Torchlight III Early Impressions for PS4, Xbox One, PC

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Perfect World Entertainment
Developer: Echtra Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes

Torchlight III, developed by Echtra Games, came out of Early Access into full release today on PC, alongside a console release on PS4 and Xbox One. I?ve been playing a bit of the action-RPG hack and slash on PS4 since late last week, and while I?m not at the point that I?m ready to post a full review, I figured it was worth posting up some early impressions and info of what I?ve played so far.

If you?ve played either Torchlight or Torchlight II, you?ll not be too surprised by the basics of what makes up Torchlight III?s gameplay and mechanics. It?s still an isometric dungeon crawler, very much in the vein of other action RPG?s like Diablo III or Path of Exile. Torchlight III retains the cartoony character designs and whimsical, colorful style of the previous Torchlight entries as well, so there?s nothing that really clashes visually with Torchlight III?s predecessors. It?s not really a graphical showcase, but the PS4 version of the game does run well, with minimal framerate hiccups or noticeable bugs so far. 

There are four character classes to choose from, and I like that Torchlight III doesn?t stick to the tired formula of RPG class archetypes. Instead, the four characters available work more as hybrids than anything else, so while you can certainly gear the mechanical Clockwork character as a tank, it?ll also work pretty well for DPS or ranged attacks. I also like that each character has it?s own unique gimmick to help manage more powerful attacks in conjunction with support abilities or single-use DPS bursts. For instance, the Clockwork character has a heat meter to manage that will build up over time when using more powerful attacks. Once maxed, you?ll need to let it cool down, forcing you to use some less-powerful melee strikes. However, you can also spec into skills that will allow you to dissipate heat faster or altogether, giving you a pretty nice chain of attacks to string together built around managing the heat meter. 

In addition to the unique functions for each character, you can also choose from one of five relics to give a third skill tree to a newly created character. These five relics can be used by any character, and serve as a way to alter the standard gameplay of any character you chose. Want to drain health and stack bleed effects? Then go with the Blood Drinker relic. Prefer to control crowds and slow down enemies from a distance? Then Coldheart should be your go-to. My only complaint with the relic system so far is that I wish I wasn?t completely locked into my relic at the very beginning of character creation. As I?ve played with all four classes, I?ve had multiple instances where I wish I could change the relic out and respec my points to something new. You absolutely can respec skill points, but only within the original relic (or other characters skills) that you chose at the beginning. 

Outside of enjoying the new characters and general look of Torchlight III, I can?t help but feel kind of underwhelmed by the rest of my experience so far. The voiceover work isn?t the best, the music has been fairly forgettable, and the story is something that I?ve resigned myself to skipping past at this point. I also don?t understand the appeal of the fort system, which is basically a small base of operations you can visit and outfit with new furniture or other stylings you?ll unlock while playing. Outside of plopping down useful things like a tree I can feed unwanted items into in order to increase my overall item luck, I can?t see myself trying to fuss around with making my fort look neat. I can believe that some people will enjoy that aspect, but it?s certainly not for me. 

Also, and this might be more specific to the console versions as I suspect a keyboard/mouse set-up alleviates this a bit, I?ve found the controls to be a little clunky so far. It?s far more noticeable when using ranged weapons or other attacks. Sometimes I have trouble focusing on one target, as the game likes to try and auto-select ranged targets for me at times, which can be an absolute mess when entering boss fights that have dozens of tiny add-on targets that appear. You?ll even notice this when engaging in melee combat, but it?s a little more manageable since a lot of melee attacks are capable of striking multiple foes at once. 

Again, this isn?t a full review just yet, I plan on playing more this week, and toying around with multiplayer a bit more too. Also, I?d like to at least get a feel for what the endgame loop is like, as that tends to be where most action RPG?s like Torchlight III either thrive or die. That said, based on my early hours with the game, I don?t have high hopes for Torchlight III at this point, and would urge you to look into additional reviews and previews in the meantime before making a purchase. 

Note: Perfect World Entertainment provided us with Torchlight III PS4, Xbox One, PC codes for review purposes.