I’ve been tracking with Blizzard’s upcoming Diablo Immortal for some time now. First, we saw gameplay for the mobile title at ChinaJoy 2020, and then the company got itself into hot water for sexual harassment and other unethical practices. Most weren’t really interested in Diablo Immortal to begin with since Blizzard revealed it at a conference for its loyal PC gaming audience, but I’ve continued to keep an eye on it since it was later said to have been delayed while the development team (who are different than those hit with litigation) focused on adding controller support and polishing everything.
Now, after waiting for what seems like forever, Immortal fans now has a release date to look forward to and a trailer to accompany it! Those interested in this won’t have to wait long to stop looking at its preregistration icon on the Play Store. Gamers can install the game on June 2, 2022, and play it immediately.
What’s most surprising is that the trailer shows cross-play and cross-progression with PC – something Blizzard said at the game’s reveal that they had no intentions for. The whole goal with Diablo Immortal is to “reach as many players as possible” with a triple-A experience, according to director Whatt Cheng (yes, he’s the “Do YoU gUyS nOt HaVe PhOnEs?!” guy…That PR disaster was probably single-handedly responsible for the delay and the implementation of cross-platform support!).
He also said on a recent livestream where the trailer and release date were announced that Immortal is not only their first mobile game that’s built from the ground up with mobile in mind, but that it’s the company’s biggest and most ambitious Diablo game to date. That’s saying something, considering how impressive Diablo III ended up being! The teased Diablo IV will hopefully end up being much bigger than Immortal, but I’m glad to hear that mobile is getting loads of attention from a development standpoint.
I’m not going to lie though, with more and more AAA game studios and publishers prioritizing micro-transactions and even Sony and Microsoft planning on placing ads in (f2p) console games, the aforementioned size and scale of Diablo Immortal and why the studio has put so much work into it screams to me that they plan to monetize the hell out of it, naturally.
My greatest hope for the game though remains that it plays well and feels native to Chromebooks. The built-in controller support, AAA quality graphics, and landscape gameplay will make it a natural fit, and one of the few titles gamers can look forward to on their laptops outside of cloud gaming until Steam releases on ChromeOS.
I want nothing more than for people to take Android gaming seriously, but despite Google’s best efforts to urge devs to implement more inputs, scalable windows, background processes and more so that Android apps feel more like full-fledged software applications, creators seem hesitant.
The release of Google Play Games for desktop could drastically change this though, and I think Diablo Immortal would be a prime candidate for driving the Android gaming experience further. Do to that though, Blizzard would have to really put their best foot forward and try – just a little not to smother the game with in-app purchases. I’m really not holding my breath though, and I’m sure you’re not either!
In the meantime, I still feel like loading up the original Diablo on your Chrome browser is a viable option, and quite frankly, a fun bit of nostalgia. While Stadia has games like Darksiders Genesis, I continue to wish we had more Diablo-like experiences on ChromeOS. That’s why I hope so strongly for the real deal to succeed, despite the barriers it needs to overcome to do so.