Date: February 20, 2021
Diablo Immortal, the mobile MMO game inspired by the iconic Diablo series, had a rough start. When it was announced at BlizzCon in 2018, the fan reactions were overwhelmingly negative.
It was quite a poor timing, since the fans were really excited to hear about Diablo IV, and not another pay-to-win free title on an app store characterized by shiny “BUY” button popups for yet another type of premium currency.
Mobile games are rarely thought of as quality AAA titles, and many of them exploit the in-app purchase system, since the payments are so easy to process. In fact, more often mobile games are something a third-party developer does for the parent company to boost earnings for a particularly popular title. For Diablo fans at the time, this announcement was Blizzard’s cheap way out.
However, Diablo Immortal might rise above its first impressions just yet.
Today, during the BlizzCon livestream, the developers behind the mobile MMO came together to discuss some recent successes they have been quite proud of. Namely, an active community that has been happily testing out the technical alpha of the game during the past couple of weeks.
As it turns out, Diablo Immortal might have a lot more to offer than your typical mobile MMO.
Diablo Immortal Takes Advantage of the Element of Surprise
Of course, the game does look like a Diablo game. That’s rather the point. And yet, the developers have been working hard to reimagine familiar classes, their skills, and their gear, with hopes to make the game into an independent title in the series.
Bluddshed, a prominent Diablo streamer interviewing developers during the livestream, pointed out a clever multi-use feature behind some of the abilities. Monk’s kick, for example, becomes a kick-off the wall, while Wizard’s Ice Crystal can become a powerful AoE attack when used to reflect her Ray of Frost.
While the game brings in some popular characters of the franchise (Deckard Cain is back!), there are also many new characters and many new stories to explore.
Then, consider playing the game before the relevant wikis get populated with the information: some tech alpha players were genuinely surprised to find out that certain legendary gear even exists.
Developers were mindful to make powerful drops a rare occurrence, so that getting them feels truly rewarding. Bluddshed remarked that the pacing feels familiar with the vanilla Diablo III experience where getting valuable loot and crafting materials, which are fairly rare drops, feels pretty good.
Still, it sounds like the developers don’t intend for the grind to feel pointless. The ultimate goal is for the player to feel like even a short 15-30 minute play session helped them progress towards their leveling goals, with a legendary drop being an exciting random moment that makes the experience that much better.
Actually an MMO Experience, on Mobile
What’s a mobile MMO game, to you?
Repetitive daily grind that tempts the player to spend $4.99 on a “booster pack” to help them progress, probably. Little to no social interaction. Meaningless meet-togethers or battles where you show off how much money you have spent on the game. Extremely limited chat, often confined to a guild system. Timed seasonal events meant to introduce the sense of urgency, little to no unique updates or support… the list goes on and on and on.
It stands to see how Diablo Immortal developers will deal with all of the issues that have made mobile MMOs into stereotypes of cheap products meant to siphon money out of a particular player demographic, but there seems to be some hope.
In designing the gameplay, developers of Diablo Immortal tried to listen to player feedback for Diablo III, a full-scale AAA RPG. And players said that, with Diablo III, they wanted more things to do.
Diablo Immortal offers its many instanced dungeons with high-quality cutscenes, cinematics, and audio design, PvP fights over resources, collaborative world events, locations with random outcomes, secrets hidden within dungeons, and a central hub — a player town that was a cut feature for Diablo III — for all players to hang out at and inspect each other’s gear.
The end game, capped short in the tech alpha, already has a feature that steps away from Diablo III’s linear endgame, the Paragon system. This system offers multiple skill trees that make a significant impact on other aspects of the game, which players can switch between strategically. Developers foresee a long time of support lying ahead for Diablo Immortal, and a plenty more to see beyond what has been offered in the tech alpha.
As you can see, these features already take a step away from the expected mobile game functionality.
Furthermore, developers want to reward player collaboration in PvE and encourage players to hang out at locations where they level up their gear to create some traffic. The goal is to make social interaction meaningful and make the world feel alive with player activity.
Will Diablo Immortal succeed in being a Diablo MMO experience on mobile? Maybe. Bottom line, it sounds like it will be a much better game than the majority of mobile titles out there, at least based on the footage of tech alpha. We suggest you check out today’s livestream to see all of these features for yourself.
What are your thoughts, Diablo fans? Despite what the developers are saying, does the mobile game remain a disappointing attempt at profit-making? Or, perhaps, with surprising quality of features showcased at BlizzCon, are you considering giving this game a shot when it finally comes out? Or, have you been excited for this title all this time?
Let us know in the comments below!