A lot of people gave Blizzard criticism for how Diablo Immortal was revealed at BlizzCon two years ago. Announcing a mobile game at a non-mobile centric conference to gamers who were not there for mobile games was just a bad move. Even though gamers ‘HaVe PhOnEs’, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their gaming preference is that device. For the rest of us though, who have been excitedly awaiting more news on this game, Blizzard released a new gameplay trailer at ChinaJoy 2020 a few days ago.
ChinaJoy is China’s digital entertainment expo and conference. It’s a place where new game reveals and an annual showcase takes place for much of China’s gaming market including online games, web games, console games hardware products related to digital entertainment and yes, mobile games as well. You can think of it as their version of E3, actually. Based on initial trailer reactions, this outlet definitely seems to have been a better place to talk about Diablo Immortal than their previous choice!
The new trailer shows off similar gameplay to the original, but this time we see new character renders with extended class trailers. These character models are more detailed as well. Mostly, we see new user interface updates though. The health bar has been moved under the player’s portrait and the player level has been moved to the bottom left of the screen, to name a few. A lot of what we see is seemingly done in an effort to make more use of the available screen real estate on mobile devices, so they’re welcome changes, of course. However, with two years of patient waiting with naught a word about the title, was such a trailer really enough?
Many fans would have liked to see a lot more in order to restore their confidence in the Diablo franchise, especially after learning that the game would be developed by NetEase, one of the world’s largest online and mobile games businesses, right next to Tencent. NetEase is infamous in the west for their copy and paste, template style game which is riddled with micro-transactions. If Blizzard is able to produce a good mobile Diablo port that is void of these issues, then we still hold to the fact that it has the chance to be successful, though we all know that breaking from this tried and tested mold is unlikely. Many people are upset that the game will not be releasing for the PC market, but the DNA of mobile gaming is that gamers want to play in small spurts throughout their day without a large commitment. To desire such a game to be playable on PC would be to ask its very DNA to be changed. I believe there is room for both a mobile and a PC Diablo franchise to exist simultaneously going forward, especially now that Diablo IV has received an awesome trailer.
The true middle ground for this franchise, I think, is Chromebooks. If Blizzard adds mouse and keyboard support to Diablo Immortal and gamers download and install this on their Chromebooks, the possibilities open up vastly. Not only can you play in laptop mode, but you could also hook that Chromebook up to an external mouse, keyboard, monitor and speakers to create a modern desktop setup, making the game’s experience virtually indistinguishable from its PC counterpart for casual Diablo fans. That is assuming that the developers really consider how mouse and keyboard implementation and its connection to UI elements and functionality works. We’ve certainly never seen this done very well in the past, unfortunately, but that could all change with a large entity like Blizzard. That’s our hope at least. As we start to see developers embracing Chromebooks for gaming, we need to see more external peripheral support so that these sorts of scenarios become more common.
Are you excited for Diablo Immortal? We’re interested in hearing your thoughts on this one as it’s highly controversial! Please sound off in the comments below!