Nostalgia can be a powerful force, even in small doses. Years ago, I finally got around to playing a Diablo-style game on the PC called Titan Quest. I didn't end up playing very long (part because I don't play games on the PC very much, and part because I wanted to do multiplayer with my wife), but I enjoyed the game and wanted to go back to it. Once the game came to Xbox One and PS4, I was excited to give it a try.
Right off the bat, I was thrown into the character creator. My excitement quickly dropped when I realized just how limited it is. You can set gender and tunic color. Even if most things would be covered by armor, I was hoping for a bit more. Also, the game disappointingly only has single player and online multiplayer. I know this won't effect everybody, but no couch co-op is a negative point for me.
Once in the actual game, my excitement started to make a comeback. You can hold the X button down to auto attack, but it only works when there are enemies around. That makes logical sense, but sometimes you want to try out a weapon's speed, or a new skill in safety. Aiming attacks feels strange. Instead of facing the direction you want to attack, your character will instead lock on to one in range. To change targets, you hold down the attack button and point the left stick towards the new enemy. There are plenty of times I tried to change my direction to change where I would attack, only to have it not work. It's just cumbersome and not intuitive.
From there, the controls don't get any better. The A Button picks up items and interacts with npcs/items/etc. While it normally works fine, you can interact with your summoned creature. It doesn't seem to do anything, but when you inevitably do it while trying to pick up loot, you will just stand there for a second, unable to do anything. It's...just not good. Oh, and the A Button will not pick up loot that has fallen through the map. Sadly, it happened to me over a dozen times. My son watched me play the game for an hour, and saw it at least three separate times. That's also not good.
|It bugs me that official screenshots usually lack the HUD|
Health and magic potions are well labeled, though. They are set on the bumpers, and are quick and easy to use when you need them. Skills you learn will be set to the d-pad. Yes, you read that right. That's okay for buffs and other similar things, but just awful for attack skills. But at least you get eight slots. You can set a skill for the Y Button, but it doesn't feel responsive. Maybe it's the few skills I tried there, but I had a lot of trouble getting them to activate, even when the target was in range.
The B Button will swap between your two weapon sets. While this does allow you to set something else on the Y Button for the second set, it's not a function I would use with any regularity. How often are you switching weapon sets? Certainly not enough that you would want a face button dedicated to it. It seems like that should be relegated to the d-pad instead of skills. Even if they didn't want to copy something like Diablo 3, they could at least take the skill setting idea from the X-Men Legends games. They did it right, and before Titan Quest originally launched. Instead, they tried to invent a wheel, but ended up with a rectangle.
Okay, so that doesn't sound so great, but there is something good in the game. There are nine different skill trees, many of which look fun to me. Every level gives you three skill points, which can be used to buy or power-up skills, or increase the rank (and stats) of the class itself. The higher the rank, the more skills you can learn. It took me a minute to figure out how it worked, but I actually really like the skill trees. I at first settled on an earth mage, and it was pretty fun. A few of the skill made me think it would work really well with a melee fighter, but it was a mage set. However, at level eight, you can choose a second class. It's entirely optional, which is pretty cool too. You don't gain any extra skill points, so there is a drawback to doing so. However, there are several skills that work fine for a class, but much better when paired with another. It's a great class and skill system that I am eager to play around with.
As for the game's story and quests, they are fairly limited and linear. There are less quests than I expected. Also, they are basic "go here and kill these things" types. Turns out, that's fine by me, as the system for tracking quests and showing information on them is very, very basic. Actually, it's probably less than basic. It basically says what you have to do, but not exactly were to go, or have any kind of counters. Side quest destinations are not far from where you get them, so it's not an issue. The maps look really nice, but there is no variance in them. The predictability makes it easier to complete quests, but having some variance in them other than chest contents would be very nice when going through with other characters. I want to try out multiple classes, but it's a bit of a downer that all the areas will be the same.
Many years ago, Titan Quest was a great game. Since that time, the genre has evolved. Playing the game on a current console really drives home how archaic it is. It might not be fair to compare it to Diablo 3, but that game showed us how great this style of game can be (and play) on a console. Titan Quest, while somewhat fun, just can't compare to that, or other similar games on the same consoles. Instead of just a face lift, this 11+ year old game really needed a full-on remaster to bring it up to current genre standards.
Multiple job class combinations to play around with.
Feels dated, controls are awkward.
I'm really hoping it gets a couch co-op patch, but I may have to settle for getting a second Xbox One to play some co-op with the missus.
(Review code for Titan Quest was received from the publisher)