How Torchlight Infinite Looks To Avoid The Pitfalls Of Diablo Immortal
Producer Liu Heng answered our questions about how Torchlight Infinite is monetized, how seasons will work, and what he thinks was behind the negative fan reception to Diablo Immortal.
Torchlight Infinite is looking to translate the addictive dungeon crawling and loot farming of the well-known console and PC ARPG franchise to iOS and Android devices. Currently in closed beta, Torchlight Infinite developer XD Inc. recently announced the free-to-play, mobile ARPG will be releasing into open beta this fall. At the same time, XD also revealed the game's sixth playable launch hero, Oracle Thea.
As Blizzard's recently released Diablo Immortal has shown, translating a formerly PC-centric ARPG to mobile can be a challenge. While it's impossible to say if Torchlight Infinite succeeds on that front just yet, it's clear XD's take on the franchise is looking to draw in both new players as well as established fans of the series. Set 200 years after Torchlight II, it will include familiar abilities, classes, and environments to fans of the franchise, but there are plenty of new characters and systems for fans to discover as well.
Though Torchlight Infinite is being made with mobile in mind, it will also release on PC. In an email interview with GameSpot, producer Liu Heng said Torchlight Infinite will allow for cross-progression. Players will be able to link their data under one account and jump between mobile and PC without losing progress. The PC version will also feature a few additional upgrades beyond the mobile version including more camera options, wider views, and additional control options.
A major question for any free-to-play experience, especially a loot-based one, is how the game is monetized. On that front, Heng explained that purchases in Torchlight Infinite are broken down into two categories. Features like more bag space, talent resets, and auto-looting functionality will be what Heng described as "pay-for-convenience." New heroes, as well as various cosmetics, will also be available for purchase and fall under what Heng said is "pay-for-content."
Torchlight Infinite will not sell gear or crafting materials for real money, Heng said. Those items will be "strictly grind-to-get" to ensure a fair experience for all players. Heng made it clear that Torchlight Infinite won't have any stamina meters or systems that limit player progress either, and said players will have the "freedom to start and end their grinds at will."
It's a tricky line to walk. Diablo Immortal, which Torchlight Infinite will likely be compared to, was heavily criticized at launch for its pay-to-win mechanics, even as it reportedly made more than $50 million in its first month. More recently, players have complained about how Diablo Immortal's MMO structure punishes solo players, with many unable to find the additional players required to complete the dungeons or raids essential to progression.
When asked what lessons XD Inc. has learned from Diablo Immortal's launch, Heng didn't mention the game's controversial microtransactions, but instead said many of Diablo Immortal's issues came from a failure to properly manage player expectations.
"From our perspective, the public was most unhappy about their expectation of how Diablo Immortal was presented as an ARPG game, but instead was released as an ARPG MMO," Heng said.
Heng said Diablo Immortal's progression systems and build options are much more narrow than Diablo III as a result, and that could have misled players looking for a traditional Diablo experience.
"If the game didn't use the Diablo IP, its performance might have been vastly different in our opinion," Heng said.
Heng said the team, from the very beginning of development, has made it clear that Torchlight Infinite is strictly a loot-based ARPG, one with a huge number of possible builds thanks to the game's various systems like hero traits, talents, skills, and gear affixes.
Mobile games come with the expectation of regular content updates, and Heng said that Torchlight Infinite will introduce new seasonal expansions every three months. Seasons will introduce new gameplay mechanics, and Heng teased that XD has a "line of new heroes" waiting to be added to the game's character roster as well.
Unlike previous Torchlight games, players will be playing as specific characters rather than a generic class. Torchlight Infinite, for example, includes a Berserker character, but it won't be exactly the same as the Berserker from Torchlight II. That's because this Berserker is their own unique character, Rehan, who has their own backstory and unique traits compared to the Torchlight II version of the class.
A huge part of Torchlight Infinite is the game's skill system, which features over 230 shared skills across each of the game's six heroes that can be modified with various support skills. This makes for a huge number of customization options, especially when combined with Torchlight Infinite's talent system and the actual bonuses of equipped gear. Players will be able to trade and sell gear with one another using what Heng described as a "duty-free" and "player-made economy."
Torchlight Infinite enters open beta this October, with a specific date yet to be announced. Pre-registration for the beta on iOS devices is available now.
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