Hands-On: Diablo Immortal Is No Core Diablo Substitute, But Isn't Worth Ignoring

We preview the demo for Diablo Immortal exclusively at BlizzCon 2018, and it is a good time -- but a far cry from a main Diablo game.

November 3, 2018

During the opening ceremony of BlizzCon 2018, Blizzard unveiled the next Diablo game entitled, Diablo Immortal, which is an upcoming mobile game. From the moment it was announced, there was a lot of mixed reactions and confusion from the fans.

Lucky for me, I got to sit down with the demo to get a feel for Diablo’s take on the mobile scene. To my surprise, I walked away more pleased than disappointed. The game seems to sidestep the long dungeon crawl for a much shorter experience–which is a design choice that makes sense for a phone game. Though of course the demo most likely doesn’t represent the final product as far as dungeons.

The hands on demo that DualShockers go to test opens up with a choice between three of the six available classes — Wizard, Barbarian, and Monk. Naturally I picked Wizard first too get a feel for the touchscreen focused skills and movement. Diablo Immortals uses the digital-analog stick on the lower left half of the screen (similar to Fortnite mobile), and the skills, primary attack, and health potions are located on the right side.

At first, this control layout seemed odd but probably is the best option for the rogue-like RPG. Loot can be picked up by either walking over it or tapping the screen if your character is relatively close to it.

Inventory was locked for the demo, though I was still able to pick up equipment. One thing to note, as I equipped gear, my stats would increase, but my appearance remained the same. I’m not sure if this is just a demo thing or what the full game will also feature, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Skills are simple to tap on and feature a unique touch screen aiming mechanic that proved to be somewhat intuitive.

As far as gameplay goes, everything feels relatively smooth. Skills are simple to tap on and feature a unique touch screen aiming mechanic that proved to be somewhat intuitive. This feature makes actions such as walking away from an enemy while aiming your skill toward them a breeze to do. Touching on skills, it seems that they have just a cooldown when you can use it, so it seems that skills will be able to be spent as much as you want.

I was able to test out their key online feature by going into a dungeon with people on my table. I didn’t experience any lag or frame drops, and it seemed that loot dropped in my game wasn’t shared among other players. After the final boss, the demo ended roughly at about 15 minutes.

I played it again, this time with Barbarian, to test how a melee focused character performs on the mobile platform. To my surprise, it felt almost better than Wizard. I was able to point my skills at whichever direction at the slide of a thumb, and it felt intuitive. I’ve played lousy action RPGs on the phone before that take control away from the player, but Diablo Immortal instead lets me aim all of my skills and movement in a way that works well on mobile.

Though maybe some features like inventory management were unavailable at the moment; I would have wanted to see the skills page and know if there are ways to upgrade them throughout the demo. But I guess those for sure answers will have to wait until the release of the final game.

My personal thoughts are that this seems like a straightforward and well-executed phone game but also an oversimplified Diablo game. I think this game may be for someone looking to kill 20 minutes on the train rather than spend hours at home grinding. However, there is still some enjoyment to be had in this simplified RPG.

Before any final judgements, I still would like to see their implementations of online play since that seems to be a critical factor in the game, according to developers. And gear not being visible on my character does kind of take away a fun aspect Diablo usually brings as far as looting goes. Maybe they are optimizing data usage, or perhaps it’s just not quite ready to be implemented.

I’m also intrigued into how they will be working currency in the game. As you know by now this is a “free” mobile game, which will most likely mean in-app purchases. As far as what can be purchased remains unknown — I could probably bet it’s a mixture of cosmetics or maybe stamina to play more levels.

I think this game may be for someone looking to kill 20 minutes on the train rather than spend hours at home grinding.

This in no way appears to be a replacement to a true sequel to Diablo III–and the online anger about how this game was revealed certainly has merits–but this seems like something light for fans to enjoy as they wait for an inevitable Diablo IV. As far as fans’ right to be upset over the announcement, I’m sure Diablo Immortal is not what core fans wanted from the franchise, but that doesn’t take away from what this mobile game has to offer.

I would want to wait for further details about this game, including guilds and new content, before making any more critical judgment on Diablo Immortal’s final product. It may be the perfect game to play when you are stepping away from whatever future project the Diablo team is working on.

There is no confirmed release date, but can sign up for pre-registration on the Diablo Immortal website now.

Zack Potter

Zack Potter is a Staff Writer at DualShockers with a special love for fighting games and their competitive scenes. When he's not button mashing in Street Fighter, he is studying journalism at Fresno State.

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