With Diablo Immortal, Blizzard aims to build one of its biggest games yet
Shortly before launch, Diablo Immortal developers talk about making the biggest, most accessible Diablo game so far.
Update 6/2: Our Diablo Immortal review (opens in new tab) is live! See why you absolutely must play it even if you're not a Diablo fan.
What you need to know
- Diablo Immortal is slated to launch on June 2, 2022.
- It's a free-to-play Diablo game being developed for mobile platforms, though it's also coming to PC.
- Blizzard Entertainment says this is the biggest and "most ambitious" Diablo game yet.
"Even back at the original announcement in 2018, wanting Diablo Immortal to be Blizzard's first mobile-first title, we knew that we wanted to get that right, but it's been a journey," says Joe Grubb, principal game designer at Blizzard Entertainment. "Game design is iteration. What is Diablo on mobile? What is that core AAA Blizzard experience?"
Co-developed between Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase, Diablo Immortal promises a full-fledged hack-and-slash role-playing experience, while still being designed around mobile platforms. The game has changed a lot with fan feedback over the last four years, with the UI, endgame systems, and more all being revamped based on what closed alpha and later, closed beta testers, had to say.
While the game was designed for mobile platforms like Android phones and tablets, it is still coming to PC, complete with cross-play support. This decision was always being explored (the game was being developed on PC, after all) but it was finalized when Blizzard picked up on an interesting bit of data.
"We were able to look and see the average play session during the closed beta was 45 minutes," says Rod Fergusson, head of the Diablo franchise at Blizzard Entertainment. "And they were doing that multiple times per day."
Balancing the game for more hardcore players and still keeping it open for a casual audience hasn't been easy, with the developers noting that you have to account for players who don't have a lot of time on their hands, and just want to quickly play for three or four minutes. The result is that there's a lot of content, designed to appeal to players whether they want to play with friends, by themselves, or even use the game to make new friends.
"This is the most ambitious Diablo game that we've built," Fergusson says. "When you look at what's at launch, it's so much more than what was in Diablo 3, when you look at the endgame, the Cycles of Strife, also the focus on PvP."
Making the game open to everyone isn't just limited to bringing it over to PC as well, with Blizzard crafting a suite of accessibility features (opens in new tab) for Diablo Immortal. Voice chat transcription, resizable UI text, and more are in this initial set, though Grubb notes that the team will be adding more features in like with feedback post-launch.
Launch is just the beginning for Diablo Immortal, and the developers have a long roadmap planned with additional quests, zones, and more for players to experience in the months and years after the game is available. Blizzard is also looking at how players engage with what's there at launch, not just for planning more content for Diablo Immortal, but also for the future of the franchise, such as the more hardcore-focused Diablo 4.
With all that, if anyone is potentially interested in the Diablo franchise, but feels intimidated by the mainline games, the developers actually recommend starting with Diablo Immortal. The streamlined nature makes certain aspects easier to understand, but it's the same core loop of collecting loot and killing monsters, with Fergusson adding that "It's very much a true Diablo experience."
Diablo Immortal is currently slated to launch on June 2, 2022.
This new foray into the world of Sanctuary is free-to-play, but that doesn't mean it's small. Blizzard says this is the most ambitious Diablo game yet.
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Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on PlayStation on Android Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert