After two entries released initially on PC and a canned MMO project, Runic Games' Torchlight series is heading to mobile courtesy of Perfect World Entertainment. Zack Webster got to check out the series' upcoming debut on mobile and reported back on what he saw.
Torchlight is a PC institution at this point, so its move to mobile may end up being a cause for concern for some. However, my time with the demo left me more pleasantly surprised than worried.
Torchlight, like most Diablo-inspired titles, is a game that's all about the loot, which drops in numerous quantities and qualities. This aspect of the game survives the transition and remains in focus, though the game has big changes elsewhere. For starters, the large, connected world of the PC games has been replaced with a hub world and a map screen. The game is divided into four regions, each corresponding to a different difficulty. Each region is composed of a list of missions, ranging from three to ten minutes, each with several goals to aim for. Players enter the mission, which brings them into a dungeon-like area where they have to complete the objective. A virtual analog stick moves the player while skills are displayed near the right thumb. The main attack button can be held for continuous basic attacks, while smaller buttons border that unleash MP-consuming skills. Upon completing a mission, players are graded on their performance and gain rewards as well as keeping any of the loot they hold onto. This more succinct form of dungeon-crawling was specifically designed for playing shorter bursts, which is more likely when people are to play mobile titles.
There is no combat outside of dungeons: instead there is a number of quick menus corresponding to vendors and locations in the hub world. Players can sell items they've collected, shop for new items, and go fishing; the caught fish being used to feed to the player's pet to increase its strength. The release version of the game will have twenty-five pets, which act as helpful allies in missions. Other than that, the hub world is there to bring you back into more dungeons.
Of all the mobile titles I played this E3, Torchlight was by far the smoothest. The basic combat is mostly intact and the randomized dungeons have the feel of the series' dungeons, albeit more bite-sized. The game will be free-to-play, monetized solely by the purchase of crystals that are required to start missions that otherwise regenerate slowly over time, though the specific regenerations speed haven't been decided yet. This title is a multiplayer one, as quests can be tackled cooperatively and a PvP arena is planned for the final release. With three new classes as well as four returning ones and a bit more in-depth character creator, Torchlight Mobile feels the most feature complete as well. The game should arrive on iOS and Android sometime late this year.