Many Diablo fans were disappointed by the announcement of Diablo Immortal, believing that a mobile version of their favorite game would come at the expense of a more traditional Diablo gaming experience. After spending some time with the game ahead of its June 2nd release (though it is already available in some places), we discovered two things. The first is that Blizzard has produced a game that closely replicates the appearance and feel of a classic Diablo game. The second is that Immortal is a game that is meant to make as much money as possible from its players.
The map is vast, with many different areas locked by level requirements and various places inside those areas where you can engage in all the demon-killing shenanigans your heart desires, based on the few hours we’ve played. You have the choice of having the game auto-run you from objective to objective after an initial onboarding instruction, or you can stroll around a region fighting random demons and acquiring random stuff.
The auto-run feature was one of our favorites. Diablo Immortal appears to be created with appointment gaming in mind, thus the option to get straight to the meat of the game without having to waste time traveling is great.
Combat is equally as complicated as it was in Diablo prime, with different classes having different abilities that you can use at different levels of size and impact. We liked smashing enemies with the mace or blinding them with holy light as a crusader, a combat class with both physical and magical skills. You can also unleash an ultimate ability, similar to Overwatch’s ultimate powers, to gain an extra boost of power. Though not sure how an ultimate is triggered — if it’s timed or depending on the number of enemies killed — it’s nice to have when a world boss needs to be beaten.
The character customization in Diablo Immortal first attracted us. We assumed that because it was a mobile game, and a Diablo one at that, your avatar was permanent – what you saw was what you got. However, we learned from principal game designer Joe Grubb in an interview that providing customization options was something the developers were very excited about.
“There is full character customization of everything you can imagine,” Grubb said. “You can change your hairstyle, hair color, skin color, eyes, tattoos, color of your tattoos. If you want to get in and modify facial structure, all of that is there in Immortal and so we’re excited for everyone to get their hands on that and create the expression of characters they want to be.”
Also, it’s great that there’s now a PC version with cross-progression because playing on a phone isn’t the way to go. The game runs smoothly on a phone though.
Diablo Immortal – Fit for Phone
The idea of an overcrowded screen was one of the first fears regarding Diablo Immortal that was quickly resolved. The new Diablo Immortal game, for the most part, keeps its interface clear of distractions by allowing you to swipe away quest information and chat windows until you need to return to them. The interface remains clear and understandable even when extra inputs, such as the hand icon seen below, appear at random times.
The ability to equip multiple skills in separate slots makes muscle memory a snap, and if you’re anything like me and have struggled with touch controls in the past, you’ll be astonished at how quickly you learn to chain your abilities together with only the rare accidental input.
You’re off to a good start when you combine the smooth inputs and Diablo-like noises with the 60FPS mode (which might make your phone turn a little hot but is too nice to give up). The fact that the game rewards you with not just the normal array of in-game loot but also the “opportunity” to spend money after one of the first major milestones a player might achieve was a bit disheartening.
Other milestones lead to similar pop-ups, but they’re saved in the “Bundles” section of the shop so you can come back to them if you change your mind.