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The Devil You Know: Diablo Immortal Hands-on Impressions
Posted by Raphael Leynes December 29, 2020



Diablo Immortal is the mobile game incarnation of Blizzard Entertainment’s gothic horror, isometric RPG which might probably be the newest mobile beast to take over your life. I know it definitely has mine. 

In our preview last week we’ve talked about how Diablo is coming into a brand new gaming landscape with a newfound respect for mobile games as well as the many features and changes that we can expect when we can get our hands on the game.

 

Well, that day has finally come! We got into the Technical Alpha of Diablo Immortal and played the first 10 hours of it. Here’s how it’s all shaping up:

 

The Devil You Know

 

Screenshot from Diablo Immortal | Blizzard Entertainment

 

First and foremost, what is most apparent is that Blizzard and NetEase have done exactly what it set out to do–put Diablo in the palm of your hand. Diablo Immortal definitely looks, feels, and most importantly plays like Diablo. Your character decimates hordes of deadly hellspawn as they come crawling from the shadows; items and gold scatter on the ground after bursting forth with every kill, and then it’s off to town selling loot and optimizing your inventory—oh, and I guess story happens somewhere in there sometimes as well.

Screenshot from Diablo Immortal | Blizzard Entertainment

Exactly like Diablo!

 

There are 4 characters available in the technical alpha, Barbarian, Wizard, Demon Hunter, and Monk. You can choose to play as either male or female versions of each character. There isn’t much else in terms of customization at the time of this writing apart from 2 interchangeable faces for each character and each gender. Hopefully, there will be more options during its official launch

 

Screenshot from Diablo Immortal | Blizzard Entertainment

 

Visually, the game at this stage is solid but nothing really jaw-dropping in terms of visual fidelity. The geometry and texture is just about on par with what you can expect from a mobile game but it’s the artstyle and the atmosphere that really drive Immortal’s visuals forward. The game sports that familiar, charmingly-chunky Blizzard art style wrapped in the gothic horror aesthetic and mood of Diablo.

 

Screenshot from Diablo Immortal | Blizzard Entertainment

 

Additionally, I was playing on an ASUS ROG Phone 3 which runs the game incredibly smoothly despite how many enemies and flashy skills were on screen and even at Immortal’s  Ultra settings. The loading times were virtually non-existent only pausing the action between levels mere 2-3 seconds at a time which may be a testament to Immortal’s optimization or the ROG Phone 3’s beefy specs or maybe a bit of column A and column B.

 

Diablo Immortal’s combat is defined by the classic core duo of normal attacks and special skills but remixed to fit the mobile platform. Immortal borrows a few things from the tried-and-true mobile MOBA genre as it’s control scheme is near-identical to the likes of Mobile Legends or Arena of Valor. You move your character with a virtual joystick on the left, and attack and unleash skills by hitting buttons on the right of the screen.

 

Taking another cue from Mobile MOBA, Immortal has also done away with mana altogether opting to put skills on a cooldown instead. There are now also new ultimate abilities for each character which are built up by attacking normally then pressing a button that pops up when the meter is full.

 

A clever new thing though is how the game handles Healing Potions which is always a core element in Diablo games. There’s a replenishing 3 bar meter on the right of the screen which you can activate to start chugging potions and heal per second and is filled by killing enemies.

 

My Beast Incarnate

Screenshot from Diablo Immortal | Blizzard Entertainment

 

So far I’ve played the technical alpha of Diablo Immortal for about 10 hours. I rolled a Barbarian and got her through to level 35 easily enough, in almost just a day of playing—the “Paragon” prestige endgame system starts at 45. I had fun using the classic Barbarian skills like Whirlwind, Leap as well as relatively new ones such as Hammer of the Ancients and a remixed Ancient Spear. A lot of the major Dungeon bosses have a lot of pomp and circumstance to their encounters which make them a lot of fun to fight and grind through—EXCEPT THE SPIDER BOSS. THAT WAS A STRUGGLE FOR ME AN ARACHNAPHOBE

Screenshot from Diablo Immortal | Blizzard Entertainment

Why can’t all bosses just be giant Skeleton dudes on rad horses

The inventory system can get a little cluttered since there’s no way to sort through your items or organize them save for checking one by one. I also miss the tactile feeling of dragging and rearranging my inventory to maximize space which is all but gone here thanks to the game automatically doing it for you. I hope they implement a more organized and better feeling system in the final build. 

 

Screenshot from Diablo Immortal | Blizzard Entertainment

 

As far as the jump to mobile goes, during my time I didn’t encounter any distinct mobile game quirks that normally accompany the platform. I wasn’t hounded with microtransactions, limited by energy, there were no ads in sight and the only gems that I saw were the ones being socketed to weapon and armor slots.  The game does have  Battle Pass but that’s just about all I’ve encountered so far which isn’t too big of a deal all things considered. 

 

Screenshot from Diablo Immortal | Blizzard Entertainment

 

All in all, I’m enjoying my time with Diablo Immortal, there’s just an intoxicating familiarity with the world and the grind that I can’t get enough of. It’s so devilishly ingenious how Blizzard and NetEase have transplanted the formula into the mobile platform and it’s safe to safe I’ll keep playing until January 6 when the technical alpha ends.

 

I’ll be back with more impressions on how the endgame looks like, how the different classes play and if it’s worth it to dive into that Battle Pass along with other thoughts soon so keep your horns to the ground for that! 

 

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