There is little to question that Diablo Immortal is a big and richly produced Diablo entry. It looks great, it evolves the formula of action role-playing introduced in Diablo III and matches it acutely to the hardware it was originally designed for, and it strikes a good balance of making you feel powerful while also enticing you to continue hunting down better loot. In that sense, Diablo Immortal is just another good Diablo game, but it’s also one that can’t always be played with the same obsessive cadence as prior titles given the number of barriers that can routinely force some time away from it.
The story takes place between Diablo II and III, with familiar faces popping up to provide some thin context for events that have transpired by the time you arrive in Tristram at the start of the last core title. Deckard Cain is back (why wouldn’t he be?) and so is a new evil that is threatening to use shards of the same Worldstone to wreak havoc across the lands. Story conversations are fully voiced, which makes Immortal feel as premium as previous Diablo titles on PC. There’s really nothing here that suggests it’s anything less than that either, with large open spaces for you to explore and numerous side quests to undertake as you progress the story.
What is different is obviously where you’ll be playing. Diablo Immortal was designed for smartphones, and it’s unsurprising then that it plays best on them, too. The touch controls employ the familiar digital analog stick on the left side of the screen, while the right features a cluster of buttons for your various abilities. You have a single main attack along with four equippable skills to choose from, with a fifth ultimate ability button appearing once you have access to it. It’s simple and well-spaced out, and I never found myself accidentally pressing any skills I didn’t want to. You can move and have attacks target enemies automatically, which simplifies your focus further, but also helps you accurately aim certain skills that require it. With my Necromancer, I often need to choose the area in which I want to explode a bunch of corpses, which is easily done by just holding down the skill in question and rotating my finger to position it. In a chaotic fight where I needed to pull this off fast, the accuracy could be a little wonky, but these moments were mostly fleeting.
Diablo Immortal also supports a variety of controllers that you can pair using Bluetooth, and here the action becomes even more manageable. With a physical stick, movement is more natural and mapping abilities to buttons and triggers meant it was even rarer for mistakes to crop up. Better yet, the right stick can be used to aim abilities, removing the need to have a single tap perform double duty. Still, it wasn’t as significant a difference that I found myself always ensuring I had a controller on hand if I wanted to play Diablo Immortal on the go.
Gameplay has been tweaked to accommodate the move to mobile, too, simplifying the formula from Diablo III even further. No matter which of the five classes you pick, Immortal won’t burden you with managing mana or stamina to use abilities, instead just relying on cooldowns to balance things out. Each ability also only has a single upgrade path, removing the options that Diablo III gave you to change up their effects. This ultimately gives you a lot less to worry about, but also fewer options to tweak your build using just your abilities alone. Legendary gems that you start acquiring later in the game do augment existing abilities while completely changing others, giving you some flexibility that will be required if you aim to challenge the game’s more grueling content once you’ve hit its level cap of 60.
Initially, the story itself provides enough momentum to carry you through your movement between Diablo Immortal’s several hub areas, each of which has a level associated with it to describe its challenge. The structure of how you move between these areas differs slightly from the stringent act-based progression of previous games, but it ties in well with the more MMO-like nature of gameplay. After the brief introduction, your world is populated by a host of other players, letting you tackle dynamic events and bounties together. Other players will seamlessly join and leave your screen space as they see fit, not requiring you to actively party up in order to work towards the same objective (although the ability to do so does exist). You can complete Diablo Immortal’s story entirely alone if you wish, with only endgame activities requiring you to start finding a large group of players to raid with.
Each story act is usually bookended by a dungeon, which can be completed alone or with up to three other players via matchmaking. These are packed with creatures to kill and climactic boss battles that are a visual spectacle, while also providing significant loot rewards on completion. This mission can be replayed infinitely with higher difficulty modifiers to increase both the challenge and reward, while also providing a good amount of experience to supplement traditional progression. These, along with daily bounties, codex missions, and other side missions, are somewhat required after level 30 when core story progression grinds to a halt. Missions start requiring you to be a certain level to play them, while later game areas will have monsters far beyond your capabilities should you venture to them without the requisite gear and offensive power.
Source: This news is originally published by gamespot