Diablo Immortal was much-maligned by a number of fans when it was first revealed all the way back at BlizzCon in 2018. This mobile, free-to-play take on the Diablo series was originally seen as something that was preventing Blizzard from working on a proper Diablo 4, which led to a backlash of sorts from longtime fans. And while those inferences were quickly put to rest when Diablo 4 was properly revealed a year later, the perception surrounding Immortal never really changed as a result. Despite this, after having now played a bit of Diablo Immortal during its recent closed beta phase, the game seems to be shaping up nicely and is something that many current Diablo fans should find enjoyment in. Better yet, it should help bridge the gap nicely to the release of Diablo 4 further down the road.
In a very broad sense, the closed beta of Diablo Immortal sold me on the general experience that is being offered here. Even though it might be on a mobile platform, Immortal features the same pillars of the Diablo series that one would expect. Upon loading into the game, you'll be prompted to select one of many different character classes, all of which play quite differently from one another. You'll then begin to venture through an eerie, monster-filled world where you'll proceed to collect loot in the aim of improving your character over time so that you can take on even bigger baddies.
Perhaps the biggest thing I was surprised about with Diablo Immortal is that it's… actually quite fun to play. Typically, I expect mobile versions of franchises to have dumb-downed mechanics to a certain degree, but that wasn't really true with Diablo Immortal. The Necromancer class, which is the one I chose to play as since it was new in this closed beta, featured a number of really cool abilities, most of which centered around my character sending hordes of the undead after various foes. Blizzard has done a good job of streamlining the combat in Immortal not only so it feels comfortable on a handheld, but also so that it still has the same level of satisfaction seen in other installments in the series.
I also have to say that from a visuals standpoint, Diablo Immortal also looked way better than I would have thought. Perhaps this is just just because I don't play mobile titles all that often anymore, but the same strong art direction, creature designs, and dark tones seen in mainline Diablo titles were mirrored well in Immortal at a visual fidelity that looked quite good. This leads to Diablo Immortal feeling like it fits in quite naturally within the larger franchise, which is definitely something that longtime fans should find comfortable.
Another nice addition to Diablo Immortal in its recent closed beta version is that it finally added support to tether a controller to your mobile device. Personally speaking, I have never enjoyed playing games with deep gameplay mechanics or systems on a mobile platform when using touch controls, so for me to be able to use a controller instead was a saving grace. I'm not sure if this is how I would opt to play Diablo Immortal at all times, but it's a nice feature to have, especially for any sessions in which you might play for a long period.
If there is one thing that I'm concerned about with Diablo Immortal, it would involve the game's monetization practices. For one reason or another, Blizzard actually opted to turn on in-game purchases for the closed beta with the promise that any money poured into the game during this phase would be credited to one's account in the full release. This struck me as very bizarre and raised a red flag when it comes to the title's monetization schemes in the future. The things that the Diablo Immortal beta did allow players to buy were fairly common (battle pass, consumables, etc.), so I wasn't necessarily put off by the monetization options in their current form. Still, the fact that Blizzard still tried to get money upfront from some players during Diablo Immortal's closed beta test just didn't sit right with me. This is something that I'll definitely be monitoring more once the game properly releases.
Diablo Immortal might not feel like the next-gen leap that fans have wanted from the Diablo series for years at this point, but it's not really supposed to be. In its simplest form, Immortal feels like it's going to be a comprehensive Diablo title that just happens to be releasing on a different platform than normal. If nothing else, it should scratch the same itch for killing demons, building a character, and collecting loot in a typical Diablo fashion. And at the end of the day, there's not a whole lot more that you can ask for.
Diablo Immortal still doesn't have a release date, but it's poised to launch on both iOS and Android devices at some point in the first half of 2022. Stay tuned to our coverage here on ComicBook.com if you want to learn more about the title.