A little while ago I talked about the saturation of loot RPGs over the last few years and actually suggested it was tapering off a bit. Not really, since we’ve got half a dozen either coming out or coming out of beta this year.
The problem I noted last time still stands – I can really only devote myself to one of these kinds of games at a time. Given that, it seems even more ludicrous that other developers are daring to release their loot RPGs in the same year as Diablo III.
How many fans of these games do they expect to really divert attention to Torchlight II, Borderlands 2, Path of Exile, Guild Wars 2, and Lineage Eternal this year? The first Torchlight seemed to have been made specifically to tide people over until DIII, and now Runic is in a bit of disarray because DIII is launching sooner than they expected it would.
I mean, I’m interested in these other games but only because I have no history with the Diablo franchise and want to wait until I can get a trial or something for DIII. I don’t have that loyalty to Blizzard (I haven’t played any of their games since 2000) so I’m at least willing to give the others a shot depending on timing.
The only one of these games that feels like it’s going to come out of beta during the summer drought (in North America) is Torchlight II, and finally looking at footage has actually got me genuinely interested in it. I’m surprised at how different it looks from the first game. I don’t know how I’ll stack up in multiplayer situations in this or DIII though.
Path of Exile looks like it might go into a more open beta this summer and it’s almost the only one of these games that’s free-to-play, so that one is at least easy to try out and looks interesting. The graphics are especially impressive compared to all the competitors that have gone for art over tech. I hear PoE is even still just as easy to run as Torghlight II.
The real outlier that actually seems like it has a chance is Borderlands 2. All the other ones look very similar, right down to the red and blue orbs at the bottom of the HUD. Borderlands 2 on the other hand is a loot-driven shooter that will actually launch with a console version. Whether or not I’ll play it depends on what else is coming out in September which right now is just Far Cry 3.
The other major outlier is Phantasy Star Online 2. It’s the one franchise here that commands the most personal loyalty from me, but it’s also the only one that’s not being released in English right now. I’m starting to think that Sega is focusing on Japan right now so their game won’t get squashed by all the other competition. Personally I would recommend they release a console version since that’s where PSO started, and only Borderlands is also doing a console version right now (DIII and Torchlight II probably eventually). There’s a lot less competition in that market for this kind of game. One big reason I’m especially attracted to PSO2 though is because it’s the only game here attempting a handheld version down the line.
Just beating the first Torchlight actually got me in the mood to start playing Mage Gauntlet on my iPhone again. Whenever I’m away from home and can’t play Torchlight, PSO, or Demon’s Souls, I tend to play Mage Gauntlet because that’s the closest equivalent I’ve been able to find for my phone. I hear that for hack n’ slash loot action, Dungeon Hunter 2 is basically it, and I think that’s a real problem.
The iOS version of PSO2 is going to be a kind of companion app – you’ll be able to bring your character down to a single player experience similar to the main game. It’s just something to do in the game while on-the-go, which would be awesome for Torchlight and Diablo. That’s not even mentioning the PlayStation Vita version of PSO2 that actually will have cross-play with the PC version.
The main factor influencing which of these games I decide to devote time to and when I play them however is how I view them as products in the grand scheme of things. I don’t know how many people dedicate hours at a time to Diablo but I mainly see all these games as really advanced time-wasters.
It was hard to play more than maybe 30 minutes of Torchlight at a time – it seemed more like a comfort-foot game with actual deep mechanics, and I already have plenty of those. DIII seems to me like the game you play every weekend instead of Team Fortress 2 or Modern Warfare. I don’t know if I can go back to the days of spending three hours trying to find one sword in PSO.
- So at some point the guys who made Super Crate Box made (or are still making) some kind of hip-hop inspired first person shooter in the style of DOOM, and I’m trying to figure out how to get my hands on it. Something to do with a kickstarter that’s already funded.