Blizzard has announced a Closed Beta Test for Diablo Immortal, the hotly-anticipated mobile title set in the Diablo universe.
The closed beta starts October 28th, and features plenty of new features- like a new player class, the Necromancer, as well as a host of new content to make sure there’s always something to do in Sanctuary whether you like grinding for loot or other players into dust.
We spoke to Caleb Arsenaux, Production Manager on Diablo Immortal as well as Wyatt Cheng, Game Director on the project about all the fun things coming to the Closed Beta for the game.
A Better Game To Play
There’s a bunch of new features to make the game just fun overall. One of these is the highly-requested controller support- so you can plug in your favorite controller if you’re not a fan of touchscreen controls for Diablo Immortal.
They even feature Button remapping- so you can rebind any of the buttons to where you want them to be, making for a more tailored experience. Here’s a list of supported controllers for the beta:
- Xbox One Wireless Bluetooth Controller
- Xbox Series X/S Bluetooth Controller
- Xbox Elite Controller Series 2
- Xbox Adaptive Controller
- Sony Dualshock 4
- Razer Kishi
They’re also adding a new catchup mechanic for newer players to get to a desired level, called the World Paragon system. How it works is that every server has a World Paragon Level. Any player found under the Paragon level has increased XP gain, as well as no XP cap to get them up to speed.
Meanwhile, players over the Paragon Level will see an XP cap installed, similar to the technical alphas. While the cap does exist, both Caleb and Wyatt said you’d have to play more than 4 hours a day before you had to start worrying about hitting the XP cap for the week.
New Playable Class- Necromancer
The Necromancer is no stranger to the Diablo franchise- you’ve seen them in Diablo II as well as Diablo III. You even meet Diablo III’s Necromancer, Xuul, in the story for Diablo Immortal prior to the beta.
Like previous incarnations, Immortal’s Necromancer is a master of dark magic and the undead- being able to control skeletal minions to flood the battlefield. Puppet characters aren’t entirely new to Diablo Immortal- but controlling your undead buddies will give you a level of depth previously unseen in Diablo Immortal.
“So the Necromancer has more control over the skeletal allies they able to summon. Some affixes that we have for other classes when they spawn a clone of the players or maybe like an ally, but when you are summoning one of the Golems for the Necromancer class depending on your skill set you’re able to actually control where the Golem charges and react to do different things”, says Caleb. “So if you love playing with almost like some kind of tactician that’s got an army with you and make specific moves with them, then Necromancer is your class for sure”
“That’s what i love about playing the Necromancer is that i got like a bonewall, golems, i got skeletal mages on my side, and i can really just overwhelm my opponents”, he continues,
Of course, one thing that sets Immortal apart from the rest of the Diablo games is the addition of Ultimate Abilities. These are all Install skills, with each character getting a huge performance buff to their playstyle, and the Necromancer’s is no difference. With the Necromancer you get access to a Wraith Form, letting you move much faster at the cost of your ability to attack.
“You can attack when you’re in Wraith form, but if you hit one of your skill buttons you just drop out of your wraith form so you’re not vulnerable or unable to attack, it’s more saying that you can’t attack with impunity, so if you wanna go for a full two second you can and then it will drop out automatically, but if you start using a skill as soon as it comes out, you drop out of Wraith from when the skill comes out”, Wyatt says.
It’s The Cycle of Strife
With the last Tech Alpha, players were treated to PvP in Diablo Immortal via the Cycle of Strife. Players in a server would become Shadows forming Dark Houses, with the highest scoring players of a server becoming the Immortal.
In the Diablo Immortal beta becoming the Immortal is a little more fun. Wyatt and Caleb introduced us to the Challenge of the Immortal. Once a week, 30 shadows can gather to fight the Immortal, who assumes the form of a raid boss that they’ll have to fight to overthrow.
“Basically what happens is that the Immortal on the server, once the Cycle of Strife has progressed enough that the shadows are powerful enough to try and overthrow the Immortal, there’s a scheduled battle that takes place on the weekend so everyone knows to show up for that battle”, Caleb says.
“The Immortal player is transformed into a very large boss, we’ve developed new abilities for the boss so players can use it to absolutely smash on the Shadow players”, he adds.
“I’m not betraying any bias I have, Shadow or Immortals, the Immortal character is very powerful on purpose because we view the player, as someone who’s played a lot. They’re very dedicated. That moment is also meant to make them feel super powerful. That’s kind of how it goes”, he says.
Now if the Immortal wins, they hold on to their crown until the next event. However, it’s not so straightforward if the Shadows win, as Caleb explains:
“After the initial fight, the Challenge of the Immortal, depending on if the shadows won or the Immortal defends successfully either it goes on to the Battle Royale among the Shadows to determine who’s going to be the next immortal or the immortal who’s successfully defended their dynasty gets to go on”.
Dubbed The Final Battle, all the Shadows who fought the Challenge of the Immortal are resurrected for a final showdown- a free-for-all battle royale to see who gets to be the next Immortal.
Of course, it’s not going to be the same fight every week- the actions you make during the Cycle of Strife will affect the Challenge of the Immortal.
“So the abilities and the strength of the Immortal is dependent on some of whats going on in the server. In the Cycle of Strife that I alluded to earlier, theres a couple hundred players who form the immortals. They have daily requirements they have to do and gather a resource called Ascenscia that allows them to power up as a faction”, Wyatt says.
“The dark houses, called the Shadows, they have activities that they can do as well every day and the way that the system was designed is that at the end of the day the Immortals start off a little more powerful than the Shadows, but the Shadows grow in power at a faster rate than the immortals”, he continues. And so getting the Immortal defeated in the second or third week might be fairly challenging but doable”, he continues.
“As time goes on, the Shadows will get more and more powerful and all of that is reflected in the Challenge of the Immortal as well. So that the power of that raid boss is affected by the greater system, representing the struggle between the Shadows and the Immortals”.
Now, there’s another super important question at play- what’s the point of being an Immortal? Bragging rights aside, you also get access to your own Immortal-exclusive content.
“Only the Immortals get to do Kion’s Ordeal, the 48 person raid- and it has a bunch of cool rewards that are doable every so often. If you’re not an Immortal, you don’t get to do that activity”, Wyatt says. “You can keep items that you got from doing Kion’s Ordeal earlier but you can’t do it again until you become an Immortal again”.
One more addition coming to the Diablo Immortal beta is with the new 8-man Helliquary raids. These are designed for 8 well-geared players, and will require you to really put your best foot forward to get some great loot.
Now, raids are typically associated with MMOs, where players can build their entire class around being part of a team rather than solo. Wyatt explained that while Diablo Immortal was way more MMO-like than other Diablo entries, everyone was still required to do their damage.
“With regards to tanking and aggro management, we have light notions of tanking in the sense that enemies attack what’s closest to them. We are at the core an action game, to some degree we expect everyone to do damage in different ways, and we expect everyone to be active in the fight”, Wyatt says. “We don’t want a situation where people are mostly standing around, one person is only focused on aggro, one person’s only focused on damage and one person’s only focused on healing. That’s not what we’re looking for.”
“We want the combat to be more about ‘Who am I going to attack? Where am I standing? Where am I in relation to my party?’ and movement around the battlefield is very much [important] and combining my skills with my allies is what the combat is about rather than strictly tank-healer-DPS models.”, he continues.
“It also ties in with another new feature in Diablo Immortal- tying in your difficulty with your loot quality. While abilities are still well distributed, the numerical value for your abilities isn’t- and now doing harder level dungeons means you’ll always get better gear for it”, Wyatt finishes.
It wasn’t all just revamping older content. Another new feature coming to the Closed Beta was the new Legacy of the Horadrim- which lets you collect Horadric Treasures via regular gameplay, slotting them into Horadric Shrines for passive buffs.
This also leads to the new Daily Dungeons, which let you collect more materials to upgrade aforementioned Horadric Shrines, increasing the buffs to your character.
All Things Loot
There’s also the changes to how you interact with your loot in the Diablo Immortal beta. The biggest of these revolves around Legendary Gems. Starting it off, gems now give offense and defense ratings- making them must-have items for your set if you wanna hit appropriate power ratings for the new raids.
Secondly, they’ve expanded what you can do with these legendary gems. By slotting in a maxed out Legendary Gem into your gear, you can ascend it- dramatically increasing your stats as well as granting you a cool cosmetic upgrade. In the preview we were shown, an ordinary looking helmet gets twisted to look like it was on fire, complete with ember effects coming off its new demonic horns.
There’s also the new Resonance system, which rewards you for collecting way more Legendary Gems than you need. By having surplus gems, you’ll see the bonuses granted by these Legendary Gems go up- not by too much, but just enough that it’s still a reward instead of a hindrance.
There’s also the new Set Items, which are locked to specific dungeons. Wyatt and Caleb explained to us that a huge problem with Set Items in Diablo 3 was how they competed against Legendary Items- since Set Items required them to be together, that means you had less room for your legendaries.
In Diablo Immortal, you can wear them alongside your Legendaries, having their own separate 6 slots from your regular gear. While this could mean more to upgrade, it also means both Legendary and Set Items are an important part of your build, especially for the Helliquary Raids.
Set Items will have their set bonuses at 3 or 6 items equipped- meaning you can either opt to have two different sets running to combine effects or double down on a particular set by shooting for its 6-piece bonus.
Better yet, each set is locked to a dungeon- meaning if you want all 6 pieces, you’ll know the exact dungeon to target and farm to get the pieces you want.
The final new feature coming to the Closed Beta for Diablo Immortal is the addition of the in-game shop. Here you can spend real world money on the game on various items, such as a paid track of the game’s Battle Pass.
“So just to be clear everyone has access to the free track of the battle pass in cases of most battle passes and then there’s a paid track as well, so as you progress you purchase the empower track you will be able to collect rewards from both.”, Wyatt says. “Another thing that we will have for sale is the legendary crest which are outlined in the previous blogs and videos, the legendary crest provide modifiers to the elder rifts, sometimes it’s a positive bonus and sometimes it’s a negative bonus, but as part of modifying you Elder Rift you get a guaranteed rune or legendary gem drop at the end, so those will be for sale as well”.
“Another thing I’m really excited about is the monthly card, the monthly card we think is really cool because you get a good value on purchasing in-game currencies upfront, but for every day that you log in over the next thirty days, you can get a free crest as additional login bonus.
“We also have some bundles that’ll be available for example when you clear Mad King’s Breach, first dungeon in the game for the first time you will be offered a bundle and the bundles are all priced to be great value”.
He also reiterated that despite this, they wouldn’t be selling skips or boosts.
“I think the most important thing to remember is that the best way to progress your character in Diablo Immortal is by playing the game. Like there’s no substitute for playing the game, any of the system that we’ve talked about for example the said item, there’s no way for spenders to just buy the said items”, he says.
“The same thing for World Paragon system, we don’t sell EXP, we don’t sell EXP Boost, and so players have many ways to progress their character and there’s no way to just spend money to bypass actually playing the game. ”
While your progress won’t carry over, your purchases will be credited to your Diablo Immortal account, meaning you’ll be able to re-make those purchases on launch.
The Diablo Immortal Closed Beta will be available from today on Android devices, with iOS support coming when the game launches.