After feedback from alpha testers, the folks at Echtra Games have decided that the best way forward is to create a proper threequel in the Torchlight series. As such, the Torchlight Frontiers MMO ARPG has now been scaled back and renamed Torchlight III.
For those not familiar, the Torchlight series was created by Runic Games, a Seattle-based studio that was home to a number of legendary names in the ARPG space. Among them, Max and Erich Schafer, who along with David Brevik, co-founded Condor - better known under its post Blizzard purchase name, Blizzard North - and created Diablo and its widely praised sequel.
Also part of the Runic team was Matt Uelmen, who created the soundtrack for Diablo, Diablo II, StarCraft, World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade - which used repurposed tracks from Blizzard North's canceled original take on Diablo III. Needless to say, he was also in charge of the soundtracks for Torchlight I, II, and the company's last game, the adventure puzzler Hob. Uelmen is also involved in the creation of Torchlight III's soundtrack.
Rounding off the team were two other key pieces of the puzzle, Travis Baldree - who had worked on created Fate, and brought over the idea of the pet to Runic's ARPGs - and the rest of the staff at Flagship Studios, who were behind the MMO ARPG title Mythos.
With Flagship shutting its doors in August of 2008, the staff moved on to create Runic Games that same month - which originally had Surprise Truck as a placeholder name -, where it began work on Torchlight, a title which would start production in November and ship less than a year later.
Although under publisher Perfect World, Runic decided it didn't have the team to make an MMO, which meant Torchlight II followed a similar linear Act structure to the first game, with the notable addition of multiplayer support. Even so, folks could still play offline.
A little after Perfect World's $8.4 million purchase of a controlling stake in Runic in 2010, Travis Baldree and Erich Shaefer left to create Double Damage Games and the title Rebel Galaxy. Max Schaefer left in 2016 and later set up Echtra Games, securing the rights to the Torchlight franchise via Perfect World. For its part, what was left of Runic created and released the adventure puzzle game Hob in 2017, but was soon after shut down along with Gigantic developer Motiga.
Echtra Games however has been hard at work on what was until today called Torchlight Frontiers, an MMO take on the series, bound to ARC Games. For those not familiar, that's the name of Perfect World's North American division and game platform, rebranded back in 2014.
The good news though is that the newly renamed Torchlight III is set to ditch the platform in favor of Steam as it launches on PC later this year. Included along with the shift from the free-to-play to a premium (single purchase) model, the reworked title also includes:
- The game now follows the classic Act structure from previous titles. Players start at the Imperial Outpost besieged by goblin hordes. They then follow the trail of nether corruption into lands overtaken by Hyvid and finally reach the [redacted] Peaks and their cavernous underplaces ruled by the electrifying [redacted]
- Horizontal progression has been removed, so all Frontier-specific levels, gear stats, and scaling has been removed as well. We are returning our progression systems to better work in tandem with this.
- Most zones are now private by default to give a better play experience. Players can still meet each other in public town levels and form parties to play together in instanced combat zones.
- When creating your character, you can now select Online or Offline Mode. Characters made in Offline Mode do not require an internet connection to play, but will also not be able to participate in multiplayer games.
- We have removed the in-game real-money store.
Update 10 to the Closed Alpha is set to be made available to folks on January 29 at 10AM PT, and will bring a refactor of the game into the linear Act structure, a third Frontier area, as well as a fourth playable class, among other things. Because of the platform move, progress will be wiped with the release of this update, with yet another wipe expected between now and the release of the game. That said, game content, features, classes, and collectibles shown in the Closed Alpha are staying, and any Alpha-exclusive collectibles earned will be tracked and added to players' accounts once the game ships.
Torchlight III is coming to Steam later this year, with a console release planned shortly after its PC launch. Folks who had access to the Alpha on the ARC platform will get a Steam key in the mail, while those who want to get into the testing pool will have to sign up to the mailing list, from which Echtra will pick out more testers. You can head over to the official site for more info.