My fondest memory of a game that meshed together multiple mythologies was the excellent RTS Age of Mythology for the PC. It somehow managed to juggle Greek, Egyptian, and Norse mythologies without any struggle.
I was hoping Titan Quest could have been the next game to accomplish this feat, and while it’s a dungeon crawler, the game launched originally without split-screen and focused on Greek mythology specifically. The split-screen was later patched in, and now we have the Ragnarok DLC that adds a new story set in the far north of the game’s world. Does it offer enough for both experienced and new players to check out this new expansion? Let’s find out.
Some New Additions, But New Players Face Frustration
One of my biggest complaints in my original review of Titan Quest was the lack of split-screen when all of its contemporaries had this feature. That has since been patched in, and with the release of a Norse DLC in the form of Ragnarok, I was eager to see how the game improved and expanded with this new chapter.
Let’s start by looking at what’s new here. The expansion offers an additional act, set after the events of the main story. It offers a separate tale, which makes it a good starting point for new players who just want to see the Norse content (at least, theoretically. More on that later).
The mixture of Norse, Germanic, and Celtic lore, combined with the icy landscapes, offers a nice change of pace from the rest of the game’s chapters. Story here is unique to the rest of the game, but it continues to be less of a focus than the gameplay itself. Primarily, the exposition being delivered in long, scrolling boxes of text still feels too slow to me. Worse, if you try to skip to the next line of dialogue, it will simply skip that entire segment.
It does have an appropriate scope, however, and once you get into it, the new Runemaster mastery offers a unique class for you to pair with the other options. The problem here is that the only way to access the new class is to start a new character since your old save probably already has two masteries from your original playthrough.
Thankfully, Titan Quest: Ragnarok offers a solution for people who want to try the new class, or people like me who no longer have their save and would like to avoid replaying the entire rest of the game just to get to the new content. Unfortunately, the solution they have in place is rife with issues.
Those who want to experience the new content or the new class have the option to create an “accomplished hero.” This character will start at the beginning of the DLC and immediately get a boost to level 40. So far, so good.
This does mean that you have to put all of your points into your stats and abilities before you can set foot outside the opening area. This in and of itself is understandable, but the first obstacle you’ll face is that many people aren’t going to have a build in mind, so they’ll just pump points into the things that look good or seem reasonable.
With that finished, they’ll realize that their inventories are bare. A basic weapon and no armor. Players who had their saves or those who play through everything to this point will have gear to match their level (but they won’t be able to see the new class).
You can probably see where this is going. Let’s say you made an accomplished hero, built your stats the best you could, and decided to just head out in the hopes that you’ll get some good gear drops.
If your experience is anything like mine, this will result in hilariously high difficulty spikes. We’re talking enemies that can kill you in just a few hits. You’ll chug health potions because it’s your only recourse, and you’ll still get killed.
When gear does drop, you’ll notice that, in just about every case, you don’t have the requisite strength, dexterity, or other prerequisite stat to equip it. For an experienced player, it’s an exercise in frustration, but I imagine more casual players will just give up and possibly start from the beginning.
I really like the notion of this accomplished hero concept, but the execution here does not put players in a good position to enjoy the DLC. Instead, the level boost holds almost no value because you have zero gear to augment your defense and attack.
This could have been avoided with a starter set of gear that comes with each accomplished hero you make. The option to have your stats automatically tweaked to acceptable numbers would have also been welcome. From there, just leave the skill points for people to invest in their masteries as they please. Problem solved.
Instead, the DLC makes it nigh impossible for new players to enjoy it, as the accomplished hero option is just above broken in my eyes. When you do get through this frustrating first impression, the DLC is pretty good, but I don’t think many people will make it that far unless they have a save file to load, and even then they’re missing out on the new mastery.
This issue aside, Titan Quest: Ragnarok is mostly more of the same with new enemies and loot to check out. It could have done more to differentiate itself, but it’s not a bad extension of the core experience. The problem lies in this accomplished hero mechanic, and the split-screen implementation.
Yes, it pains me to say that the split-screen here presents its own issues. Playing locally on a PS4 Pro, the frame rate drops were pretty consistent. Some drops would drop the game to a literal slideshow, which is just unplayable when you’re also trying to guide your “accomplished” hero to some sort of stable state.
I gave Titan Quest another chance with Ragnarok to show me why it has such a loyal following, but it has once again left me disappointed and frustrated.
A Formula That Struggles Under Modern Standards
For the people who have a save file ready, Titan Quest: Ragnarok will give them exactly what they’re looking for. They will probably miss out on the new Runemaster class, and that’s a shame because it’s actually a nice combination of melee and rune buffs for your weapons.
Those who need to start with an accomplished hero, or bring someone on for split-screen in this fashion, will find nothing but frustration and friction where the concept could have been a great way to welcome new players into the fold.
Fool me once Titan Quest, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Here’s hoping there’s a way to tweak the accomplished hero mechanic so more people can actually experience this new content.
Final Score: 6.0/10
A copy of Titan Quest: Ragnarok was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes.
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 3/31/2020