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Diablo Immortal review: Greed and pay2win mechanics have ruined one of gaming's greats

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Highlights There’s nothing else quite like Diablo, and there’s a certain joyous mindlessness to it's gameplay that I find appealing. As long as I don’t take the game too seriously, I find myself enjoying some demon-slaying mayhem on occasion. Diablo Immortal represents the ruination of one of the greatest gaming franchises ever made. "Diablo Immortal suffers from the greediest, most egregious form of micro-transaction, pay2win mechanics you've ever experienced in a game," says one fan. 

"I'm genuinely surprised by how avaricious the product is..." says another. "Probably the greediest P2W game ever created, triumphing even over the insane money grabs we see from Korean and Chinese P2W games," rants yet another gamer. The Metacritic user rating for Diablo Immortal is a shocking 0.4 (that's out of a 100, by the way). Diablo Immortal is desperate to make you pay, going out of its way to teach you gambling (lootbox) and pay2win mechanics at every opportunity it gets. You have multiple currencies to manage, two battle passes to choose between, and a legendary crest mechanic that is downright disgusting. In fact, I'm not even going to waste words on the details. If you're interested, this 45-minute video goes into great depth to explain just how depraved the suits running Blizzard's business are. 

Despite that I must admit that I did have fun in this game. This game incorporates the scummiest of scummy pay2win tactics, so why do I say it's fun? Well, because I did have fun playing Diablo Immortal, and I haven't spent a rupee on it yet, and I don't ever intend to. Of course Immortal's pay2win mechanics are scummy, but they're no different from what I've experienced in PUBG aka BGMI (or whatever else it's called today), or Call of Duty Mobile, or any number of other 'free2play' mobile-only titles. 

Here's the thing: I don't give a damn about Diablo I play Diablo for the same reasons I play Call of Duty. There's nothing else quite like it, and there's a certain joyous mindlessness to it's gameplay that I find appealing. I don't care for its clichéd story, for min-maxing my character stats, randomised loot drops, or for engaging in raids or PvP with my buddies. 

This is a game I play solo and drop once I get bored. I've never once completed Diablo III's campaign because I always get bored at the same point about two-thirds of the way through the story. I've never once found the motivation to finish it. Diablo Immortal is more of the same, except it's on mobile now, and it's free. As egregious and scummy as Immortal's pay2win mechanics are, they only matter if you care to win, and there's no point in caring about that when anyone can just outspend you. At the moment, I'm simultaneously experimenting with three different characters, I'm playing on both PC and mobile when I feel like it, 

I've not spoken to one other player since I started playing, nor have I engaged in raids with my buddies. When I get loot drops — which is often — I simply equip whatever has a green arrow next to it. Combat is exactly as joyous and mindless as it is in Diablo III, and the story just as cliched. As long as I don't take the game too seriously — which I can afford to do since I've never been a fan of the franchise — I find myself enjoying some demon-slaying mayhem on occasion. Do I take a moral stand, though? I believe I should, but not just because I dislike gambling or pay2win mechanics. 

I don't think anyone can have issues with devs attempting to recoup their investment of time, money, and more. If they chose to do so by designing a "game" that's essentially a re-skinned slot machine, that's not really my concern, or anyone else's. Sure, more governments need to make like the Netherlands and Belgium and recognise loot boxes for what they are, requiring games that incorporate such "features" to comply with gambling regulations of the region. 

That's a more nuanced discussion for another time, and still not the real issue with Diablo Immortal. The issue with Diablo Immortal is that it's not a game made in service of fans, or even just a lame cashgrab.

 No, Diablo Immortal is a predatory game made to take advantage of Diablo's most dedicated, hardcore fan base, the fan base that earned Blizzard the reputation it has today. Every mechanic of this game has been carefully, deliberately, and maliciously crafted to extract as much money form that fan base as possible. Blizzard doesn't' care about people like me, people with no loyalty to the franchise, people who are never going to be invested enough in the game to ever care about paying. 

Blizzard only wants the fans, the people who've been waiting 10 years for a new Diablo game, the people who booed when Immortal was first announced, the people who actually care about where the franchise is headed. 

It wants them to play this game, to get addicted and invested, and like any good drug lord, demands an increasingly higher price to attain a dopamine high that will get increasingly more expensive to achieve as time progresses. Any other game would have been dismissed as yet another scummy free2play mobile game. But this isn't any other game. This is Diablo, and Immortal represents the ruination of one of the greatest gaming franchises ever made.

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