Introduction

Who would have expected a DLC pack for Titan Quest in 2017? I sure didn’t. True, Ragnarök is a new expansion for the Titan Quest Anniversary Edition, but keep in mind that this is the remaster of a 2006 ARPG. That “A” does stand for “action” and you can rest assured that Titan Quest always delivers that, along with some intriguing history and mythology lessons. One key aspect that I’d like to highlight, is that the Anniversary Edition was offered for free at its launch, to the previous Steam owners of Titan Quest. That is a gesture which I can’t overlook, since few developers decide to reward brand loyalty in such a manner.

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Iron Lore Entertainment is still regarded as the developer on the remaster’s Steam Store page, but just like the original team of its publisher, THQ, these companies have succumbed to financial issues and were replaced by THQ Nordic. Pieces Interactive (creators of Magicka 2, among a few other titles) were the developers of the Ragnarök DLC. Proudly carrying the torch and still supporting IPs which should never be forgotten by veteran players and fully deserve to be experienced by newer fans.

Story

Titan Quest: Ragnarök picks up the story from Titan Quest’s initial expansion (“Immortal Throne”, now integrated into the remastered base game) and offers a players a 5th Act to the comprehensive narrative thread of this title. In the previous four Acts, we explored in-depth, the mythologies of Greek, Egyptian and Chinese cultures. Immortal Throne thrown in, the Ancient Greek Underworld and now in Ragnarök, players can explore the brutally fascinating Norse mythology. The term “Ragnarök” itself can be regarded as a pagan correspondent of the biblical “Armageddon”: both discuss the massive, supernatural battle which will precede the end of the World.

The expansion will encompass some Celtic influences a well, yet the main focus is on Germanic culture, warfare and various mythological conflicts which truly represent a welcome shift from the scenery previously showcased in Titan Quest. The snowy forests of the Northmen, are the least place you’d expect to find a Laconian (Spartan) warrior. From a strictly narrative perspective, I consider that Titan Quest has integrated elements of mythology from cultures other than Greek, quite efficiently. The use of magic through spells and teleportation, tries to offer a bare minimum explanation about getting in touch with characters, notions and monsters that wouldn’t have interacted with Ancient Greece at any point in history.

Right after defeating Hades and preventing the resurgence of Typhon’s warband of titans, Athenian, Spartan or Corinthian warriors and citizens alike, begin celebrating this monumental victory for mankind and the newly united Greek world which was divided by petty squabbles for far too long. The Hero/Heroine of Titan Quest cannot rest and bask in the glory just yet. News of a mysterious attack on Corinth’s harbour, means that our heroic figure cannot even take a short break from combat and defending humanity from supernatural forces. The unforeseen journey ahead, will see players travel far from the Peloponnesian Peninsula and closer to the brooding forests of Germania and subsequently, Scandinavia.

A trip through the mythological lands of the aforementioned cultures, wouldn’t be complete without short stops in both Asgard and Helheim. The realm of the Norse gods in contradiction to the the realm of the dishonorable dead. Valhalla is just a great hall within Asgard, where the gods can feast along with the bravest of the deceased warriors from Midgard (Earth). Consider it the finest club in Heaven, to which any worthy Viking aspired to join eventually, if he met a warrior’s end by dying in battle. I have to say that I admire this reckless bravery and absolute disregard for caution of any kind, nevermind fear of death.

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Graphics

All titles from the Titan Quest series, whether we refer to the originals or the remastered versions, are being powered by Iron Lore’s proprietary graphics engine, named “PathEngine”. I’m glad that THQ Nordic didn’t involve Unity into this project, since far too many remasters take that road towards losing the game’s identity, I dare say. Titan Quest Anniversary Edition and its new, Ragnarök DLC are quite beautiful and the game engine itself, has aged nicely when compared to most solutions used by titles released more than a decade ago. Technically and performance-wise, Titan Quest: Ragnarök is just as stable as its base game. Never did I witness a crash, glitch or frame rate drop in its case.

The HUD and User Interface are scaling perfectly to 4K resolution (use the “large font” option from the Main Menu) and I only wish there would have been a way to hide the on-screen bars and instruments for a few seconds, in order to take some truly professional screenshots. I know we can’t have them all, but I did notice that many video games in the past couple of years have understood the need for HUD-less gameplay. Perhaps a future game update can add this minor option which has great impact on the overall experience for me and countless other players.

Audio

There aren’t very many NPCs in ARPGs, but the few which inhabit the subgenre’s many worlds, are fully voiced more often than not. It is an excellent compromise between numerous characters that spew silent text walls, one after the another and only a handful than can stand out through skilled voice acting. So indeed, all of Titan Quest: Ragnarök’s quest givers have something to say and they don’t limit themselves to mere subtitles. Do I still have to mention the excellent soundtrack that has been a staple to this series ever since its first iteration? Relaxing instrumentals are always in contrast to the swiftness of the frequently chaotic combat sequences, which Titan Quest will feature aplenty.

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Gameplay

I will presume that you’ve played the Anniversary Edition base game, at least enough to reacquaint with its gameplay, so I shall dive right into the new features of the Titan Quest: Ragnarök DLC. For starters, there’s the obvious increase of the level cap, which now allows players to reach even level 85. From what I’ve noticed so far though, it’ll be a challenge to reach even 70 without experience farming through grinding on the respawned low-tier foes. So don’t bother, you’ll become very powerful regardless of any exploits, which I never encourage anyway. For new players which never had any previous save files for the Fourth Act, when starting a new game with the Ragnarök expansion installed, you can select to create a new “Accomplished Hero”.

This translates into starting the Fifth Act as a level 40 character, with a nice starting sum of gold coins needed to buy essential gear and the corresponding attribute and skill points that can be distributed as you see fit. Speaking of skills and the masteries which implement them, Ragnarök introduces the Runes mastery, as the game’s tenth and latest skill branch which allows players to become a Runemaster (magically infused berserker). Personally, I still prefer the ranged weapon options through all my RPGs, hack and slashes included.

You can find excellent character build tips for a Brigand custom class (Hunting + Rogue masteries) on Titan Quest Anniversary Edition’ Steam page and “Guides” tab. Since I’d rather deal with threats from a relatively safe distance, I was more than happy that Titan Quest: Ragnarök now includes various throwing weapons such as knives and axes. Do keep in mind that some enemies employ that tactic as well. Those projectiles deal a lot more damage than arrows. Pants have finally become a reality in Titan Quest, in case you were getting tired of that unisex tunic.

I guess that Ragnarök’s unwelcoming climate explains the need for warmer clothing, but I’m just glad we can add more visual customization into the mix. As for the expansion’s new stages, they are as large as you’d expect them and feature plenty of Rebirth Fountains (player respawn/auto-save location). In almost the equal measure in which you may perish from the monstrous onslaught through which Titan Quest also distinguishes itself.

There’s an expanded screen which details the character’s defensive and offensive capabilities (such as various elemental resistances) along with the option to “level up” your favorite Legendary-tier weapons and pieces of armor. Visit the dwarven blacksmiths after you’ve completed their quest chain and afterwards, you can further upgrade the best weapons, so that they may yield a greater damage output. Upgrading won’t come cheaply, but consider it a wiser investment than constantly selling your gear and browsing the in-game traders for randomly generated (and hopefully better) new equipment.

You can still summon a “pet” if you specialize in the magical masteries, but I do miss the inclusion of a party system. At least having a single, capable companion would ease the pressure of frequently being overrun by enemies from all corners of the map. The solution of chugging one health potion after another, isn’t really helping during boss fights that also involve their minions.

Verdict

Overall, Titan Quest: Ragnarök is good addition to the base game, just from the perspective of the new maps, enemy types and gameplay streamlining. It certainly doesn’t make this title any less difficult than it already was. If you’re a fan of mythology in general terms or especially in regards to the Germanic culture, you really don’t need further convincing from myself. Just be aware that hack and slash games rely on patience, more than strategy. Wave after wave of foes stand between you and the next hallway, passage or corridor which is probably inhabited by another type of critters which are more than willing to chew your face off. Give them no quarter and you shall prevail once you muster all your strength and agility into a hard fought and well deserved victory!

 

All the screenshots you see above, have been taken by me in-game through the Steam Overlay.