Torchlight III arrives on Switch on 22nd October, just a week and change after its full launch on consoles and PC (it spent several months this year in Early Access on PC). This second sequel to the beloved original from Runic Games switched form during development from a free-to-play title to a more traditional-style action-RPG experience. With its arrival on Switch, there are sure to be a swathe of hack-and-slash fans champing at the bit to play this new game on-the-go.
Whether you're a series veteran or new to the world of Torchlight, you'll want to get off on the right foot with the right class, and this Torchlight III guide — featuring insights and tips from developer Echtra Games — should help you do just that and get in the mood for the game.
We spoke to Michael May from Echtra who kindly provided inside advice on getting started in Torchlight III. The overview below will help you make the most of the different classes, their unique abilities, and how to use relics, forts and the Legendarium system. Michael also shared some background on design decisions and how the game has changed throughout development, as well as his personal favourite builds and more.
Torchlight III Classes
First up, let’s take a look at the character classes and the gear/loadouts you’d recommend depending on the player’s particular approach. There are four classes to choose from, so let’s start with the Dusk Mage:
The Dusk Mage is an enchanter who harnesses the power of light and dark energy to conjure devastating attacks.
Nintendo Life: What would you say are this character’s highlights? For players who enjoy wielding magic, what’s the best way to make the most of your powers with this class?
Michael May, Echtra Games: The Dusk Mage, unlike other classes, really requires use of both aspects of the character (Light and Dark) to be played optimally. Even if you mostly use Dark spells, you’ll want to include at least one Light spell in your loadout, in order to take advantage of the Dusk Mage’s Harmonic Form. Harmonic Form triggers after a certain amount of time is spent dealing damage with both Dark and Light skills, and is a very potent increase to your combat effectiveness. “Dark Spears” in the Dark tree is an excellent choice as a supplemental spell if you are heavily investing in the Light tree, as Dark Spears will deal damage over time, building up the Dark bar for a longer period. “Radiant Blast” in the Light tree would be the light equivalent if you are heavily investing in Dark.
Next up there’s the Forged, an explosive robot for players who prefer pyrotechnics:
The Forged is a powerful robot who relies on an arsenal of weaponry to build up heat and unleash explosive assaults.
What build would you recommend for those aiming to get the best from this class?
Managing Forged’s unique resource, Heat, is key to getting the most out of your build. If your Heat reaches its maximum as a Forged, you are no longer able to use Heat skills until you’ve cooled down a bit - but a Vent skill can instantly cool you off. Right out of the gate you’ll need to take both Heat-increasing skills and one Vent skill, but with proper itemization and building, you may find yourself still capping your Heat and unable to use skills as you wait for the Vent cooldown to come back up. In this event, strongly consider adding a 2nd Vent skill to your loadout, so you never get Heat capped at the wrong time.
Next, the Railmaster looks like Torchlight III’s tank and resident train enthusiast:
The Railmaster is a locomotive savvy powerhouse who steams into combat with a massive hammer and heavily armed battle train.
For players whose playstyle involves really getting stuck in with melee combat, how would you spec your Railmaster for optimal results?
The Railmaster’s Battle Train is hard to say no to in any build. It is tempting to load up the train with nothing but damaging cars, but for a Railmaster who likes to get into the fray themselves using their potent Railhammer, consider taking the Shield Car. It will keep you well protected as long as you fight nearby your train, and can be activated for a massive reduction to incoming damage. If you are not using the Battle Train, be sure to bring along utility skills to help supplement your damage, such as Blasting Charge or Lantern Flash.
Finally, it doesn’t take a genius to work out the Sharpshooter’s specialty:
The Sharpshooter is a powerful and nimble ranged character who uses incredible skill with ranged weapons and magical trinkets to take on enemies from afar.
As a ranged attacker, what’s the best way to approach your Sharpshooter build?
The Sharpshooter’s Adventurer tree contains a multitude of utility skills to augment your ranged attacks, but can often be overlooked in favor of raw damage skills. Do not underestimate the potency of the “Adventurer Bonus” shots that the Adventurer skills add! A single cast of the “Sacrifice to Goose” spell not only debuffs your targets, but adds flaming firebird projectiles to your next three shots. Rotating between Adventurer spells and ranged skills is key to mastering the Sharpshooter.
Can you tell us a little about how the five Relics work and give an example of how they interact with the different classes? How might you employ them with different strategies?
Relics are effectively a third skill tree you add to the two provided by your character class, ultimately forming a unique combination. Each relic has different mechanical themes, such as Coldheart focusing on kiting and crowd control, or Flaming Destroyer focusing on area-of-effect attacks. Every relic can be woven in as much or as little as you like into your build, and each class may find different uses for them.
Railmasters may find Flaming Destroyer’s 2-handed weapon passive and Cloak of Flames active skills as excellent additions to their Railhammer-based melee build, while a Dusk Mage might take Flaming Destroyer for the damage-over-time Blazing Pillar spell, complementing their own many damage-over-time spells. We made special care to ensure that each Relic still has usefulness in every Class, and our Early Access players have been a great time figuring out where the synergies lie.
The opportunity to respec is available at Forts, although the focus in Torchlight III seems to be on building a character and sticking with it. Can you talk a little about Forts, how they work and how they’ve evolved as you’ve worked on the game?
the feedback that we got was that character progression needed to be more streamlined... There are still gameplay elements to it, but the people that really enjoy the Fort feature enjoy it because they can decorate and set it up to their liking and show it off
Forts have gone through many revisions since the start of the project. At one point, we had public areas with respawning monsters, and we tried some prototypes to place the fort actually out in those areas, so you would happen across a player's fort during combat. This resulted in a direct conflict as other players who just wanted to go from point A to point B now had a massive player fort to navigate through, so we scaled it back to only finding other player’s forts in dedicated passageways, where you can either hop in and visit their Fort, or move on to your next area.
Our player progression was much more tied into the Fort as well back then. Many of the actions you do for managing your character had to be done in the Fort - they could not be done out in the world. Relics originally required harvesting materials to upgrade your skill station to unlock skill slots as you level up, but ultimately the feedback that we got was that character progression needed to be more streamlined. It was not interesting to be required to build up the fort to progress their character. With a switch to a non-free-to-play model and a more linear act structure, we abandoned most of the building requirements that interacted with classes, instead favoring the Fort as a cosmetic feature. There are still gameplay elements to it, but the people that really enjoy the Fort feature enjoy it because they can decorate and set it up to their liking and show it off to others.
We’d like to hear a little about the design decisions that went into these classes – how did you land on these four specifically, and how have they changed throughout the course of development?
Early Access provided a ton of useful feedback from our players on how to improve our classes.
The Railmaster’s Endurance was completely different at one point - it was used as a traditional mana bar being spent on a handful of skills. Players often noted while the Railmaster had a unique theme, he did not have much mechanical depth. We reworked the Endurance mechanic to instead be a skill-specific bonus effect unique to each skill, which then could be applied to all of Railmaster’s skills.
Early Access provided a ton of useful feedback from our players on how to improve our classes.
The Dusk Mage’s Light and Dark meters had separate opposing buff effects that required a much more complex management to properly utilize, which eventually became streamlined into what is now Harmonic Form. Dusk Mage became a much more popular class choice after that, since more casual players could better take advantage of the Light and Dark bars.
Forged received a lot of tuning throughout Early Access, but has not fundamentally changed too significantly. It gained additional Vent skills that can spend Heat at a lower pace, giving more options than just “all or nothing”.
Sharpshooter was our last addition, and although she did not change heavily during Early Access, internally her design shifted many times. The Adventurer skills did not have an “Adventurer Bonus” that buffed her ranged attacks, but were just simple utility spells. When the Bonus effects were added and that hybrid gameplay revealed itself, the character became much more well-defined and enjoyable.
Fans will be pleased to hear that pets are back in Torchlight III. Tell us a little about how they can help you in battle.
Pets in Torchlight historically allow you to carry additional items and send them back to town, but in Torchlight III, they can actually do more than that. Stay tuned to find out more very soon!
With loads of items and gear available, you’ll continue to customise and tweak your character’s loadout as you progress through the game. Are there any other systems which have a big impact on your build for players to look out for? Any other tips you can give?
The Legendarium system is crucial to making any build. As you discover new Legendary items, the unique effect of that item can be added to your character later, long after you’ve replaced the item itself. There are three slots available to do so, and are not restricted by item type. This means that if you find four really awesome effects on four different Legendary weapons, you don’t have to pick which one you use - you can activate every single one by equipping one as an actual item, and the other three as Legendarium passive skills. The combinations between skill points, pet skills, Relic, and Legendarium all flow together to let you play the way you want to play.
Personal Favourite Classes, Future Plans, and Final Tips
What’s your personal favourite class and why?
It is a tough choice for me between the Dusk Mage and Railmaster, but I’d have to give it to Railmaster. For me, there is just something very satisfying about wielding a really big hammer, and knowing how to use it. Railmasters who opt out of the Battle Train have stronger Endurance regeneration than those who use it, so by sticking with just the Railhammer, you can activate the Endurance Bonuses of skills very often. These bonuses have a wide range of effects, but I am partial to “Torque Swing”’s bonus - throwing a giant magical boomerang hammer.
the Legendarium passive skills you unlock along the way with one character are account-wide, meaning they are automatically available for future characters. Pets you find, pet skills you unlock, and bonuses from Fort Monuments such as the Luck Tree are also account-wide
Are other character classes planned for the future?
We have not announced any future character classes at this time. As a designer, of course I want to make more characters, but we’ll see what the future holds in terms of what additional content we might make.
If there's something that you think is important information that we haven’t asked about, then we’d love for that to be shared too!
In a previous [Forts] question there was a mention of “the focus in Torchlight III seems to be on building a character and sticking with it”, and while that is true, don’t be afraid to try new classes and relic combinations. The Legendarium passive skills you unlock along the way with one character are account-wide, meaning they are automatically available for future characters. Pets you find, pet skills you unlock, and bonuses from Fort Monuments such as the Luck Tree are also account-wide! You can also toss your well-rolled items into your Shared Stash to give your alts a quick power boost. There is a lot of ways to be helping out other characters as you play your first one.
Our thanks to Michael for his answers and advice. Torchlight III for Nintendo Switch launches on 22nd October, and as you can see from the info above, there's plenty to chew on. Let us know below your thoughts on the game, the series, and which of the classes you're leaning towards.