So it was Diablo Immortal that was announced at BlizzCon 2018, not Diablo IV. This video game on mobile, expected to be released on mobile next year, received a very mixed welcome from the community. But what is it really worth? We could try it during the conference.
This will probably be the big controversy that will remain of the BlizzCon 2018. While many were hoping for a surprise announcement of Blizzard on the license Diablo, a surprise that would have involved the presentation of a new extension for Diablo III or outright the promise of a Diablo IV, It has not happened. the American studio had warned his community though: although he knows very well the expectations of the public, it is not in 2018 that the license on PC will be renewed.
Still, it would be excessive to say that nothing happened on the side of the famous hack 'n' slash this year. First, because Diablo III was released on Nintendo Switch (admittedly, it is only a portage bringing fundamentally nothing new) on November 2nd. Then and especially, because Blizzard unveiled Diablo Immortal, a game that intends to tell a whole unknown part of the history of Sanctuary, the one taking place between Diablo II: Lord of Destruction and Diablo III.
So what's the problem ? The problem is that this is a game advertised for … mobile. And the least we can say is that the reactions of the aficionados have not quite been friendly. It is true that one could question the relevance of such a game to this type of convention, which aggregates a very specific and demanding audience. No doubt Blizzard would have been better advised to book Diablo Immortal for a Gamescom or even in an Apple keynote.
But what is done and done.
Now the question that needs to be asked is not so much whether the controversy is legitimate or not but whether Diablo Immortal is a good video game on mobile. Because it is finally what will remain once the storm passed. And of the two sessions that we could do at the BlizzCon 2018, the first with a witch the second with a barbarian, the overall impression we have is rather positive. It even improved, after a first laborious grip.
A hard start
First feeling when you start a new game: it's beautiful. Considering the specificities of a development on mobile and the constraints that it induces, the graphic rendering is successful – in particular in comparison with other games of the same type. And above all, it's fluid. We did not have any slowdown at any time, even when the monsters encircled our character and he used his abilities, transcribed in game by many visual effects.
This impression must however be nuanced: it is doubtful that Blizzard has made available its demo on high-end smartphones so that everything runs smoothly (we tested it on a Samsung Galaxy S9). In addition, during the game, we did not find that the waves were so huge that we felt overwhelmed. This will have to be checked with the complete availability of the game, but perhaps there is a limit of units that can be displayed on the screen.
When we first took control on November 2nd, the gameplay was laborious: we did not always put our thumb in the right place on the screen to move our hero. But we must make you a confidence: it is not an intrinsic problem to Diablo Immortal. It is rather a lack of experience in this type of mobile game that is deplorable. Before this title, your servant had played only a few minutes to hack 'n' slash of the same kind.
We had some problems with the launching of the spells, which had to be positioned on the screen to touch the enemies (we often hit next to them) and we could not always combine two spells together to trigger a kind of combo. In addition, during the demo, it was not possible to customize the active spells, change his talents or adjust his abilities according to his equipment. It should be possible when the game is released, but we do not know what that will give us the ergonomics.
Second part more enjoyable
The second part, done on November 3rd, went much better. The control of the character and the use of his abilities did not pose as much difficulty as the day before, which suggests that it takes just a time of adaptation to be comfortable with the gameplay. We still had some difficulties (we happened to show the action bar of Android involuntarily, placing our finger too close to the edge of the screen), but it was much more enjoyable the second time.
This reversal of impression between the two parties can also be explained by a change of class (three were available in demo: the witch, the monk and the barbarian). We first played with the witch, a character who needs to pay more attention to his life bar (because it is more fragile) and therefore to its position relative to the enemy, to limit the breakage. With the barbarian, these problems were of the old story: we go into the pile, we seek contact, we throw ourselves into the fray.
Small screen requires, Diablo Immortal must be careful not to display too much information so as not to impair the readability of the action. For the two parts of about fifteen minutes that we made, we had no trouble to see what was happening. The various elements (character status, zone map, quest display, movement cross, spells …) are in the usual locations of this type of game. Blizzard does not reinvent the wheel.
Diablo Immortal also offers a rather useful feature, the proposal of automatic equipment when we retrieve an item on a monster or in a chest, if it improves the characteristics. Is it because the inventory was unavailable during the BlizzCon? We hope that this function will remain, because it saves a little time in the heat of the action. On the other hand, it is difficult to perceive the changes of look that this induces, the screen being for the moment a little small.
Contrary to Diablo III, which allows you to zoom in on his character, it is not possible, at least in the current state of things, to bring the camera closer to the hero to enjoy his look.
Notwithstanding the fact of having taken in hand a type of game that is not the one of which one is the most familiar, a few small things have grieved us. With the witch for example, we may have been faced with a bug. You should know that the game seems to skip class-specific resources (like arcane power for the witch). Indeed, the game did not display any bar indicating the remaining reserves. Yet, at one point in the game, the character told us he was out of mana. We searched where to see this information, but without finding it.
In this regard, one of the developers involved in the project admitted that this may be a bug.
Among other annoyances, this time marked with the barbarian, the recovery of gold coins. This is normally done automatically by passing by. But it does not work when certain techniques are used. When the whirlwind of the barbarian is launched to defeat monsters, gold coins are only collected once the technique is over. A shame if we want to go ahead this way: we have to go back to recover his loot.
The pleasure that will be removed from the game will depend on these factors: your experience hack 'n' slash on mobile, your ease with this or that class (there will be three others for the exit: the crusader, the hunter of demons and the necromancer, just like Diablo III) and also the performance of your smartphone (note that if you have a phone with Windows Phone, the game will not be offered), including its power. Ha, and also the economic model, which is not yet announced. Questioned about it, Blizzard kicked in touch.