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The Mapworks is the heart of Torchlight 2. In many ways it feels like the heart of so much that is great in video games in general. You spawn at the portal and then you walk out, along a narrow golden bridge, to a magical clockwork escapement suspended in the void. I can imagine what the floor feels like here: the glossiness of the crystal and polished metal, and that hum coming up through your feet that suggests vast energies twisting and churning beneath you. The Mapworks is where you get to once Torchlight 2 is all but done, but it's also where you realise that Torchlight 2 is just beginning, and that it never has to end if you don't want it to. The campaign is over, and here, in this stately firmament, you can buy an endless supply of procedurally-generated maps that will take you to an endless stretch of procedurally-generated dungeons.
I went to the Mapworks a few weeks back when I heard Runic Games, the developer that made the Torchlight series, alongside this year's wonderfully intricate Hob, was closing down. The idea was to slip back into Torchlight 2 for a few minutes to remind myself of this team's particular greatness, and then slip back out again to write a quick piece about how much I would miss them and their work. The problem, of course, is obvious. The idea was to slip back into Torchlight 2 for a few minutes... So yes, this farewell to Runic Games is so delayed because I was playing Runic games. I cannot think of a better tribute, to be honest.
Anyway, let's begin this sad task. Here is my second-favourite bit of writing in Torchlight 2: "Flame Hammer". Flame Hammer is the go-to skill I rely on when playing my Engineer, a sort of steampunk pet-class who dashes into battle alongside a clanking, wheezing, skittering collection of Roombas and rollerskates that spit gatling fire and poison at anyone stupid enough to cross their path. Flame Hammer is far more fun than a basic attack in an action RPG should be. Flame Hammer is seismic. I could describe it, but why not quote the flavour text, which does a far better job of it than I could ever hope to? "Your weapon crushes foes it strikes--" All good so far. "--Creating 4 flaming splinters that seek out enemies within 5 meters. If available a Charge is consumed to generate two additional--" Whoa whoa whoa. That's quite enough of that. 4 flaming splinters! That seek out enemies!Within 5 meters!