Diablo Immortal Preview: We find out how the dungeon crawler translates to mobile

The announcement of Diablo Immortal as a mobile exclusive entry, as opposed to a fully-fledged sequel in the series, seems to have been met with near universal negativity across the internet. One glance at the official trailer’s like/dislike ratio is a clear indication that fans aren’t exactly happy with the surprise that closed BlizzCon 2018.

But you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, especially when it’s covered in super cool barbarians and demons duking it out. Diablo Immortal is far more accomplished than naysayers would have you believe and appears to translate the dungeon-crawling formula to mobile with relative ease.

Obviously, it’s been trimmed down in a few places, but that’s a sacrifice NetEase would have to make.  But it’s still fun, lined with a coating of  RPG mechanics that encourage you to team up with friends and go hunting for loot.

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Diablo Immortal

The BlizzCon 2018 demo was rather brief, beginning with me picking between a Wizard, Monk or Barbarian class. I only had a chance to run the demo with two of them, but even then I found sufficient variety amongst all the kills and abilities. Barbarians can slam down a series of hammers or whip forward a trio of chains to damage enemies in a display of brutality

Wizards, on the other hand, prioritise ranged attacks and teleportations due to a smaller health bar and the ease of which enemies can obliterate them. My personal favourite is a skill that allows you to zip multiple times around foes, disorientating them before dishing out a couple of lethal attacks. They’re both fun to play, largely thanks to the simple control system.

There are no keyboard shortcuts here, just a series of touch controls to explore each level and execute myriad abilities. Within seconds I was drawn in, able to experiment with moves all with short cooldowns and flashy animations. It’s perhaps a bit too simple, as even the demo’s final boss was a breeze with a few allies by my side.

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Diablo Immortal

After a brief tutorial with the one and only Deckard Cain, I’m thrown into a 15-minute demo where other BlizzCon 2018 attendees are exploring dark, haunted swamps and spooky cathedrals alongside me. The aesthetic here is distinctly Diablo, albeit with a smaller, more simplified footprint to fit a broad range of mobile devices. That being said, it still proved engaging.

You’re shepherded through stages by simple objectives that require you to kill certain enemies or reach specific areas. These apply to all players in the same instance, so it’s encouraged to get to enemies before they can unless you’re partied up. This is where the massively multiplayer elements of Diablo Immortal come into play.

Despite not being entirely developed internally, Blizzard has pitched this mobile exclusive as an experience that can easily be played with anyone, whether they’re casual or hardcore. This is likely where some of the criticism has surfaced, delivering something that is anything but a traditional sequel in the beloved series. But it deserves a chance and presents something with a lot of potential.

Joining other players before entering new areas was seamless, although we were only a few feet away in the same room. How this will work over mobile data or regular wi-fi remains unknown, but is a feather in Diablo Immortal’s cap it really can’t afford to lose. But even without that, there’s so much we still don’t know about Diablo Immortal.

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Diablo Immortal

However, the controls are intuitively smooth and combat is light yet satisfying and absurdly easy to pick up and play. The real question is whether NetEase can translate Diablo’s absurd depth and uncompromising lore to a portable experience outside the main series. It’s a legitimate concern, but one we can’t draw conclusions on just yet.

First Impressions

Diablo Immortal is a complicated beast, having already become an object of controversy simply because it dares to diverge from the legacy Blizzard has made for the series after so many years.

But I feel it’s in good hands and plays well enough that I can see anyone installing it on their phones and having a good time. We still know so little about its monetization or progression system, two core ideas that’ll make or broke Immortal in the end.

Diablo Immortal Release Date

Blizzard is yet to announce a concrete release date, but Diablo Immortal is set to launch for iOS and Android devices.

Diablo Immortal Trailer

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