Torchlight 2 • Page 2

Relight my fire.

Despite that, it's as colourful as ever, and a descent into one of its randomly-generated dungeons reveals that its hypnotic metronome of combat is still there. Enemies are numerous and more varied, and they're more dynamic in their behaviour; skeletons now come pouring in through wells, and corpses impaled on walls spring to life to get involved in the boisterous action. Naturally there are bosses too, and in true sequel tradition, there are more of them and they're more impressive in size.

But what's providing the real spice for the sequel is the addition of co-operative multiplayer, in which - in the vanilla version of the game - up to six players can go looting together. True to the breezy nature of Torchlight, griefing has been kept to a minimum: players will only ever see their own loot on screen, making it impossible to steal from others and negating an awkward scramble to molest a corpse.

And, as Torchlight 2 squares up to the imminent release of Diablo 3, there's its generous feature set, addressing the areas that Blizzard has notoriously stepped away from. LAN play is supported alongside the ability to go online, and mods will be supported through the release of Runic's own powerful creation tools.

"I think that some of the publicity around Diablo 3 recently has helped us quite a bit," admits Schaefer in what's more an acknowledgement of recent events than fighting talk. "They're not doing single-player stuff and we are, they're not doing LAN play and we are, we don't need you to have an online connection and they do, they're doing a real money auction house and we're not doing any of that."

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Runic's affable nature - something that's evident in the snug cuddle of its games - means that rather than wringing their hands over the negativity that's swarmed around Diablo 3 recently, they're sympathetic. Schaefer sees features such as the real-money auction house as a necessity for certain productions.

"I understand they're getting some criticism for that, and I actually support what they're doing," says Schaefer. "If you want to have a secure economy, you've got to do it that way. We're just going a different route. But the publicity around it has helped draw the distinction between us, and I think that's helped."

By the time Torchlight 2 releases later this year, people will have had a taste of Diablo 3 in the beta - and Blizzard's game may well have had a release date attached to it. It's not really competition, says Schaefer, and rather a welcome guest to this previously sparsely attended party.

"It just means more people playing this kind of game," he says. "If we were making a shooter, people wouldn't be saying a big shooter's going to come along and destroy the market. But since there aren't that many action RPGs, it seems like if there's a big one it's going to wipe everything else out, but I'd don't think that's true, I think it'll actually help."

Two well crafted loot-hungry RPGs this year? Why ever not. Torchlight 2's character and its decision to beat a different path should prove that, while the spectre of Diablo 3 looms large, there's always room for good games to co-exist.

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