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E3 2015: Hands-On with The Very Free to Play ‘Torchlight Mobile’

One of the big announcements leading up to E3 this week was that the popular dungeon crawler Torchlight would be making its way to mobile. Torchlight has been a fan-favorite alternative to Diablo ever since it arrived on PC in the fall of 2009, followed by console ports and a sequel in the years that followed. I’ve always thought it would be a perfect fit for mobile devices too, so I was excited to see the announcement about Torchlight Mobile, and I was very excited to go hands-on with a very early build at E3 just a few moments ago. However, it’s something of a mixed bag depending on your feelings about mobile games.

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Yes, Torchlight Mobile is free to play, and comes equipped with all the typical trappings of that monetization model. There’s an energy meter, and entering quests will cost you some energy each time, with harder quests typically costing more. There’s also two currencies, a soft coin currency which is earned in abundance during quests, and a premium gem currency which you will be able to earn through play by way of special events but will also be sold in IAP packs. Really, there’s nothing here that’s very surprising if you’ve played basically any other free to play game. It’s not an overly-aggressive system, but it’s also not free reign to play as much or for as long as you may wish. You’ll have to live within the confines of its free to play system, but those confines seem pretty reasonable, at least based on my brief moments with the game.

So, with that out of the way, the game itself is beautiful. It’s definitely Torchlight through and through in terms of visuals, sounds, and the feel of the dungeons and the world it takes place in. Virtual controls handle movement and combat. A big button for you main attack is surrounded by smaller buttons for special abilities. In the build that I played, I only had one special ability unlocked, a nice area of effect attack that caused a bit of damage to all the enemies in my general area. More abilities are unlocked as you level up your character through completing quests.

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There’s also a seemingly robust character and item progression system, but this is also tied to your character’s level, and in my build my character wasn’t leveled up enough to really investigate any of that. However, expect to upgrade and fuse together weapons and armors for your character. There’s also four different classes to play as (I opted for the Engineer) as well as pets to accompany you on your adventures (mine was a panda), but some of those elements weren’t quite fleshed out yet in this demo build.

In fact, there seemed to be a whole world of stuff that wasn’t quite ready to go yet, like daily events, a casino-like game for getting new items, fishing and more. There will be no shortage of stuff to do in Torchlight Mobile. What I gathered from today’s demo is that the core gameplay is quite fun and works well, and that the quests themselves have been shortened down to just a few minutes each in an effort to be more suitable for mobile. Despite the free to play monetization system, I’m still very excited to get my hands on the final iteration of Torchlight Mobile, which should be launching in Q4 of this year. Also the developers will be releasing some in-game footage and screens later today, so we’ll be sure to post those up on our site once they’re available.