Diablo as a franchise keeps expanding. Coming from a game only PC players could experience, now on most platforms including the Nintendo Switch. But with many other places to bring the Demon slaying action, Blizzard announced the partnership with NetEase to bring Diablo Immortal to mobile devices everywhere.
Diablo Immortal is a new kind of hack and slash experience. Embracing the free-to-play games as a service model we all love so much, the game will be launching on both PC and mobile completely free. Much like Fortnite, or Call of Duty: Warzone, you won’t have to pay anything to jump in on the action. Once the game launches on June 2nd, you will be able to download the game on the platform of your choice and play. You can make your character, go through the experience, level up, and loot without spending a single dime.
Jumping into Diablo Immortal feels very in line with past instalments in the series. You select your class from Barbarian, Crusader, Demon Hunter, Monk, Wizard and Necromancer, give yourself a name, and get ready for some monster killing hack-and-slash action.
You will quickly find yourself fighting the many creatures that scatter the land, and will start the progress of levelling up your character. Much like in past games, you will slowly gain skills as you gain experience, with the early part of the game working as a tutorial, with the story and mechanics opening up only after you push through part of the story.
Set between the events of Diablo II and Diablo III, Diablo Immortal presents a world ravaged by the forces of hell. Fan favourite characters are found early on, with even some bosses players may recognize, such as King Leoric, making appearances as you work through the typical dark fantasy story. While the story and quests are a tool to push you through the action, it is much deeper than you find in most free-to-play titles, presenting the right level of world building and fan service to make new players understand the universe while still making old fans feel at home.
Launching on both mobile and PC, Diablo Immortal manages to be one of the more visually pleasing free-to-play titles you can jump into. If you have played Diablo III before, you will feel at home jumping into Immortal. The characters carry forward that game’s unique look, while pushing the visual flare with effects, detailed creatures and settings, and some stunning moments that elevate Diablo Immortal well beyond what you typically find for free.
The game looks fantastic on a modern smartphone, pushing your hardware as far as it can go with visual fidelity. The set-piece moments feel very close to console quality, with the visual polish you typically find in a full-priced AAA game. It is fantastic to see the mobile space getting attention and pushing what is possible on a handheld device.
“Diablo Immortal manages to have some depth behind the fantastic visuals and familiar world.”
Thankfully, Diablo Immortal manages to have some depth behind the fantastic visuals and familiar world. The gameplay feels very similar to what you would find on the PC or console, delivering the different skills, experience and gear you crave from a Diablo-like experience. From the hack-and-slash gameplay, to the mountains of loot, this is very much what I hoped for from Immortal. It would have been very easy to hold a lot of this content behind some sort of paywall, and thankfully they avoided this crutch.
Playing as a Demon Hunter, I immediately got accustomed to the new way to play. While I was not a fan of the touch screen control system, the game also offers the option to play with controller support, like the Razer Kishi. While I used to love the mouse and keyboard setup of the 90s, Diablo III on console spoiled me, so I find it hard to go back. Thankfully, both methods work very well, and it is all a matter of what you feel most comfortable slaying creatures with.
Loot is still a massive part of Diablo Immortal and you will be spending a lot of time diving into your inventory to pick the best looking and performing equipment. Over the hours of playtime I got to experience, I would say around 15 percent was checking on what equipment I had, what I could upgrade, and what new equipment I should try to unearth next. It is such a vital part of building your ultimate hero. It is good to see Immortal made the process easy, and very reminiscent of past games in the series.
Now that the good stuff is out of the way, it is time to explore the elephant in the room, the microtransactions. While Blizzard and Netease have done a good job delivering an experience you don’t NEED to sink money into, there are a healthy dose of ways to pay into the system for the people that want too.
This includes the typical things you would see in games like Fortnite including a Battle Pass and three different types of currency. Thankfully there are no pay-to-win mechanics in tow, so at least we won’t have a revisit to the dreaded Diablo III auction house.
Diablo Immortal comes with three different currencies at launch. These include Gold, the standard in-game currency found by killing monsters, Platinum, a special currency used to craft special charms and earned by completing daily quests and activities, and finally Eternal Orbs the special currency used to purchase Platinum, Battle Passes, Specialised Reforged Stones, Crests, and other cosmetics with the only way to get it is through purchase.
Things don’t stop there, as mentioned before Diablo Immortal has two different tracks for ranks, the stand free one with 40 levels, and the paid battle pass track also offering 40 levels. Both these tracks will have the player complete challenges and quests, with one only available to people who pay.
The standard battle pass will set you back $5, with a $15 option unlocking levels to give players a head up in the ranks. While it is a bit odd to see this sort of system in a Diablo game, it feels very similar to what we see in other free titles, so the pricing, while a bit complex, is not that outlandish, at least not at the time of writing.
Diablo Immortal brings the series to free-to-play and does so well for the most part. There is a lot of experience with the battle pass, and the monetization, but on the surface it feels in line with other games in the series. There is still that level with loot boxes and plenty to sink your money into should you want to go down that route, but the game does bring a hefty dose of content at no cost to new players. That combined with the promise of a steady stream of content post launch makes the game very exciting, especially for mobile game lovers.
There was a lot of skepticism about Diablo Immortal when it was first announced, but it seems Blizzard has pulled victory from the jaws of defeat. The game looks good, plays well, and is filled with more content than most people find in full priced-priced RPGs. While the monetization can look a bit shifty, especially with all the ways you could spend money, it never gets in the way of gameplay. If you are on the fence about Diablo and have a mobile phone, do yourself a service and dive in. You may want to have a controller to get the most of your demon slaying experience though.
Since the review was published, it has been revealed to what extent Diablo Immortal pushes in-game purchases, especially in the late game. With it taking potentially years, or thousands of dollars to be successful farther into the experience, it should be approached with caution. I personally had a lot of fun during my time with the game, and it does a lot of the Diablo formula right. The Elder Rifts, and the level of monetization take away from an otherwise well realized experience. If you are a parent considering letting your kid play, or someone who has had an issue with spending money to get ahead, Diablo Immortal may not be the game for you.