|Genre(s)||Action role-playing, hack and slash|
Diablo Immortal is an upcoming action role-playing hack and slash video game in the Diablo series designed for online multiplayer play on mobile devices. Developed by Blizzard and NetEase, the game was announced in late 2018 and is planned for release on Android and iOS with no set release date.
Diablo Immortal is a massively multiplayer online action game in the Diablo series designed for play on mobile devices. The fast-paced Immortal is set between the events of Diablo II and Diablo III, and borrows the look and feel of the latter.
The game is designed for a touchscreen, with virtual controls that overlay the display: a directional thumbstick and ability buttons. The player can aim the ability by holding its button. Each of the six character classes—Barbarian, Wizard, Monk, Necromancer, Demon Hunter, and Crusader—have four abilities, which differ across character classes. For example, the Barbarian's class abilities include a slamming hammer and turning into a whirlwind. The Wizard casts a beam of electricity that boomerangs back to its source, dealing damage twice. Skills generally aim towards the nearest enemy. Blizzard plans for each class to have 12 unlockable skills, from which the player choose five to use concurrently.
Defeated enemies drop items ("loot") that can be equipped via a pop-up button. Players can join and leave groups that play through "dynamic events". Unlike other Diablo series games, in the Immortal preview, the mana resource is removed and newly equipped items do not change the visual appearance of the player's character.
Immortal is co-developed by Blizzard and NetEase. The latter developer had been Blizzard's partner for Chinese market releases. Blizzard intended to bring the core Diablo experience to the smartphone platform. As a result, its interfaces reflect choices that would make that experience best fit the medium. By designing for a smartphone gaming audience, Immortal was designed to reach demographics and geographic regions that use mobile phones as their main gaming platform and may not otherwise interact with Diablo on other gaming platforms.
The game is planned for release on Android and iOS platforms. No release date is set. Players can pre-register on the game's website for admission to playtest the beta. Blizzard also announced plans to keep the Immortal experience fresh after its initial release with the regular addition of stories and characters. The game was announced at the opening ceremony of BlizzCon in November 2018.
The announcement's response was largely negative. While traditional gaming audiences often express skepticism towards diluted mobile versions of a cherished franchise, the Diablo series community's discontent was compounded by their anticipation for a larger announcement. They expressed their discontent through online channels, likening Immortal to a reskin of one of NetEase's prior games, Crusaders of Light. Blizzard responded that Immortal is but one Diablo series game in active development, and pointed to the company's multi-platform development experience and the success of the mobile version of Hearthstone as evidence of Blizzard's capacity to overcome uncertainty and do right by their core audience. Blizzard also debunked a rumor that they had withheld announcement of a main Diablo sequel due to the negative response at Immortal's reveal; Blizzard stated "we didn’t pull any announcements from BlizzCon this year or have plans for other announcements. We do continue to have different teams working on multiple unannounced Diablo projects, and we look forward to announcing when the time is right.".
After the reveal at BlizzCon, developers participated in a Q&A with attendees. Two particular questions leveled at Wyatt Cheng, Principal Game Designer at Blizzard, drew significant attention from media and audiences alike, with one attendee asking if the announcement was an "out of season April Fools' joke", and another if it there was a possibility for a PC release, leading to the crowd booing when the answer was negative.
Previews of the game's demo approved of the game's controls, its interface having been tested by prior NetEase games, though Polygon's reviewer noted difficulties in precision controls. The locked abilities made some character classes less enjoyable to play, as the Wizard's ability cooldown timers made the class less effective in groups.
Demo reviewers felt that where Immortal captured the series' look and feel, it omitted some of its core tenets, or as Polygon put it, Diablo's "soul". Whereas the mobile game captured the basic Diablo experience, the reviewers questioned whether the new entry had enough new content to remain fresh.
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