Diablo Immortal (iOS) Review

By Philip Orona

I’ve always been a fan of the Diablo series since its inception. The point-and-click combat felt fresh, the atmosphere was appropriately broody and with well-voiceacted dialogue, Blizzard gave us a new standard-bearer of the dungeon crawler some 25 years ago.  Fast forward to 2018 at Blizzcon, Blizzard announced Diablo Immortal for mobile to a collective chorus of boos from the crowd. The fandom had a right to be concerned. Today’s market has seen the move from traditional game sales to free-to-play, pay-to-win, micro-transaction-laden models that have ruined many a franchise. Blizzard had taken the plunge with Diablo and the masses were not happy. The backlash would eventually result in a PC port which would assuage some prospective players but a cloud still loomed over Blizzard HQ.

Having played Diablo Immortal for IOS, the good news is, the game is still very Diablo. You pick your character class (Demon Hunter for me) and shove off into a world plagued by demons and monsters that threaten to plunge the world into eternal darkness. Some classic characters return such as Deckard Cain to help tie in previous games into the current plot. The characters have excellent voice acting attached to them despite this being a mobile game, as mobile D&D type games tend to skimp on spoken dialogue. Speaking of audio, the soundtrack is very gothic and moody. It hits its aural target making this feel very Diabolique. The game play is full of familiar sound effects such as the whirling sound of an item flying out of a chest or the viscous sound of a potion being consumed. 

Monsters spontaneously generate at a fantastical rate in some map areas and dungeons but traveling from location to location, they are a minor nuisance that can be mostly avoided. As for travel, you do get a map which can be used for fast travel once you unlock spawn points. The quest tracker helps keep you pointed in the right direction which is great as it would be easy to get lost with all of the branching paths of the overworld. In the dungeons, the layouts are fairly straight forward and look fantastic, not a single piece of environment looks out of place. There is some minor exploring that can be done in the dungeons but at least at the outset, the underworld questing is simple. With Diablo Immortal’s excellent art and design, It’s easy to remain immersed in the experience and its nostalgia factor is off the charts.

Monster battle is fun and engaging, especially with multiple skills that can be tapped to help stave off the horde of threats you will inevitably face. Boss battles are also very enjoyable. The variety of story beat bosses keeps you looking forward to dueling with the next big bad. Waves of lesser creatures will also plague you while fighting a head honcho but they are good for dropping health globes which helps you keep your potions in reserve. The difficulty is mild if you are prepared with decent armor and can avoid the spam of special boss attacks. If you die, you can choose to respawn just before the boss area or back in town. You can always search for a party to join for a quest or dungeon if it is proving to be too difficult, although some campaign related quests are in solo dungeons. Overall this is a quality mobile RPG and even better it is a decent Diablo entry. 

So is there a legit gripe to be had for the mobile format even with the PC version? In a word, yes. Microtransactions run rampant despite there being items and armor drops a plenty. A lot of the pieces dropped as monster loot end up being largely useless and are better as scrap parts. The pay to play goodies are the real meat of leveling up. While it is entirely possible to complete the 20 odd hour campaign without spending a single dime, if you intend on sticking around for the post quest game play (PvP, Guild quests etc.) you will find yourself at the mercy of loot boxes. Worse yet, the loot boxes are randomized. You cannot spend real money on a specific item. You pay for crests and hope you find what you are searching for in the randomized box which you spend your crests on.  Someone actually worked out that it would cost over 100k to max out your character which is both shocking and yet not surprising. Because of this, the game’s current metacritic rating is completely in the toilet.

So, is it worth playing? That is entirely up to you. If you have no intention of playing beyond the campaign, it’s free, there is no reason not to play for the entry cost and it is a solid game that is well produced and has fantastic in-between chapter story beats that continues to flesh out the world of Diablo. If you want to hang around to do all the community stuff, that’s all fine and well (I would highly recommend avoiding the childish and ignorant as hell world chat) but be prepared to empty your wallet. This is pay to win in all of its money grubbing glory and that is why Blizzard is taking all of the heat but you don’t have to play that game. Instead, I choose to play on my own, enjoy the base game and once I defeat the final story boss, Diablo Immortal will be uninstalled. It’s as simple as that.

Things I like: 

It’s Diablo!

Quality monster Slaying on the go.

Things I would improve:

If you are going to charge for items, let’s not randomize it.

This game will nickel dime you to death, Don’t spend the money.

Brightening up the darkness level would help game play.

Recommended Alternatives:

ANVIL: Vault Breaker (PC)

Eternium (IOS and Android)

Dungeon Hunter 5 (IOS and Android)

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