Diablo Immortal is hell, literally, but recreating it doesn’t have to be. Ahead of the contest’s June 2nd release date, the Diablo team at Blizzard spoke about some of the accessibility features they’ve built into Diablo Immortal to make hell that functions for everyone.
The features are a component of a suite of accessibility features designed for the game. Controller support was something fundamental to bring to Diablo Immortal.
“You will be able to recreate Diablo Immortal with controllers on mobile devices and PC,” Blizzard wrote in its accessibility blog. “Many controls — including crafts, accessing chat, and more — can be remapped from the regulator tab of the settings menu.”
In addition to controller aid, Blizzard is also dispatching Diablo Immortal analysts a Razer Kishi controller that turns your phone into a Switch or Steam Deck-like apparatus. While Blizzard is delivering us a controller peripheral to test as part of the review procedure, the developer said that the option is “not intended to incentivize or encourage controller play — controller, mouse, touch screen, and keyboard, etc. are all super viable options.”
One of the notable elements Andrew Webster reported in his pre-alpha coverage of DI was that the game, at the time, did not include controller support. That meant he was regulating the game via the on-screen buttons on his iPad. That’s not the most comfortable of situations for either a wide iPad or a tiny phone, making mobile controller support almost mandatory for a game like Diablo Immortal.
Chatting with friends is another feature that is as accessible as possible, featuring native voice chat transcription and text-to-speech functions.
The surprise addition of PC support was a choice made in part for accessibility reasons. But, Diablo franchise general manager Rod Fergusson said, “Diablo Immortal must reach as multiple players as possible.”
Of course, that decision is also heightened by the initial backlash against Blizzard releasing a free-to-play mobile game with a microtransaction-stuffed cash shop. But according to doctrine game designer Joe Grubb, who also participated in the interview, “it was very much an accessibility option,” so people could play on larger, more visual screens, with keyboards that could be remapped to suit players’ requirements.
Diablo Immortal launches on Android, iOS, and PC in open beta on June 2nd.
Diablo Immortal is a free-to-play massively multiplayer online (MMO) action role-playing game (ARPG), designed initially for play on mobile devices. It is an online-only game and needs an internet connection during play. The game also features cross-save functionality, merging the player’s improvement to their Battlenet account and allowing them to continue across multiple devices.
The fast-paced, arcade-like Immortal has many gameplay similarities to Diablo III (such as destructible environments); however, while it retains the vibrant art style of Diablo III, the game’s tone is closer to the more somber kind of Diablo II. In addition, it features the isometric graphic style typical to games in the series.
Many of the game’s activities are small in size (Blizzard advises that dungeons, though similar to those from the previous games, will average 10–15 minutes in length, with shorter activities lasting 1–5 minutes). They can fit with the faster play sessions typical of mobile gaming; however, unlike many games in the free-to-play mobile space, Immortal does not feature an “energy” system to limit the amount of free play time available.
Players can construct one or more characters to use within the game. When building a character, players select one of the game’s six character classes: Barbarian, Monk, Necromancer, Wizard, Demon Hunter, and Crusader, each with 12 unlockable skills (from which the player selects five to use concurrently). For example, the Barbarian class’s skills include blasting a hammer and turning it into a whirlwind. In contrast, the Wizard’s skills include a beam of electricity that boomerangs back to its source, dealing damage twice. “Charms” can also be earned within the game and equipped to increase skill effectiveness further and change how they function. In addition, unlike previous games in the series, Immortal features a “Class Change” system. Players can change the current character class and receive a new set of “appropriate” items without resetting their progress. Although focusing on a specific category may ultimately yield advantages, such as a broader range of available gameplay styles.
The game is designed primarily for touchscreen gadgets, with virtual reigns that overlay the display: a directional thumbstick and skill buttons. Skills feature auto-aim (typically towards the nearest enemy), but the player can manually aim each skill by holding down its corresponding button. Some skills will also “charge” while their button is held, increasing aspects such as damage and area of effect.
Alternatively, players can manage the game using a connected gamepad: movement and aiming are held with the analog sticks; the front-facing buttons control attacks, potions, and interactions; and skills are triggered using the top bumpers & triggers. These bindings can be adjusted in the game’s settings. When played using a keyboard and mouse, Immortal supports movement using the WASD keys (a first for PC games in the series), allowing for training with one hand alongside combat-based commands using the mouse.
Unlike previous games in the Diablo series, mana and other class-specific resources have been removed from Immortal in favor of a cooldown-based system for skills (with typical cooldown times ranging from 8-12 seconds). Performing attacks will also fill the character’s “Ultimate meter,” which, when filled, allows the use of more powerful spells, amplifying the perks of the character’s basic attack for a limited period.
Outside of the game’s primary storyline missions, other activities include random quests which appear during exploration, “bounties” (such as defeating specific enemies or creating particular items), “challenge rifts” (randomly-generated, time-limited dungeons with ever-increasing levels of difficulty), and “elder rifts.” Elder rifts are similar to challenge separations but can be modified using “crests” for greater reward.