Lets get this out of the way now. The Diablo 3 comparisons are almost a given, being that these are the two major "kill things and take their shit" rpgs to come out this year. That being said, I'm going to try and ramble about the game without comparing the two too much.
I will say though, that I wish Azula's voice actor (Avatar the last airbender) was in this as opposed to Diablo 3...because this games wizard has a lightning skill tree. Any way...
So far I'm not too far into the game, but what of it I played, I thoroughly enjoy.
Right off the bat, you'll notice that graphically its a bit more cartoonish in its look, with lots of bright colors. Which is personally something I quite like about it, cause really, game designers need to realize that even if your story is dark, brooding, and serious...that the world contains color!
Hell it even adds a certain note of contrast, because it means a little less when you see this horrible bleak world caught in war and destroyed....as opposed to seeing a bright colorful one full of life, caught up in the chaos. Because the later just comes across as being a tad more hopeful, something you can actually save, as opposed to already a wasteland.
...But maybe I'm just looking into it too much. Moving on.
The areas between dungeons, optional or otherwise, tend to be huge and sprawling, and randomized every time. Completely random mind you...so instead of large areas connecting each dungeon/city/etc which tend to be the same except for a few changes here and there, you instead get fields which change drastically every time.
What was once a straight shot to the next area, next time around winds up being a long winding path through the fields of that region.
Now, these areas are persistent through a playthrough. So if your path to the next region was a straight shot one time, if you come back to that later in the playthrough, it'll be the same. However, the game does have the option to reroll the entire world, thus randomizing everything again.
I'm not going to go in depth with he classes, since I've only played the wizard so far, but lets say right now I love the hell out of their skill system. Why? Customization...lots of it.
Each class has 3 separate trees of skills to play with, each giving a lot of different options to choose from. As you level, you gain skill points from those levels, fame (think of it as a second level, you gain fame from doing quests and killing champion monsters) which also grants an extra skill point per level.
These skills also not only improve number wise as you level them, but every 5 levels in that skill unlocks better abilities for it.
So that fire bolt you start with at level 1? Later in the game, has its range vastly improved, lights things on fire for longer a duration, and bounces off walls.
Each class also has their own charge ability, which charges as you attack and use your skills, giving your character added bonuses. Like for a wizard, once active, none of your skills use mana for a few seconds. Which in a fire fight, is a godsend.
Speaking of customization, each level you also get stat points to play with. So, you want your wizard to have a high ass strength just...because? You can totally do that.
Or perhaps split evenly between vitality (life) and Focus (your magic stat) so you've got a little more survivability. Cause blowing stuff up is great...but you die, a lot.
These stats also of course effect what equipment you can use. Though most of the stat requirements can be ignored if you're high enough level, which is a feature I kinda like. So you can get the stats for it early and use it a few levels sooner, or just wait, in the case it has a stat requirement you don't want to meet.
Now that said, you can still use pretty much whatever weapons you use, but they all feel so different from one another. From wands, which have a long range attack to them, to claw type weapons, which only hit one enemy but ignore a good chunk of armor.
Though each class does have their own passive skills, which reward you for using certain weapons more suited for that class. Wizards get bonuses to staves/wands, for instance.
Online features! .... I haven't used these yet, so I dunna. It is a welcome addition that it has LAN support though. Also that it has single player! Your single player character also carries over to your multiplayer games.
Now that aspect I'll admit I'm not sure I like, cause, hacking and such.
I actually would have much preferred if the game had its own separate single player character, and one saved upon their servers. Much akin to games like Dungeon Siege, or Sacred 1/2. Still have the single player experience people want, but also have a character saved upon their servers that while not perfect, is much harder to hack/modify.
Although, given that the game has mod support...I suppose I can see why they did this. I'm just on the fence about how this may effect public games.
On a final note, cause I'm running out of things to ramble about...
Unlike the first, you get more choices for pets...From the ever imposing wolf, hawk, to the first games cat...panther, bulldog...papillon... Because, what better contrast to a raging barbarian, then having a small fuzzy dog?
Instead of running back to town yourself, and wasting precious time that could be spent murdering enemies for their equipment...you can just load your pet up with a thousand pounds of equipment, and send it back to town to sell it all. Hell, you can even task your pet with bringing back more potions and scrolls.
... I imagine the shopkeepers in the Torchlight universe are used to animals of all shapes and sizes running up to them, packs full of stuff to offload, and carrying a note of things their owner wants.
I'm sure I missed stuff, but that's the bulk of things.
All in all...I love this game to death. It's everything I wanted it to be and more.
For the ridiculously low price of $20, if you like this sorta game, you need to buy this. Now.
Why else should you get this? Because you can play as an engineer with a monocle, and have a goggles wearing ferret as a pet.