In Torchlight II don’t expect to be playing that same hunter that aided you through the mines beneath the town with her array of sentry turret traps and pistols, because she’s not there anymore, presumably dead. Instead, Runic Games have 4 new classes for you to take through across the road to the doomed down and we’ll be looking at which builds get the job done in the safest, messiest ways possible.
My first venture through the troubled land was with my trusty Barbarian, so that’s where we’ll start. After around 40 or so deaths within the first 10 hours I knew I was doing something wrong. I’ll mention a slightly rectified version of that build if it suits your playstyle but otherwise I’ll be focusing on my current set-up; one a little more focused on survivability and high attatck rates – somewhat of a mean tank if you’re aiming for online play.
The Barbarian is a full out melee class. If you’re going to choose the Barb then make sure you’re ok with full-frontal butchering and not affraid to be getting torn at by teleporting dust ninjas and wolves that emit that same irrating squel from the Kobolds of World of Warcraft. You’re going to be taking heavy damage and hitting that potion/heal skill in a panic at least 20 times per hour. In the game you’ll start with a dual-wield set-up of two ‘Claw’ weapons – basically knuckledusters, and while you might get the feel for these, you’re probably looking to pick up two axes or maybe two swords instead. While that’s all well and good thanks to the on-the-fly weapon switching possible in Torchlight II, I don’t recommed you stick solely to dual-wielding – take that advice from experience. Whenever possible, make the jump to a single weapon in one hand and a high quality shield in the other.
While fist weapons do indeed lack that sweeping area-of-effect damage that axes, swords and maces convey onto the hordes of spiders chomping on your feet, a fist weapon will ignore a good percentage of a target’s armour while your shield gives you the extra survivability to really start dishing out the damage – don’t worry, where you spend your skills will give you a serious boost in AoE potention for when you need it anyway, and the shield means you can probably spend your talent points in strength and dexterity over vitality for the most part;
- A nice sweeping strike that hits everything in-front of you. This is a great skill to pick up the slack of the single-strike fist weapon and just a fast way of dishing out damage with a nice bleed effect finishing the stragglers off later. A must have.
- A nice little debuff to have. You won’t need to put more than 2 or 3 points into this as its effects don’t scale all too well with each point. The tier bonus is only extended range which shouldn’t be a problem anyway. Just remember to use it in bigger fights to mitigate damage and maximise your damage output.
- This. This is your fruit of your labour. If you’re rocking the one handed punching power then Raze will prove to be a skill to be reckoned with. Get this up to Tier 1 as soon as possible. It weakens whatever is struck (hopefully a boss or champion monster) leaving them to take more 25% more damage at Rank 5 plus slowing everything about them. It’s fast, powerful, and can slam a champion down in a few hits.
- Wolfstrike isn’t part of my current build. If you’re looking to become a fast damage dealer akin to a Fury warrior for you former WoW players, then maybe this skill is for you as you’ll charge into enemies at high speed and knock them onto their grotesque buttocks. Interesting, yes, but for a damage sponge it isn’t all that practical.
- Battle Rage
- Battle Rage is another one of those gems you need to include. This skill buffs your damage output immensely (base 3%) for each monster within range of you. Get this to Teir 1 and it’ll drop the amount of damage you take from creatures too! Pure spongy hell!
- Knock back the enemy and let it explode over the rest? This sounds good on paper, or fun at least, but in practice it costs more mana than Eviscerate and really does a similar job in the end. Bar the fact you can’t really spam it clear out a horde in a second or two. Forget this
- Well, you’ll only be getting this at level 42, and it’s your final skill in this tree. You’ll perform 3 quick strikes to everything around you dishing out damage and lowering armour by a total of 24 (base rank) for even more damage output! Plus, with our passive abilities, more strikes = less armour for them, more for you, and even more chance to heal yourself through potential critical hits!
- Blood Hunger
- This is the killer right here. Survivabily at it’s core. For each critical strike you land you’ll be replenished a healthy percentage of your maximum health. Put together with the speedy strikes of your weapon along with the potential to kick into a 100% critical strike change rage mode with enhanced speed means you’ll become near invincible pretty often – so long as you’re still using that shield I encouraged.
- If you’re planning to use a second set of twin weapons for their sweeping skills, then be my guest with this one. More chances to execute and more sustanable rage modes are enticing, but they only work with two of the same weapons equip. Personal, I’d say avoid it, but if you’re dual-wielding instead then it’s a no brainer.
- A base 6% chance to go into a rampage after every kill? Sure! Faster attacks and movement speed are all good. Just don’t invest too much into it. It only increase the chance by 2% per point.
- Frost Breath
- Are you serious? This this is useless throughout. It’s useless unless your plan throughout the game is to hope of chances to freeze your targets and blow them up with glacial shatter, but even then, you only get that at level 42. Move along!
- Strom Claw
- A nice little 40 second buff to your weapon. If you remember to keep it up then it’s not a bad skill at all. Just don’t invest more than 1 point into it, you won’t really use it once Battle Rage comes along.
- Storm Hatchet
- The ability to throw an electrically charged axe at a single opponent? That doesn’t seem very useful at all when you’re surrounded by dozens of them. It’s not even good against a champion when you’re stood right in their face… Avoid it.
- Northern Rage
- Knocks back all enemies in your range with only 20% weapon damage. A healthy 80% chance to freeze is all well and good for you Glacial Shatter combo makers, but for the most part, I disagree with knockbacks when you’re a melee class. It’s your call.
- This unlocks at Level 28, and at that point, there are missiles coming at you from all directions. This shield will more often than not reflect said projectile and charge your Rage bar. It’s pretty much essential to anybody!
- We’ve heard that skill name more than once. Low damage over a lengthy period with only a 0% freeze chance until at least Tier 1. It’s bad, we have eviscarate anyway.
- Glacial Shatter
- 7 super heated gysers of frosty death. Again, it sounds cool, but the damage is low unless you’ve been stacking ice damage and pumping points into focus to back it up.
- Cold Steel Mastery
- +2% to physical damage and %6 to ice damage, there’s your excuse to stack for your Glacial Shatter ice damage if you really feel the need. The damage bonus is nice so feel free to drop some points in here regardless of your playstyle.
- Shatter Storm
- Killing a frozen enemy makes it easier to freeze the rest, only 5% easier mind you. Avoid it unless you’re heavily invested in ice damage and freezing skills.
- Rage Retaliation
- You retaliate for 120% of weapon damage when hit. This can only happen every 2 seconds with a single point, but it’s still another free attack. Put one point in here and leave it alone.
- Shadow Burst
- This allows you to charge through the opposition and heal for 5% per monster you hit. Sadly though, only 2 of those monsters will cause the heal (10% max) while the others just get a stratch. Put a point in here if you feel the need to mix things up a little later. It isn’t essential by any means.
- Wolf Shade
- A 15 second wolf summon every minute that heals while it’s there. Not a bad thing to have during a boss or champion fight, but again, not entirely necessary.
- Once cast, all enemies within range will take 15% weapon damage when you attack just one of them directly. Again, we have eviscarate to pick up the lack of AoE damage. Forget this.
- Savage Rush
- Charge through foes as a wolf and leave them bleeding. You get increased armour while you run through them too. It sounds good for a tank but you’ll be too busy to use it. For a focused damage dealer it’s a good excuse to mess around in a co-op game.
- Chain Snare
- You’ll pull all enemies within 6 meters into the range of whatever killing machine is in your hand. For the little scurrying rats and scattered minions this is actually very useful. Just don’t sink more than a point or two into it.
- Battle Standard
- The bonuses of knock-back resistance and dodge rate wouldn’t go amiss in a co-op game. But it’s only really useful against bosses where set-up is key. If you’re playing a lot of multiplayer then go ahead and get this. If you’re solo, your points are better off elsewhere.
- Wolf Pack
- Not bad for single-target Beserkers. 5 wolves will pick up your slack and attack the other beasts. But bigger fights will require more, and smaller fights it’ll be rather pointless. I’d skip it.
- Frenzy Mastery
- This increased your Frenzy state duration for .5 seconds for each point. The frenzy kicks in so often with my build that this seems incredibly useless. Put those points into the next passive skills.
- Shred Armor
- This one’s a beauty. You’ll destroy a good chunk of the target’s armor value with each hit and add it to your own. Remember the focus on fast attacks and single-target damage with survivability? This is where it comes from. You’ll be absorbing everything those bosses throw at you in no time.
- Red Wolf
- Whenever you land a critical strike you’ll shoot out two wolves from… somewhere that’ll attack your enemies. You’ll crit a lot, so you’ll get lots of wolves. Sink a point or two in here and leave the rest to them.
With the skills in the right place you’ll be able to tank most of the hecktic mob fights once you make sure you Battle Rage is up and howl to mitigate the rest. Your shield and armor values will cover you for the most part while you Eviscarate the many minions nibbling your toes and steal the armor from every champion you meet. You’re a power house. Get used to it. Next we’ll be looking at the EmberMage class. Come back for that soon!