It's no secret that Diablo Immortal wasn't well-received when Blizzard announced the game in 2018. While we got a wonderful meme out of the fiasco, I'm sure this wasn't Blizzard's intention. And so years passed until we heard about the game again, and it honestly didn't look all that bad, plus Blizzard was incredibly upfront about the plans for the game's systems, including its monetization, a surprising move. This is how we know Blizzard is flirting with a P2W system where you can pay money for a chance at better rewards, though this is mostly shoved off to the late game, resulting in an early gameplay experience that feels similar to the core series. So from what we know on the possible cusp of the game's release, I'm wondering how our readers feel about the impending launch, whether or not they will play the game once it's out, which is precisely what this article is all about.
A few weeks ago, we learned that Diablo Immortal could be nearing its official release, thanks to a recent Activision Blizzard earrings call that exposed as much. As it stands, the current alpha is already in a very playable state. I know this because I took the game for a lengthy spin last month, and I have to say the Diablo Immortal looks and plays great despite a few bugs here and there. And I don't say this as a fanboy since I'm not very big into the series or ARPGs in general. It's just hard to ignore that Diablo Immortal feels good to play in comparison to similar mobile titles.
1 hour of Diablo Immortal gameplay
Now, when I say polished, I'm talking about the actual gameplay. You're quickly introduced to the world, and for the most part, you'll hack and slash your way to victory just as you would expect. The beginning of the game felt very similar to Diablo 3, though some things are different. There's an optional path line that will always show you where to go, which could be considered a dumbing down of the series, but it sure is helpful when playing casually, which is more than likely the intention of this release, to appeal to a mass audience. This is why the levels are short, linear, and small in map size, all things that could put off longtime fans.
By clicking on a quest you get a foot print path line that shows you where to go
Of course, my video (above) doesn't contain any late-game content, which is where the title will be monetized the heaviest, allowing players to pay for a chance to earn better rewards through a Crest system that sort of works like a key for a loot box. While the balancing of this system isn't fully fleshed out yet, it's an area that could be easily abused at any time, which is worrying. I even asked the lead designer Wyatt Cheng about this questionable Crest set up in an interview, where he reiterated that gear isn't purchasable outright. And he's right, technically, you have to earn all of your gear by playing, but the inclusion of a Battle Pass system that rewards Crests that can be used to earn a chance to unlock better gear doesn't really line up with Wyatt's description since you can ultimately get better gear by paying money. This isn't helped by the fact Crests will be available for purchase outright, especially when the game includes a PvP mode where paying to win could very likely reign supreme.
Crests and the Battle Pass, there are also multiple currencies
Stuff like the Battle Pass and Crest system I mentioned are why mobile games are pretty much synonymous with cash-grabbing shovelware in 2021. So it can be tough to break through this assumption when a game straddles the line of highly-polished gameplay matched with questionable monetization, especially when these assumptions are made well before a game is released, creating a situation where it's fashionable to hate on a game before most have played it.
So for me, someone that tests mobile games daily, someone that has been doing so for the last decade, someone that knows full well how bad mobile games can get, I'm actually excited for Diablo Immortal's release. I understand that this could be a confusing statement from a blogger that typically takes a hard line when it comes to greedy monetization, but I feel this way because I've played the game and have confirmed that it is fun to play, something the majority of mobile games get very wrong. Balance is critical, and tedious grinds that use false walls to gate content and progression are never fun, something I've yet to run into playing Diablo Immortal. The balancing feels good so far, bosses are challenging without feeling like sponges, and it's a joy to discover new gear. It's clear to me that the extra time Blizzard has taken to polish Diablo Immortal is paying off.
Gear for days, an almost never-ending supply
And so, I'd like to take this opportunity to ask AP's audience how they feel about the upcoming release for Diablo Immortal. Are you eager to play the game, or do you think this has been a long-drawn-out affair that will ultimately result in a forgettable game that shouldn't be considered part of the core series? In essence, despite Blizzard's early missteps, do you think there's a chance Diablo Immortal will be worthy of the Diablo name?