The next Diablo game is not headed to the PC platform, and instead will land on Android and iOS for hack-and-slash fun on the go. It's called Diablo Immortal, and it's a mobile massively multiplayer online action-role-playing (RPG) game in which "Diablo players will be able to answer the call to battle on their phones."
"Diablo Immortal takes the series’ dark, gothic fantasy world of Sanctuary and inimitable Diablo gameplay, and puts it in your pocket," said J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard Entertainment. "With their incredible passion for Diablo and proven mobile expertise, the development team has spawned an ultra-responsive and breathtakingly beautiful mobile game, and we can’t wait for players to get their hands on it."
Blizzard announced the upcoming mobile title at BlizzCon, where some may have been expecting a Diablo IV announcement. That doesn't mean Diablo IV is not in the works. Around two and a half weeks ago, Blizzard said it has "multiple teams working on different Diablo projects," and that it would unveil each one "when the time is right."
As for Diablo Immortal, the game features six customizable character classes, including Barbarian, Crusader, Demon Hunter, Monk, Necromancer, and Wizard. Each one comes with new powers and abilities. Furthermore, Blizzard promised that more playable classes will emerge in future updates to the game.
"Designed to be a living, breathing, and constantly evolving experience, Diablo Immortal will regularly introduce new storylines, new playable character classes, new loot, and all-new challenges—which you can face side-by-side with your friends...or foolishly choose to confront on your own," Blizzard said.
Diablo Immortal arrives as more and more smartphone makers are releasing gaming phones. Razer recently launched its second generation Razer Phone 2, and ASUS recently got in on the action as well with its ROG Phone (which we're in the process of reviewing, so stay tuned). Perhaps developers are taking notice.
Gaming on a smartphone is obviously different than using the good ol' mouse and keyboard combo on a PC. Blizzard said it developed Diablo Immortal with the goal of making the transition from a mouse and keyboard to a touchscreen "completely natural, intuitive, and fun." We'll have to wait and see.
There's been some backlash over Blizzard's decision to develop Diablo Immortal for mobile only. During a Q&A at BlizzCon, fans booed the game's principal designer, Wyatt Cheng, after he confirmed that it wasn't headed to PC. There are also multiple threads around the web, one of which has over 4,600 upvotes and hundreds of comments on Reddit.
Is the backlash fair? In an interview with Kotaku, executive producer and Blizzard co-founder Allen Adham pointed out that Diablo Immortal is an all-new game built from the ground-up in collaboration with NetEase, and that it doesn't replace whatever is next in the Diablo series for PC.
"There are actually two distinct teams," Adham said. "That’s something we tried to communicate. I know our community here, there’s a concern that we are focused on this instead of that. The truth is that we have multiple Diablo teams working on multiple unannounced Diablo projects even after announcing [Immortal]."
Blizzard didn't announce a release date for Diablo Immortal, but you can pre-register "for special awards" and eligibility to participate in future beta tests.