Diablo is coming to Mobile - But is this what you wanted?

By Joe Robinson 05 Nov 2018 4

Do you know which article does surprisingly well for us? The one where we talk about the best games like Diablo on iOS and Android. Diablo is THE defining action/RPG, and a game that mobile users at least would love to see on their phone or tablet devices (I’d say ‘handheld’, but you’ve got that Switch version coming now).

So, it’s interesting to observe how… mixed, the reaction was to Diablo: Immortal. To recap, this is a new action-RPG game designed in the same vein as Diablo 3, and designed for mobile… it’s just not Diablo III, and so far, that’s the game’s biggest and only sin in the eyes of many.

But while there’s been a lot of fan backlash to Immortal over the weekend, but we’re now starting to see some actual gameplay and more in-depth discussions emerging. For starters, take a look at the official gameplay trailer, as well as this hour-long gameplay demo wuith commentary from YouTube user Kraxell:

As far as controls go, you see to have a virtual joystick on the left hand-side, with the quick-access attack powers on the right hand side. Much like Diablo 3, gameplay is about keeping yourself mobile (for long-range classes, at least), but also firing off those abilities as often as possible. TouchArcade notes the controls are a lot like MOBA Arena of Valor, and they (along with Kraxell and a few other commentators) seem to agree that Immortal plays a lot like Diablo III.

Loot has always been central to the identity of Diablo games, and specifically, the near-totally random system of “loot fountains” that beget slaying big-groups of mobs as quickly as possible to get what you need. According to Polygon at least, Blizzard seem to be using Immortal as a change to try something different. There will boss-specific loot, emulating games like Warframe or Destiny 2, but Blizzard maintain the old system will be there in some form as well.

It’s also probably wishful thinking you could port Diablo III whole-sale to mobile – changes will (and should) be made to account for the differing control scheme and player mentality. But to be honest, the basic gameplay interaction/loop of Diablo 3 is something we’ve already seen in other successful ARPG titles, and considering the game wasn’t that graphically demanding to begin with, what will really set Immortal apart from being just D3 on mobile is the supporting mechanics, the window dressing, and more importantly, monetisation.

diablo immortal

Speaking of which, the involvement of Chinese company NetEase may have some people concerned – China’s mobile market seems exclusively geared towards freemium business models, and what games do make it out West don’t do much to change this perception. Putting the company aside for a moment, C&C Rivals and The Elder Scrolls: Blades are also indicative of where western publishers see the value of mobile products.

But you might be surprised to learn that NetEase have worked closely with Blizzard and others on a number of licensed properties. They’re credited with launching Hearthstone in the PRC, as well as being involved in Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm and Diablo III itself in this territory. They took over publishing duties for EVE Online in the Chinese market last month, and they’ve even licensed Minecraft: Pocket Edition for China. In this context is makes a lot more sense to have them involved in a game like Immortal.

Ultimately there’s been no word on monetisation – but given the precedents that have been set, freemium seems likely. But where a company like EA has a terrible reputation when it comes to freemium design, Blizzard have largely kept their heads above the water – there are few horror stories of “Blizzard F2P”, so I imagine they’ll be riding that good will as much as possible as more details are revealed over monetisation.

Diablo Immortal 1 1180x539

So what do we know about Diablo: Immortal at this point?

  • The narrative is set between the events of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction & the start of Diablo III.
  • You can choose from six classes, Barbarian, Monk, Wizard, Crusader, Demon Hunter, Necromancer.
  • It’s being billed as an ‘MMO’, although we’re not entirely sure as to how far this extends.
    • Social hubs areas are mentioned, as is the ability to group-up on the fly to tackle levels and bosses. We’re not sure what the maximum group-size is, or how else you interact with other players.
  • Uses Directional controls via a virtual joystick and quick-access buttons. You choose a skill, aim it, and release.
  • Doesn't seem to use 'Mana' or skill resources, just has cool-downs.
  • There will be both a traditional Diablo loot system, as well as a contemporary boss-specific loot system.
    • There is also an auto-upgrade prompt that tells you when you have better loot to equip, and allows you to auto-equip via the prompt.
  • It’s still very much “in development”, so a lot is subject to change

Diablo: Immortal’s is due to release "when it's done", but you can pre-register on both iOS and Android via the official website.

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