DLC Review: Titan Quest: Atlantis

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This title is DLC for Titan Quest Anniversary Edition

My, how the tides can turn. Titan Quest: Ragnarök was an unexpected delight for fans of the classic ARPG, offering an entirely new act that fit perfectly in with the original game. I had high hopes for the second DLC, Atlantis, to manage a similar achievement. It certainly didn’t take long for those hopes to be dashed on the rocks. Atlantis is an awkward addition to the game, existing parallel to better content and offering nothing more than a change of scenery as a reward. Worse still, the balance in this expansion is some of the roughest I’ve seen across all of Titan Quest, with one fight so bad it almost prevented me from playing through the story. I can’t recommend an expansion that doesn’t really expand on the experience of the game, and once you’ve heard my tale of the trials of Atlantis, I think you’ll understand why.

Atlantis starts in the most unexpected of places, outside the city of Rhodes at the beginning of the original Immortal Throne expansion. An adventurer regales you with tales of the legendary city of Atlantis, and bids you follow him on a journey to locate and explore the place. This takes you on a brief tour of several islands off the coast of Africa, before landing on Atlantis itself and setting about uncovering its mysteries. Turns out it’s a good thing you decided to show up, because the creatures that moved into the ruins after Atlantis fell are cooking up something nasty. You’ll need to hack your way through jungles and caves and stranger places to reach the sanctums where ancient machinations are afoot, ultimately bringing you face-to-face with a familiar foe from your journeys.

I need to make it clear right away that Atlantis is an offshoot from Immortal Throne, something you can choose to do after beating the base game and before embarking on your battle into hell. This might be a factor in why the story for this expansion is so weak, that it has to be both optional and sit alongside a more pressing quest. I can’t get over how the hook for Atlantis is a literal diversion from the main game, just some guy going “hey let’s find Atlantis” and you answering “yeah ok.” It doesn’t get any deeper than that when you arrive at the city of Gadir, a visually impressive but awkward and empty trading port that serves as your main hub for the adventure. The first half is a scavenger hunt for McGuffins that somehow lead to Atlantis, bookended by some awkward attempts at humor by the few NPCs you meet. The second half is at least a more interesting trek into the colorful lands of Atlantis, and while it attempts to tie back into the major stakes of the rest of the game, it’s too little too late after ending up on the island on a lark.

This is far from the worst part about Atlantis, though. Parts of Titan Quest, notably the final areas of the original game and a few sections in Immortal Throne, featured some unpleasant balance that could catch you unawares if your armor or resistances weren’t up to snuff. Atlantis, in stark contrast, is a land of hard-hitting damage sponges mixed in with pointless trash enemies. Every time you run across a new monster, you’ll have no idea if it’s going to tickle you a little as it folds and dies, or if it can kill you in three hits without taking a scratch. Your foes are horribly imbalanced, and this is nowhere more apparent than with the bosses. Most of the big bads in this expansion like to summon extra enemies to harass you, but some of the inexplicably summon the super tanky hard-hitting ones that you’ve been guzzling potions to get through up to that point.

The part that almost killed my attempt at Atlantis was right near the beginning, sadly. Your first quest out of Gadir is to investigate their necropolis and find a journal containing clues regarding Atlantis. One of the enemy types is a big mummy-looking contortionist that does a ton of damage and takes a ton of damage. After slogging through dozens of those, the boss of the area (the first boss of the DLC, mind you) is a swift-moving undead caster that summons 4-6 of those foes at a time. On top of that, the boss has unavoidable attacks of an uncommon damage type that will kill you in four or five hits even if you have that resistance maxed. This made the very first boss a miserable clownshow of getting a few hits in, running off to the stairs to heal, and slowly killing off his summoned enemies in between.

There really isn’t enough to Atlantis to recommend subjecting yourself to this for. You’ll find no special rewards or amazing loot, especially since it runs parallel to the first part of Immortal Throne. Some of the environments are nice to explore, and the penultimate boss is legitimately cool, but the rest of the enemies are huge pains to work through no matter how interesting their designs may be. Atlantis also doesn’t add a new mastery, instead adding a new tier of skills to the existing ones that have dubious utility for the investment required. The Tartarus horde mode could have been a fun addition, except the boss of that is just as frustrating as the other stupid bosses here. Only the most die-hard Titan Quest fans should brave the frustrations of Atlantis to see some new sights, everyone else should stay far, far away.

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