Torchlight 2 was released yesterday. But before you sentence thousands of monsters to death by mouse click, and smash enough urns to embarrass a bull in a china breaking tournament, there's the small matter of which class to select: Embermage, Beserker, Engineer or Outlander. Each offer their own flavour of play and, more importantly, a unique selection of explosive particle effects. To help you make the right choice, here's our guide to each of the four characters. How do they work? What tactics can they use? Which of their early powers unleash the most carnage? Read on to find out.
We begin with Torchlight 2's primary magic user. The Embermage can fire high-damage elemental projectiles that tear through monsters. More than any other class, he relies on using active skills that draw from mana reserves. Playing Embermage is about spamming magical attacks, and only resorting to your weapon when recharging MP or dealing with those few mobs that slip through your firewall.
In that respect, he's the easiest class to play, both because of the incredible damage you can cause early on, and because there's very little tactical application of that power until the level 14 skill unlocks. He is, however, the most varied class from a weapon standpoint. While passive skills can be bought to bolster the effectiveness of the ranged Wands and melee Staffs, the only real concern is a weapon's DPS. The damage of the Embermage's skills is tied directly to the power of the weapon you hold, so whether you're welding wands, guns, swords or just a big rusty axe, as long as it brings the hurt, you'll see the benefit.
Your starting skill, Magma Spear, is a perfectly serviceable piercing fire bolt. Unfortunately, perfectly serviceable doesn't cut it here. If you really want to wreck shit (hint: you do), you'll want to grab Prismatic Bolt with your first free skill point. It answers the old “which elemental damage is best” question by firing five homing bolts that do all of them simultaneously, with a percentage chance to do further damage over time. It's a great all-rounder skill, and where you want to put your free points when you're waiting for level dependant skills to unlock.
Less useful, but spectacular nonetheless, is Shocking Burst. It's a short range electrical beam that rapidly depletes an enemy's health, then goresplodes them into so many meat chunks. It's handy for making short work of smaller groups of weak mobs. And because it's funny.
For passive skills, the thing to focus on is restricting enemy manoeuvrability. As a primarily ranged magic user, there's no reason to be letting melee mobs get too close. There are two main options to consider. Frozen Fate gives a percentage chance of freezing four enemies for a short period, making it useful for crowd control. Prismatic Rift, meanwhile, can teleport enemies a distance away when they hit you, which can be an effective tactic against champion or boss monsters.
At level 14 the Embermage finally gets some tactical options that allow him to prime a battlefield before unleashing the standard attacks. Place a Thunder Locus in the middle of the room, and the hovering orb will throw out high-damage thunderbolts throughout the subsequent fight. Firebombs are also useful when thrown in an enemy's path. They set fire to the floor, causing damage over time to anything that crosses them.
Every class has a charge meter located above the hotbar, and each one does something different to compliment the style of that class. The Embermage's fills as he attacks enemies and, once full, grants twelve seconds of unlimited mana and a 25% damage increase. A good trick is to place a high damage, high cost skill into the secondary skill slot, and tabbing into it when the charge is activated. Frost Phase works well as, on top of its ice damage, it teleports you a short distance, keeping you mobile for your brief period of charge activation.