Diablo Immortal is kicking off a new closed alpha session for players to dive into and test, with some major new features and mechanics on top of content tuning, a new character class, and new areas. Major is not a term I use lightly, as a massive amount of change and content is headed to this alpha phase. Sadly, there’s still no launch date for the game, but take a look at what’s coming down the line…
First, there’s the Helliquary, which you use to track down elite demon enemies. Then, you trap them and have to fight them. The Helliquary is basically a way to fight huge bosses for huge rewards, encounters that are much more difficult than standard bosses and dungeon encounters. These are unique battles that take place with plenty of mechanics and are ratcheted up to a high difficulty level, so players will be working towards beating these tough fights as they proceed through the other aspects of progression. Essentially, the Helliquary gives players big challenges and big rewards, with something to look forward to as you grind out the perfect set of gear, levels, and perks. This is aspirational content that you can actually use your incredible stuff on. Finally, something that you can actually use your awesome characters to take on!
The faction-based PVP is elaborate and honestly, I hope something this cool makes its way into one of the “core” Diablo games sometime outside of the mobile space. I’ve spoken at length about how I enjoy Diablo Immortal, at least what we’ve seen so far, but I intensely dislike extended play sessions on mobile devices. Here’s hoping that we get some kind of PC version down the line, at least while we wait for Diablo IV. Anyway, when you participate in the Cycle of Strife PVP system, which is 100% optional, you start as an Adventurer. Everyone does! However, there are two main groups involved in PVP that have an asymmetrical war going on. The Immortals are the elite who try to protect their awesome stashes of impending rewards, and the Shadows work together in darkness to try to undermine the Immortals, up to and including raiding their treasure stores and engaging in other tasks to weaken them. A group of powerful Shadows in a Dark House (kind of like a guild) can overthrow the reigning Immortals and take control of the spoils, and then become the ruling class themselves as the new Immortals. And hence, the “Cycle of Strife” continues as rewards are doled out and battle is waged. And yes, there are PVP battlegrounds that consist of 8v8 teamplay alongside the core Cycle of Strife systems. While the experience is, again, completely optional, you’ll probably want to dive in to snag some rewards.
The Crusader is also a playable class now, and while some of the skills will be a little different than what you might be expecting, you can get a pretty good idea by looking at the Diablo III class for background. In short, Crusaders are cool, and I’m probably going to play one until they add Necromancers or Witch Doctors to the game.
Two new zones to explore are added to this alpha phase, and will take players to the new level cap of 55. These zones are Mount Zavain and the Frozen Tundra. A new dungeon with a beastly boss is located in the Frozen Tundra, The Cavern of Echoes. While Blizzard wouldn’t tell us who or what the boss was, you can be sure we’re going to go find out.
In addition to all this, plenty of smaller tweaks and changes have found their way into this next phase. Since this build is beginning to test content much closer to the “endgame experience,” I hope that we’ll get an actual release date soon.