What’s wrong with Diablo Immortal? – Unbiased Review

  • Post published:June 18, 2022
  • Post last modified:December 19, 2023
  • Post category:Diablo / Reviews
  • Reading time:29 mins read

I signed-up for this game literally the same day it was announced back in 2018, but I wasn’t invited to test out this “mobile” game despite my long existence on battle.net and many countless hours spent on different Blizzard games.

And a few years later this game surprisingly came out on PC. It is finally time to get my hands on this masterpiece and give my unbiased opinion about Diablo Immortal.

I’ve reached the maximum level 60. I played most of the end-game activities including PVP without paying a single penny. Here, I will share my experience with this Mobile ported game created by Netease/Blizzard.

What this game is about?

This game has received a negative reaction from the audience ever since it was first announced. Out of nowhere, Blizzard surprised hardcore players with a new game, and it was Diablo immortal – The Phone-Exclusive game at that time.

I’m glad they actually ported this game later to PC, because my phone can’t handle such resource-hungry and oversized games. I’m also not a big fan of playing on overheating small screens plugged in with the charger. Sitting somewhere in a stuffy bus and playing with earphones is also not for me.

So after I launched this game on my PC I was pleasantly surprised. My first impressions were actually good. I was really surprised to see customization window for my character. Turns out later, that it was pointless, because most of the time you don’t have a chance to look on your character. It is unsurprising, that this game has an isometric camera, so you won’t see much anyway. There is no option to hide your helm to see the actual face. Character’s portraits are also rather some static images, than a 3D model.

Once I created my character, I started the game and here was another surprise – The voice acting and the story. The cinematics and visuals were also top-notch for a mobile game.

The combat and sound design had also encouraged me to play for longer. Despite the fact that most of the ability’s move sets came directly from Diablo 3, they successfully made it to this game and captured the original feeling. Skills also feel impactful and straightforward. The only difference here is that some of these abilities now require players to highlight a specific area of impact.

And for the sake of mobile gaming, there are now no more mana requirements. All skills are rather tied to a fixed cooldown duration. So if some of you expected to spam whirlwind, cyclone strike or other fun stuff – just forget about it.

As I mentioned earlier, first impressions were actually good. The only questionable aspect was the controls. Mostly keyboard layout, barely noticeable mouse cursor which you cannot change with standard features, and UI interaction in general simulating touchscreen. All these problems are described in the Quality of Life section.

Generic story

So in short, the campaign was quite good, not memorable but good. The voice acting, the characters, the cinematics, the dialogues, – everything is good, and the quest line itself wasn’t challenging much. Players could just chill and play the story while leveling their characters.

And only sometimes, the game forced players to reach a certain level threshold to continue the story and move to a new location. This happened to me a few times near the end when the amount of experience was still not enough. I had to constantly replay daily contracts and clear portals.

To be honest, I was actually expecting this game to force me to buy something to proceed to the next zone, pay for skills, a gear score or buyout revival for example but no. The whole story from begin to the end is free. There are basically no restrictions apart from the level requirements.

In my opinion, the actual story is unsurprisingly generic. And without spoilers I can say for sure that, After Tyrael destoyed the Worldstone in Diablo 2, All the players will do in this story is look for the fragments and destroy them with the help of Deckard Cain. While the actual antagonist named Skarn will obviously try to prevent the heroes from doing so.

Nothing special for me, to be honest. Diablo was never about the story, but the gameplay. It was quite generic, and without much cringe. The only moment that was confusing is the death of Oza. She served no key role in the story. So she just died from a traitor who tried to take the shard to the afterlife. I don’t think the story was boring. Again, It was just generic and without any plot twist.

Maybe at first you will like the storyline quite a bit. Unfortunately though, you will have to complete it each time over again for all new characters. The developers basically give no option to skip the Story after first completion. And without the story completion, the list of player’s activities is limited.

End-game activities (Rifts and Raids)

As soon as the story began to come to an end, it was the time to get actively involved in new activities –
Challenge Rifts (Aka. Greater Rifts) and Elder Rifts (aka. Nephalem Rifts). Doesn’t it sound familiar? Yes, Absolutely. These are a simple rip off with the extremely repetitive tilesets but with some minor environmental changes.

Was I expecting some new end-activity that wouldn’t remind me of Diablo 3? No, but the tilesets… They are absolutely the same. The same as in Diablo 3. You can literally see the same pattern from the adventure mode maps – for example the Halls of Agony, Crypts, Arreat Crater, Library of Zoltun Kulle or the Caves from Act 5.

What’s actually new?

The only difference they came up with these Elder Rifts. Here, players can place their free to play or legendary pay-to-win crests into the portal to add rift modifiers and increase the rewards from killing a rift guardian.

As for the Challenge Rifts – they pretty much serve the same role as Greater Rifts from Diablo 3. Players can select a certain difficulty level up to 200, and attempt to beat that map in the shortest time possible for the basic rewards and the leaderboards.

I am okay with these kinds of end game activities, but Blizzard or should I say Netease didn’t bother much adding something new to diversify the game. I am talking about the maps. For the players, who spent hours in Diablo 3, the maps and skills are almost identical. Will someone like me play this activity to see the halls of agony for the millionth time? I don’t think so.

The only big change they made is the legendary gems and the upgrade system. They certainly modify characters output damage and serve the crucial role in becoming stronger, destroying rifts faster and possibly melting players in pay-to-win PVP, but i’m not really interested in this Ponzi Scheme.

Story Dungeons

But what I really liked was the Story Dungeons. They all look different and have different environment. I especially remember the battle on the raft and the fight with the boss on the descending elevator. Funny enough, these two scripted fights were shown back in 2018 and there is nothing else present in the final version of the game.

I wish Netease could add more of these interactive fights as I mentioned before, and implemented them somehow into the greater rifts, but that’s what we have so far. Very refreshing, but unfortunately limited to certain dungeons.

Raids aka. One boss, One arena

As for the Raids – that’s where the cringe started to rise. The name itself is misleading, I can tell for sure. I played countless of other MMOs, and I know that “typical” raids include a complex dungeon for 8+ Players with several bosses. Usually, these bosses also have different attack patterns, skills and they may even have a background story.

But I guess I forgot that I’m playing a mobile game. All they managed to do, is to put into this raid activity one fucking round-shaped arena with a single boss. This is simply unacceptable and effortless.

I have no idea, why couldn’t they just use The Story dungeons and turn them into the actual raids with different mobs and bosses? – I don’t know. This would be a lot more fun in my opinion to try different tactics and builds, than running around the same arena a thousand times and hiding behind this rock as part of a bossfight mechanic to avoid instant death.

Not exactly sure what the developers offer in other raids, but I don’t actually care for two reasons: First, the introduction raid was absolutely unattractive and misleading to keep going, and second, it was extremely repetitive, predictable and not rewarding.

Gameplay formula

Well, it is time to talk about the fundamentals – The Gameplay. The combat in this game is actually fun for the first few hours. You can use up to 5 skills which can later be modified by legendary items, instead of runes like it was in Diablo 3. Doesn’t look fun to me, to be honest. The amount of useful legendaries and bonuses pretty much limit your possibilities and reduce the room for theory crafting.

And what’s limiting your builds more is the amount of skills for each class. There are only 14 mostly offensive skills, and most of them are from Diablo 3. Players have seen most of these skills for many countless times before. Of course, they look quite good, they feel impactful and stylish, but skills in my opinion lack originality.

And after spending several hours in on my Monk, I feel disconnected from this world. I have seen all these skills before, and I was falling asleep because of that. And these skills to me didn’t change much throughout my journey to level 60. All that time I spammed the same skills I used when I was a low level. Because other skills are just plain garbage, and they don’t look promising at all.

Plus I could just mindlessly press all 5 skills and then wait for cooldown. The main (generator) ability was also dealing pathetic damage and mostly used only to generate my ultimate ability. Unfortunately, this ultimate sucked for two reasons. Firstly, they unfortunately do not boost or modify the effects of your other abilities. And secondly, you can still easily be stunned, knock backed or even killed which is really annoying.

Questing and Shared World

As for the in game interactions and quests, they are too have some problems. Since it is a Mobile MMO game, at first I didn’t expect to see other players running next to me. Because the prologue mission felt like a plain Diablo 3 experience with the memorable location Wortham.

But once I reached the actual town and left the church, I was left with a pay-to-win offer window for the first time, and the crowd of other players. And then this crowd of fresh players including me rushed to other zones to complete the quests and kill specific monsters.

That’s what sort of ruined my personal experience with the story and daily quests later. When you are playing the campaign and listen to the dialogues or interact with other NPCS, there is a high chance that some mobs will attack your character and thus completely interrupt or skip the dialogue section. Additionally other players will always be present during this interaction and appear to attack the void, spamming spells, screaming and moving around on your screen. Cool, isn’t it?

And then there will be few moments with certain quests when you will have to hunt and kill specific type of enemies. This is real pain for daily contracts. This hunt may take up a lot of your time because the world is now shared, and other players can literally steal your quest mobs and leave you with nothing.

Speaking of daily contracts, aka. Bounties, most of the time these annoying contracts will include killing 60 enemies, killing 20 enemies for an item, or killing 10 enemies, then move to another area to kill 12 enemies and then move to a final area to kill 20 enemies. No idea who came up with this interesting and fascinating idea, but this was probably some Chinese guy.

Encouraging rewards

Since we are now playing a mobile MMO, Immortal also introduced several types of rewards which encourage players to enter the game for each day. The list includes first kill of the day, Rift crests, Codex advancements, Bestiary, and the time-limited battle pass. If players ignore them completely, they won’t progress much in this game. So it looks more like a chore. Most of these activities also have a daily or weekly cap, which can be really annoying. There is simply no way to advance your gear or level any further until the daily reset.

The only feature I liked the most was the Bestiary. This feature has no cap, it is user friendly, and it is rewarding to complete these pages by farming essence.

Confusing interface

As for the actual UI where all these features are located, I was rather left confused to navigate all these separate sections to find my exact objectives and rewards. The settings menu also have some problems. For some reason, all the settings including controls are not account wide, and I was forced to change my controls every time I started a new character.

This limitation also applies to the daily rewards, story quests and microtransactions. All that stuff must be collected or purchased on each individual character, and there is no workaround for that. Maybe it was intended by design, or maybe they just missed the point.

And the final negative experience about UI is the mouse cursor itself. This thing is barely noticeable in action-packed scenes and I had encountered this issue for several times. I simply couldn’t see what exact spot I was targeting…

Pay-to-win is killing this game

Time to talk about The most painful topic, and the biggest reason why this game is hated among the hardcore fans – Microtransactions.

This in my opinion is the best example on how the devs should not monetize their games and treat their players. Here, Diablo Immortal actively encourages players to interact with the in game shop where they can buy almost anything they want for the right price and gain an advantage over the F2P players.

Specifically the bundles that include keys, legendary crests to improve rift rewards, pile of gems for gear upgrades, Eternal Orbs to purchase ugly and not very ugly skins, rank up your battle pass or unlock empowered rewards, get platinum to trade with other players, purchase crystals or to create your own clan, and reforge stones. All that stuff can cost you some money or precious time, depending on what you choose.

And what is interesting here is that the amount of items the players acquire from this shop will be sometimes below the required amount to let’s say open the chest and upgrade the sanctum shrine, or certain cosmetics. I Assume a lot of free to play games have this system by design to force players to buy an extra pack of orbs to get an item, so i’m not going to focus on that any longer.

What’s more important to know here is that before you even spend a single penny in this game to buy even some basics like The beginners pack for a good-looking transmog, consider this: These purchases are tied to a single character. Meaning if you plan to play on a different character or different server, you will have to start literally from scratch. All these cosmetics and resources for some reason are not account wide. Maybe Blizzard will reconsider this idea, but for now we can’t hope for the best.

PVP Factions and Battlegrounds

Another crucial aspect of this game for some players is The PVP. I don’t play PVP in most games in general, so I’ll make it short.

In this F2P game, PVP is more Like Pain versus Payment, not the Player versus Player. Thanks to the microtransactions, this mode by default is deemed to face balancing issues between average and pay-to-win players.

No one of course forces you to play PVP in Diablo Immortal, but since there are two factions (Immortals and Shadows) with separate rewards, new currency and the leaderboards, players will want to get these rewards by all means, in the form of purchasing bundles to upgrade their gear and gems.

In short, Who has a better job and money – wins. No other options apply. Without spending a single penny into this game, I think this would take months or even years to master your class, upgrade your gear to the maximum possible level and reach the maximum challenge rift level. And This also applies to PVP. If players don’t spend enough money to upgrade their gear and gems, they are at a disadvantage and will never reach the highest ranks compared to credit card players.

Quality of Life changes

Apart from the questionable PVP mechanics, balancing issues and Monetization, I also had encountered several issues regarding certain gameplay aspects or quality of life in general that I wish existed in this PC/mobile game.

First of all, there is unfortunately no option to transmogrify a certain piece of armor on my character. Secondly, there is no option to hide my helmet. I wish I could see my hero in full glory right after the character creation screen. This whole process of creating a character with custom face, haircut and eye color is just pointless because of that.

Sometimes, when I was doing a quest or playing in a group, the game prompted me with a window to join an event or invite a player to a group. Because of this unexpected and annoying message I could sometimes skip the activity or mislick and invite someone I don’t want to play with. This problem began to appear less when the number of players decreased, but it still exists.

During my play, I also encountered several bugs related to non-working legendary items, broken animations, disappearing UI, and one funny glitch to fall through the map without any consequences. I could easily trigger the falling glitch in final area of the game. Good thing that the characters don’t take any fall damage.

Warband camp

Warbands aka. mini clans can also create a camp, but I wasn’t really impressed by that. The camp itself is some generic mini-zone where players cannot build or change anything except for the banner, and the interaction is very limited.

You can sit there by the fire, extinguish torches for no reason, assign helliquary buffs for your band (up to 8 players) or just share the warband equipment (like a shared bank stash) which cannot be sold or salvaged.

Not exactly sure why would players need this camp, because bands are limited to 8 players specifically for raids, and this camp itself doesn’t seem to give any permanent benefits nor buffs.

Character transfer and the state of servers

And the final thing that actually bothers my mind, is that how Blizzard is going to handle online servers and players activity in the long term. To my knowledge, players can only play with each other only on one specific server. Even though these servers support crossplay – meaning that you can play with your friends on mobile or PC, you will not be able to find or join your friends from a different realm.

And players eventually tend to lose interest to these games like Diablo, thus it becomes harder to find groups for Raids, Greater Rifts or PVP. Take a look for example at New World MMO, where the devs had to add free transfer for dying server realms and sell additional transfers for money.

And since there is no way (Which is unacceptable for any MMO) to transfer your progress to a different server by any means, this raises a question – What will happen next? Will they sell this transfer for money? Will they merge these servers? Or will they completely ignore this problem? Time will tell.

Video Review

Final thoughts

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much from this game. For a mobile game, I guess it is good. I don’t personally play mobile games anymore. Personally, I haven’t seen any mobile games like this with good visuals, impressive sound design, story and cinematics. Maybe Black Desert Mobile looks even better but I don’t know.

Since this game was also ported to PC, I think I can freely compare Diablo Immortal with other PC games. I will tell for sure that it is worse than 10 year old Diablo 3. I must say it is even worse with all these horrible monetization tricks.

To be honest, If this was one-time purchase game, I’d actually buy it and spend a few more hours there. Take into consideration the fact, that I Won’t see an in-game shop, microtransactions or daily quests. But this would require Netease and Blizzard to completely scrap this concept and make a completely different game.

For the first few hours I was actually having fun. I listened all the dialogues and cinematics, tried new skills and tested different classes. Then, halfway through the story I started to realize that this game can’t hold much of my attention.

This game is way too familiar from Diablo 3. We can see the repetitive and terrible raid bosses inside the raids activity. Story dungeons were quite OK, but I wish i could see more of them and with some unique approach. The main story is also generic in my opinion. Gameplay is somewhat fun for the first few hours, but then dissolves into repetitive madness. Same applies to painfully familiar map shapes in Elder Rifts, Challenge Rifts and annoying daily Contracts.

Should you try this free to play game or not is only up to you. Thank you for checking in.