This past week Perfect World Entertainment announced Torchlight Frontiers, an MMO based on the “it’s like Diablo but with color” Torchlight franchise, and I can’t wait to try it. I really miss Marvel Heroes, which you’re probably tired of hearing about by now (and if not, you’re in luck, because I’m going to talk about it some more today!), and there isn’t really anything to fill that gap. It seems like Torchlight Frontiers will be exactly that thing. After all, when it first came out, I was excited about Marvel Heroes less because of the Marvel license (I credit that game with making me care about that particular franchise, because prior to playing it I had seen maybe half of the MCU movies, if that) and more because it looked like an online version of Torchlight II. Since the announcement, I’ve been daydreaming about what I want to see from this title. Here’s my list:
Both Premade and Procedural Content
One of the great things about Torchlight and Torchlight II is the fact that, every time you play, it’s a different experience because of the randomly generated levels. I’ve always thought procedural generation would make leveling multiple characters in an MMO a lot more interesting, so I’d love to see that integrated into Torchlight Frontiers. That said, it’s a lot easier to tell a story in premade locations, so I hope they go for a mix of the two.
Something To Do With All That Loot
The joy and the curse of ARPGs is loot. It’s a great feeling when you finish off a boss and it explodes in a shower of armor, weapons, and coins all over your screen, but, sadly, most of that loot isn’t going to be useful to anyone. Torchlight has a nice system for dumping useless junk into your pet’s inventory and sending them off to town to vendor it, but it would be cool if there was something more we could do with it. Deconstructing for crafting materials is the first thing that comes to mind, but Torchlight doesn’t traditionally have crafting, so we’re not sure what form, if any, that will take in Frontiers. Maybe donating it to vendors for upgraded stock or fusing it into socketable ember pieces?
One of the things I miss the most about Marvel Heroes is the summoner playstyle. It’s not something you see in a lot of MMOs, probably due to system resources, for both players and the server, but OARPGs seem to be able to pull this off. I loved controlling an army of squirrels as Squirrel Girl, building turrets everywhere as Rocket Raccoon, or beaming in hordes of robots as Ultron. There’s something satisfying about overwhelming your opponent with superior numbers. Torchlight’s Alchemist had this in the form of Nether Imps and alchemical golems, and there were various spells that any class could buy to summon zombies and skeletons. I’d love to see this playstyle return for Torchlight Frontiers.
Not to keep bringing up Marvel Heroes, but one of the best things about that game was that there were so many characters to play. I don’t expect there to be fifty-something classes in Torchlight Frontiers like in Marvel Heroes, but I’d like to see more than three or four, if not at launch then a couple years down the road. Gameplay variety is the thing that keeps me coming back to games like this.
A Decent Business Model
Read the comments on any article on the announcement of this game, and you’ll mostly see varying degrees of skepticism (if not outright hatred) of Torchlight’s owner/publisher Perfect World Entertainment. PWE is known in the MMO community for being the king of lockboxes. If you’ve ever played Neverwinter or Star Trek Online you know what I’m talking about. Every other drop gives you a lockbox to clog up your inventory, with keys to open them only available in the cash shop. It’s a really annoying business tactic, the video game equivalent of popup ads, but one that I guess I could put up with if the game was good enough. After all, if you want to draw a hard line against playing games with gambleboxes, your options are sadly few and far between these days. That said, I’d really rather they went with more of a buy-to-play model with microtransactions for actual content.
Even though we don’t have a whole lot of information right now, I’m really excited for this game. I had given up hope of ever seeing this when Torchlight’s studio Runic announced they were closing, but in retrospect, that was just making way for this (probably to give PWE more direct input on the game, for better or for worse). I’m especially excited that it’s slated to come to mobile, as I’ve always thought Diablo-like games could be really fun on mobile, but most of the ones I’ve found are poorly translated Korean grinders. I have high hopes for this game, hopefully I’m not disappointed!