged option. A fourth class is to be added to the mix, though the specifics are yet to be announced.

Torchlight 2's major addition - and the one that elevates the game from being a straight loot-'em-up to a more fully-fledged action RPG experience - is the addition of an overworld. An expansive waste, the new continent of Vilderan lends the game a sense of scale that was previously absent, and does away with much of the claustrophobia that defined the original.

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