Torchlight 3 dropped into early access toward the middle of June, and was met with a middling reaction from the community. After playing only an hour or so myself, I was already a bit bored by the long-awaited third entry to the action RPG series. But I also couldn’t stop playing, all thanks to one of the most unique RPG classes I’ve ever seen: The Railmaster.
In other action RPGs like Diablo 3, I traditionally play as the meaty, hard-hitting melee class, like the Barbarian or Crusader. But I’m also a sucker for pet classes, like the Witch Doctor or Necromancer, who use minions of evil to do damage for them. I was naturally attracted to Torchlight 3’s Railmaster class, as it combines my two great loves of smashing things and not lifting a finger.
Instead of a traditional pet, The Railmaster perpetually builds train tracks behind him. A short distance behind the player, a locomotive appears and subsequently follows the tracks. The train starts with a simple turret, but players can evolve the train with a shield pylon for defense or a giant mortar cannon to deal area damage, among other upgrades.
With the train in tow, The Railmaster behaves like a beefy, brawler class. My abilities let me smash my weapon into the ground or throw some dynamite. But my real task is managing the train. I hit a key to start the train up, and I can hit it again to end the tracks, leaving my train to sit and take shots at whatever is nearby.
Usually in action RPGs, the pet master is a bit weaker to compensate for their army — or in this case, giant train — and The Railmaster is no different. I’m capable on my own, but I’m mostly there to help support my train and any allies I may have. Torchlight 3 kept me interested at least a full hour after I wanted to stop, just out of sheer absurdity and charm.
Every person I’ve shown The Railmaster to has the same reaction I did my first time booting up Torchlight 3: a sharp inhale of air followed by a giddy “oh wow.” It’s such a unique idea and implementation that nobody is quite prepared to see it for the first time.
The train behind The Railmaster doesn’t really look right most of the time. Sometimes it breaks, and the train only has a single car. Even when it’s working properly, the constant placement of the tracks looks strange and slightly off. It’s the perfect example of a brilliant idea that doesn’t necessarily work. And that’s OK sometimes.
In its early access state, Torchlight 3 is a mediocre action RPG, with uninteresting quests, long loads, and a confusing interface. But The Railmaster is a perfect gold nugget of an idea hiding within.
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