Diablo 3 is out. You may have heard of it. It’s a fairly popular action RPG by a company called Blizzard, and it’s good.
At least, that’s what I think, but the game hasn’t pleased everyone. Some gamers feel it doesn’t live up to the legacy of the Diablo franchise while others are just mad about the DRM. If you’re in the not-so-happy camp, for whatever reason, here are five alternatives you should check out.
Torchlight was one of the great surprises of 2009. An indie entry into the action-RPG market long since conquered by Diablo, it seemed unlikely to make waves. But it did. Because it turned out to be awesome.
There’s not as much game to Torchlight because there’s 3 classes, a shorter campaign and no multiplayer. But what is available was polished to an outstanding shine, making the game one of the best action-RPG titles of all time. It’s only $14.99 on Steam.
The developer, Runic Games, is releasing the sequel this summer. It includes a new campaign, several new classes and (finally!) support for multiplayer games. You can pre-order it today for $19.99 or you can buy a four-pack for $59.99. Yep, you can get four copies for the same price as one copy of Diablo 3!
This is a particularly good option for people who may have been away from the genre for a few years. It has everything you need and nothing that would be an obstacle or annoyance. It’s also not graphically demanding, so you can play it on older computers without issue.
This new entry into the action-RPG field is from developer Grinding Gear Games. It’s their first effort. Despite that, the game is turning out to be great.
Path Of Exile is not fully released yet, but even in beta it’s better than many games that are considered a full release. Some reviews have commented that this game almost feels closer to Diablo 2 than Diablo 3, and I think there’s some merit to that. The art style is dark and gritty and the leveling tree is incredibly complex, making it better suited for Diablo 2 refugees who miss the min-maxing that was taken away in the new game.
There’s an incredible layer of polish here, as well. The demanding graphics engine looks amazing, sound quality is superb and bugs aren’t common. If the game included its full release content (it doesn’t) it wouldn’t feel like a beta at all.
Path Of Exile is going to be free to play, but you have to pay $10 if you want access to the closed beta. This game does require an active Internet connection even if you’re just playing single player, which is a bit of a bummer.
If you want to play a game that’s a lot like Diablo 2, but isn’t Diablo 2, this is a good choice.
Released in 2006, Titan’s Quest is a straightforward action-RPG. It includes a reasonably good looking game engine and, with all of its expansions, a ton of content. All of the gameplay mechanics that are included work basically like they do in Diablo 2. Multi-player is included and allows 2 to 6 players. There’s even a LAN option, which might appeal to Diablo 3 refugees who hate the new game’s DRM and lack of local network play.
At the time of its release, Titan’s Quest was considered a graphically demanding game. Today it should run on any halfway decent gaming rig with nary a problem and looks surprisingly good.
You can pick up this game for next to nothing. A lot of boxed copies are still out there at online retailers and they sell for between $5 and $10. I suggest the gold edition, which includes the Immortal Throne expansion.
Another new action-RPG, Bastion originally came out on the Xbox 360 and then slowly made its way to other platforms. Its main selling point is its story, which is told by an active narrator who provides details why the game is in progress. The plot is not deep, but Bastion does a better job of telling its story than other games in this genre.
Story aside, this is a fun action-RPG. It has excellent level design, enemies that are fun to fight and lots of ways to customize your character. The game starts off easy but becomes fairly challenging towards the end. And, unlike a lot of titles in this genre, Bastion is family-friendly. There are some references to drugs and alcohol but the violence is cartoonish and the plot is PG-13 at worst.
The downside to Bastion is limited replayability. There are no classes to re-play and no multi-player. Once you play through the campaign once you’ll probably put the game down. This is made easier to deal with by the price. You can buy Bastion for just $14.99 on Steam.
Dungeon Siege was an attempt by developer Chris Taylor (of Total Annihilation fame) to make an action-RPG even more epic than Diablo with a nifty 3D engine. It failed to accomplish that lofty goal, but it’s still a good action-RPG that is worth checking out.
The original Dungeon Siege came over 10 years ago. It mixed the clicky-click action of Diablo with some basic tactical party management that seemed to be inspired by games like Icewind Dale and Baldur’s Gate. The game still holds up well today and is good for twenty to thirty hours of gameplay. A multi-player co-op campaign is also included.
Dungeon Siege 2 and 3 have since been released, and each has received slightly worse reviews than the game before it. The main issues are problems that existed in the original Dungeon Siege and were not improved over time, such as uninteresting loot and so-so multiplayer. Still, the basic combat system is solid and the campaign is fun, so this is a good alternative for people who are looking to do some solo hack-n-slash.
Dungeon Siege III is $19.99 on Steam. Strangely, the older titles are actually more – but you can find used boxed copies for $10 to $20 bucks.
The action-RPG option is a strangely desolate one. Not a lot of games are released in this category, so each one that is offered becomes all that much more important.
Did I miss a title that you love? Let us know in the comments.