What was once planned to be an MMO, Torchlight III is a re-worked version of that failed project that falls back in line with its predecessor. Featuring single player and online co-op modes, this action roleplaying game promises an adventurous return to a beloved series.
Torchlight III Review – Bird’s Eye View
A console lifetime ago I played the first Torchlight title. It was a single player game back then. While I don’t remember much about the story, I do recall feeling compelled to explore and experience as much of the world as possible. Even though I skipped over the sequel, kicking things off in this third game doesn’t punish me in the least.
If you asked me to tell you about the story in Torchlight III so far I can tell you there is a Big Bad with three Hench-people. The local authorities in Trevail have me running quests and pushing further along the map. So far it’s been a lot of fetch quests and slaying dungeon bosses. I’ve also seen about four monsters types and I’m getting pretty bored of the same zombies, spiders, goblins, and mimics. My Forged hero Clankifer rolls across the rough terrain with his trusty pup Dug at his side.
Torchlight III has four classes to choose from: Forged, Sharpshooter, Railmaster, and Dusk Mage. My single player Hero is the aforementioned Clankifer, a Forged automaton using the Flaming Destroyer relic. This class and relic combination buffed by flame damage enhancing loot drops makes me a rolling fireball. The Forged class features a tank type chest armament. It heats up every time I use certain skills which requires venting every so often. Balancing heat building and venting skills to do maximum damage is quite enjoyable now that I have the hang of it.
Fort building for the most part seems like it should be fun. You can refine resources, craft statues and monuments, and house a menagerie of pet companions. Since I can only zoom in and out with the right stick with no way to rotate the angle of the fort itself, this element feels a little lackluster. The fort is just a place for me to switch out pets and put aside any items I may want for future characters.
Now let’s talk about multiplayer for a minute. I am always looking for more games I can play with my friends, especially cooperatively. I roped my Co-op Partner for Life into helping me out. Sadly you cannot play Torchlight III couch co-op. So we booted up our two systems, created new characters for multiplayer, and then spent ten minutes trying to party up. Once we got everything sorted, it was off to the races. We experienced a little bit of lag and one very annoying hiccup. One of the quests did not count the required items for both of us, so he had all of the items needed to continue and I did not. That meant quitting the party, starting a new multiplayer session, and heading back to get the lone item that did not count for me.
Torchlight III Review – Stripped for Parts
Gameplay itself is fun, if sometimes a touch frustrating. Where Torchlight III fails miserably is everything outside of hacking and slashing. Let’s start with the fact that there is no true pause mode. That includes single player. When you hit Options to bring up the menu the gameplay continues. If there are any enemies nearby odds are you’ll be dead by the time you get back from that important call from your Uber Eats driver. You can spend gold to revive or respawn elsewhere but this just seems like a poor design choice. The game also does not pause if your controller dies. Again, poor design choice and not very user friendly.
The map system is all around atrocious. There’s no way to expand the mini-map quickly and the compass doesn’t show you a way marker for your destination until you are fairly close to it. If you want to view the map you need to pull up the UI by pressing the touch pad and use the R1 and L1 buttons to tab over to it. This puts you on the world map. Now you have to press Triangle to see the area map you’re on. But here’s another issue. You cannot zoom in on the map. It’s far too small (even on a 60 inch TV), you can’t place way markers, and unless you’ve walked past the entrance to the dungeon you need to enter there’s no waypoint here either.
Everything about accessing your map, inventory, and skills is frustrating. It required trial and error for me to figure out how to switch tabs in the skills menu so I could unlock and slot other abilities. Putting away items in my shared character chest made me cringe. No tutorial on how to switch from my bag to the chest or how to switch slots in the chest. How about setting up a multiplayer game? When I started a multiplayer game for the first time there were no instructions on how to find and invite my friends. I had to stumble through the touchpad menu to figure it out myself.
There’s one other issue I’ve encountered with the game. My internet went out one day last week while I was playing. Repeated prompts that my token could not be verified occurred followed by another that informed me I’d be disconnected from the server shortly. I’m not sure if this was due to playing it before launch and an email to the developer has not yet been replied to. Single player gaming that requires an online connection bugs me for exactly this reason. It limits and can alienate your player base. Hopefully we’ll get an answer for this sooner than later.
Deep down, Torchlight III could be a great game. If the developers revamp the map and UI issues I pointed out I’d be over the moon. But in its current state I can’t in good conscious tell you to pay full asking price. Hold off until this is either patched or on sale.
Torchlight III review code provided by publisher. Version 1.03 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.