Torchlight Preview

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Torchlight Publisher: Perfect World Entertainment
Developer: Runic Games

Platform: PC

A small, mining settlement named Torchlight was established to exploit the rich, nearby veins of "Ember." That rare ore is not only the source of Torchlight's riches, it's a magical substance with the power to transform and corrupt everything nearby. Only a handful of adventurers are brave enough to venture into the nearby mountains and below to discover how the Ember has already destroyed past civilizations.

Projected Release: Fall, 2009
Kyle Ackerman

The demise of Flagship Studios led to the creation of Runic Games, and has turned out to be a tremendous boon for Perfect World Entertainment, who will now publish Runic Games' upcoming game Torchlight. Max Schaefer and Travis Baldree were both working on Mythos for Flagship Studios when the company disintegrated. When Runic Games was founded, the Mythos staff changed offices, but continued to work together on the new game.

Not only did Schaefer and Baldree go on to form Runic Games, they happened to be at E3, where I had a chance to chat with them about Torchlight. Torchlight is an action/role-playing game that will be available as a download. Initially, the game will be released as a single-player adventure offering a story that should take around 20 hours to complete. Later, Runic Games plans to add massively multiplayer online game elements to Torchlight, with multiplayer hubs, group adventures and even battles or territorial control.

Play Alone

Torchlight looks like other descendents of Diablo-style action/role-playing games such as Dungeon Runners and Fate. It should be no surprise that Torchlight looks like an isometric action game such as Fate, given Baldree's leading role in the development of Fate. There are three character classes, each with their own skill trees. Dungeons will be randomized, to ensure substantial replayability, and once you complete the game players will be able to "retire" and twink a new character with special perks. Similar to Fate, adventurers will be able to venture forth with a pet. That pet will be able to carry loot and help out in battle.

More exciting than anything else, Runic Games will ship the same tools they use to create levels with the game. That will allow modders to create their own transformations of Torchlight. Schaefer emphasized the importance of the game's community, and how excited Runic Games is to present the community with the tools they need to realize their own visions.

Or With Friends

Once the single-player game is available, Runic Games will set to work on the massively multiplayer online extension of Torchlight. As an MMOG, Torchlight will be free-to-play, offering premium items through a cash shop. The MMOG will dramatically increase the size of the overland world while offering more and larger randomized dungeon areas. To allow players to navigate the larger world, Runic Games will add mounts.

While a release date for the MMOG version hasn't been officially set, it will almost certainly come in 2010, and will include all the social aspects that are typically found in Perfect World's games, such as world events, chat systems and even marriage. The MMOG will include player vs. player combat both on an individual level and on an epic scale, including battles for territorial control.

It's hard to focus too much on the upcoming MMOG, as it seems to still be in the planning stages, but the single-player experience is well along and looks to be an exciting hack-and-slash dungeon crawl. Assuming it can continue the fun of the single-player game, any free-to-play MMOG extension of the original game should be equally entertaining.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on June 7, 2009 8:18 PM.

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