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I put off playing Titan Quest for a while. I wanted to play it before the Anniversary Edition released but just never got around to it. I recently started looking into some action RPGs to play and chose Grim Dawn. But then I read that the Titan Quest engine is the foundation for it so I decided to play that first. Developed by Iron Lore Entertainment and published by THQ, Titan Quest was released for PC in June, 2006. The following year, an expansion titled Immortal Throne was released, and in 2016, Titan Quest Anniversary Edition, which includes the base game, expansion, and support for modern systems was released. The Anniversary Edition was also ported to the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Switch in 2018. Furthermore, as of this review, Anniversary received two expansions, Ragnarok and Atlantis.
Some time ago there was a war between the Olympian Gods and Titans and the latter was eventually imprisoned. Before the events of the base game, a trio of Telkines broke the communication conduit linking Olympus with the mortal world. They summoned monsters to terrorize the world as they prepared for the release of the Titans. The game plays out in Acts and in each act the ultimate goal is to get to the end and slay the big bad boss. What is impressive is the different cultures represented. The game takes you through mythological Greece, Egypt, and Orient. It even covers some Norse mythology. I can’t say the story is incredible but the different locations and mythologies are certainly highlights.
Titan Quest does support multiplayer and includes three difficulties; Normal, Epic, and Legendary. Epic and Legendary have to be unlocked so I played through the game on Normal. And I did play through it solo. Before you can begin slaying monsters, you have to create a character. You can choose the gender and tunic color and then name your character. Finally, you have the option to decide if your hero is accomplished or not. If they are, you will start at the beginning of the Ragnarok expansion. If they are not, you start at the beginning of the base game.
Titan Quest is an action RPG. Like many games in the genre, you click around the screen to move your character, kill enemies, and interact with things. You can assign potions and skills to the quickbar for easy access and can zoom the camera in and out. Things like structures and buildings in the environments can sometimes obstruct your view whether you’re zoomed in or out and it can be nuisance but I didn’t encounter it very often. As one would expect from a game like this, you slay monsters for experience and loot, level up, and become more powerful. I think there’s two things that make Titan Quest a little different than its counterparts. One; the masteries and two; the world design. Experience is earned by defeating enemies and completing quests. When you earn enough experience, you level up and can pump points into your character’s attributes and skills. There are several different masteries in the game and each one comes with its own unique set of skills. As opposed to many other games in the genre, the environments are not randomized. Only monsters and loot are.
You choose your first mastery at level two and the second at level eight. Leveling up grants you skill points that can be spent to level up a mastery which will increase your attributes and unlock skills in the process. These points can also be spent to unlock and level up actual skills within the masteries. Because of the numerous masteries, the game allows for a variety of different combinations or in other words, character builds. You should have an idea of what kind of build you want to create because once you choose a mastery, it can’t be undone without restarting the game. That said, it’s important to know what skills you want to unlock and use because that will ultimately determine what your character is capable of. While you can’t undo masteries, you can visit a Mystic to reset skill points. They do not reset your character level, mastery levels, or attributes so you will only be able to put points into different skills.
When you know what type of build you want to create, you should focus on putting points into the correct attributes. These include health, energy, strength, dexterity, and intelligence. You’ll need certain amounts of points in specific attributes to equip certain pieces of equipment or gear. Equipment comes in different rarities and I found most of the drops to be shit which is one of the game’s biggest problems. Loot is what keeps the player going in a game like this. Or at least it should. The gameplay loop is simple. Slay monsters, become more powerful, get better loot. Rinse and repeat. Many pieces of equipment have randomized properties. They can range from increasing your attributes to providing elemental resistance or damage, among other things. Unfortunately, even though the properties are randomized, I would often pick up equipment that had identical properties to something else and I rarely felt the need to swap out my current equipment.
Loot comes in many forms including gear or equipment like weapons, shields, armor, and jewelry. You can find things like charms and relics to enhance equipment and purchase dye to change the colors of your character’s tunic. While your skills and attributes are important, so is your equipment. You want to make sure your weapons are effective and that you can withstand attacks during battle. It’s always good to have plenty of health and energy potions on you as well. You have to be aware of what you equip and the properties of your gear. For example, you can equip something that reduces the required stats needed to equip something else. And if you forget, you can easily remove it later on and realize other pieces of gear can no longer be equipped because you don’t meet their stat requirements.
Each Act in the game comes with its own set of quests, regions, and what I’ll call dungeons. As you progress through an act, you’ll reach major areas like towns and/or cities. Each major area will often have vendors and a portal. You can travel between the portals to quickly get from one major area to another. Furthermore, you can thrown down a Portal Stone at any time to quickly travel to any major area. You start the game with little inventory space so in the beginning, I would travel back to town often to sell off unwanted loot. Gold is the currency in Titan Quest. It’s also a form of loot and often a reward for completing quests. Gold never became a problem for me. By the time I finished the Atlantis expansion, I had forty million plus in gold. It’s just unfortunate that there wasn’t anything worthwhile to spend it on most of the time. Like the loot drops, vendors like traders, blacksmiths, and arcanists rarely had any equipment worth buying in my experience. You can give any items you want to keep but not carry with you to a Caravan Driver. These items can also be transferred to or accessed by other characters you’ve created. The Enchanter can separate a charm or relic from a piece of equipment or create artifacts using Arcane Formulas. Transmuters sell Orbs which contain loot and finally, there’s the Mystic which, as mentioned before, lets you respecify your skills.
If you play through the game solo from start to finish on Normal, you’re looking at about thirty two or more hours of gameplay. It took me a little under forty hours to complete all of the acts. Each act took me about six plus hours to get through except maybe Atlantis which is a little shorter. I slayed a lot of monsters in that time. I think it’s safe to say that it’s known that many action RPGs like Titan Quest feature repetitive gameplay. For example, look at games like Diablo, Fate, Torchlight, or any others like these. What are you primarily doing? Slaying monsters. No matter what the story or quest, it’s just constant monster slaying. To pretend it doesn’t get repetitive would be ridiculous whether you like doing it or not. In fact, the definition of repetition is “the act of repeating”. So you may be wondering what my point is? My point is the repetition can often and easily be ignored if the loot drops are good. Because then it’s about the hunt if you will. The hunt for something better. Chasing that feeling you get when you find and equip a new powerful piece of equipment. I don’t know about you but that’s what keeps me going in games like this. That’s why I enjoy them. But because of the infrequent good drops in Titan Quest, I often felt bored and I’ll admit I almost gave up a few times.
One could argue that frequent good drops could also make the game boring but with how long the game is, I think increasing the rate of good drops would be beneficial. I kept going mainly because I had invested so much time into the game that I felt compelled to finish it. That and because I like the environments and bestiary. Titan Quest is a long slow paced ride. You’re going to traverse across many lands and slay many, many monsters and it will take you a while to level up. It can take between one to two hours before you earn enough experience to level up. And it’s just constant monster slaying in that time. Despite the lackluster loot drops, I found the gameplay to be balanced well enough on Normal.
Titan Quest features a lot of monsters spread across multiple categories or classes like beasts, undead, insectoids, demons, devices, and constructs among others. Each act features a new set of foes and you will encounter many that more or less feel like reskins of others. Despite that, Titan Quest features an excellent variety of monsters which does help to keep things interesting. They come in different types like common, champion, hero, boss, and quest monsters. The tougher the monster, the higher the chance they drop better loot when defeated. Monsters will attack you with melee or ranged weapons, they can inflict elemental damage, stun you, and some utilize magic abilities. Luckily, you can find and equip gear that will offer resistance to different elements and attacks. Killing a monster rewards you with experience and when monsters are dead, they stay dead until you exit the game. They will respawn once you load up your game again so, if you have the patience, you can farm for experience by exiting and returning to slay more monsters in previously explored areas.
Titan Quest and its expansions feature typical quests for a game in this genre. You’ll have to slay specific monsters, retrieve items, and occasionally escort NPCs. You’ll have to explore every nook and cranny of the environments to see everything and you’ll want to slay every enemy you come across and complete every quest available to earn as much experience possible. The environments are huge. Each Act feels enormous. The base game came with three Acts. Act IV was added into the game by The Immortal Throne expansion and Ragnarok and Atlantis make up Acts V and VI respectively. The Atlantis expansion not only added a new Act but also the Tartarus Endless Mode where you fight through waves of monsters with gameplay modifiers for unique rewards.
You can reference your map at any time and more of the map is revealed as you discover new locations. You’ll get to explore beaches, caves, caverns, and battle your way through labyrinths. You’ll journey through various towns and settlements and come across numerous enemy encampments. From the sun soaked coasts of Greece to the snowy mountains of the Orient, Titan Quest takes you on quite a lengthy journey. From forests to jungles, canyons to mountains, ruins to catacombs. Despite the environments not being randomized, many what I call dungeons within an act do look and feel the same. You’ll come across many chests and containers that can be opened to reveal loot or traps. Rebirth fountains are placed all over the environments and act as checkpoints and respawn points. When playing solo, you can save the game at any time and when you die, you take an experience penalty but can reclaim experience from the location of your death.
Titan Quest is a 2006 game and it shows. Although, that’s not to say it looks bad. The presentation is colorful, the environments are visually diverse and detailed, and the character and enemy models look pretty good. The Anniversary Edition supports more resolutions and features some new graphical effects. The game does include a day/night cycle, different weather effects, and you’ll often see animals in the backgrounds which I thought was a nice little touch. Little things like that add some life to the environments. I do wish the game had gore effects. When you kill an enemy they normally just ragdoll. It can feel underwhelming and you’re going to be slaying a lot of monsters so it’s kind of hard to ignore. Some of the visual effects for certain attacks look and feel satisfying but it would have been nice if you could spill some blood. The soundtrack is often ambient and moody with tunes that do fit the themes of the mythologies. Some of the songs are pretty good and the sound effects get the job done. You’ll hear the typical clangs and bangs during encounters along with the grunting and screaming from your character and enemies. On the technical side, the frame did dip on me here and there and I encountered a few issues. On more than one occasion, my character would get stuck and couldn’t move. Luckily, you can reset your character’s position at the press of a button. The presentation went “blue” on me at one point. In other words, I lost the visuals forcing me to exit the game and load it back up. And finally, I would frequently encounter equipment floating in the air.
Overall, I had fun with Titan Quest but I do feel like it drags on and that’s mainly because of the lack of good loot drops. I don’t have a problem with lengthy games but in a game like Titan Quest, loot is what it’s all about. If you combine the lack of good loot drops with the slow leveling and sheer length of the game, it feels like it goes on and on with little payoff. Other than that, it’s a solid game. And maybe my issues with it are just a me thing because from a gameplay perspective, there’s nothing really wrong with Titan Quest. It works. It feels balanced. I guess I just want a more rewarding experience. I think, to get into Titan Quest, you really need to like this type of game and must have patience. On the plus side, the game does support mods and after a quick glance through the Steam Workshop, I already found some that attempt to address the issues I have. That tells me there are other players out there that feel the same way I do. Despite my issues with the game, Titan Quest has some excellent qualities. For one thing, you’re getting plenty of bang for your buck. There’s quite a bit of content here and the post-release support has been excellent. If you like slaying monsters, there’s plenty of it. It covers multiple popular mythologies, supports multiplayer, and has plenty of replay value.
I would recommend Titan Quest to fans of the genre. If you like action RPGs and different mythologies, Titan Quest has you covered. It will take you on a lengthy journey with plenty of monsters to kill, locations to discover, and loot to find. It’s also slow-paced and not for those looking for instant gratification.