Feature Article

Diablo Immortal Left Me Surprisingly Impressed, Though Some Questions Remain

Demon hunting in bite-sized form.

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To say that Diablo Immortal made a big impression on fans at BlizzCon 2018 would be putting it mildly. While it isn't the kind of Diablo many were expecting, the upcoming action-RPG brings the traditional loot-oriented hack-and-slash gameplay to mobile devices, giving players another way to play the series on-the-go. While the mobile game looks and plays very similarly to the console editions of Diablo 3, Immortal focuses a bit more on offering quick dungeon-crawler gameplay in bite-sized form with many other players online.

At BlizzCon 2018, we spent some time diving into the game and spoke with designer Wyatt Cheng about the making of Immortal--made in collaboration with NetEase Games. As the first mobile exclusive game of the series, it uses a touch-screen interface for movement and combat, while also placing a larger focus on teaming up with other players. The announcement was largely met with a negative response from fans, many of whom were expecting the reveal of the next core entry in the series. Despite this, the developers aim for Immortal to flesh out the lore of Diablo, while standing equally alongside the other games.

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Interestingly enough, Immortal is set during the twenty year gap between Diablo 2 and 3, showing what many familiar heroes and villains were up to during the time before the latest core entry of the series. Pulling together six familiar heroes--the Barbarian, Crusader, Demon Hunter, Monk, Wizard, and the Necromancer--you'll be able to piece together the events that happened during the unknown period after Diablo 2. In our chat with the development team, they spoke about the current reception the game has had, while also elaborating a bit more on what they find is appealing about Immortal.

"We were looking at this 20 year period in between Diablo II, Lord of Destruction, and Diablo III, and we said, "All these events happened, so we should take a look at creating a game that explores that space in time," Cheng said. "We like to say that it's like Star Wars: Rogue One, which is an amazing movie. That movie takes place in between three and four, but it can be watched as a movie on its own. And it's a great movie on its own. But then if you know the lore of three and four, you're like, "Oh my goodness, this happened and that happened, and that's Vader, and whoa," and it completes the picture for you."

During the 15-minute demo on-hand at BlizzCon, we got a stronger sense of what Immortal aims to offer. When it comes to gameplay, the mobile title is very much in-line with previous Diablo games--albeit with a more streamlined approach. Though its focus is still very much on the loot grind and building up your chosen character, there's more of an emphasis on online gameplay. Though the developers refer to it as an MMO, we only got a limited glimpse of that, which felt similar to a standard online game of Diablo 3. In the full game, towns will be massive player hubs to interact with others, get new quests, and with dungeons allowing for up to four players to team up. Immortal will also have live-service model upon launch, which will add new content on a scheduled basis. But at this time, the developers weren't able to share any further details about it, or even if Immortal will be free-to-play or a paid title.

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As is the case for bringing a well-loved game series to mobile, there's usually some initial apprehension. I certainly felt that when trying to figure out how the rather involved mechanics of character growth and loot would function on a touch interface. With that said, Immortal felt pretty smooth after spending some time adjusting. Movement is controlled via the left side of the screen, while skills are all placed on the right side--which can be aimed and controlled by dragging to a particular area on the screen. Picking up loot and activating objects in the environment are entirely contextual, allowing you to tap the screen to interact with them.

While Immortal is a more simplified take on the slash-and-grab mechanics of previous games--dropping the mana resource in favor of skills cooldowns, for instance--it still very much retains all the familiar and core mechanics of a Diablo game. I actually found myself enjoying the game much more than I thought I would, which surprised me. With recent advances in mobile tech, Immortal appears visually similar to the Switch release, which is impressive. The developers were keen on trying out something a bit different with the series, and they felt mobile was the next big step.

"We really rely on people here at BlizzCon who can play the demo," said the game designer. "Because I think, Chris Metzen mentioned it in our first panel, he's like, 'When I first heard about the project I was skeptical.' And I think that's reasonable in today's world, our modern world, to be a little skeptical. But then for the people who play it, if they can go out and say, 'No, no, no, seriously, guys. I was at BlizzCon. I played the demo. It was awesome.' Hopefully that word of mouth spreads."

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There's still much we don't know about Diablo Immortal, and at this time, that certainly feels like it's working against it. The first impression it made at BlizzCon wasn't a great one, and that will likely continue until more details specifics on the game are revealed. With that said, Immortal has translated the core framework and mechanics down to mobile devices in an impressive way. While it certainly isn't Diablo 4, it's also clear that it's not trying to be. I don't see it as a true replacement for Diablo 3--the recent Switch version will keep me from doing that for sometime--but I can see myself playing this game during my usual downtime. I was surprisingly pleased with how Immortal played, and it'll be interesting to see how the game will pan out once it launches in 2019.

For more info about all the content from BlizzCon 2018, including the trailer for Overwatch's new character Ashe, and the reveal of Warcraft III: Reforged, be sure to check out GameSpot for more coverage.

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151 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for 50cratez
50cratez

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Edited By 50cratez

Alessandro Fillari is deluded. wonder which blizzcon he went to. think everyone there was pretty upset!

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Avatar image for soliaired50
Soliaired50

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So is Bread a Blizzard employee or the biggest Diablo fan here?

2 • 
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Cetra79

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Impressed based on a 15mins demo?? Its just a p2w netease game with diablo game mechanics.

How much did blizzard paid gamespot for this article? Shame.

5 • 
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HAWK9600

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*cups hands around mouth to be heard in the back* It's possible for the game to be somewhat enjoyable. Biased reporting would be purposely hating the gameplay in order to cater to people's pre-conceived idea about what the game is.

2 • 
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Bread_or_Decide

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@HAWK9600: Look at that, an adult in the room.

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abarteau

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I just don't care anymore. Even if they made Diablo 4 I'm certain it would have been just as garbage as 3. Let them run the series into the ground..I'm out.

5 • 
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Bread_or_Decide

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Edited By Bread_or_Decide  Online

@abarteau: Taking your ball and going home, eh?

2 • 
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franizarduy

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Gamespot is sad nowadays, impressed with this microshit, and you give red dead 2 , an incredible single player story with 0 microtransactions a 9 because of stupid political reasons, I'm done, out of here.

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Bread_or_Decide

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@franizarduy: You're insane. Gamers are totally insane right now.

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Karjah

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@Bread_or_Decide: you do know 9 out of 10 is an amazing score right?

2 • 
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franizarduy

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@Karjah: it's not the score, is the fact that the reviewer doesn't give a damn about the franchise, and yes , like it or not this is a 10 out of 10 game.

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Karjah

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@franizarduy: in your opinion which is fine but the sites job is not to agree with you .

If your too immature to accept the world doesnt revolve around you then please get out and dont come back.

Your the same idiots who went off on a female reviewer because she gave a game a 9/10 because it didn't connect with her. Its sad immature and you fools give gamers a bad name.

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franizarduy

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@Karjah: what is your problem? Have you even read the review? Like it or not the review was shit and the only fool trying to defend poor journalism just stopped reading.

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Karjah

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@franizarduy:

Buddy get out and don't come back. You give gamers a bad name.

Seriously.

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Avatar image for cammeyz
cammeyz

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You were inmpressed with Diablo Immortal? You must of been the single person clapping at the back.

Obviously you know everyones thoughts on Immortal......it's almost like a troll article.....

12 • 
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RicanV

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Edited By RicanV  Moderator

@cammeyz: he should have the same opinion as the masses and not offer an alternative viewpoint.

I know when I go to a website I want them to feel exactly like I do.

It's clear at this point that Alessandro was coerced. What if he wasnt paid off but if Blizzard held his dog ransom in exchange for 2 modest differing opinions? I hope Blizzard held up their end of the bargain and returned his buddy unharmed.

3 • 
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doremonhg9x

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Edited By doremonhg9x

@RicanV: And what makes you think he's not being paid-off? This whole article is bullshit with made-up stuffs that are nowhere in the demo at Blizzcon. If he never experienced any of the stuffs that he wrote, what makes his viewpoint valid?

3 • 
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RicanV

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RicanV  Moderator

@doremonhg9x: I'm not saying he wasn't paid off. I'm merely offering an alternative in that there is something more dastardly afoot and we should be sympathetic to him and his dog. I mean it's clear he couldn't just have a different opinion on his own. Something is amiss here and I don't like it one bit.

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doremonhg9x

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Edited By doremonhg9x

@RicanV: You know, that's very likely here because he's saying really nice things about features that he thinks is there but actually isn't there based on the account of literally everyone who got to play the demo and plenty of actual footage all over the net. Between that and him finding the game actually impressive, which is more likely?

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Avatar image for Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

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@doremonhg9x: You're insane. Seriously. GO find another hobby, leave gaming alone.

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Memphisminnie

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I pretty much have had it with these children. These moron video players killed the best 2 games I played over my 40 years in video gaming. Diablo3 at launch was SUPERB with a hardcore mode and a Gold Only Auction House it fullfilled my wet dream.

Grinding, crafting and trading were excellent in an incredible hard game until these moaners came en mass... children...

So now D3 is easy with no challenge, no trades and solo grinding without ANY long term goals...

I cancelled my Switch preorder of Diablo3 because I see with my eyes closed this new iPad version will have ALL the ingredients I like in Diablo: multi player, trading in cities and grinding to craft.

Bots? Pfff the hardcore Gold AH kept functioning until the very last moment, but whiney morons killed it.

I will never forget that you player losers.

Just sad to see these children rip off good ideas.

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fredyellowone

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@Memphisminnie:

Diablo 2 was good.

Diablo 3 at launch was garbage (art style, mechanics and an AH aimed at non playing the game)

Diablo 3 is still garbage now.

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Salt_AU

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Diablo Immortal and impressed in one sentence. No, just no.

Who wrote this article, Mr Magoo?

13 • 
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ILSATS

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Ah so Blizzard paid for this article eh?

13 • 
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Memphisminnie

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@ILSATS: Why should they. With this “competition” in smart phones and tablets they will have over 100 million players in Diablo. And you complainers still don’t see this as great.

Children...

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Avatar image for Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

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This is one of those moments where its embarassing to call yourself a gamer when you see what sort of vile people gamers can be when they’re entitled and think the world revolves around them. And these guys make fun of mobile gamers, ha.

5 • 
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MisterVulpes

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@Bread_or_Decide:

What? That gamers show their displeasure when a beloved franchise is pushed into a market space infamous for shallow experiences and dense micro transaction formula?

No one reasonable is calling for developer deaths or anything ridiculous like that.

Saying, “This looks terrible, and fans of the series (a pre-dominantly PC only audience for a long time) feel shunned” is hardly ‘vile’.

Stop being a drama dragon.

7 • 
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Bread_or_Decide

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@mistervulpes: It actually looked impressive for a mobile game. Nothing about the actual product looked terrible. Just entitled gamers crying again about how everything is owed to them, blah blah blah. Don't you guys ever think maybe the whole world doesn't revolve around you?

2 • 
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doremonhg9x

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@mistervulpes: Leave him alone, he's been going at it for a while now.

5 • 
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deactivated-5d4e6334bc1ce

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"Is this an out of season April fools joke?"

12 • 
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RicanV

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Edited By RicanV  Moderator

No, no, no. You're not fooling me!

Edit: I wasn't disappointed by the news because I had a feeling it wasn't going to be Diablo 4. I was hoping for maybe a remastered version of one of the older entries but didn't have my hopes all the way up.

I just can't play mobile rpgs. They've all followed the same formula and for the most part the controls are generally clunky.

I do feel that the majority of the outrage is unwarranted. As a a fan of the series who has spent countless hours finding the best mf set-up and running Mephisto after Mephisto run and getting a perfect GPoW in Diablo I understand that technology is changing and these companies don't have to cater to me. I will simply move on to another game.

Edit 2: The paid advertisement commentary is also not necessary. He specifically cites where he was impressed:

"With recent advances in mobile tech, Immortal appears visually similar to the Switch release, which is impressive."

"With that said, Immortal has translated the core framework and mechanics down to mobile devices in an impressive way."

I'm not sure if that is an overwhelming call to purchase or buy into the mobile game. I know it doesn't make me want to install the game.

6 • 
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Memphisminnie

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@RicanV: You are resposible I lost the game I LOVED at launch bro. So shut up will you.

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RicanV

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RicanV  Moderator

@Memphisminnie: could you offer clarity on your comment?

2 • 
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Fedor

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Articles like this shine a light on just how terrible games journalists have become.

20 • 
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Bread_or_Decide

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@fedor: They played it and you didn’t. But they’re the mindless sheep? Ummmmm

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Fedor

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Edited By Fedor

@Bread_or_Decide: I didn't call them sheep, though you fit that moniker well. Instead of making your 100th post on the subject and continuously announcing your utter embarrassment at being a gamer, you get a life.

13 • 
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wrngsurgeon

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@fedor: thank you..this was embarrassing from an everything standpoint lol

it's a shame i actually prefer gamespot over the other big ones. but they keep making really stupid mistakes that screams "we've hired friends associates and colleagues exclusively since 2005. it's always so out of touch in the dumbest way.

6 • 
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xboxps2cube

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Edited By xboxps2cube

Why so much hate for a mobile game?? To the older gen folks that’s upset that games are what they are today... the trend is mobile now. This phase isn’t going away. How can it be fixed?

I kinda want to elaborate a bit. With mobile a few things happen. Costs go down development wise, and the opportunity to make more money off the games via micro transactions. The game doesn’t have to be cutting edge graphics wise like a pc or console game. Plus the audience is large. So I get why they doing it. You can’t push liberal ideals like high end consoles and PCs without trade offs. Unfortunately this is one of them. I honestly think we need to change our expectation of how gaming is as a whole.

5 • 
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FecalMatters

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Edited By FecalMatters

@xboxps2cube: Uhh Microtransactions? Obviously this will be riddled with them. Obviously that is why they just *literally* just use that Netease game thats already made, and reskin it. Since Netease is a subsidiary of Blizzard or a fork of the company I believe.

Microtransactions are an absolute with this. They are why it exists.

"Costs go down development wise, and the opportunity to make more money off the games via micro transactions. The game doesn’t have to be cutting edge graphics wise like a pc or console game. Plus the audience is large"

Like honestly, do you think this is all about goodwill to its core audience that is the reason they are in business? You LITERALLY just described the biggest problem with mobile games; this is why they are RIPE for scamming people! Wake up holy crap...

"Plus the audience is large..." lol are you just joking? Flappy Birds much? Game made MILLIONS and took MINUTES to develop, it also stole assets directly from Nintendo (the pipes, strange how they didnt care about that).

12 • 
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Bread_or_Decide

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@xboxps2cube: These sorts of reactions continue to give gamers a bad name.

3 • 
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Cashmoney007

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Edited By Cashmoney007  Online

We should find out what Greg Miller thinks about this? I heard he is still a winner. He was on GS recently. Lol

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