Diablo Immortal: First Impressions

Last week Blizzard released a new Diablo version for mobile phones. (They’ve actually also released a PC version of it, but I haven’t tried it. The game is designed for mobile.) Being a pretty big Diablo fan, I had low expectations (because it’s a mobile game), but I checked it out anyway. The word on the street heading into it was pretty negative. Diablo fans were dismissive of the game when it was first announced, saying they wanted a “real” game. And then it came out the the game would be funded through micro-transactions, which are far from popular among the gamer crowd, even if they’re often par for the course on mobile.

But hey: it was free! It was worth a download and a quick run around the block.

Honestly, I’ve had a complete blast with the game so far. At its heart, Diablo (for me) is pretty straightforward. You go around fighting and killing enemies, hoping to get cool items, that will help you kill more enemies and get better items. The cycle repeats, and that’s it.

Diablo Immortal offers a slew of different ways to do that basic formula. There are quests. There’s a storyline. There are rift runs (which are self-contained dungeons that take about three minutes to beat). There’s a PVP system. And then when it comes to upgrade, there’s a ton of other ways to do that. Upgrade items. Upgrade gems. Upgrade things items go into. Upgrade your PVP skills. Basically, you can hop on the game and have a fun time in just a few minutes. It’s great.

Now, it’s true that the game has a pretty heavy pay to win side to it. You can buy items that will get you better stuff, using money instead of your time. And (obviously) that’s much easier and quicker than killing lots of things over and over. So there are already players out there that are much much more powerful than my character. However, that was always the case for me. No matter how powerful your items are, you’re still just doing the same thing: running around killing monsters that are just difficult enough for you to kill. Paying money to fast forward that process . . . doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. It might make a difference in PVP, but we’ll see. I guess if they have characters of all levels playing each other, then it’s an issue, because free players will get steamrolled. But if they do it based on item level, then that’s not an issue.

But even assuming PVP is a mess, it was always a mess for me. I never played PVP, because I didn’t have time to make really strong builds. I just would go on and play for fun. For that, Diablo Immortal is pretty perfect.

The other significant change is that they’ve made it more of an MMORPG, so you see other people running around killing stuff while you’re out and about. That took a bit of getting used to, but in the end it doesn’t have a huge impact on me. If you want to find a group of people to play with, the game makes that very simple. (Playing with more people means you get better loot.) But you can also just ignore it and be fine. I haven’t seen any griefing yet.

Will I stick with this game for forever? No clue, but if they release updates regularly, then I could see me doing it. The free model of the game is pretty much exactly what I want from Diablo. One could make the argument that the “pay to have a chance of winning cool loot” model is preying on people who are prone to having bad gambling habits. But let’s be honest: my other game of choice (Magic: The Gathering) is built around the same thing. If you’re playing this game, I encourage you to just not pay for anything. I did buy the battle pass for $5, because I like those, but that’s $5 every month or so. I’ve heard of some people who have already spent tens of thousands of dollars on the game.

Don’t do that, and if you think you’re the kind of person who might do that . . . don’t play this game.

But if you just want casual Diablo fun wherever you go, then download Immortal and enjoy. (And let me know–maybe we could kill some monsters together.)

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