How does playing Diablo Immortal on mobile devices compare to playing it on PC?
There are several different variables when it comes to experiencing Diablo Immortal, from your platform your choice to your favored control scheme. Over the last few days, I’ve tried the game in several different setups, and learned how they compare to one another — the points of difference and of similarity they have, as well as pros and cons.
It’s important to remember that the PC client is still in beta. Even though the game is live — the servers players are playing on are official, and progress won’t be wiped — the client itself is in beta, which helps explain some of the bugs people have been experiencing, such as the input lag issues when using controllers. Thus, the impressions we have so far may — and probably will — change in time, as the developers work to weed out the current issues.
Here are the impressions I have of playing Diablo Immortal in five different ways.
Playing Diablo Immortal on a mobile device
The main advantage of playing on your mobile device over your PC is obvious: portability, the ability to pick up your game and play it wherever you are. You might wanna play in a waiting room, or just laying in bed and relaxing — which, if I’m being honest, has become my favorite way to enjoy videogames over the last few years.
That said, there’s still a huge difference between playing on your phone with or without a controller, so let’s get into that.
Playing on a mobile device, using the touch screen controls
This is probably the option that the developers intend for most players to experience the game in, and the one that they undoubtedly spent a lot of time, effort, and resources to get feeling just right. And I can say that, for the most part, they’ve succeeded.
Using the touch screen controls will probably always feel a bit clunkier than using a controller or a mouse and keyboard setup, but it gets the job done. You can run dungeons or Elder Rifts or face world bosses with them, and you most likely won’t die due to the controls getting in your way. They’re responsive and intuitive enough that you almost forget that you’re using them in the heat of things.
Overall, the touch screen controls on Diablo Immortal feel better than those of any other game with touch screen controls I’ve played before.
Playing on a mobile device, using a controller
This is my favorite way of playing Diablo Immortal. I use the GameSir X2 controller, which allows me to fit my phone in the middle of it and hold it exactly like I’d hold a Nintendo Switch — but there are many other brands that offer similar experiences, so you can choose your favorite one. There’s no latency whatsoever, since the controller connects to the phone’s USB-C port. It becomes virtually identical to the experience of playing a Switch in handheld mode.
Playing the game under this setup feels very much like playing Diablo 3 on the handheld Switch — which, coincidentally, is my favorite way to play Diablo 3, so much that I find it hard to go back to that game on PC these days. You control your character with the left analog stick and aim skills with the right analog stick, allowing you as much freedom of mobility and ability usage as you’d get using mouse and keyboard, while having the advantage of making moving your character feel more natural than on a click-to-move setup.
Overall, if you have access to a controller for your phone, I’d absolutely recommend this setup as the best way to experience Diablo Immortal.
Playing Diablo Immortal on PC
When it’s time to navigate the menus, use the shop, rebind your keys, browse your map, type in chat — in other words, do any activity that is not actually controlling your character in the game world — the PC is superior to a mobile device. And Diablo Immortal has a lot of buttons and menus to click and navigate through in order to collect daily rewards and the like.
The main draw of the PC, in my opinion, is the comfort of seamless transitions between those mundane tasks and playing the game. In that regard, the PC experience is vastly superior to the mobile one.
But those tasks are just a minor part of your play sessions, so let’s talk about how actually playing the game feels on PC — over three different control schemes.
Playing on PC, using mouse clicks to move
This feels very much like the usual Diablo experience that most people are used to throughout the years. You get a lot of freedom to move while casting your abilities, and aiming them is incredibly quick and intuitive — I probably don’t need to sell this to you, chances are that if you’re reading this article, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
If you intend to play Diablo Immortal as “just another Diablo game,” or something to hold your attention until we get the elusive Diablo 4, this is probably the way to go.
Playing on PC, using WASD to move
This was… an interesting experience. It definitely felt novel to control a Diablo character with WASD, and it wasn’t half bad as far as movement was concerned. Problems arose, however, when it was time to use skills.
I was playing a Wizard, a class that has a bunch of “hold to empower your spell, then release” abilities — and those abilities were bound to the 1-4 keys, which are located above WASD, and require the same set of fingers to press. Which means that, by default, you can’t really hold down a spell while still aiming it and moving your character on a WASD setup, as you can on pretty much every other option. So, by default, the WASD option felt far more limiting than the rest.
You can rebind those skills to other keys in your keyboard — like numbers from 7 to 0, for instance. But even then, pressing those buttons requires you to move your hand away from the mouse — and then you can’t aim your skills anymore. Certain skills become practically unusable if you do that.
All in all, I wouldn’t recommend WASD. You can do it, but you lose out on precious mobility, and it often feels clunky.
Playing on PC, using a controller
I used a standard PS4 controller. While it felt undeniably good to control the character this way — and very similar to using a controller on my phone — the input lag issues have made this experience not quite ideal yet.
However, there’s the chance that those issues will be fixed in time, and the experience will be vastly improved. We’ll be keeping an eye on the PC client, and trying out playing with a controller on PC again, to see how it feels as the client is ironed out — and I have a hunch that this will become one of the best possible options eventually.
The main drawback of using a controller is navigating through menus and inventories. When it’s time to do that, you might be better off dropping your controller and using your mouse — but it can be annoying to keep having to switch back and forth.
All in all, there are many different ways to enjoy Diablo Immortal, and while a few of them feel better than others overall, each seems tailored to a specific type of player.
If you enjoy the game more casually, playing it on mobile with touch screen controls might be more than enough for you. If you want to play it like you’d play a “classic” Diablo game, you may definitely get that experience on a PC with your mouse. Or you might want to try it with a controller, for what is arguably the most comfortable and precise way to control your character, while losing out on ease of navigation through menus.
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