Runic Games, developers of the brilliantly fun Action-RPG Torchlight, have just announced Torchlight II, available as a digital download in Spring 2011. With Diablo III still nowhere to be seen, it appears that Torchlight 2 will no be the place to go for all your multiplayer Action-RPG desires.

Released October 2009, Torchlight was a fantastic Action-RPG that surprised many gamers by its similarities to the classic Diablo series. However, considering that members of the the original development team actually worked on the likes of Diablo, Diablo II, Mythos and Fate, then it’s clear to see why Torchlight invoked a sense of pure nostalgia, whilst simultaneously offering players a completely new adventure to play through.

Having received great critical success with Torchlight, it would seem only rational that Runic Games would continue to expand the game’s universe. While details of the forthcoming MMO are still scarce, Runic Games isn’t afraid to let us know what’s coming in Torchlight II:

“Beyond the town of Torchlight lies a world shrouded in adventure and mystery. Guardian-warrior Syl appears in a prophetic dream, summoning the player to the Estherian Steppes. There, you meet with the Destroyer and soon venture across the continent of Vilderan, an exotic frontier besieged by forces of evil. A discovery unfolds, that the Alchemist, following his conquest of dark ember, disappeared on his quest to defeat the unknown corrupted force responsible for destroying the mystical race of Estherians. Aided by Syl, the remaining Estherian Guardians, and clues left behind by the missing Alchemist, you will find yourself battling a powerful enemy that threatens to unravel the elements of the entire world.”

Typical Action-RPG nonsense, then. The truth is, we don’t play these games for their attempts at story (even if they are designed to be a meta-joke), but we do play them for loot-whoring and, in the case of previous Action-RPG titles, for the co-operative play — something, unfortunately, Torchlight lacked. Thankfully, Runic Games has come prepared with Torchlight II:

“The most exciting new feature of Torchlight II is the multiplayer element. Play with your friends, and use the free peer-to-peer matchmaking service to meet new players of a similar level and interest. Together players will discover expansive randomized outdoor areas and deep ominous caverns; random instanced and persistent dungeons, a huge variety of all new monsters and villains, endless variations of loot to find, and quests to complete. Players journey through the perilous Overworld, enjoying all new weather features, time of day events, and a rich and cunning story to drive gameplay.”

If, like me, you enjoyed Torchlight but always longed to be able to play with friends, then this news should make you very pleased indeed. Of course, it wouldn’t be anything to get excited about if the only new feature was co-operative play — thankfully, Torchlight II has a whole host of new key features that should get you a little excited:

  • Customizable Characters — With four classes now in the fray, you can also change your character’s cosmetics and gender, along with all the standard variables – ie. Loot acquired, Armor equipped, etc.
  • Updated ‘TorchEd’Torchlight II will ship with an updated version of the Torchlight editor, meaning you can create a world that’s even close to your original artistic vision.
  • New UI — In an attempt to be more player-friendly, Torchlight II will include an updated User Interface, making it easier for you to kill those bad guys.
  • New Overworld areasTorchlight II has large randomized overworld areas to explore, complete with day/night cycles, weather effects and random events to keep you busy.
  • Retirement System — Once characters are sufficiently leveled up, they can “retire” and bestow specific benefits and perks onto new characters.

All in all, Torchlight II is shaping up to be an amazing game. I was a huge fan of the original title and was pleased to see that, after it was released on Steam for Mac, I wasn’t the only one singing its praises. Admittedly, I’m most excited about the Character Customization that has been revealed for Torchlight II — my favorite aspect of World of Warcraft was the fact that it was my character performing all these miraculous feats of bravery, and when I first loaded up Torchlight, it’s an aspect I missed almost immediately. I’m also looking forward to hooking up with some of the Game Rant staff, and plowing through dungeon-after-dungeon — mainly because I’m a competitive soul, and I want to be the one with the most awesome loot at the end of it.

What about you, readers? Are you excited for Torchlight II? Were you a fan of the original Torchlight? Let us know in the comments below.

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