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"Enter the world of Diablo Immortal, a new entry in the Diablo universe. Taking place between the events of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction and Diablo III, this mobile massively multiplayer online ARPG is a true Diablo hack-and-slash adventure, all in the palm of your hand."
— Product description(src)
|Genre(s)||Massively multiplayer online, action role-playing game, hack and slash|
|Platform(s)||Android (Android 8 or above), iOS|
|Input methods||Touch screen|
Diablo Immortal is a mobile MMOARPG (massively multiplayer online, action–role-playing game) for Android and iOS devices.
"The Worldstone lies shattered, yet great power remains within its corrupted fragments. Power that Diablo’s minions hope to harness to bring about the return of the Lord of Terror.
The Archangel Tyrael is presumed dead, and mankind is left to deal with the aftermath of his actions. Fragments of the corrupted Worldstone taint the land, bringing forth ancient evils who are looking to harvest the stone’s power and use it to control humanity."
— Plot summary(src)
The game will tell stories set between the events of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction and Diablo III, taking place in the year 1270, though many of the game's plot points have their origins in the Eternal Conflict. The catalyst of the plot is the destruction of the Worldstone. Although destroyed, its fragments carried Baal's corruption with them, wreaking havoc across Sanctuary. The game's main antagonist is Skarn, Herald of Diablo, who seeks to gather the Worldstone fragments to resurrect his master and reignite the Eternal Conflict. Simultaneously, a fledging Coven has emerged, its cultists roaming the land and spreading corruption wherever they trod.
The game's plot will include what happened to humanity after Tyrael destroyed the Worldstone, how Tyrael was able to reform in Heaven, the activities of Deckard Cain, why Malthael abandoned Heaven, how the Demon Hunters were founded, what the golden age of Westmarch was like and the schemes of Adria and Maghda. The player's character is a hero who allies themselves with the remnants of the Horadrim, aiming to prevent the enemies of Sanctuary from reclaiming and controlling the Worldstone.
It has been indicated that the game's narrative may extend beyond the 1270 timeframe; when asked if vinaigrette-type stories will feature, the developers responded that "twenty years [the gap between Diablo II & III] is a long time."
The game uses touchscreen controls. It is designed to be played in a variety of ways in terms of time, ranging from short sessions to 5-6 hours at a time. Blizzard is considering adding controller support. The game requires an Internet connection to play.
The game is divided into two types of areas—outdoor areas, where any player can drop in and out of through "dynamic events" and Dungeons, which are instanced, four-player experiences. Each dungeon has a specific number of monsters and a selection of bosses, while monsters will respawn over time in outdoor areas. At launch, the game will have eight zones and seven dungeons. Elder Rifts also feature.
Enemies in the game don't scale to the player. Dozens of players can operate in the same zone at any given time. Dungeons are a mix of handcrafted and randomized design. Players can play the game solo, but the dungeons are designed for team-play.
Westmarch serves as the game hub, where players can interact with each other and purchase items from vendors before heading back into the world. A loot system features, but at least in the demo, loot does not affect class appearance (in the final version, loot will change class appearance). Loot cannot be traded between players. Legendary Items return from Diablo III. though each function independently rather than act as part of a set. Hardcore mode is unlikely to feature due to the issue of possible disconnects. However, the developers are looking at implementing a similar model.
Classes in the game include the Barbarian, Crusader, Demon Hunter, Monk, Necromancer, and Wizard. New classes may be added post-launch; the Assassin and Witch Doctor have been mentioned as possibilities. There is no mana or resource system, only skill cooldowns. Characters are controlled using a virtual thumbstick on the left side of the screen while the ability cluster is located on the right. The class skills were designed around the mobile interface, to move a character and target a skill simultaneously.
Each class has a choice of 12 abilities and may equip up to 5 of them at a time. These include Ultimate abilities; each class gains a charge for their Ultimate by using basic attacks. Once this charge has been built up, players can choose to augment their basic attack for a short time.
Diablo Immortal is free-to-play, with optional in-app purchases. Examples include Crests and Reforge Stones. Immortal also has a battle pass progression system that allows players to earn rewards by completing seasonal quests and other in-game activities. The battle pass has both free and paid tracks. All players can claim rewards such as Reforge Stones and Crests through the free track, while players with the paid track will have access to exclusive cosmetics and even more rewards.
The game features a Market system which connects anonymous buyers and sellers, with no ability to cash-out. There are limits to what can and cannot be put on the Market. While it will be a possible source of certain materials, supplementary items, and Legendary Gems, it is not a place to acquire gear. It’s also a way for all players, including those who choose to never make an in-game purchase, to exchange items they find for additional in-game currency, beyond what they’re able to earn through play.
The game has three types of currencies—gold, platinum, and Eternal Orbs. Gold functions as it did in prior games. Platinum can be earned through daily gameplay activities or purchased with real money. Players can also obtain platinum by selling items via the Market. Platinum is used for activities such as exchanging goods on the Market or crafting charms. Eternal Orbs are acquired with real money only, and can be used for purchasing Platinum, as well as other items such as the Battle Pass, Specialized Reforged Stones, Crests, and cosmetics.
"Good things come to those who wait, but evil things often take longer."
The first hint of Diablo Immortal arguably goes as far back as 2014, where the idea of the fragments of the Worldstone being explored was raised at BlizzCon 2014. Valerie Watrous commented that it would be an interesting idea to explore. Reportedly, the idea of a Diablo mobile game was something Blizzard had discussed "for a long time" (as of 2018). Reportedly, the decision to make Diablo Immortal occurred in 2016 or '17. The game came together after discussions from both Blizzard and NetEase, and is a joint venture. NetEase was chosen due to their prior experience with ARPGs, and their presence in the Chinese mobile market. Reportedly, the main reason for the game's existence was to cash in on the Chinese market, where the Diablo series has been extremely popular. According to some sources, the original idea was to release the game in China first, see how it went, and then release it in the West. The source further claimed that in China, the quality bar was lower than the West and that the equivalent of an alpha game could be considered a full release there. However, Blizzard made the decision to give the game extra polish and carry out a simultaneous worldwide release.
By late 2015, Blizzard was hiring for positions for a new Diablo project. By June 2016, Blizzard had opened a position for a game director. The position openings were either filled or removed by September 2016. In January 2017, Julian Love stated that in regards to another main series installment, "I think everyone wants that." In February 2017, David Brevik stated that "there's no doubt in my mind" that there would be a Diablo IV. At BlizzCon 2017, Brandy Camel confirmed that Blizzard was "exploring what's next" for the franchise, but that they had nothing to show (to the public) yet. Diablo content creators were asked for feedback on what they speculated would be in the works. In December 2017, Goldman Sachs stated that a Diablo game was predicted to release in 2019. In August 2018, Camel confirmed that multiple Diablo projects were in development. In September of the same year, the existence of a new Diablo game was inadvertently revealed with a leaked description for Diablo: Issue 1. Again in September, Goldman Sachs sent a message to investors advising them of several launch announcements at BlizzCon 2018, including the Diablo IV project and a Diablo or Warcraft mobile title. In October 2018, a "Reign of Terror" title was leaked via BlizzCon 2018 merchandise. Afterwards, addressing the issue, Blizzard stated: "these are names and copy used for some of the new products available at BlizzCon this year, and not direct references to content at the show." In the same month, Blizzard stated that it wouldn't announce all of its Diablo projects at the event. The game was revealed at BlizzCon 2018.
It is not being developed by Team 3. Development is split between a Blizzard development team and a NetEase development team. The Blizzard team working on the game is fairly large in size. New content will be added to the game over time. As of BlizzCon 2018, there are no plans to port the game to PC, and its pricing model has yet to be determined. However, in a subsequent interview, it was stated that the developers were being "non-explicit" in regards to ports. It was mentioned that "future games" in the same vein would probably have cross-platform play, with Hearthstone being cited as an example.
While the game looks similar to Diablo III, it uses different technology.
Inspiration was taken from the prior games in regards to Immortal's systems. When choosing the game's classes, the classes of Diablo II & III were looked at. Six were chosen from Diablo III as it was felt that they represented the franchise "very well." One of the first considerations was the game's control scheme. The game is designed to be played for all ages, while PC Diablo games will remain M-rated. As of late 2018, the game originally had a mana system, but BlizzCon 2018 had been replaced with a cooldown system. During development, the team alternated between the Diablo III paradigm (where each class had its own unique resource) and the Diablo II paradigm (where every class used mana). As of BlizzCon 2018, the itemization was also being looked into, including the possibility of socketed items. Both Diablo II and Diablo III were looked at for inspiration as to how to approach itemization. Similarly, as of this point in time, the game's business model has yet to be decided.
In March 2019, NetEase CFO Yang Zhaoxuan announced that the game was "pretty much ready," but implied that the game's release date would be decided by Activision Blizzard. In the same month, it was reported that the game was available for pre-loading in Taiwan.
The game entered technical alpha in December, 2020.
"Our hope is that our existing hardcore fans will play this game and love it, learn new things about the lore, but engage with a similar kind of gameplay that they know and love," he said. "The main difference now being that they can walk around with this in their pocket and play it anytime, anywhere. But then also bring in a new, broader audience that maybe likes action-RPGs but hasn't experienced Diablo. And then if we're really good at our jobs, bring in an entirely new mobile audience that has never played a mobile action-RPG or any RPG before. To get all of that right is a challenge we think about every day."
Reception to the game at its release was predominantly negative. Both the cinematic and gameplay trailers from BlizzCon 2018 received an overwhelming amount of "dislikes"; many more times than the "likes" amount in both cases. The Diablo Reddit was also noted for fans expressing dissatisfaction (it had to be shut down for a few hours due to the high levels of toxicity) along with YouTube. At a followup Q&A, the news that the game would not receive a PC release was met with boos, and taunts were thrown out throughout the session. One member of the public even asked whether the game was an "out of season April Fool's joke." Reasons for the outcry were pointed out as being how the Diablo series was predominantly a PC-based series, and that Blizzard partnering with NetEase was a source of contention, as Blizzard had previously kept development in-house. It was also suggested that fan expectation for Diablo IV had played a role in the outcry. Threads included calls for a boycott, a petition to have the game cancelled, and justifications for disrespectful treatment of Blizzard employees. There were also accusations of Blizzard removing dislikes from the YouTube trailers, but others have suggested that the number fluctuations are an algorithm issue or an adjustment after multi-account votes were removed.
Similarities with Crusaders of Light (another NetEase game) were noticed, leading some to call the game a reskin. Polygon concluded that the claims were accurate in as much that the user interface was indeed similar to CoL. According to Allen Adham, the control scheme was indeed taken from CoL, but pointed out that the control scheme is ubiquitous in the East, if not in the West. In a separate interview, on the question as to other CoL had been reskinned, Adham responded "there's no truth to that story," that the game had been built from the bottom up.
In response to fan outcry, Wyatt Cheng confirmed that other Diablo games were in development by separate teams. In an interview with Kotaku, Allen Adham stated that Blizzard had expected some backlash to the game, but "not to this degree" and "that being said, we knew our audience here desperately wants to see and hear about one thing in particular." Nathan Grayson noted that Blizzard had made a blog post that had effectively told fans not to expect Diablo IV, but postulated that some might have taken this as an attempt at reverse psychology. Adham confirmed in the same interview that the blog post had indeed been intended to dissuade fan expectations for Diablo IV.
 In an interview with Blizzard Watch, it was pointed out that Hearthstone had received a similar reaction as well when first announced, and that they hoped to win over fans from the PC space. Adham has further pointed out that almost every release of Blizzard has either been on a new platform or in a new genre, that they had originally started making console games before moving primarily into the PC space.
David Brevik gave a mixed reception to the game, stating that he was willing to reserve judgement, but was puzzled by Blizzard's decision to partner with Netease, given that Blizzard already had mobile experience with Hearthstone, and had a negative experience with outsourcing in StarCraft: Ghost. He commented that BlizzCon 2018 hadn't been the correct venue to announce the game. Jonathan Morin commented "I think I was ahead of my time," referring to his development of Diablo Junior 14 years before the announcement of Immortal.
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