On Thursday, Blizzard revealed a host of new details around Diablo Immortal — its mobile Diablo game — and even launched an alpha test in Australia. Diablo Immortal is similar in many ways to Diablo 3, but in a preview event on Monday, Blizzard told us its mobile game is more about a single-character experience than the current Diablo game for console and PC. That means one major feature will be absent for Diablo Immortal at launch: Seasons.
Diablo 3’s Seasons have kept the game going for years now. If you’re unfamiliar, every few months, Blizzard launches a new Season in Diablo 3. Each new Season asks players to start a fresh character and gear them up from scratch. Players then push that one character — engaging with unique seasonal effects — for a few months, trying to see how far they can get. Then, Blizzard launches a new season and they do it all over again.
Instead of rebuilding a character every few months only to abandon it, Blizzard wants to take more of a single-character approach to Immortal. So while players can have multiple different classes on their account, Blizzard expects most players to primarily play with just one.
Diablo Immortal seems influenced by World of Warcraft in that way. Instead of seasons, Immortal could lure players back in with expansions and major patches to keep the game fresh. Conceivably, players will have characters years from now that they’ve put almost all their time into.
This is a substantial shift in philosophy for Diablo, particularly for hardcore players. I’ve spent time with more than 30 characters in Diablo 3 since Blizzard launched that game in 2012. But characters in Diablo 3 are quick to come and easy to let go — seasonal models depend on players moving on to a new every few months, swapping character classes depending on the seasonal event. Some players even create hardcore characters, who disappear after their first death. Blizzard wants players to invest in their Diablo Immortal characters for years to come, and Diablo 3’s seasons aren’t compatible with that kind of play style.