Diablo Immortal impressions – The true cost of free play

Since its creation, Diablo Immortal was not a particularly popular game. This triggered the now legendary “Don’t have a phone?” meme, and has more recently been brandished as one of the most egregious pay-to-win examples in the industry. But are these complaints fair? Here are our impressions of Diablo Immortalwhich seems to answer if Blizzard and NetEase new action role playing game worth playing.

Before I get into the juicy stuff, I just want to touch on the gameplay. Many people seem to have this idea that Diablo Immortal is an incredible game held back by terrible monetization. While the second half of this statement is true, the first half is not. Although Diablo Immortal isn’t terrible, it’s not a great game by any means. There are several other action RPGs that I would recommend playing before even considering trying this. You know, like Path of exile, sinister dawnand literally any Diablo game that is not this one.

Aesthetically, the dungeons look great and the general flow of combat is decent. The abilities of each class chain together reasonably well, and using them feels fairly intuitive. Despite this, the gameplay has some flaws. On the one hand, it’s pretty easy and never really challenges you to improve or use your abilities in a certain way. Another issue is that the limited build variety and general lack of abilities means combat gets very repetitive after a while.

As the story is about as uninteresting as one would expect from a Diablo game, the gameplay should bear the burden. Unfortunately, it’s not diverse or interesting enough to do that. For the first few hours it’s great, but sooner or later you’ll find yourself doing the same things over and over again. I could see Immortal be a decent option to skip for 30 minutes a day when you’re bored. Beyond that, the game gets dull.

This is a mobile game

Diablo Immortal is a mobile game. By that, I don’t mean that it started life as a mobile game and was adapted to suit the PC better. It’s what you expected. Instead, what we got is a literal mobile game. Despite claiming otherwise, the tweaks made to bring this to PC are minimal and even a little insulting.

This might be the first game I’ve ever played that has frame rate settings but no option to change the resolution.

Perhaps the craziest omission is that Diablo Immortal has no resolution options. You have to play it at what appears to be 1080p. Those using higher resolution monitors will be bound to see the game stretch. On a 1440p screen, it’s pretty hard to watch. On a 4K screen, Diablo Immortal looks horribly bad. You can actually see the individual pixels at times, like in an NES game.

If that’s not bad enough, the UI also sucks. Not only is it difficult to navigate with a mouse, but basic interface functionality is not included. You can’t even hover over dropped loot to see its stats before picking it up. Additionally, there are some interface issues. If you’re in the inventory screen and press Esc, it closes the inventory as expected, but then opens a different menu right after. If something as basic as how the escape key should interact with the UI isn’t done right, then what hope is there?

Some actors may excuse these omissions by emphasizing that Diablo Immortal is a beta version. However, being a beta version does not excuse the most basic features of a PC port not being taken into account. If you plan to charge players in any way for a PC game, it must have these features. It’s not just quality of life options that make the gaming experience easier. It’s essential features that make a game work on PC. Not including them is unacceptable.

Diablo Immortal UI scaling not available

The user interface is not well sized and there are no options to fix this problem. Obviously this was designed with a small phone screen in mind, not a 27″ monitor.

payday

Given Activision Blizzard’s poor reputation lately, you’d think it would make every effort to improve its position. Even if it is only an act to gain time before being bought by Microsoft. But apparently the company’s goal is more to satisfy deep-pocketed gamers.

Members of Diablo community have already understood that maximizing a character in Immortal would cost over $110,000. It’s a terrifying tax, but it doesn’t necessarily show the game’s real problem. Diablo Immortal so surprisingly gruesome is how shameless the game is trying to milk customers for money.

Take this for example. When you complete a dungeon, you get loot. It’s the basic progression of pretty much every action RPG, and especially the Diablo series. However, then you get an additional option to pay money to receive more rewards. In other words, your rewards for completing a dungeon are limited by your willingness to pay.

Diablo Immortal Skeleton King Boss Fight

But before you even enter a dungeon, you’ll want to use crests first. Crests are consumable bonuses that improve your chances of obtaining loot. You get them by spending money and you can use up to three of them in a dungeon. At least, that’s what you’d assume looking at the initial interface. Except when you put three, then you are prompted to add seven more. If you decide to add all 10, which costs around $25 by the way, you receive significantly improved loot. We’re talking maybe 10-15 times the number of legendary items dropped per boss. When you see a player in amazing gear, it’s not so impressive anymore if you consider that they probably got that loot just by being rich or exploited.

Stay well away

My first impressions of Diablo Immortal are really not good. As far as I’m concerned, this is a mediocre mobile game with predatory microtransactions attached to every form of meaningful progression. Free-to-play players will reach a point where Immortal becomes a second job, and those who are more vulnerable will unfortunately be taken advantage of. It’s games like this that show the absolute worst side of capitalism, as every hint of developer passion is outweighed a hundredfold by the sheer greed on display.

Be careful, even if Immortal had a more accessible business model, it still wouldn’t be so good. The gameplay is good, but the lack of build variety and oversimplified mechanics make it a poor fit on PC. Worse still, the state of this port is so inadequate that I sincerely wish it never existed. I understand now why Wyatt Cheng asked us if we didn’t have a phone; there is no good reason to play Diablo Immortal on PC.

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