Blizzard has been in the news a lot lately, but the company is still plugging along, and so it has published a fresh blog post that covers where Diablo Immortal is headed. Back in May, Blizzard hinted at a 2021 release for the free-to-play action RPG during an earnings call, but it would seem things haven't panned out, and so August's update post states the new plan is to release the game in the first half of 2022. So yes, Diablo Immortal has been delayed, but we've also learned that Blizzard is finally considering controller support (one of the most-requested features during the alpha tests), plus things like PvP and PvE gameplay are touched upon, more than likely for the purpose of illustrating that Blizzard is committed to creating a game worthy of the Diablo name, which is indeed a better direction than asking hardcore gamers if they have phones.
It sounds like there is still a lot of work to do to get Diablo Immortal to an acceptable release state, or at least that's what Blizzard is saying in its most recent blog post. Having personally play-tested the alpha, I can say it was fun, and the early game felt like it was balanced, though it would seem many players ran out of PvE content pretty early. Blizzard also appears to be concerned about the current balancing in the game's PvP gameplay, and so both PvP and PvE will be seeing new content and tweaks during the newly extended development time provided by the game's delay.
Following feedback provided by test participants of the Closed Alpha, our team has been tuning core and endgame features. For example, we’re iterating on PvP content like the Cycle of Strife to make it more accessible, alongside late-game PvE content like the Helliquary to make it more engaging. We’re also working to provide controller support for those who want to play our game in a different way. However, these changes and additional opportunities to improve our gameplay experience will not be realized in the 2021 timeframe we had previously communicated. So, the game is now planned for release in the first half of 2022, which will allow us to add substantial improvements to the whole game.
It also sounds like Blizzard is finally considering controller support, which could also be a driver for the current delay, ensuring that this much-requested feature is implemented properly for a game originally designed around touch controls. No easy task, begging the question of why Diablo Immortal wasn't designed around controller support in the first place, almost as if using NetEase's Mesiah engine was a horrible choice for a full-featured Diablo game.
Honestly, it isn't very surprising to hear that Diablo Immortal has been delayed to the first half of 2022, thanks to things like Covid, multiple lawsuits, not to mention an understandably pessimistic fanbase that wrote this game off the day it was announced. So it's nice to hear that controller support is finally being considered and that more content and tweaks are coming to polish the game further. From my playtesting, what was available in the alpha is already better than most mobile ARPGs, so here's hoping Blizzard can stay focused and create a worthwhile product since, so far, this story has been a three year rollercoaster of anything but good news.