Thursday, August 11, 2022
Diablo Immortal at the end of the main quest
I played Diablo Immortal to the end of the main quest, killing Skarn, the Lord of Damnation. I reached the “normal” level cap of 60, and gained a few more “paragon” levels of the progression after that, playing at Hell I difficulty. I participated in the Shadow Wars, and pretty much every other activity the game has to offer. I’m pretty much through with Diablo Immortal, and I don’t think I will continue much longer.
The main subject of most reviews of Diablo Immortal is its monetization, which is excessive in how much you could spend on the game to reach maximum power. However, outside PvP, all that power is pretty much wasted. Monster scaling means that your experience of your character’s power isn’t actually changing much if you spend money to increase that power. I typically don’t mind paying money for a game, as long as it remains in a typical “$1 per hour of fun” limit. So I played Diablo Immortal for free up to level 50, and then spent a limited amount of money on a battle pass and a few cheap bundles “for research”. It turned out that beyond the initial dopamine rush for getting a bunch of shinies at once, the effect of spending some money on the game was extremely limited. Most mobile games give you a better return in quality of life improvements from spending a bit of cash, but not Diablo Immortal. Diablo Immortal just gives you a few percent more power, which you won’t notice.
I am pretty bad at action RPGs. I was only able to play even basic Elden Ring by using cheat codes, because I don’t have the reaction time to dodge big boss attacks. Diablo Immortal I played through the whole story content and died exactly once, due to one instance of me just not paying attention at all. For the rest of the content, I felt barely challenged until the last two zones, and even then I was able to beat the remaining content on the first try. Diablo Immortal is a very easy game, and very suitable for playing casually on a mobile platform. And for a mobile game that can be played through absolutely for free without hitting a paywall, Diablo Immortal is actually pretty good. Of course if you play the PC version and compare it with the graphics and gameplay of other PC games, Diablo Immortal is a pretty mediocre game. But other than Genshin Impact I don’t know of a game that offers me this sort of complete MMO experience on a tablet.
While the massive amount of free content in Diablo Immortal is appreciated, the game is somewhat overloaded with different sub-game systems, many different types of various currencies and side-activities. While those are introduced gradually over the course of the game, the purpose is clearly to create enough repeatable content that you don’t stop playing after reaching the end of the main story. Sorry, for me it fails at that. I got far enough beyond the story end to know how a daily routine of side activities to maximize progress on the battle pass or some other scale of advancement would look like. But that daily routine doesn’t really appeal to me.
In World of Warcraft I had a bunch of different characters of different classes and races, starting in different starting areas and playing through different zones while leveling. Diablo Immortal is extremely weak in that sort of replayability. You can make alts of different classes, but they go through exactly the same story and same sequence of zones. And there is a rather extreme separation between characters, with very little possibility of your main passing on stuff to your alts. Features like the battle pass are “pay per character”, which further discourages alts. There is a weird option to change class, so I could switch my barbarian into a wizard, but then I’d have a high-level wizard without knowing how that class plays.
Overall Diablo Immortal is okay as a free mobile game for 20 or so hours. But I don’t see a future for me in this as a long-term “game as a service”.