Diablo Immortal is being liquidated by some disappointed Blizzard fans, especially on social media. Diablo Immortal currently has a user score of 0.5 on Metacritic, which is even worse than Warcraft 3: Reforged. But – that’s also true – in the Apple App Store, more users rate the game with a 4.6 out of 5, and in the Google Play Store, almost half rate the game with 5 out of 5 stars, albeit with a relatively low average value of 3.3. No matter how you twist and turn it, how much the perception of PC and mobile users differ, or how much meaningfulness you generally attribute to user ratings: Blizzard’s latest game polarizes!
The biggest upset could be that I decided not to hit Immortal with the biggest belittling club we have in the closet. Because according to our devaluation guidelines, that would be a proud 15 points. But I only decided on 10 points. And this decision consists of the following two points:
Pay2Win par excellence:
Blizzard sticks to linking relevant content for improving its class to a payment model. This is most evident when dealing with the legendary gems. Together with the legendary items, these gems are the most critical factor for strengthening your heroes. And also to guarantee the most varied builds possible in the game.
Unlike legendary items, these gems are only available as rewards in the elder portals. And those are only guaranteed if a legendary emblem is used. However, players usually have to shell out around 2.50 euros for such an emblem. And more importantly, there are legendary gems of different qualities. Legendary gems with the highest number of stars and the highest rank are mandatory for the theoretically best character build.
To get a new rank, we need to collect more gems and then sacrifice them. This means that we need an enormous amount of these gems. And since those who don’t want to spend money have only a minimal chance of getting these stones, it becomes virtually impossible to compete in PVP or the challenge portals for free. Only those who spend money can play in the endgame at all. If not, you can give yourself many activities after level 60. You will hardly celebrate success here. Only those who casually hunt monsters with a few friends can still have fun here for free.
This is Pay2Win disguising itself as Pay2Progress and Pay2Progress masking gambling mechanics. Because even if you spend money, the gems you find are not always the ones you need right now. And unlike the legendary cards in Hearthstone, you can’t craft the desired gems without spending money.
In theory, gems can be created using runes, but in practice, you are dependent on rare random drops, coupled with absurdly high crafting costs.
Without money and luck, you will hit a hard paywall sooner or later, which cannot be avoided even with the most incredible patience and the longest playing time.
In combination with the item packages in the store, the opaque currencies, and the high prices, Blizzard pulls out all the stops here, which are sadly commonplace in the Free2Play mobile sector but are also rightly criticized—or even considered legally problematic in some countries, which is why Diablo Immortal appears neither in the Netherlands nor in Belgium.
Not all are affected:
As damnable as this form of Pay2Win is in a PVP and ranked game, not every area of Diablo Immortal is laced with Pay2Win mechanics. It’s entirely possible, and even entertaining to a degree, to progress through the campaign and level a character up to 60. Because even in the final version, the movement is spared any payment control.
If you want to stay tuned after that, it goes into the endgame, and only here will you have problems if you don’t want to spend a cent. After all, what motivation is there if not to compete with other players? But there are also Diablo fans who have no interest in PVP. They may even want to play through the campaign once in around 20 hours and then put Diablo aside again. And for these people, Diablo Immortal remains an entirely free experience.
The campaign doesn’t even try to push me to spend money repeatedly. While it introduces me to the various mechanics, I don’t need legendary gems to see the end of the story. Sure, the grind and the associated completion of Battle Pass challenges are intended to lower the inhibition threshold to spend a little money on the pass. But the token is not the paid content, which is problematic from my point of view – the relationship between offer and value is right here when you compare it with other Free2Play titles.
The problem is the emblems and the associated Pay2Win factor. There is no playful advantage for the campaign with real money, and therefore the balance is not affected in this area of the game.
With its payment model, Immortal is aimed at everyone who continues to play long after the campaign has ended. And they are then encouraged to spend money in the wrong way. But before that, you get a free action role-playing campaign that is dumbed down and boringly told compared to Diablo 3 but is reasonably extensive and entertaining even without spending any money.
A few words about the basic rating
Attentive readers will have noticed that I went a few points lower for my final rating than I stated in the forecast. This has to do in large part with how awkward the PC version plays. Since my initial impression was entirely on the mobile device, I was more entertained.
However, we want to reflect the PC version with our rating, and it plays incredibly choppy, as described by Natalie. Both with the controller and with the mouse and keyboard. There are reasons for this, but we cannot consider them when evaluating the PC version because Blizzard would like us to spend money on the beta version. And with that, it has to hold itself to the same standards that we hold of every PC game.
Another reason for the somewhat lower rating is insights that only emerged when playing live. This includes the annoying paragon levels of the servers, which unnaturally throttle all players with a higher level and thus make it almost pointless to continue playing. But also in terms of atmosphere, Immortal is currently a little less than I initially anticipated based on the test operation with relatively few users on the servers.
It looks pretty immersion-breaking when other characters are constantly dancing around my character, lasering enemies in front of me, or competing against invisible enemies in boss fights in the hub worlds. This puts a significant strain on the mood and is an annoying symptom of the MMO approach, which of course, now weighs more heavily with thousands of active characters than with the limited early access.
The bottom line is that Blizzard may celebrate immense economic success with Diablo Immortal. Still, from a series fan who grew up with Diablo 1-3, they couldn’t have done any less wrong. Not a disastrously bad action RPG, Diablo Immortal is a disastrous disappointment.