I’ve been following Blizzard’s upcoming Diablo Immortal for a while now. First, we saw the mobile title’s gameplay at ChinaJoy 2020, and then the company found itself in hot water for sexual harassment and other unethical practices. Most weren’t really interested in Diablo Immortal since Blizzard revealed it at a conference for their loyal PC gamer audience, but I continued to keep an eye on it as it was later said that It had been delayed while the development team (who are different from the litigation-stricken ones) focused on adding controller support and tweaking the whole thing.
Now, after waiting what feels like forever, Immortal fans now have a release date to look forward to and a trailer to go along with it! Those interested in it won’t have to wait long to stop looking at its pre-registration icon on the Play Store. Players can install the game on June 2, 2022 and play it immediately.
What’s most surprising is that the trailer shows cross-play and cross-progression with PC – something Blizzard said when revealing the game that they had no intention of doing. The whole goal with Diablo Immortal is “to reach as many players as possible” with a triple-A experience, according to director Whatt Cheng (yes, it’s kind of “Do You gUyS not Have PhOnEs?!”…This PR disaster was probably single-handedly responsible for the delay and implementation of cross-platform support!).
He also said during a recent livestream where the trailer and release date were announced that Immortal is not only their first mobile game designed from the ground up with mobile in mind, but that This is the company’s biggest and most ambitious Diablo game to date. That’s an understatement, considering how impressive Diablo III ended up being! The teased Diablo IV will hopefully end up being a lot bigger than Immortal, but I’m glad to hear that mobile is getting a lot of attention from a development perspective.
I’m not going to lie though, with more game studios and AAA publishers prioritizing micro-transactions and even Sony and Microsoft planning to place ads in console (f2p) games, the size and the aforementioned scale of Diablo Immortal and why the studio put so much work into it screams to me that they plan to monetize it, naturally.
My biggest hope for the game, however, remains that it plays well and looks native to Chromebooks. Built-in controller support, AAA-grade graphics, and landscape gameplay will make this a natural choice, and one of the few titles gamers can look forward to on their laptops outside of cloud gaming until the release of Steam on ChromeOS.
I want nothing more than for people to take Android games seriously, but despite Google’s best efforts to get developers to implement more inputs, scalable windows, background processes and more so that Android apps are more like full-fledged software apps, the makers seem hesitant.
The release of Google Play Games for desktop could drastically change that, and I think Diablo Immortal would be a prime candidate to push the Android gaming experience forward. To do that, Blizzard should really do their best and try – just a little not to smother the game with in-app purchases. I really can’t hold my breath, and I’m sure you won’t either!
In the meantime, I still feel like loading the original Diablo onto your Chrome browser is a viable option, and frankly, a bit of nostalgia fun. While Stadia has games like Darksiders Genesis, I still wish we had more Diablo-like experiences on ChromeOS. That’s why I hope so strongly that the real deal succeeds, despite the obstacles it must overcome to get there.