Over two years ago, Blizzard announced Diablo Immortal to a round of jeers at BlizzCon, creating a wonderful meme that will not soon be forgotten. Pre-registration was offered at the time of the announcement, though in the following years, Blizzard didn't offer much information about the game. It would appear Blizzard is no longer staying quiet, and so the company has announced a limited alpha on Android that's now available in Australia, all while releasing tons of new information across its websites. More or less, things actually appear to be shaping up nicely, though it's clear the game will be free-to-play while offering a battle pass as well as an in-game shop.
Dev diary from lead designer Wyatt Cheng
There's a lot of information floating around today, so it's probably best to stick with the primary source, so I've linked the latest developer update above. The video is less than seven minutes long, and it's definitely worth a watch if you're curious about Diablo Immortal's development. The lead designer Wyatt Cheng goes into a good bit of detail, which is definitely appreciated after such a long silence from Blizzard.
The newly-released technical alpha for Diablo Immortal is available for testing purposes on the Android platform in Australia, but only for a limited time, all so the developer can receive player feedback as well as test out the game's server stability.
So far, we know Diablo Immortal will offer an original story that takes place between the events of Diablo II and Diablo III. Besides the primary storyline, players can expect playable side dungeons, mini-quests, and boss fights. Dungeons should only last 10-15 minutes per dive, a perfect setup for on-the-go mobile play. Wyatt Cheng has even made it clear on Twitter that auto-play will not be included, so yes, it would appear Blizzard is making an actual game that should ideally require a modicum of skill to play.
Diablo's bread and butter, gear
Interestingly, all gear is found by the player, not purchased, but much like other mobile games, you'll destruct the gear you don't want in order to upgrade the gear you do want to use, with random bonuses offered when upgrading. Sadly this is where things get tricky because there's also going to be a battle pass system that awards items called Crests (also purchasable in the game's shop, how convenient), which will add modifiers to the game's Rifts/dungeons, essentially treating these dungeons as randomized loot boxes you play through to get better gear. The quality of this rewarded gear being dependent on the Crests you attach to each dungeon before you jump in. Essentially Blizzard has disguised loot boxes by shoving them underneath a dungeon-delving Crest-boosting system, which is a little worrying.
Since the game is free-to-play, all content released in the future will be free as well. Gameplay will not be limited, so things like a stamina system are not included. New classes will be added to the game free of charge, but more to the point, Cheng takes the time in the developer video to hammer home that spending money should always feel optional. He also makes it clear that the alpha is an early build and that things may change with player feedback. So here's hoping Blizzard can actually nail a good balance for free and paying players alike. At the very least, it's painfully clear Blizzard isn't rushing the development of the game.
4 playable characters in the alpha
As far as the alpha's gameplay is concerned, it would seem those who got their hands on it came away impressed. Eurogamer goes into detail to describe combat that feels a bit slower than Diablo III, but purposeful, calculated. So far, there are four classes to choose from, a Wizard, Monk, Barbarian, and a Demon Hunter. Each class has two primary attacks as well as a set of unique skills. The game is designed so that players will meet in a social hub/town to team up, and it looks as though you'll also run into random players when slaughtering your way through the in-game world, so Diablo Immortal could be considered an MMO-lite, which is a slight departure from the mainline titles.
A few shots of the game in action
Sadly we still have no idea when the Diablo Immortal will be released, but at least we now know the game is moving forward. Plus, Blizzard has been kind enough to offer the minimum specs for the game, which you can check out below.
Android Minimum Requirements
- CPU - Snapdragon 710 / Hisilicon Kirin 810 and higher
- GPU - Adreno 616 / ARM Mali-G52 and higher
- RAM - 2GB of RAM and higher
- Version: Android OS 5.0 (Lollipop) and higher
All in all, I have to say it looks like Blizzard is taking the development of Diablo Immortal seriously. It's definitely nice to see that Wyatt Cheng is out in front of the title, going so far as to answer questions on Twitter, plus Blizzard has dumped a ton of info across four separate web pages, delving into things like gameplay, progression, itemization, and what to expect from the newly-released alpha build. It's a lot to go through, but in comparison to the previous two years of silence, it's a gold mine, at least if you're interested in the nitty-gritty of how the game is being designed.
Cinematic announcement trailer
Of course, even though Diablo Immortal isn't playable for the majority of us, it's still available for pre-registration on its website as well as the Play Store. So if you've yet to subscribe to receive a notification upon release, feel free to do so through the Play Store widget below.