Ever since the technical alpha earlier this year, Blizzard has been keeping it's Diablo Immortal news very close to the chest. BlizzConline didn't really give us an update, and frankly we've been wondering where this game went, especially since the hype for Diablo IV has grown and grown. But, recently, I attended a roundtable with the developers behind the upcoming mobile MMOARPG from Blizzard, a session ran by Wyatt Cheng and Scott Shicoff to see where the immediate future is taking Diablo Immortal, and it turns out, a closed alpha packed with new content is on the cards.
Set to begin April 21, this closed alpha will be bringing new locations, activities, an increased level cap, and even another class to play as, the Crusader. This character features a lot of influence from former Diablo games, and marks the fifth (out of six) playable classes. The Crusader is the knight-type class of the bunch, and features abilities revolving around using a horse to drag enemies across the battlefield, as well as an irradiating sword that can be teleported to for some extra movement options.
On top of the new class, this closed alpha will be bringing two more locations; Mount Zavain and Frozen Tundra, and if you were wondering, yes there will also be a level cap increase so that you can further develop your character past the former level 41 cap that was in place in the technical alpha. Both of these areas will also feature new zone events to participate in, and to really cap it off, a new dungeon is joining the fray to farm some extra loot over. It's name is the Cavern of Echoes.
But, is this it? Not at all, as the closed alpha is also set to introduce a range of other new gameplay systems, both for the PvP'ers and the PvE'ers out there.
The Helliquary is a new PvE boss system that unlocks after level 41, and sees players face incredibly tough bosses every month for a chance to earn a trophy that they can place in their personal Helliquary for some extra bonuses to be applied to their character.
PvP'ers can look forward to the Circle of Strife - a server-wide, faction-based endgame activity that sees 500 Immortals face off against hordes of Shadows. As you would expect, there is a whole list of lore that explains the history of this mode, but I'm going to skip past that to instead focus on its intricacies. The idea of Circle of Strife is to see what is regarded as the top 500 players in a server, the Immortals, defeat the Shadows (everyone else who joins in on the optional mode) for the reward of permanent glory in that server on the Wall of Honour, alongside earning loot to equip and use.
Immortals can partake in a special 48-person raid called Kion's Ordeal, an activity that sees the 48-players split into 4 teams of 12 in the hopes of completing it. Then on top of that, any loot an Immortal earns through Elder Rifts (the repeatable dungeon activities) will be amassed in the vault to be distributed at the end of the week - assuming there is some left (I'll explain more about this in a second).
The Shadows get some exclusive activities as well. The biggest part of being a Shadow is gaining access to the Dark Houses, a sort of clan system where special recruitment days are hosted on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 2pm-10pm. Furthermore, Shadows can also engage in a special activity called Raid the Vault, where four Shadows venture into the Immortal's vault to loot as much gear as possible. The catch here is that a team of four Immortals will look to defend the vault, and if you, as a Shadow, are killed, you'll go home empty handed. If you can kill the four defending Immortals however, you'll be pretty free to loot until they respawn.
Now, being an Immortal is no easy task, and the majority of people will probably become a Shadow, but that doesn't mean you will never become an Immortal. An activity known as the Rite of Exile allows Dark Houses to send their top members to battle it out against the Immortals in an 8v8 PvP match. With there being up to 500 Immortals in a server, this does mean there will be a whole range of Rite of Exile matches, and unless half of the Immortals lose, nothing will change after the event. However, should half or more of the Immortals lose their match-ups, the winning Dark Houses members will become Immortals, with the losing Immortals now becoming Shadows.
With Circle of Strife 'cycles' set to last between 1-3 months, you'll want to become and remain as an Immortal for as long as possible to become permanently recognised on the Wall of Honour in that server. And, as I mentioned above, Circle of Strife is also an opt-in activity, and those who decide not to partake will be regarded as Adventures, rather than Immortals or Shadows.
So, is this everything that has changed since the technical alpha. Not quite, the development team has used feedback to tweak Elder Rift rewards, increase the ability to earn Rare Crests, it has improved the Codex and Horadric Bestiary UI, and has even implemented some other quality of life changes to look forward to.
For those wondering about the further future of Diablo Immortal, Blizzard and NetEase do still hope to release the game later this year, although they haven't provided any official release dates or windows. It was mentioned that the release plan is entirely "contingent" on the upcoming tests, including this closed alpha, being up to par. Either way, the future is again looking bright for this mobile MMOARPG. Hopefully, it won't be too long before an open beta is announced so that fans can get hands-on with the game, finally.
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