I’m that guy that won’t shut up about Titan Quest, the 12 year old action RPG first created by Iron Lore and THQ, and now developed by THQNordic, Black Forest Games, and Pieces Interactive. Oh and there’s a mobile version made by DotEmu, too.
How many other old games have that many development teams looking after them?
It launched on Xbox One and PS4 earlier this year, and just recently on the Switch. At one time, I called it one of the essential games you must play.
So why haven’t I written a review of the console versions?
Firstly, I sort of bought all three versions. I wanted to see how the game ran across the different platforms, and even though the Switch version launched for $40 at a time when the others are all less than $20…I still bought that one too.
But I haven’t managed to actually finish the game on any of those machines yet, and with rare exception, I like to finish games before I write something I call a review.
Secondly, the game has received a number of patches in the last few months, and they’ve done great things for its performance, general bugginess, and gameplay. They’ve added further refinements to the user interface and fixed a number of issues present in the initial release. And the Switch version launched with most of these fixes intact.
Thirdly…the changes made to the console versions are a little bit baffling?
Black Forest Games started with the excellent PC Anniversary Edition made by Pieces Interactive. They added a full gamepad interface, which is generally great, and overhauled the visuals, which at times look great and at others look…odd.
There’s also a number of new bugs that aren’t present in the PC release. Aside from random crashing, items that don’t always reach the ground and are thus hard to pick up, and physics that seem to animate at a slightly higher framerate than the original release…and there’s some sound issues too.
When you’re teleporting between areas, the sound will sometimes start to skip and pop. And when you leave a merchant, it plays two of their goodbye audio messages every single time. Each merchant has a handful of things they can say when you leave, selected at random. But the console versions always play two of these files over the top of each other. It’s really weird.
Oh, and a few months ago, they merged in the content from Pieces Interactive’s 2017 Ragnarok expansion…but you can’t actually buy that content on consoles yet. So you’ll see menu prompts, items, and skill trees from that expansion that aren’t accessible. There’s text in the game that says “this requires the Ragnarok expansion!” but there’s no timeframe for when that will be available on consoles.
That’s a bit sloppy, isn’t it?
I don’t think that any of the bugs are dealbreakers, and I think the new graphics generally look good…but I thought I’d give the game a little more time to see if this stuff gets smoothed out before I finally weighed in. The team is at Gamescom right now, and they’ve been very responsive online. I think they have one more patch planned for release soon, so hopefully it fixes some of these last issues.
Titan Quest is still a great game, and I’ll finally finish one of these new releases this week and weigh in on it. But I can’t help but ponder some of the weirdness going on here.
Did Black Forest Games have to make significant changes to the game to get it running on consoles, and in so doing cause these new issues? How did they get splitscreen working well when the game’s original team (now working on Grim Dawn, using the same base engine) has gone on the record saying that would be a herculean task in that engine? Why does the Xbox One X version allow users to turn off 4K rendering and enforce a 30FPS cap when the game seems to hold pretty well at 4K/60FPS in its default settings?
My gut instinct that could be entirely wrong is that Black Forest had to bring a significant coding effort to the game in a very limited timeframe, rather than just going for the straight port that the mobile version had. It almost feels like they’re running it on a whole new codebase/engine that uses their in-house technology, and although in the long-run I think it’ll be great…right now it still feels about 95 percent done.
I’m happy that Titan Quest is getting all this love in 2018, and happy that Grim Dawn is getting so much attention and continued development. If you’d told me 5 years ago that the Iron Lore engine/games were coming back in a big way, I’d have laughed and walked away from you.