The most recent patch to the Torchlight Frontiers Alpha fixes what could likely be the biggest problem I’ve had with the Action RPG MMO – character progression. While it’s still a work in progress (it is Alpha), the new and more traditional skill trees and levels prove that Torchlight Frontiers doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel to make an impact.
If you’re not familiar, the previous form of progression in Torchlight Frontiers was unique, but not very good. The thrill of leveling up, getting new skills, and feeling more powerful through that avenue as well as gear was just not served. Last week’s Adept’s Path update essentially introduced a brand-new system of leveling and skill progression to Torchlight Frontiers that’s very much more in line with what ARPG and MMO fans will be used to. Where before you had to gain skill points as a currency, now you get skill points for leveling up in each Frontier (Hyvid and Goblin in this current alpha).
There are two distinct skill trees for each class, so it’s easy to figure out what way you want to play a class and go forward with that too. I love the Railmaster, but I want mine to be all about swinging his hammer and tossing out explosives. I don’t want to worry about laying down tracks and managing the turret train behind me. With this new system, not only is that possible, but it’s easy to plan and do.
What’s more is that the patch clearly lays the groundwork for your pets to get their own skill trees, with each different kind of pet likely going to have their own set of skills specific to their species too if I had to hazard a guess. And then there’s the Relic Weapon too, which also has a place for skills and talents, and I’m wondering of that’s where the Passive Skills might make a return in the future.
This patch also seemed to make monsters more plentiful, but less strong overall, meaning you’re slaying more foes at once, and getting more loot. It’s much more fun. With this, combined with the leveling and progression changes, Torchlight Frontiers finally feels like a game I want to play all the time, even though it’s still in Alpha.
They’ve also nerfed the pets’ damage, while increasing their health, and giving them one of the most useful skills of all Torchlight history – you can now send your pets back to town to sell your unwanted items. I was worried they never were going to do it!
If you’re keen to follow the progress of Torchlight, and you’re not already in Alpha, keep an eye on their public Trello Roadmap here. When I saw Torchlight Frontiers at PAX for the first time, I knew they were onto something good. It’s great that Echtra has been so public about its development and the changes they’re making. They’re open to turning TLF into a game that everyone should want to play, and they’re willing to listen to their players to make that a reality. Now… about that Nintendo Switch version? (I’ll never give it up, Max.)