More on the whole Torchlight experience and how it compares to Diablo 3. The main thing for me in a game is that the core mechanics have to be the same throughout but the consumed content has to differ. This is a problem in some games, such as Deus Ex: Human Revolutions where the boss fights were completely different game. Other games keep the consistent toolset and slowly add to it, like the recent Batman games. MMOs have a challenge here, where the end game has to resemble the leveling game. GW2 does it (maybe too well), while TOR doesn’t do it at all.
Back on point. Diablo 3’s core systems are the same up until Inferno’s wall. The game changes from an open choice of skills to a narrow set, with specific requirements. Torchlight 2 is different in that the difficulty curve is steady and the challenge at level 90 is very similar to level 20. The variety in combat is there too, depending on your skill set and weapons. Comparing the systems of D3 from 1-59 and Torchlight 2, they are pretty evenly matched, perhaps a bit in Diablo’s favor.
Content is a bit different though. Both have linear quests with exploration throughout. D3 has a mostly outdoor events with a half dozen dungeons that can randomly appear. A second playthrough (of which you are forced to do 3 times to get to Inferno) is nearly identical to the first. By the time you do hit Inferno, odds are you’ve seen all the content the game has to offer, minus a few outliers.
Torchlight 2 switches this up in 3 regards. First, there are random events/dungeons on each map. I’m on my 3rd playthrough and each one has had new things to do along the main path. Nearly every additional dungeon is a random one, making the run through a lot of fun. Second, once you beat the last boss you open the mapworks. Here, you can select from 20 or so different maps, each with special effects attached. You could get more XP, more drops, do less damage, more hit points. Same for enemies. Each ends with a boss. It’s like entering a random dungeon on the regular map but the entire thing, from game load, is done in 6 clicks. That is crazy accessible. Third are the Phase Beasts. There’s a 50% chance per overland zone to spawn this beast. Once killed, it opens a portal to a challenge room. I’ve yet to see the same room twice. The best one so far was trying to throw bombs into ever-spawning spider nests.
It gets you thinking about how much the randomizing (and pool) of content is important in a game. The semblance that your 8th run through a game might be 50% different than every other run through makes it easier to try again. I think it’s a great path for gaming.