Diablo Immortalthe announcement of upset many fans of the franchise who thought a mobile version of their beloved game would come at the expense of a more traditional version Diablo gameplay experience. After a short time with the game before its June 2 release (though the game was rolling out early in some regions today), I found two things to be true. The first is that Blizzard has created a game admirably captures the look and feel of a traditional Diablo Game. The second is that Immortal is also a game designed to extract the most money from its players.
In the few hours I’ve played, the map is expansive with many different areas controlled by level requirements and plenty of spots within those areas where you can tackle whatever demon-slaying shenanigans your heart desires. After an initial onboarding tutorial, you have the option of having the game automatically launch you from objective to objective, or you can roam an area killing random demons or acquiring random loot.
I liked the autorun feature. Diablo Immortal Seems designed for walk-in gaming, so I appreciated the ability to access the meat of the game without the hassle of time-wasting travel. And when I had time to sit with the game for a longer period of time, my exploration was amply rewarded with a chance encounter with a challenging world boss.
Combat also has the same complexity as Diablo prime, with classes with multiple abilities that you can unleash at varying levels of size and impact. I played Crusader, a melee class with both physical and magical abilities, and enjoyed slamming enemies with my mace or blinding them with holy light. There is also an ultimate ability that you can use for an additional power boost similar to the ultimate abilities in Surveillance. I’m not sure what the criteria are for triggering an ultimate – whether it’s time-limited or built based on the number of enemies killed – but it’s good to have when a world boss needs beating .
Diablo Immortal first won me over with its character customization. Being a mobile game, and a Diablo to this I thought your avatar was immutable – what you saw was what you got. But, in an interview with the game’s lead designer, Joe Grubb, I learned that providing customization options was something the developers were really passionate about.
“There’s full character customization of anything you can imagine,” Grubb said. “You can change your hairstyle, your hair color, your skin color, your eyes, your tattoos, the color of your tattoos. If you want to go in and change the facial structure, it’s all there in Immortal and so we’re excited for everyone to get their hands on it and create the character expressions they want to be.
It’s not black desert online in terms of number of options, but being able to customize my avatar to my specific (and demanding) specifications is pretty neat for a mobile game – especially after my bad experience with the racist Witch Doctor pastiche in Diablo III.
I don’t have much to say about it yet. Diablo Immortalthe story. There just wasn’t enough time to get past, “Don’t let the bad guys get a piece of the magic power crystal”, – so like the main plot of Inuyasha without all the unresolved sexual tension and time travel.
Whereas Immortal is a perfectly reduced representation of PC Diabloevery once in a while I detect the sour smell of “this is a mobile game designed to keep me on a treadmill for as long as possible”.
Generally, I’m not against mobile games. I also understand that games have to make money for the the people who made them can continue to survive because the executives who are actually reaping the benefits of billion-dollar mobile games are satisfied with their huge profits enough to hope to allow developers the privilege of earn a meager salary. I understand. Dropping money for items and cosmetics is standard operating procedure in mobile games and beyond, so when I’m playing a game where I expect these features, it’s ignorable.
But even if Immortal is a mobile game, it’s always Diablo— a game associated with a discrete set of rules and expectations not yet associated with the rules and expectations of a mobile game. So it’s so disgusting that a Diablo the game sends notifications to my phone reminding me to play in hopes of spending a buck or two and that by pressing a menu button I can bring up an in-game store this allows me to pay to upgrade a dungeon to get extra shinies from it. I feel like I wouldn’t mind so much if this was a brand new Blizzard property, like this New Warcraft mobile game. But it’s like your best friend you’ve lost contact with suddenly contacts you on Facebook asking if you want to buy some leggings.
Also, I’m really glad there’s now a PC option with cross-progression because playing on a phone isn’t that. I have a Samsung A21 and the game is smooth as butter, but it’s just not comfortable to play on a phone. Clicking through dialogue or scrolling through menus is fine, but I need the tactile response of a button for combat. It’s an ingrained physical thing that just feels bad to be emulated with touch controls. I can also feel my screen warming up to the point of worry, so I’m really glad Blizzard sent me a Razer Kishi Phone Control Peripheral that makes what was intolerable finally acceptable to my senses.
I still have a lot of game to discover. There are the social features like clans and something called the Cycle of Strife as well as (hopefully) a character progression system which I haven’t unlocked yet. As I am able to enter the guts of Immortal, I hope these as-yet-undiscovered features are interesting and developed enough to outweigh the sheer mercenary fact of the game’s existence. So yes, the fans were right to worry – but I’ll need more time to see whether these concerns are enough to outweigh the novelty of Diablo on a smartphone.
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