Community Review: Ok, Let’s Talk About Diablo Immortal

Community Review: Ok, Let’s Talk About Diablo Immortal
Image: Kotaku Australia, Blizzard Entertainment

I expect some spicy takes in the comments on this one. Don’t let me down, gang.

After going on a brief hiatus while we slowly moved through the mid-year video game dry spell, what better game to mark the return of Community Review than the controversial Diablo Immortal.

A mobile game set in Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo universe, the game has lived under a cloud of suspicion and scrutiny its entire life. Controversial from the second it was announced at BlizzCon in 2018, Diablo Immortal is a game built to capture lucrative Asian markets, and was created by Chinese developer NetEase in conjunction with Blizzard.

The reason its initial announcement created the stir it did was that the Diablo 4 team backed out of that year’s BlizzCon opening ceremony on short notice. Without Diablo 4 as its grand finale, it fell to Diablo Immortal to close a showcase packed with Diablo 4 rumours. To fans, unaware of what was happening backstage, it looked like Blizzard had sacrificed a beloved franchise on the altar of mobile game commerce.

Just under four years later, and with no small amount of internal review, Diablo Immortal game has officially entered public access this week. The takes, spicy and benign, have been flowing.

There is a decided split in opinion between professional critics and the player base on this one. While most critics, Kotaku US included, were happy to give the game a pass (on the proviso that you ignored all the monetisation), the player response has been decidedly negative. A quick look at Metacritic reveals the scale in the opinion gulf, with the critic’s score of 75 sitting at a right angle against the player score of 0.5. That is an overwhelming number of negative player reviews — of the 2419 ratings posted at the time of writing, 2311 of them are negative. 93 reviews were positive, and just 15 were mixed.

What creates a split like this? Different priorities in terms of critique. The critics are trying to review the game around the microtransactions, and feel that game is fine, but nothing to write home about. The audience, on the other hand, cannot get past the degree to which the game has its hand out for money. Because of that, a deeply interesting dynamic has emerged. I don’t know that it’s the critics are out of step with what the audience want here. Rather, it’s that both parties are interested in very different aspects of its design. Weirdly, that contributes a more complete picture of the game as it exists in this moment than any one review could possibly hope to communicate.

And so, in the words of Philip DeFranco, I pass the question off to you: What’s your review of Diablo Immortal? Do you intend to play it at all? Are you surprised at its aggressive monetisation or is it more or less what you expected? Are you keen for Diablo 4? Tell me all about it in the comments below. I want us to really get into this one. Nobody has to love the game, or what it’s trying to do, but that doesn’t mean we can’t deconstruct it thoughtfully.

Comments

  • It’s a strange feeling not getting to kill Diablo for the first time….you know… since Blizzard already did it.
    *snorts*

  • I’ll probably have crack at some point, but right now I’d rather play nothing.
    And I won’t be spending a cent on it.

  • Not touching it at all because 1 i dont play phone games, they are shit and always will be shit, evn their ports to pc are still complete and utter trash.
    2. i havent felt the urge to play a blizzard game since the Lawsuit dropped. I actually felt revoltion and unease trying to play the D2 remaster despite it being a great remaster just because of how bad the Lawsuit is.
    Ive been to Blizzcon twice, id played WoW nonstop from launch Nov 2004 to feb 2021 and grew up with Warcraft 1, 2, 3 Diablo 1,2 and 3 and starcraft 1 and 2.

    The lawsuit hit me almost as bad as when i saw my mother and grandmother murdered before very eyes

    • I agree, but I think Diablo Immortal has proved that mobile games are getting worse, being greedier and grinder on purpose… the roadblocks and nets to catch whales is blatant.

      When games are made to get 2% of the players to be 98% of its revenue… its basically treating 98% of their players like garbage. Treating you as garbage.

  • Loaded it up on PC and had the very strong feeling of playing a worse version of Diablo 3.

    All the classes and skills appear to have been re-used from D3, a lot of the character models and assets appear to be re-used from D3, and it had a worse feeling in terms of smoothness and loading, presumably because of the emulation wrapper it’s running in.

    Problem is, I stopped playing Diablo 3 years ago, and I don’t feel a strong urge to start again, let alone starting again as a pretext to let Blizzard gouge me for money.

  • I play it, i enjoy it, will i play it long term … I highly doubt it

    (As the reviewers have said, there is a decent game underneath all the monetization, but the fact that the monetization is thrust in your face at almost every chance it gets it turns you off quickly)

  • Between Legends of Runeterra, Genshin Impact, Apex Legends Mobile and Wild Rift, mobile games take up a huge amount of my playtime nowadays, and I like Diablo Immortal enough that I’ve already blazed past the level cap and reached the endgame. That said, unless Blizzard tinker with the way the monetisation hooks into the endgame or come out with a particularly ambitious post-launch roadmap, I don’t know how likely I am to stick with it. Immortal is pretty good as low-intensity distraction or a loot game I can grind while I watch a mediocre TV show or listen to a podcast, but has one too many misses to succeed as anything more ambitious.

  • Personally, I think the game is good.

    A little too zoomed in on my ipad and having to stretch my fingers too much. I will probably play through it once.

    Is it pay to win, yes. Do I care? not really.

    Thanks for the OK free game blizzard!

  • If a gatcha game caters for the 2% of players who spend money, the whales… why are they surprised by a user review score of less than 5%.

    They hit their target audience, fat wallets.

  • I’m enjoying the game so far, haven’t felt the need to give em cash to progress as of yet & I don’t expect that to change anytime soon either.

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