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Diablo: Immortal didn’t get much love at BlizzCon, but it’s much better now

Blizzard had a rather quiet roll out of what’s new for the Diablo mobile game

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Diablo: Immortal got the hell out of the way of Diablo 4 at BlizzCon 2019 this weekend, a smart choice by Blizzard after last year’s infamous and poorly received reveal of the mobile Diablo spinoff. But a year later, Diablo: Immortal is looking pretty good, actually, and it might just be a good fit for the Diablo fan looking to get some hack-and-slash looting in on the go.

I played Immortal at BlizzCon 2018 and walked away unenthused by the touchscreen-based Diablo at the time. I shared my colleague Ryan Gilliam’s tepid reaction from last year’s showing that Immortal was ... fine. It was fine. “[Diablo: Immortal] feels like it’s missing the sense of satisfaction that comes each time you crumple a demon corpse in every other Diablo game,” we said last year. “The soul of Diablo doesn’t feel present.”

Things felt different this year. While I was certainly more enthusiastic about my time with Diablo 4, which has a darker, Diablo 2-era look and intriguing new things to do in its massive world map, Immortal was more fun than I recall in 2018. Part of that may have been the newly playable Demon Hunter class, while I also enjoyed the flashy new ultimates, and the rapid-fire looting and leveling up, of this year’s demo.

On Reddit, Diablo: Immortal game designer Wyatt Cheng explained how Ultimates will work.

“As you use your basic attack you charge up a meter that sits around the rim of your basic attack button,” Cheng said. “When the meter is full a new ultimate button becomes available. You can activate that button at any time of your choosing to activate an ultimate mode that transforms your basic attack into a new upgraded version. The exact details of your ultimate state change based on which basic attack you have assigned. Every class has two basic attacks each with a corresponding ultimate.”

The demon hunter unleashes an ultimate
Blizzard Entertainment

Ultimates, and new legendary items that change up each class’ attacks, give Immortal even more over-the-top action flavor. It’s the junk foodier version of Diablo 3’s action-RPG junk food, and if I can stretch this metaphor further, like a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder value meal at the airport. It gets the job done — it’s another Diablo 3-style loot shower — but there are better burgers out there.

In addition to outlining new game mechanics, Cheng also addressed the game’s release date: There isn’t one yet.

“[The] rumor that the game is basically done was false,” Cheng said. “We are currently in full production and working hard on the game and we’re looking forward to sharing more information in the coming months. I know the rumors are fueled by excitement for the game and I assure you that when we are ready to talk about the next phase of development there will be clear messaging from Blizzard. Thank you for your patience as we take the time to get the game right.”

You can see how Diablo: Immortal has progressed over the past year in a development update video, at the top of this post, released by Blizzard at BlizzCon.

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