In the world of dungeon crawlers, it’s often about what game is hot right now. Diablo 3 versus Torchlight 2: which one is better? While that debate will never be solved, gamers need to remember there are a bunch of games out there worth their time, even if they aren’t considered the best of the best, and even if they have to go back in time a little bit to find them.
Specifically I’m speaking of Titan Quest, a game released in 2006 that didn’t have the massive popularity or longevity of some of today’s hotter titles. But it is a game that deserves attention from anyone who loves dungeon crawlers and is looking for something a little different. I got to spend some time this week playing this game again, and I wanted to share my thoughts on what makes this game fun. I hope that every time you read an article on our website you learn something new, so if Titan Quest is a game you haven’t heard of or played yet, then read on. It’s worth your attention!
Choose Your Hero
When you first start the game you may be taken aback by the limited choice of characters. Rather than getting multiple races and classes, you simply get to choose male or female and a tunic color. Then you are immediately placed in the game and given a few simple beginner quests to become familiar with the game’s action (nothing new if you’re experienced with these kinds of games). Upon reaching level 2 you will be given the opportunity to choose a mastery (which is basically a class or skillset). This opens up a skill tree for this mastery, and you are given yet another option for a mastery skill at level 8, complete with another skill tree. This gives you the ability to customize your character in many different ways.
What I like about this system is that it allows you to create a unique character every time you play. You aren’t bound to being a warrior or ranged player because that’s the class you chose at the beginning, you can mix it up and customize your character’s gear and equipment any way you like. The one thing that bothers me the most about Diablo 3 is that I feel like no matter how many times I start a character, I end up using the same set of skills because some are just better than others. While that is true in all games, this blend of skill trees allows for some fascinating builds.
The “Real” World
Probably one of my favorite aspects of this game is that it takes place in the real world. Starting out in Greece, you’ll venture across the world to Egypt and The Orient (and eventually to a landmark that I won’t spoil for you) seeing real landmarks along the way, such as The Parthenon, pyramids, and The Great Wall. Despite the reality setting, the world is invaded by monsters and creatures straight out of Greek mythology to keep you entertained. While I like a fantasy world just as much as the next guy (or gal), there’s just something intriguing about getting inside the mind of a character that is battling to save “my” world. Next up, Titan Quest: New York City?
In terms of level design, you could flip a coin as far as which is better: Titan Quest or any of today’s games. TQ certainly has a lot to offer and has done a great job of making the environments varied and not feel repetitive, but Diablo 3’s environment also has a level of polish that is unmatched. What I’m getting at here is that even though it’s an older game, Titan Quest won’t hurt your eyes. It still looks great and has enough variety to keep it fresh.
Gimme the Goods
In most cases, enemies in Titan Quest will drop the items they have equipped, meaning their weapons and/or armor at whatever level they are. So theoretically, as you progress through the game and defeat tougher enemies, you’ll naturally be getting better gear. It’s not a perfect system, and there are still times where drops are baffling, but I like this idea. Why shouldn’t I be able to actually loot what the enemy had on them instead of some randomly generated item? It’s pretty cool to see a monster carrying an oozing sword of death, knowing that if you can manage to bring him down you’ll get to take that sword with you as a prize.
Don’t Uninstall Diablo or Torchlight Just Yet…
All of these positive I have to say about Titan Quest doesn’t come without a price. There are still a few things that keep this game in its place as simply an alternative. One thing I don’t care for is that the game almost encourages you to pick up as many skills as possible. There’s a huge quickbar at the bottom with room for a lot of skills, and while this sounds like a good idea at first, in reality if you’re using that many skills then you’re not really focusing on a select few. In my opinion, that is the best way to play this game. But it took me several character builds to figure that out.
Titan Quest doesn’t play as smoothly as a D3 or TL2. It definitely feels a bit stiffer and occasionally I get frustrated with my controls because my character didn’t go exactly where I wanted her to. If you’re used to the control you have in D3, Titan Quest will feel like you’ve stepped back in time a bit (which you have!). This certainly isn’t reason to not play the game, though. Don’t let anything prevent you from giving this game a shot.
Lastly, and this is going to sound like a complete contradiction to what I said earlier, but the character creation screen is very limited. I realize I pointed this out as a positive because it gives you a great deal of freedom, but when I play these games I like to get invested in my character’s role. If I don’t know what that is going in, sometimes I feel like I’m just tagging along for the ride. If you like choosing a class, debating between the pros and cons of certain characters, and looking at different character models to decide which one you think looks the coolest, then Titan Quest will frustrate you.
Make Room for One More
All in all, Titan Quest is a great game worthy of your attention. I’m not trying to paint a picture that it is a better game than Diablo 3 or even Torchlight 2. It offers something a little different from those games, presents some unique ideas that could use a revisit in current games, and is a fun diversion from your frustrations in other games. If there’s room for two dungeon crawlers in your weekly game rotation then there’s certainly room for a third. And for 15 bucks on Steam it’s a steal of a deal.
We’ll keep talking about Titan Quest, Diablo 3, Torchlight 2, and all kinds of action RPGs on The Dungeon Crawler Podcast, so stay tuned, and let us know what games you’d like to hear about on the show or on the site.
Grind away my friends…