If you’re at all into video games and on social media, you’ve probably heard about the backlash over Diablo Immortal by now. Announced yesterday at BlizzCon, the game developed by Blizzard and Netease is coming to Android, iPhone, and iPad. It is not what hardcore fans of the franchise wanted.
They were all hoping for Diablo 4, but those hopes were tempered by Blizzard well before BlizzCon started. No one really knew 100 percent what to expect this weekend. Leaks and rumors pointed to a Diablo mobile title. So I wasn’t surprised when it was finally announced, but fans felt entitled to boo and call out developers at BlizzCon.
— Skill Up reviewing #RDR2 (@SkillUpYT) November 2, 2018
I get that people wanted Diablo 4. I do. But everyone should have known it wasn’t going to happen yet and it’s clear people didn’t adjust their expectations accordingly. Worse still, many assume that because Diablo Immortal exists, it’ll be even longer before we see the next game aimed at hardcore fans. That likely isn’t the case.
Immortal is likely a reskin of another Netease game called Endless of God. Though Blizzard has probably spent some time making this “a true Diablo experience,” it’s safe to say that Netease has done a lot of the upfront work, allowing Blizzard to dedicate a smaller team to this. The main team is likely working on whatever is next for Diablo.
We did get to play about 15 minutes of Immortal at BlizzCon and came away feeling like the game was a kind of Diablo Lite. It is definitely a departure from previous games. That’s sure to upset some fans, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a completely justified move.
I spent the first few minutes running around one of Diablo’s big open areas, fighting random mobs of enemies. There will be nine outdoor zones at launch, which isn’t entirely surprising. I do wonder if they’ll be at all randomized like they were in Diablo 3, since the game is an always online MMO.
Playing as the Wizard there’s no mana, just cooldowns. It was weird not having to balance any kind of resource pool and being able to spam my abilities as frequently as possible. As a result I felt largely useless while my abilities were down. And that is a bit concerning.
I was able to equip any loot that dropped with a quick tap on the screen. It gave me a simple up or down arrow to let me know if it was better or worse. Sadly, it didn’t seem to update my character’s appearance at all. Hopefully that’s something that’s still in development.
The MMO Factor
It definitely felt weird to play by myself for a solid five minutes before stumbling upon other folks in the game world. Though the demo was pretty linear, likely so we got to experience the action Blizzard wanted us to, we did manage to drift apart for a few more minutes before being funneled back together at the entrance of a dungeon.
Here the game let us choose whether we wanted to go it alone or try and squad up with nearby folks. We chose the latter and it did some matchmaking, albeit only within our immediate vicinity. It was not clear to me if it would work the same online, but it was quick and painless at the convention.
The dungeon was your typical Diablo experience, only watered down. There were mobs, Champion-level monsters, a big boss at the end, and a loot explosion reward. It all seems pretty normal.
On The Go
It feels like a big part of what Blizzard and Netease are trying to do with Diablo: Immortal is allow for casual play. You shouldn’t have to organize with your friends to run high-level dungeons or tackle difficult bosses. This is a phone game through and through.
Considering the release of Diablo 3: Eternal Collection on Switch this past week, Diablo Immortal feels unnecessary to me, personally. And that’s fine! This game is being built for an audience that hasn’t been tapped yet. I’m probably not Immortal’s target audience and you might not be either. We should be fine with that. Enjoy Diablo on Switch, and hope the game succeeds so Diablo 4 becomes that much more necessary.