We all remember the announcement of Diablo immortal at BlizzCon in 2018. The screams, the tears, the frothing at the mouth just imagining that the next installment in the hardcore RPG series would be a mobile game. That’s how I felt when I heard the announcement. How dare Blizzard do this to a game series I remember so fondly?
I finally played Diablo Immortal, and it completely changed my mind. Diablo was developed as a mobile game all along, and Diablo immortal proves it.
It was a bittersweet realization. The mobile gaming market doesn’t have a good reputation with people who willingly use the word “gamer” to refer to themselves. Even the best mobile games are often shallow experiences designed to be played in short bursts while waiting at a bus stop or dentist’s office. Mobile games also have a reputation for exploiting the worst forms of mercenary and addictive design, using microtransactions and mechanisms that border on gambling (they are legally mandated as such in some countries).
This story of not unfair assumptions about mobile games prompted a backlash at BlizzCon 2018 – enough for Blizzard to publicly defend the game’s existence. Last April, Blizzard made another concession to the burnt Diablo fan base with the announcement Diablo immortal would also launch on PCs, although it was clearly designed for mobile phones. Upon hearing this news, I was relieved that I would be able to play the game on PC after all, but when Diablo immortal Launched a day earlier on mobile, I installed it on my iPhone 11 out of curiosity. That’s when I realized how wrong I’d been about Diablo all along.
My realization didn’t come out of nowhere. I had a hunch about it while playing Diablo 2: Risen
That’s the real reason to keep playing diablo 2, or any other Diablo game if we’re being honest with ourselves: it’s fun to collect more and more gear, get a piece of armor with a higher number than what you’re wearing, and watch your character’s stats go up higher and higher. Combat is simply a matter of clicking around to attack or reposition your character, and then clicking to collect more loot. The animations and sound effects that play as you kill each enemy have been fine-tuned to evoke a pleasant reaction, as is the case when you collect gold pieces and armor scattered all over the floor just before you get them equip (or disassemble). and sell it for more gold, for more loot with higher numbers). Your stats get higher, the numbers get bigger, the enemies get tougher, and so the loot gets better and your stats get higher… and so on and so on, forever.
diablo 2 also introduced me to the mechanics that keep games addictive for me – and many other people – to this day. Take “unidentified” equipment, for example; You can see some information about this gear, but you won’t know exactly how good it is until you reveal its stats with a special scroll sold in the game’s shop. These scrolls aren’t expensive, they’re not rare, and you don’t have to spend real money to get them. Why is this mechanic even in play? Because it makes some of the loot a little bit more special and a little bit more exciting – although it’s not really different from any other loot you pick up. There’s something delicious about that little sense of mystery—that tiny hurdle you have to overcome in order to move forward.
This is the same gimmick that the worst violators of microtransaction-packed mobile games have been using for decades. You pick up an unidentified item – maybe even a package of unidentified items hidden in, say, a mysterious treasure chest. But you don’t have the key to open it yet. When you get this key and open the chest, a beautiful sound will play along with a special animation. Other than that, the item in the chest proves to be useless for your character build. But what is that? Oh, it’s a different chest. What’s in this one? Maybe this time it will be different. Do you have to spend some real money to find out? A few cents maybe? That’s not so bad, is it? Remember how exciting it was back then when you didn’t know what was in the chest? It could have been anything!
Inside of course diablo 2, do not spend real money to identify items. But you can easily imagine why someone want Do that. The design is right there; You already have to wait to find out whether your item has a larger number or not. This is why the real money auction house is in Diablo 3 happened – although it had serious flaws and it was ultimately a failed experiment, the idea made sense. The next logical step for the series was always Diablo immortal.
I’ve only been at this for two hours Diablo immortal, and for better or for worse, it’s Diablo. You tap the screen to attack, wait for your various attack types to cool down, and tap again in each enemy’s general direction. The game never feels so brutal that you need something more precise than a thumb swipe to move around the screen. Deckard Cain is here and his voice is still serious; Cutscenes remain overly cheesy and entirely skippable. And of course, all of the familiar, relaxing, and hopelessly addictive mechanics that have been at the heart of Diablo for years have now been successfully interwoven with microtransactions. The dream of a real money auction house has finally come true.
You can, of course, play the entire game without spending a penny, and the animations and sounds will still deliver a very similar plethora of effects to your brain’s pleasure centers. The problem is that I am now deeply embarrassed by the result. It’s still Diablo, and now that it’s on my phone it feels even more like a slot – or maybe, now that it’s in this format, I can see it for the slot it always has been was. Diablo immortalNot only do microtransactions feel predatory and manipulative; They feel like the final ingredient that allows an already addictive series to reach its true form.
Maybe as a multiplayer experience Diablo immortal would stop giving me a bad taste in my mouth because my best friends would be there to distract me from what i now realize the game was all along. However, I will remove it from my phone because I don’t like the poison it is dishing out. It’s the same poison as ever – the random loot, the temptation to play just a little longer to see if you get something better, and the numbers get bigger and bigger and, ahhh, just one little greater. But this time with real money!
What is the difference? I mean I know the difference. It’s even worse when it’s real money, because that’s when you realize just how screwed up the game is. But for me, the painful part is realizing that Diablo was never really much. Here, Blizzard has made it look easy to refine the addictive, predatory aspects of Diablo’s design while inspiring her to spend quite a bit of money.
It’s funny that we still call Diablo an RPG, even though we all know that the RPG part isn’t and never was the main thing. (My friends and I used to play a metagame where we competed against each other to see who could skip dialogue and cutscenes the fastest.) Sure, there’s some “roleplay” to leveling up and choosing your character, which attacks look the coolest. But Blizzard didn’t even bother to record it that way Diablo immortalthe main selling point. The genre description in the Apple Store doesn’t even say “RPG” or “RPG”. Instead, the genre is “loot, customize, and explore” and the most important part is the first word – loot. After all, that’s what Blizzard is going to get.