Torchlight 2 on Nintendo Switch hands-on: Control freak

Runic Games' critically acclaimed sequel has arrived on Nintendo Switch. How have the last seven years treated it?

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Torchlight 2 shares much in common with Diablo 3 beyond the surface-level observation of, yes, they’re both action-RPGs. Both franchises were co-created by Max and Erich Schaefer, co-founders of Diablo and Diablo 2 developer Blizzard North, who went on to found Flagship Studios and, from there, Torchlight studio Runic Games. Both games launched for PC in 2012, and despite the obvious overlap in demographic, both check many of the same boxes while also scratching itches the other can’t quite reach.

As of today, we can add one more commonality to the list: Torchlight 2 and Diablo 3 are available on the current generation of consoles—although the former has been available on consoles for going on four years—and while Torchlight 2 isn’t as streamlined as Blizzard Entertainment’s behemoth, it’s phenomenally polished and as engrossing as it was seven years ago.

Inventory Management

I can’t tell you much about the story in Torchlight 2. The salient point is this: It’s an action-RPG. You needn’t concern yourself with why you’re clicking (or in this case, button-mashing) all these monsters to death and scooping up all the goodies they drop. You’re doing it because, well, they’re right there, aren’t they?

For the most part, Torchlight 2 boasts most of the quality-of-life improvements one would expect following the glowing reception to Diablo 3’s console conversation. You can button-map any action, from attacking to skills to waypoint (aka town portal) scrolls. You move your character with the left stick, and develop your character by killing enemies, collecting gold and gear.

Where Torchlight 2 differs from Diablo 3 is in the exacting control it gives you over nearly every aspect of your character. Sometimes that control crosses the fine line between precise to tedious. Diablo 3’s console versions give you a simple graphical overview of how the items you picked up will benefit your character: more green arrows in damage, health, and defense are good; red arrows are bad. Things get more granular, but the overview’s approximation saves you the hassle of digging through your inventory to compare every sword you’ve picked up with the one with which you’re currently hacking and slashing. If the item doesn’t benefit you, you can mark it as junk and easily dispose of all such labeled items back in town.

Torchlight 2 on Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One offers a stripped-down version of that system. Items come with green or red arrows indicating their improvements (or lack thereof) to your current gear, but you can’t see them until you’ve opened your inventory. There’s no quick way to equip or junk items. You either have to head back to town and sell them one by one, or mark them for your pet to sell when you send it to town on your behalf. It’s not a huge deal, but can be a tad frustrating, especially if you’re more familiar with Diablo 3’s streamlined console experience.

Otherwise, Torchlight 2’s emphasis on control is fantastic. Instead of the game automatically boosting your health, energy/mana, and damage-dealing stats, you receive five stat points every time you level-up and can distribute them to any category you prefer. Instead of unlocking abilities in a linear, predetermined fashion, leveling up also gets you a single skill point to put toward learning or evolving active and passive abilities, or to save for later. If you enjoy Diablo 3 but have lacked a connection to your characters due to no choice sticking for long, this is the ARPG for you.

Stay Awhile and Click

Everything else about Torchlight 2 is golden. The art style is as gorgeous today as it was in 2012, the environments are vast and worth exploring, the quests you can undertake are varied and rewarding, and the core gameplay loop—click-loot-click-loot—is as addictive flying solo or with a friend as it was back in The Day.

The best part: At only 20 bucks, the price is right, and so is the time to revisit an action-RPG that was, for better or worse, the spiritual successor to Diablo 2 many fans of the genre were looking for back in 2012.


This hands-on feature was based on a review code for Nintendo Switch provided by Perfect World. Torchlight 2 launches on Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One on September 3, 2019, for $19.99.

Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at davidlcraddock.com and @davidlcraddock.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    September 3, 2019 6:00 AM

    David Craddock posted a new article, Torchlight 2 on Nintendo Switch hands-on: Control freak

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      September 3, 2019 6:37 AM

      OMG I need this! Played a lot on PC, but I have a feeling I'd enjoy it more on consoles, especially the Switch.

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      September 3, 2019 7:12 AM

      Just read a bit more on this.... There. Is. No. Couch. Co-op? On any of the console versions. Wow. I think that may have just changed my mind :( what a fucking bummer.

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        September 3, 2019 7:15 AM

        Local Wifi at least

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        September 3, 2019 7:25 AM

        Wow that’s an instant no buy and I can’t even figure out why they wouldn’t put that in.

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        September 3, 2019 7:34 AM

        Oh wtf I just assumed it supported it. That's dumb.

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        September 3, 2019 8:45 AM

        Wow, that's pretty crummy. Makes sense because the original version did not have that, just LAN and online.

        Runic doesn't really exist anymore, so I'm not sure who's doing the port here, but it sounds like they only put in the minimum amount of effort.

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          September 3, 2019 8:48 AM

          Diablo 3 didn't have couch co-op on PC either, but the console versions do >:( but you're right, I'm sure they don't exactly have Blizzard Bucks to make this as good of a port as Diablo is.

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            September 3, 2019 8:55 AM

            Yeah, it's a budget game being ported by a completely different developer since the originals no longer exist. They were one of my favorite devs so I'd like to think Runic may have had a bit higher standard if they were still around to do the port, but they may not have had the money for that sort of thing, either. Or the initiative for the port in the first place after Hob flopped.

            Still, local coop makes about as much sense as online for a game like this on consoles, possibly more. It's arguably the #1 desired feature of ARPGs on console and a big part of why Diablo 3 was so successful there.

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        September 3, 2019 9:01 AM

        Yup, taking it off my wish list now :(

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      September 3, 2019 7:15 AM

      Ahh sorry, I posted my thread without seeing this one

      I'm super excited for this!

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      September 3, 2019 7:51 AM

      I never finished this one on PC, but a Switch version may get me back in to it.

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      September 3, 2019 9:31 AM

      I never played Torchlight 2 because no Mac version :(

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        September 3, 2019 9:37 AM

        The wiki says Mac&Linux ports were out in 2015. Steam store lists all three platforms.

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          September 3, 2019 10:18 AM

          Guess I haven't gamed on my Mac since 2015 :(

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        September 3, 2019 9:54 AM

        If you played TL1 you didn't miss much.

        I like them for what they were at the time of their original release but they're not better than Diablo 2.

        The lack of local co-op in the Switch port wouldn't have made the game fun; the gameplay mechanics, class design and the loot are just so outdated.
        Even in Normal difficulty some mid-game enemies hit ridiculously hard, it also suffers from "too much stuff on the screen, what did I die to?" I hope they nailed and reworked the controls and UI to compensate for this.

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