Titan Quest Nintendo Switch Review by SwitchWatch
Developer: THQ Nordic (Iron Lore Entertainment originally)
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Release Date: July 31st, 2018
Game code provided by THQ Nordic for review
Like many of you, I grew up playing Diablo 2. For me, it was a game which I was able to dive into and spend many hours of my youth being completely invested in primarily because of the vast array of weapons to find and the immense depth provided by the stat investment system and the highly customizable skill trees. Since the release of the Switch, I have been keeping a keen eye out for games which could help me relive the magic of the classic Diablo experience on the handheld console, but nothing has come yet which managed to scratch that itch. Until now.
Titan Quest was originally released on the PC in 2006 and came at a time when fans of the Diablo series were greatly thirsting for a new experience. Finally, in March of this year, the game was brought to consoles with a slight delay for its Switch release. The PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game were heavily criticized upon release for being a buggy mess which many fans were extremely disappointed in. However, I am pleased to report that the delayed release for the Switch version allowed it to be released with many of the bug fixes that have been subsequently released for the other console versions of the game.
It is a bit of an old game, but is it still worth your hard-earned cash? Check out our Titan Quest review and find out!
Taking place in ancient Greece, the once-peaceful countryside has been overrun with monstrous beings brought right out of mythology. Satyrs and Minotaurs run amok destroying villages and social stability in the country. Temples are overrun with Gorgons setting about turning once valiant heroes into stone with their petrifying gaze. However, in these times of great catastrophe arise great heroes to combat the evil. And that is the underlying premise of this game.
In ages long past, the gods of ancient Greece sealed away powerful, malicious beings called the Titans who desired nothing more than to see the extinction of the greatest creation of the gods: humanity. Among the Titans were a trio of powerful sorcerers called the Telkines who had the ability to summon all manner of dastardly foes unto the land. With the revival of the beasts of lore at the hands of the Telkines, the player must navigate real world locations set in Greece and some others which I will not spoil in the review to defeat the Telkine menace.
The story itself is not the main focus of this game but rather is simply there is help propel the player along their quest and give them a reason to travel among the different locations taking down the creature of lore. The focus of this game is not really to develop a deep engagement with the story and is rather to just go out and kill monsters while collecting loot. However, with that said, having the game set in real-world locations and utilizing the mythology of those places as inspiration for the monsters encountered there is quite endearing.
Gameplay Hearkening Back To Diablo 2
If you are familiar with Diablo, then you will be familiar with the way that Titan Quest plays. It is an ARPG in which you will have to defeat hordes of enemies while gathering randomized equipment to buff your character with while carefully managing your stats and skills with points obtained by leveling up. You maneuver around relatively flat plains with an isometric camera which can be zoomed in and out from your character.
As this was originally a PC game, the traditional point-and-click style of gameplay doesn’t work so well on consoles. You run around on the map while an auto-targeting system locks onto specific enemies for you to attack. Sometimes, this auto-target mechanism can backfire on you by sending you headlong into the middle of a veritable army of beasts. If you are not careful, you can avoid the fate of an early death by simply holding the attack button and moving the left analog stick to target specific creatures. While this isn’t a perfect solution as the targeting cone which extends from your character can sometimes be inaccurate when you are surrounded by a group of enemies, it certainly does help you avoid being sent into certain death by a poorly placed target. If you want to constantly ensure that you are immediately targeting the desired enemy after each kill, then you need to be sure to bring up the targeting cone before each kill. If you forget to do so and your character begins immediately running to an undesirable place or you begin casting a spell unintentionally, do not fret. You simply need to move the analog stick in any direction to cancel the action and regain direct control of your character.
Monsters Based On Greek Mythology and Other Regions
Unlike Titan Quest’s predecessor which focused on the war between heaven and hell with enemies based on demons, the monsters you will find here in the first act are brought straight out of Greek mythology. You will start off by finding Satyrs which are your basic goatmen, and you will continue finding other familiar creatures such as zombies or a towering Cyclops. Most enemies you face will be in their basic forms, but you can find some exceptional enemies called champions which will be larger and deal more damage. There will be others with yellow names who have special traits which are generally skills which come from the skill trees or other effects. For example, one type of enemy you will come across is a Trapper which will have the ability to trap you in a net much like the skill from the Hunter class. Another kind has the ability to summon spirit animals. These monsters add some excellent variety to your standard encounters. Their item drop rates don’t appear to be much different from standard monsters you defeat, but they are fairly common, give more experience and add a lot of challenge to fights which might grow stale otherwise.
Sometimes you will find enemies with unique names. Their names will have a variety of colors which indicates their type. For example, if the enemy has a purple name, it is generally tied to a side quest. Enemies with a deep yellow name are your unique enemies while others might have red names. The enemies with red names are tied to the important main quest lines. Again, I never noticed any particularly higher item drop rates with these monsters; however, you will often find special chests near them which will drop a variety of exceptional items for you. While often not receiving special items directly from these powerful enemies detracted from the sense of satisfaction from defeating them, it ultimately did not bother me much as it allows them to be more common without cheapening the satisfaction of getting those rare and powerful items.
While the enemies in the first act are mostly based around Greek mythos, once you move on to following acts, you will find completely new enemies from the myths in that region, so there is an excellent variety of enemies for you to encounter among the game’s four long acts.
Leveling Up, Skill and Stat Management
I don’t want to draw too many comparisons between this game and Diablo 2, but as my interest in this title is largely tied to my thirst for an experience like what I am so nostalgic for, it is inevitable that comparisons will be drawn. One of my favorite aspects of Diablo 2 was how I had to carefully invest my skills and stats with each level to develop my character in any way that I wanted. Titan Quest has the exact type of character management with excellent skill trees which give excellent control over the development of your characters. Leveling up gives you two stat points which can be invested in your Health, Energy, Strength, Intelligence or Dexterity. Investing one of these points will make the latter three increase by 4 while investing in Energy or Health increases them by 40. I found it to be best to hold onto these stats and invest them depending on the items you find so you can equip them without much waiting.
However, what I found to be most appealing were the aforementioned skill trees. You acquire three skill points per level. At the outset of the game, you are able to invest into one of nine different masteries after you level up for the first time. There is a tenth one currently locked off which was the mastery introduced in the Ragnarok expansion set which was released on the PC last year. It is listed on the skill tree but is unavailable presently. However, this is a good indication that the Ragnarok expansion set will come to the console edition of the game in the future. Anyway, I digress.
When you select your first mastery, your character class will change depending on the one you selected. The masteries are Storm, Dream, Earth, Warfare, Spirit, Rogue, Hunting, Runes, Nature and Defense. Each one is unique and will allow you to grow your character in the way which appeals to you most. Do you like setting traps? Then maybe the hunter is the class you should choose. Do you prefer summoning beasts and using healing abilities? Then nature is your natural course of action! For your first seven levels, you will have to focus entirely on your original class. Once you reach level 8, you are able to choose a second mastery to invest in. Doing so will create an entirely new class of character. For example, I initially chose the storm mastery then followed up by investing in the nature mastery. This made me a druid class. Becoming a druid class did nothing particular to alter my stats or appearance, but it is a satisfying way to differentiate players based on their selected masteries.
I was slightly disappointed by how every character looks essentially the same. In most games, your character will look drastically different depending on the class you choose. For example, the difference a barbarian and necromancer in Diablo 2 is clear with a single glance. That is not the case in Titan Quest. While you have the capacity to choose between a male or female and the color of their basic tunic at the start of the game, you will find that everyone here is sort of a cookie-cutter Spartan hero. However, that is humorous commentary in and of itself. After all, the Greeks and Romans had a very particular standard when it came to the ideal human form, and their heroes generally fit within this form. In a way, the playable characters all looking the same is very suitable to the cultural standard set by the Greek and Romans as can be clearly seen in the statues and artwork of the time. While it isn’t as visually exciting for players, I am willing to forgive it in this particular case for that reason.
As you level up and grow within your selected masteries, you are able to invest your skill points as you desire. There are three types of skills within each mastery to invest in. The first is the mastery skill. On the bottom-left corner of each skill tree is a mastery skill below a bar with six tiers. By investing in this, you will increase your base stats to better suit your new class. Additionally, but investing enough points into your mastery, you unlock tiers for your skills which allow you to access more powerful abilities. Among your skills are two types: active and passive. The active skills are one which can be set to hotkeys and can be activated at any time you want. Passive skills are linked to the active skills and power them up. Also, each skill can have a certain number of skill points invested which will make them increasingly more powerful.
I was very pleased by the construct of the skill trees. While you may only have two trees to invest in per character, each one feels very well-developed and has roughly 20 skills to invest in each. Since you can mix and match any two skill trees you want with each character, there is a huge variety of skills to combine with each play through you may attempt. In fact, there are a total of 28 class combinations currently available on the console version of the game!
The heart of these ARPGs which are universally exciting are the items! As with Diablo, Borderlands or other games of this nature with a huge variety of randomly generated items, you will find weapons, armors and jewelry which augments your abilities. You will find them with a variety of prefixes and suffixes indicating the kind of effect the item will have. For example, something with “Numbing” will have the affect of additional cold damage while something “of Recovery” will grant you health or energy regeneration. Half of this adventure is discovering new items, so get out there and go hunting!
The power of the item is most easily identified by the color of the name. For example, something with a grey name is essentially broken trash. These will often have downgraded stats and are best passed over. If you find something with a yellow name, these are your “magic” items that will have some sort of special augmentation. While these are generally not too amazing, sometimes you will find something that will blow your mind! After that are the green “rare” items. These don’t usually have a special design, but they will usually offer more powerful stat bonuses or effects. Following this are the blue “epic” items. These will usually have special designs and could be considered the same as the “unique” items from the Diablo franchise. Always keep a look out for these. In addition to being considered very special, sometimes you will find an epic item which is part of a set. Find other pieces of the set for great bonuses! Finally come the purple “legendary” items. These are mostly found in the second and third difficulty settings and are immensely powerful. However, bear in mind that quest items are often purple as well, but these cannot be equipped. One other thing worth mentioning are items with a gold name. These will be dropped by specific enemy classes and are special to that enemy. Use these to wear the special equipment of your foes!
One final thing worth mentioning regarding items are relics and monster charms. Monster charms can be dropped by specific types of enemies. For example, harpies are able to drop plumage which can increase the poison resistance of your armor. Bat Fangs can, obviously, only be dropped by bats. These can be equipped to weapons to add the effect of leech life to your attacks. These are incredibly versatile because they can be used with any compatible piece of equipment and will provide associated power ups to those items. Each one will be found as a single shard, and you can combine the shards together to increase the provided bonuses. Additionally, completing the relics or charms will create an extra bonus, so it is well worth hunting down the shard to get the most out of your equipment!
It is wise to hold onto these charms when possible as you can also find formulas which can be used to create artifacts. These powerful items are greatly beneficial, but generally require completed charms and relics to forge.
Can Pick Up Items From A Handy Item Window By Holding A
An issue which arises from the lack of being able to directly select targets arises when you are trying to pick up items. When you walk above an item, its name gets highlighted and pressing A will add it to your inventory. However, if multiple items lay on the ground which you are only interested in a few, it can be really difficult to simply pick up the specific ones you want. You will frequently either waste a lot of time trying to get only the ones you want, or you will accidentally pick up many weak items along the way. Other times, items which drop will be in inconvenient locations which are very difficult to actually pick up. However, there is an elegant solution to both issues which the game does not tell you about. I only discovered it by accident. If you hold A when you are near items, it will bring up a separate window which allows you to easily select what you want or to just pick up everything all at once.
Inventory management isn’t as precise as it would be with a mouse, but the auto-sorting mechanism works well enough and is quick and simple. You cannot pick items up and move them to specific locations in the inventory which bothered to perfectionist in me, but pressing Y to auto sorts your inventory. After I got used to it, being unable to completely control my inventory didn’t bother me at all. It just helps you get back to playing faster instead of spending so much time moving items around to make room to pick up new things.
What I found incredibly baffling was the complete lack of touchscreen support in handheld mode. Considering the PC, point-and-click origins of this title, I cannot understand why THQ Nordic neglected to incorporate touch controls for Titan Quest on the Switch as having the option would have completely resolved the auto-targeting and inventory management issues the game suffers from on consoles. This is especially confusing as a phone version of the game exists, so touch controls already exist for the game. Having them present on the Switch as an option would have greatly enhanced the experience in my opinion.
Online Play Is Hit Or Miss
While you can play Titan Quest entirely offline as a single-player experience, you are also able to join up to 6 other players in online or LAN local co-op. You can even play in 2-player, split-screen co-op on one console. Doing so results in the enemies being scaled up in difficulty to match. Playing online grants players some very useful additional abilities. For example, you can use your portal stone to create a town portal. If you are separated from your allies, you can both drop town portals to immediately teleport to one another. If you create a server to play online, I would recommend immediately setting up a town portal and consistently set them up as you travel along so if other players join you, they can jump right to you. Many players who you will meet online aren’t aware of this option, but it is useful when you do come across someone who does know it.
This is one of the biggest issues I found with playing this game on the Switch. Lacking the ability to communicate with your allies makes it difficult to coordinate with them. Since many aren’t aware that you can use town portals to find each other, you will most often not encounter your allies at all while playing online. Out of all the instances I played online, I only actually encountered the other players perhaps a total of five times. There is also a way to trade with your allies, but it is a nightmare trying to convey what types of items you might need to them without having a way of talking to them.
One problem I initially had with the online and split screen was that it was unbearably laggy. It was so bad that you couldn’t even run without the game becoming terribly jumpy. Fighting other enemies became a nightmare getting to the point that you would often miss opportunities to attack simply because of how badly it would pause. However, there was a recent patch released which appears to have improved that. It still becomes fairly laggy, but it isn’t nearly as bad as it was before.
Titan Quest Is A Huge Game
The worlds here are not randomly generated. You will find yourself on a fairly linear path through a massive world that will take you across multiple regions. In each town you encounter, you will find a way point which will allow you to immediately travel back. Between each city are generally a few areas to traverse and clear out of enemies. While your maps aren’t random, the placement and types of enemies are indeed random, so that keeps each run fresh and exciting. You won’t find way points in each one of these locations like you would in the Diablo series, so quickly jumping back to specific locations doesn’t work here.
As you explore, you will find Rebirth Fountains which activate when you approach them. These are going to be integral to your ability to progress as you will spawn at the most recently activated one when you die or load the game back up. Be careful not to lose your current Rebirth Fountain because if you do, you may be in for a fair amount of backtracking from the last town you had visited. This is one of the greatest dangers I found in playing online. If you use a town portal to jump to the location of a player who is ahead of or behind you in the game and you activate a new Rebirth Fountain, you will lose your current one and will have to backtrack to it again should you desire to continue from where you last left off on your own file. This can be quite a setback and is the greatest flaw I found in the Rebirth Fountain system employed by this game.
All in all, Titan Quest is a game which I found to be absolutely massive. I will admit that I only progressed roughly 20 hours into the game. 18 of those hours were spent just completing the first of four currently available acts. That is insanely big! In Diablo 2, for example, you can progress from the first to the third act in roughly 8 hours. Here was a little over twice that time just invested in completing the first one. Going from one waypoint to the next can take quite a while, so I was pleasantly surprised by the size of this game. One top of the time required to just complete the game, there are two additional difficulties to play through, so you will be in for quite a journey.
*This review was written by Brian Myers for switchwatch.co.uk.
Music is not at the forefront of this experience. Often, exploration is accompanied solely by the cries of monsters and the sounds of combat. Occasionally, music inspired by the region you are in will play to enhance the sense of engagement, but the focus here is on exploration. The music and sound effects do well to set the mood.
The Visuals Are Nostalgic But Dated
Titan Quest is a relatively old game, and it certainly shows its age in terms of the visuals. Character models are stiff, spell animations mostly amount to simple visual effects, and everything simply feels dated. However, the question you must as is whether that is a bad thing in this context or not. This is a game which is meant to draw heavily on nostalgia. It was clearly a game made with Diablo fans in mind and draws on that classic Diablo crowd. Additionally, it is a title which has been out for over a decade and has developed a loyal fanbase of its own. For both crowds, the dated visuals should not represent a problem. However, if you don’t have those nostalgia goggles, then there may not be much to look at here.
Worrisome Performance Issues
The low score I will be giving Titan Quest in this category is not tied so heavily to the visuals, though. There are some significant performance issues faced by this game not only on the Switch version but across all console versions. While some of the most severe issues which were present at the launch of the PS4 and Xbox releases appear to have been ironed out such as items being stuck in the floor or game files being erased upon crashes, there are still some other serious issues here.
Most notably, when you play in splitscreen or online, there are serious frame rates and lag issues. The simple act of running across a field is met with consistent jitters and trying to kill a group of enemies becomes so laggy that you might even miss chances to attack because the game jumps so badly. After about a week on the market, a patch was released, and it felt like the framerate issues in multiplayer were dialed down. However, I cannot confirm this as I have been unable to find an patch notes for the first update, and it could simply be the result of the placebo effect. It is worth mentioning that the game plays smooth as butter while in single player, but a lot of the draw of playing a game like Titan Quest is precisely through multiplayer. Thus, it represents a significant problem here.
Additionally, I experienced multiple crashes while playing online. The game is very unstable while playing online. I’m not completely certain what caused the crashes, but it is something you need to be ready for. If you don’t manually save frequently, then you can lost your progress. I did not experience losing my save file after this like players on the other consoles reported, but I would not write it off as a possibility. But, just like with the lag issue, I did not experience any crashes while playing solo offline. Just remember: saving is your friend. Save frequently or you run the risk of needing to backtrack or being kicked out of the game and potentially losing a great item you might have found. For example, I made a trade with another player once for an excellent weapon. A few minutes later, the game crashed and I lost that item. You need to be ready for this at any time while playing online.
Titan Quest is going to run you $40 in the US and £36 in Europe. The price is a little imbalanced across the two regions, so if you want this game, I would recommend getting it through the US eShop to save some cash.
For the asking price, you will be getting a massive game which you will be able to easily invest hundreds of hours into a single character thanks to the sheer scope of the world, the randomly generated enemies, skill and stat management and the immense number of items to hunt for.
This game is available on steam for $20 and on other consoles for $30. From what I have gathered, it isn’t much more stable on the Xbox or PS4 than it is on the Switch. If you want to play this on console, it might be worth considering the option to spend the extra money on the Switch version for the sake of being able to play on the go. However, if you want the most stable version of this game in the way it was always meant to be played, then I think you will be best off buying the PC version for half the price.
An Excellent ARPG Reminiscent Of Diablo 2
Four Massive Acts
Wide Variety Of Enemies
Nine Skill Trees To Mix And Match
Local Split Screen And 6 Player Online
Lack Of Touch Controls Is A Missed Opportunity
Hindered By Lack Of Online Communication
Very Unstable Online Performance