Diablo Immortal is Blizzard’s latest offering in the Diablo world of Sanctuary. For the first time, however, this game has been written ground-up for mobile. While you may think that this means it’s another phone-based “ARPG”, it’s anything but. While there is a phone app as well, the iPad app is a different version again, and Blizzard opened up a PC port on June 2. I’ve tried it out on all of the platforms, and offered my thoughts below.
Running on iPad Pro 2020 model, the game runs smoothly at 60fps and looks great. The iPad and iPhone versions are currently in their release states, while the PC version is in open beta. The game is best played using a gamepad, which is supported on all platforms. The phone UI is surprisingly good given the size of the screen, but I certainly wouldn’t want to have to use it for serious combat, or on anything smaller than the iPhone 12. Again, you’ll probably want a gamepad with a stand. The differences between the platforms are minimal, though. This is a true “play anywhere” experience.
I was myself skeptical of a game that targeted mobile when I first heard it, but having played it on iPad especially, it really is one of the best native games for the iPad and iPhone. And really, Blizzard hasn’t sacrificed much of the original game to make it a mobile MMO. Complaints in-game seem to mostly be related to the “Pay-to-Win” aspect, which I haven’t yet seen myself. You can buy a limited selection of in-game items that improve combat rating, but most of what I’ve seen has been cosmetic.
Once you get through the initial hand-holding, the combat starts to have a Diablo feel about it. A primary attack, 4 secondary attacks, and an “ultimate” ability make up your arsenal. If you like the previous Diablo games, you shouldn’t be disappointed by either the gameplay or the level of difficulty. For serious Diablo players, difficulty can be set once you surpass level 60 into the Paragon levels. It doesn’t take long to get rolling, and soon you’ll be blasting your way through hordes of Hell’s minions non-stop.
The story itself takes place between the events of Diablo 2 and Diablo 3, and you will see a lot of familiar friends, enemies, and places. The story itself centers around the fragments of the Worldstone that were scattered when Tyrael shattered it. Even a fragment of the Worldstone is a powerful artifact, and many ambitious agents of Hell are racing to retrieve them and sieze the power contained within them. You, of course, are the hero to stop them.
Many familiar gameplay elements are present: rifts and bounties. Immortal adds many familiar MMO elements, such as dungeons and raids (which are done in warbands of 8 players, a considerable improvement on the 4-player limit of previous games), crafting of various types of equipment and leaderboards.
The monetization of the game is 100% microtransactions. There are monthly benefits such as the empowered battle pass that give you additional rewards for progress through the game guide, as well as the Horn of Plenty, which provides additional login rewards. These are mostly convenience items, though some rarer crafting components and the crests required for Elder Rifts are also provided. I didn’t spend a lot of time in the store – there seem to be “troves” available after every major story point and cosmetic items galore. If you want to spend money, there’s no shortage of things to buy. But free-to-play is honestly just that. You won’t get hit with ads beyond the store ads at login and the notifications of new “troves” being available.
Overall, Blizzard has achieved their goal of making the Diablo universe available on both desktop and mobile platforms. I’ve found it quite enjoyable and immersive, and the social aspect has been thus far non-toxic, with very few spambots and truly objectionable conversation. There are, of course, the usual trolls, but the signal-to-noise ratio of the chats is pretty high. I’m not a particularly social player, but the game guide encourages finding a warband to accomplish the higher-level raid content, and it is relatively easy to join one. Without the massive size of the “newb” guilds on other MMOs, it feels like you can actually get to know people and not get lost in a sea of other “newbs”. A warband seems to be a good size, and the game provides many goals for them. Worth checking out for both newcomers and veterans to Diablo alike.