June is upon us, which means in 2022 a whole lot of MMORPG madness. Lots of releases this month of varying size, and it’s all kicked off with Blizzard’s controversial Diablo Immortal. Part mobile game, part PC, part MMO, part not-an-MMO-in-the-least, part F2P, part P2W, it’s a true study of muddled design.
Not that it’s bad, mind you. I wasn’t investing a lot of hope in Diablo Immortal being a huge hit or anything, but a fun Diablo experience on the go? Sure. I could do that. I was willing to give it a shot, at least and let it thrill me or disappoint me on its own merits.
And it’s solidly… in the middle, much like the game design itself. It’s fine. It’s mindless fun, at times. Very slick in its look, UI, and overall combat. Took me no time at all to get into the groove of running around, blasting bad guys, and hoovering up loot. Just like a Diablo game.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that great on my phone — at least right now. Could be the client and launch week craziness, but whenever I’m in the vicinity of other players or too many mobs, it all slows down into a slideshow. I am running it on a much older iPhone 7 (I think minimum is a 6s), so I wasn’t expecting perfection, but still, I was hoping.
It does run perfectly on my iPad and PC, although if I wanted to play Diablo on PC, there’s Diablo III with much more robust features. I was pleased to see how well the graphics scaled up to large screens — in fact, the bigger the screen, the better this looks and plays, I think.
I went with a Necromancer, of course, and started working on building up a minion master-type. Diablo Immortal doesn’t have much in the way of skill modification or talent trees — just gear and gems that help define a build.
It’s nominally an MMO, but it doesn’t feel any more massive than Diablo III. There are the hubs, which are usually bustling, as is world chat (and oh the gold spam), and it was easy enough to hop into a dungeon with three other people for extra fun. I actually really liked that feature and would do it again in a heartbeat. But it is disappointing that the guilds, as they are, are just 8 players max, which is befuddling for a massively multiplayer game.
So far, Diablo Immortal’s been a game that I’ve picked up for five or ten minutes at a time, but never longer. Just some bite-sized carnage and looting through a Halloween world. But while it’ll stick around on my tablet for now, it isn’t quite as compelling as I would have liked. It honestly feels like a lot of mobile spin-offs of popular game franchises — it has the veneer of those games while feeling fakey and shallow.
I don’t think it’s going to be the long-term hit that Blizzard would like it to be, to be honest, especially with the super-skeezy monetization that the studio’s rocking here. It’s crazy how much of a hail mary this is — and how people aren’t buying it this time around.