Diablo Immortal has a very contentious history. In short, it was revealed to BlizzCon in the year 2018 to an audience that is often ignored when it comes to major updates: the Blizzard community. I was a part of that community, as a neophyte player of Diablo 3. Lurking around the community I saw some of the players felt like they were ignored during major updates. When the new Diablo was revealed as a mobile game, one man stood up for the rest of us:
Everything went downhill after that. Over the years, Activision/Blizzard have had so many controversies that I could cover. I’d rather focus on the game itself and evaluate if it’s good or bad since it is now released in my neck of the sea (I’m from South East Asia). Let us see what it has to offer. Note: I tried to play this on my phone but I had to switch to PC. This review is solely from the PC user perspective.
The story of Diablo Immortal takes place in Sanctuary and is set five years after the events of Diablo 2 but before Diablo 3. Players start their adventure in the town of Wortham, which is attacked and threatened by cultists. Along the way, players run into returning characters like Deckard Cain as well as some of the playable characters from Diablo 3. You are now in service to Deckard Cain. Your task is to find the Worldstone across Sanctuary and prevent the apocalypse from happening by defeating demon mastermind Skarn, Lord of Damnation.
Your journey takes you to Westmarch (the city hub where you can meet players) and it branches out to the following locations of Sanctuary:
- Ashwold Cemetery
- Dark Wood
- Shassar Sea
- Mount Zavain
- Frozen Tundra
Graphically speaking, it looks good on both mobile and PC. Despite running it on a very old GPU, it is still pleasing to the eye. There is an apt comparison between Diablo Immortal and Diablo 3. However, some graphical improvements make it truly outshine Diablo 3.
The UI is readable and well-presented. It matches the motifs of the previous games and shares a little bit of the scheme from Diablo 3 while maintaining uniqueness. The placement is also great. For me it’s a plus since if you play it on PC you can really see the effort they put in and that they do care.
However, I do take issue with the fixed zoom camera. It is a bit of a bummer since it is very important to see the absolute bird’s eye view of the scene and scope out potential danger. That is a drawback of a mobile platform but is also present in the PC version. Another problem I have with it is that some of the UI fonts are a bit pixelated and zoomed in. It also affects in-game chatting and direct messaging.
The soundscape and music of this game are immaculate and very polished when it’s working correctly (I’ll get back to this in a bit). From the cast sound effects of your magic missiles to the impacts and death audio of countless monsters and demons you encounter, it’s enjoyable.
Gore splatter sounds are fantastic and the interaction responses are excellent as well. However, I did encounter my first sound bug when I loaded into a dungeon. I had to exit the game and then log back in. This is the first time I encountered a bug and they need to fix the loading issue with the audio.
The controls of Diablo Immortal are good, but there are some caveats since there are multiple ways to play the game. You can choose between playing on your phone, tablet, or PC.
The phone/tablet controls are similar to how you play a mobile MOBA game; there are skills for your character that use the press and hold style, similar to League of Legends: Wild Rift and SEA’s favorite Mobile Legends. There are limited skills and it limits the buttons as well as the triggers of the controller.
I have been far more comfortable with a controller whilst playing on the PC. However, the controls are too simplistic in the long run and I feel like it’s not enough to carry through the game. Essentially, you can only have four skills and an attack button to fight with and you have to rely on your class build to synergize everything.
The controls are set up based on my preferences and integrate well between different ways of playing. I can easily switch from keyboard to controller when necessary. I really like this about the game. I’ll give them a solid point for that.
The game offers a lot of stuff to do after you have maxed out your level and the paragon stages. This includes bounties, raids, and guild/group activities. It feels like an MMORPG experience for your phone (or PC) with great emphasis on focusing on the Codex and battle pass to gain greater rewards.
After finishing the game and hitting level 60, the level cap, you will gain paragon levels. This also enables you to move up in difficulty to Hell, which has four levels of difficulty. The more difficult it is, the better loot you’ll get. While playing the normal mode, I tried my best to farm various spots and got some of my rares.
After around two weeks, I can feel the monotony, but there’s still a semblance of joy when I play the game. There are tons of quests in the Codex to complete for rewards in the battle pass.
Raids and raid bosses also fill the desire for group play. It is quite fun, but there are times it is dull to wait around to assemble a group of randos to engage a demonic boss in the Helliquary. There is PVP, but I haven’t gotten the chance to play that mode since the majority of the game is PVE.
Overall: AAAANND THE CROWD GOES MILD!
My overall experience of the game is somewhat mediocre; there are high points and low points in the game. There is this weird inconsistency of wanting to play the game more but I put it down because of the nature of mobile games’ reward systems of logging in and out. Also, because it is online there are a couple of hang-ups and loading pauses in the main city of Westmarch. This is due to assets needing to be loaded and players habiting the space. Unfortunately, this took away from the experience.
There are also several bugs that linger in the PC version. One example is the audio bug mentioned previously. I get it constantly: I enter a dungeon and the game just stops producing sound. That’s an issue that still needs fixing. Another thing that I had a gripe with is the issue of cosmetics. They don’t have transmogrification NPC where you can mix and match your collected styles from the rares and legendaries that you collected. This is the most frustrating thing I’ve seen so far as they force you to go to the market. Some of the cosmetic sets cost you around $25.
I’m not sold on this because I can get the build right, but if I want my character to look good I have to put the credit card in. This is an issue for me considering your build is one part utility, but there’s also the aspect of fashion and aesthetics that you want to flaunt, especially in an MMO-like experience.
You have two choices: either you need to purchase the whole cosmetic set in the shop or muscle your way through the battle pass of the game to get the look that you wanted. There is also the monetization of the crests required to get legendaries and end-game items. It is a very long and convoluted process; to get the crest you need to get a portal and a small percentage chance that you will get a legendary. That’s a long fucking way to go to get a damn legendary gem or item!
Another thing about the game that no one wants to talk about is the size. I tried to download the game for my phone but it used a very hefty chunk of storage and still wasn’t completely downloaded. I ended up downloading the game for PC, where I can play it properly. The game size is approximately 23 GB. Imagine trying to download this game on a low to mid-budget phone.
This shouldn’t have been advertised as a phone game but rather a tablet game where you can plug in your controller. I can’t see myself, or any person for that matter, clogging up a phone with a game that requires such a hefty internet connection, especially once you get into raiding. It is insanity! It is best to play this game on either a tablet or PC. Keep in mind that the PC version is still in beta. Personally, the beta has done one thing well: the controls. Switching between keyboard and controller is smooth and makes for a good experience.
There is this lingering feeling of disappointment coming from grinding to find another piece of gear, then ending up frustrated not getting what I want. I tend to be more lenient of games that have grinding elements like MMOs, but it’s not a good experience in Diablo Immortal. To describe Diablo Immortal: if Diablo 3 was an MMO-ARPG with raids but not built for PC or consoles and targeted towards mobile gamers in Asia.
It should have been a home run: a Diablo game you can enjoy on your couch with multi-platform that connects PC and consoles. Fans would have had little salt towards the company and been far more welcoming, but it did not pan out that way.
Overall, I would not recommend downloading this game on your phone since it will clog up your storage. If you want to test and play this game, either a tablet or PC with a controller would be the best option. That’s my experience with Diablo Immortal in SEA.
If you wish to read more of the games I’ve reviewed, click here.