games / Columns

Scrye 11.04.12: Torchlight 2 vs. Diablo 3

November 5, 2012 | Posted by Alli Miranda

Hey there! My name is Alli, and I’ll be talking about RPG’s, MMO’s, and whatever else they let me talk about in the new weekly column, Scrye. Hopefully my insights on games here and there may give you a new perspective, a new way to think about the games you’ve played and enjoyed or are currently playing. (Either that, or it’ll make good bathroom reading.) So I invite you to check it out, now and again. Who knows, you might read something that tickles your fancy, learn something new (god forbid), or find something that you can rage at me about (here’s hoping!).

When it was released, Diablo 2 was hailed as one of the best games of the year, featuring multiple classes, hordes of enemies to slay, large bosses, and tons of players online. Blizzard’s then fledgling multiplayer service known as quickly filled up with players wanting to get in on the multiplayer action.

It’s no surprise that many games have tried to take advantage of Diablo 2’s concepts, hoping to garner at least a portion of its popularity. A couple of recent games I’ve played have not only borrowed from Diablo 2, they’ve almost cleaned out its safe completely.

If imitation is the highest form of flattery, these games are the shameless flatterers that buy you a nice dinner, then drive you back home. They are the games that skip the foreplay, getting right to the action. So after playing these games, why am I still thinking about Diablo 2?

Diablo 3 is the first offender. Now you may be thinking, “well of course Diablo 3 is going to remind you of Diablo 2”. Same company, same series and all. But it’s not just the gameplay that’s similar. Many of the core elements of the story are very similar to Diablo 2.

As you progress through Diablo 3, you find yourself on the trail of the Prime Evils, before facing off against the big D himself. In Diablo 2, you took on a few Lesser Evils as well, before finally challenging the Lord of Terror, himself.

Its not just the bosses that are similar though. The first act of both games is set near the first town, and both have you exploring the mysterious wilds around said town. Both games also feature a large, multi floored cathedral at this point in the game.

You’ll also recognize several enemies from the previous games, like the goat men who inhabit a newer, darker version of the Tamoe Highlands. Both introductory acts also culminate in a battle with a boss that’s about twenty times larger than you.

The second act for Diablo 3 takes place in a “you’ve got sand in all the wrong places” vast desert. Now there’s nothing wrong with a game that has a desert setting, that has multiple sections of said desert to explore. The fact that Diablo 2 already did this was probably a coincidence.

Thankfully, at least Diablo 3 manages to throw in evil desert cultists performing a dark ritual, quite a bit different from Diablo 2 where the main focus is trying to unseal the Tomb of Tal Rasha, using some dark ritual. Oh shoot.

Diablo 3’s third act, while it may be the weakest of the four, narratively, at least manages to find its own footing. Doing away with the creepy forests of its predecessor, Diablo 3 features a massive battle, set in stages, eventually taking you from the snow covered ramparts, to the battlefield below, giving you an up close and personal view of various forms of destruction. It’s actually a nice change from the familiar.

While Diablo 2’s fourth act took place in hell, with you taking the fight to Diablo himself in his own lair, Diablo 3’s denouement has you on the trail of Diablo again, right after he storms the gates of heaven.

Yes, it might be cliche and a bit too similar, but at least heaven is a whole lot better on the eyes than hell. Heck, you even get to rescue angels that have been trapped by Diablo. Now that’s progress.

Diablo 3 isn’t the only recent game that borrows heavily from D2 though. I’ve recently been playing a lot of Torchlight 2 and notice quite a few glaring similarities.

Torchlight 2’s resemblance to D2 may be even less surprising, given that several members of the original D2 team now work at Runic and worked on Torchlight 2. Still, you’d think they could have changed a few things around.

Ah, Torchlight, a game that may be more Diablo-esque than Diablo itself. Now that’s an impressive feat. Torchlight 2 starts off simply enough, you’re tasked with saving Torchlight once again from a mysterious, but familiar evil. You start off near the village itself, and have to clear the surroundings of enemies, before moving on.

We all know the story in these kinds of games is already pretty thin anyway, and merely serve as simple narrative filler that gives you an excuse to slay throngs of monsters and pick up tons of loot.

Torchlight 2’s second act takes place in, of all things, a desert. A desert teeming with cattle skulls, hordes of monsters, dungeons, lots of treasure, etc. You’ll think you’ve died and gone to Lut Gholein.

One of the game’s few cutscenes even has you trailing a mysterious dark wanderer, who wears a hooded cloak, as he travels through the sands. Sound familiar?

Torchlight 2’s third act takes place in a creepy forest, not unlike the forests of Kurast from Diablo 2. Oh you could make the argument that Kurast has a town built on a swamp and Torchlight 2’s forest encampment base are different enough, and many games share locations like creepy forests and creepy graveyards and creepy deserts and spooky roller discos, but I can’t help feeling like they’re trying too hard.

There’s paying homage and all, but at some point it stops becoming an homage and starts feeling like they ran out of ideas somewhere. To put it in a more guy friendly context, say I was dating Diablo 2. Then I started cheating on D2 with D3 and T2 (suddenly this has turned into a really kinky game of Bingo).

It begins to feel like I’m cheating on Diablo 2, except I’m cheating on Diablo 2 with Diablo 2. No one wants to cheat on anyone with themselves. Even if they patched in foreplay.

article topics

Alli Miranda
comments powered by Disqus