Blizzard is finally bringing its beloved Diablo franchise to mobile with Diablo Immortal, up for pre-registration in the Play Store right now. Information about the game is still a bit on the sparse side at the moment, but BlizzCon attendees who were present for the announcement got treated to a demo of the game in its current in-development form. Those who pre-register may also end up in the game’s early access program. For the time being, all that’s known is that the game is simply a stripped-down version of Diablo 3 on the graphics and gameplay side, and that it’s set, story-wise, between Diablo 2 and 3. The game is being developed with help from mobile studio NetEase, and apes many of its popular action RPGs, but with much of the gusto that Diablo fans have come to expect from the series.
Background: Judging from available footage, images, and impressions thus far, the game is in a pretty simple state at the moment. More is planned, according to Blizzard; when it releases, players should be able to customize their equipment and their hero’s look, the base of which can be picked from six different classes. You’ll use an onscreen joystick to move about, along with an attack button and a few skill buttons, which can be dragged and positioned or aimed toward waves of enemies. Fans of both NetEase and Blizzard may notice two things about this game; first, many of the assets are either ripped directly from Diablo 3, or remade in a scaled-down style. Second, this game is very similar to NetEase’s own take on the dungeon crawler genre, Endless of God. One of the barbarian skills is even similar, one in which the player character brings their weapons to bear and spins for several seconds, becoming a whirling dervish of destruction. The action in Diablo Immortal is noticeably more refined and punchy, the graphics are far better, and there is presumably going to be a more intuitive UI that apes existing entries in the Diablo franchise. Since many elements of the game that will be in the final version have not been shown off just yet, however, there’s no way of knowing for sure.
Impact: This section is perhaps the hardest part of this article to write; since so little is yet known about Diablo Immortal, it’s hard to say what kind of impact it will have on the mobile space and gaming in general. We do know that it’s going to seriously increase NetEase’s clout, even if the game bombs, simply by the pedigree of having been trusted with a Blizzard project. As for the inevitable microtransactions, subscriptions, real money market, and potential pay to win aspects, Blizzard is entirely in control here, and may well have the power to set a precedent. It could be argued that the company did a reasonably good job of that with the full-fat version of Diablo 3, but that’s a premium game that didn’t have to make up for the price of entry being free. If you’re curious about where Blizzard will take things, the best thing you can do for now is keep your ear to the ground on further commentary and interviews from people at BlizzCon, and pre-register for this game in order to get your hands on it as soon as possible.