31 October, 2009

Keepalive: Borderlands, Torchlight, Halloween

written by Blain Newport on Saturday, October 31, 2009

This post was an hour and half late. But it's got lots of cool pictures.

The shooting of men and beasts continues. It's soothing, mostly because I'm completing all the side quests and am higher level than intended. Also, I have a power that lets me regenerate rockets. Where I used to carry many weapons, I now carry three rocket launchers and a shotgun. One rocket launcher fires three rockets for the price of one. Another fires acid rockets for attacking highly armored enemies, and the last one fires incendiary rockets for burning down unarmored foes. So far, it's been best to stick with the three-fer, but I'm trying to learn what foes are vulnerable to what elements. It's good to experiment. Plus the acid and fire death animations are cooler. :)

To an extent, Borderlands is just a vacation with guns. The scenery isn't pretty, but it's got character.

The following picture is awesome.

I played some more of the Torchlight demo. Here are some pictures.

For the most part it's a standard hack and slash.

But it has some weird additions. For example, I taught my pet lynx to cast fireballs.

And this picture is less awesome than, but strangely similar to, the third Borderlands picture.

Overall I found Torchlight well made. But I didn't find targeting and killing stuff as much fun as Titan Quest.

Titan Quest was slow enough that I felt it was within my ability to land every hit, to switch between ranged and hand to hand at just the right moment. It felt like a dance. Torchlight will send a swarm of guys at you so you can wipe them out with an area effect attack. It's more hyperkinetic, in keeping with its art style. That's cool and all, but I find it more satisfying to wade through them, making every hit count.

Part of the problem is the way auto-attacking is handled. In Titan Quest, when I hold shift to stand still and attack, as soon as I've "painted" a target by holding the mouse over them, my character will keep attacking them until they die. This leaves me free to move the mouse over the next target so that I can transition as quickly as possible. In Torchlight, I simply aim where the mouse is at all times. This means I have to follow the target manually, sometimes flat out missing and often missing while transitioning to the next opponent. This feels sloppy, like I'm doing more work for less payoff.

Also, the loot is better in Borderlands. In Torchlight I have to worry about hats and gloves and boots and shoulder pads and belts and rings and necklaces and chest armor and weapons. Plus I can put enchantments on, perform transmutations with, and socket magic gems in all of them. In Borderlands you have four types of loot. Shields defend you, guns kill stuff, and the other two types let you kill stuff more awesomely. Torchlight is just as much about killing stuff as Borderlands, moreso even. All these fiddly bits just get in the way.

I didn't play any scary games for October. I may yet play one in November. Horror season doesn't have to end with Halloween.

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