But strip away all this modern gloss, and Titan Quest really isn’t much different from Diablo II. Which, to be honest, wasn’t itself that much different from Diablo.
This raises two things. First, what does that mean, and secondly, is it necessarily a bad thing? Well, on the first point, it means that you can forget about complex RPG game mechanics, puzzle-solving, or sophisticated gameplay. Above all else, Titan Quest is concerned with one activity: cracking monster heads in enormous numbers. Aside from inventory management, 95 per cent of your in-game activity involves hovering the mouse pointer over an enemy’s head and clicking to repeatedly whack the poor goon until he dies. At which point, you move the mouse pointer to the next enemy and repeat as necessary. On occasion, you may use the right button to fire off a spell or use a special ability, and you will need to use the potion hotkeys to keep your health and magical energy topped up, but for the most part that really is pretty much it.
Character interaction involves clicking once on a handy informant or quest-giver to get a brief nugget of briefing or background exposition, and there are no documents to read, guilds to join, professions to pursue or patrons to court. What side quests there are almost exclusively concern – you guessed it – cracking more monster heads, albeit with slightly more interesting motives than the game’s standard “they looked hostile and were in my way”. I’d like to say things change as you move on from Greece to Egypt and China, but in all honesty they don’t.
Meanwhile, character progression is limited to levelling up (through the aforementioned causing of cranial injuries), allowing you to boost a handful of attributes and work your way through two of eight skill-trees governing a range of fighting, stealth and magical capabilities. You choose your first major skill area early on, the second a few levels later, and keep selecting and upgrading new powers as you progress.
Admittedly, I am missing one major element out: loot, and the buying and selling of same. As you might expect, the world of Titan Quest is liberally strewn with magic and non-magic swords, shields, spears, bows, breastplates, bracers, rings, pendants and the rest, not to mention a sizeable amount of gold. Much of this is in the possession of monsters, who clearly have no idea what to do with said items beyond lugging them around or placing them in poorly defended encampments. In other words, you know the drill: bash the monsters, nick their equipment, open any chests, grab anything going, take back to nearby merchant, exchange for cash. Sometimes a monster may even carry or a chest may contain an item of weaponry or armour more effective than your current choice, in which case you may want to equip it straight away. And on occasion, you might find the merchant has something tasty that you simply can’t resist.