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I tried playing Diablo Immortal on PC, and it was a mistake

Diablo Immortal, Blizzard’s new mobile-first action RPG, is abysmal on PC. The game launched in open beta at the beginning of June for PC and mobile, and I downloaded the PC version to see what all the fuss (and discourse) was about. But I couldn’t stomach the experience for very long.

Although there are hundreds of fantastic mobile games, I prefer to do my gaming at a desk on my PC. Diablo Immortal had a big opportunity to win over the core PC fan base that infamously trashed the game, but the busted PC port shows that Blizzard’s effort was half-hearted at best.

Built for mobile

Diablo Immortal on the iPhone 13 Pro and the Asus ROG Phone 5.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Diablo Immortal is built for mobile first, which is one of the reasons our gaming editor, Giovanni Colantonio, enjoyed the game so much in the first place. From the opening screen that reads “Tap to Play,” it’s clear that Diablo Immortal is a mobile port, not a game you can play across PC and mobile.

That’s an important distinction. Games like Fortnite and Genshin Impact work on PC and mobile, but they’re built specifically for those platforms. Neither of those games have obscenely large menu elements on their PC versions, and they don’t have references to inputs that aren’t even possible on most PCs

A seamless experience is important for a game Blizzard expects players to dump hundreds of hours into (and hundreds of dollars, it turns out), but Diablo Immortal doesn’t go to those lengths. It’s insulting enough to insist that you download the iOS or Android version on every other loading screen, clearly showing where Blizzard wants you to play.

It’s not an inviting experience. Playing Diablo Immortal on PC feels like running an Android app through some bunk emulator on Windows. The Diablo community has made it abundantly clear that it didn’t want an “out of season April Fool’s joke,” and Blizzard’s port to PC rubs salt in the wound.

It looks terrible

Diablo Immortal running on PC.

Diablo Immortal is a mobile game, so I never expected it to look as good as the recent footage we’ve seen on Diablo IVBut I didn’t expect it to look so bad, either. I appreciate that the game comes with an unlocked frame rate and a full range of graphics options on PC, but they still look terrible when maxed out.

The UI is a big pain point. Because Blizzard decided not to update the UI elements, they show up as massive, heavily pixeled icons on PC. I can ignore an ugly menu or two, but Diablo Immortal has a dozen UI elements on screen at any given time, and it’s a game where you’ll be cycling in and out of menus constantly.

All of the graphics settings in the world don’t matter considering you can’t adjust the resolution in Diablo Immortal‘s PC port, either. Hoping to play in 4K? Keep hoping. Even if you crank everything up, you’re still left with heavily pixelated models that were clearly designed to show up on a 10-inch screen, not a 27-inch gaming monitor. To make matters worse: You can adjust resolution on mobile. 

Diablo Immortal never needed to be a beautiful game on PC, but it at least needs to offer some options that aren’t possible on mobile. As it stands now, the mobile version actually has more settings in the graphics department, and that’s downright embarrassing.

Battle.net is a hassle

The Steam Deck running Battle Net launcher and the S22 Ultra running Diablo Immortal.
Andy Zahn / Digital Trends

Battle.net is a reason alone to play Diablo Immortal on your phone and not on PC. If you haven’t had the misfortune of using Battle.net, consider yourself lucky — it’s a barren DRM platform that’s much more interested in getting you to buy more Blizzard games than it is in you actually playing them.

There was a time when every publisher with a few franchises under its belt had a PC game launcher, but that era is gone. EA has moved most of its library to Steam, Bethesda killed its launcher, and Ubisoft has had to offer a massive back catalog and an attractive subscription service to keep its launcher relevant. But not Blizzard.

We’ve seen that shift because, frankly, Steam and Epic Games are better. You have access to features like screenshots, library management, DLC, and achievements. Maybe if Diablo Immortal launched on Steam, it would even actually work on the Steam Deck.

Blizzard clearly recognizes that fact, too. The mobile port includes a video capture feature, for example, which isn’t available in the PC version. And you can try the game out as a guest on mobile, while you have to download and create a Battle.net account to even start installing the game on PC.

When too much is not enough

Diablo Immortal on a PC monitor.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

It seems obvious to me that Blizzard intended on releasing a PC port of Diablo Immortal to appease the core PC fan base, but it hurts the game overall. A bad PC port means that people like me, who don’t use their phones for gaming, are completely disinterested in engaging with the game.

A better approach would have been to release the mobile version and work on an updated PC port. In its current state, it’s better to hook your phone up to a monitor than to play Diablo Immortal‘s PC port.

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