DLC Review: Titan Quest: Ragnarök
This title is DLC for Titan Quest Anniversary Edition
The release of Titan Quest Anniversary Edition a full decade after the original was certainly a happy surprise, but the DLC that followed was an absolute shock. Titan Quest is to me what Diablo II is to many, the ARPG I can return to again and again just to wander its lands and hoover up its loot. For it to get new content so long after release, and under a completely new team, sparked both excitement and a little bit of concern. Would new creators be able to match the tone and balance of the original game? Would it fit logically into the existing progression? With Ragnarök at least, I’m pleased to say it accomplishes all of that, while adding its own flare with a new setting and some new mechanics. It does it so well, in fact, that I’m not sure the game would feel complete without it anymore.
Spoiler alert for Titan Quest and Immortal Throne (the original expansion) if you’ve been sleeping on those for a decade plus: you’ve saved the departing gods from the vengeful titan Typhon and the ambitions of the rebellious god Hades. The portal back to the mortal world has deposited you near Corinth, where bandits have been harshing the buzz of the jubilant townsfolk. But the chaos is a harbinger of greater threats, as the visitor from the north Ylva explains. There is unrest in the frozen reaches of the world, with beasts of Scandinavian myth coming out in force and the followers of the almighty Woden plotting something in the shadows. Since you’ve killed deities of all shapes and sizes, you’re the perfect candidate to head north and put an end to their legendary troubles.
Woden, for those of you who have forgotten your Old English, is another name for Odin, the Allfather of Norse mythology and you know what, you’ve been watching Marvel movies for years, you know who Odin is. Titan Quest: Ragnarök came out literally two weeks after Thor: Ragnarok released in theaters, so I don’t think anyone can pretend there wasn’t some influence there. Titan Quest’s version of Asgard and the Aesir are played far more straight, and while the story contains some interesting twists compared to the original game’s plot, it’s nowhere near the insanity the films have built to. Most of the focus here is on beasts and beings of Norse mythology, and thankfully they go deep when digging up baddies for you to beat on.
In terms of content, Ragnarök easily rivals the likes of Immortal Throne. On its own, it’s an entirely new act of the game, spanning more than a dozen distinctive locales and featuring tons of new monsters and gear. It cleverly starts back in Greece, actually winding around and under some of the original Act I maps before getting you on your way to the new areas. The plot takes you through several Germanic and Scandinavian settlements, sends you up against major figures from European myth, and has some surprisingly in-depth side quests to take on. All of the areas are beautifully crafted and add some fantastic variety to the game, even in the more temperate areas that could easily have been direct echoes of Act III’s Asia. Most importantly, the balance is perfect for where it falls in the game, with nary a damage-spongy boss or instant, unexpected kill skill to be seen. That’s a tough balance to strike for any ARPG, but Ragnarök feels like a perfect progression from Immortal Throne.
Beyond the new act, Ragnarök actually adds a fair bit to the rest of the game, too. The most notable is of course the new mastery, the Norse-themed Runemaster. I haven’t played enough with this mastery to rank it among the others, but early-game at least it offers some fun trap and buff mechanics compared to other options. An entirely new class of throwing items has been introduced as well, a welcome high-speed ranged option in contrast to the slower existing bows. These are fully integrated across the game, so you’ll see skeletons in Greece and tigermen in China slinging all sorts of knives and hatchets at you. On top of all that, there are new secrets dotted throughout the original game and Immortal Throne, and some of them are surprisingly tricky to track down.
Ultimately, Titan Quest: Ragnarök is exactly the expansion I had hoped it would be. It adds a huge block of well-crafted content, similar enough to the rest of the game to feel like a natural extension, while also branching out in its own ways. The journey is fun and the balance is fair, and I got a lot of enjoyment out of simply being able to beat up figures from a whole new pantheon of myth. Even the additions to the base game are welcome, with the new mastery and new weapons fitting like puzzles pieces you didn’t even know were missing. I never expected one of my favorite games from over a decade ago to be revitalized in such a dramatic way, but Ragnarök serves as a worthy expansion to the classic hack-and-slash experience.