Diablo Immortal Beta will take place sometime in 2021, as stated in the August 3 update blog:
With only 76 days remaining in 2021, and signs that point to a really close Beta announcement, it seems like a good time to share some cool things I found while playing Diablo Immortal Closed Alpha (which lasted from April 24 – June 30, 2021).
One of those cool things I found felt more like a sneak peek into what Blizzard Entertainment might be planning after the game launches — in terms of new content updates every few months, and new expansions — and I say sneak peek, because there was not a lot of this specific feature in closed alpha.
Diablo Immortal Special Events with Cutscenes
Hopefully, you aren’t too sensitive to spoilers, because what I am going to show you is full of spoilers. Last warning.
Diablo Immortal special events with cutscenes is an unique opportunity to tell long stories. This works out on stories that may happen contemporanious with the events of Diablo immortal (5 years after the destruction of the Worldstone); but this can also be how Blizzard presents Caverns of Time-type of stories set far in the past.
We already were told at BlizzCon there are plans for more dungeons in the Library of Zoltun Kulle.
In case you missed the BlizzConline 2021: Diablo Immortal: Alpha and Beyond panel, here is a short quote that captures the essence of what I just said (full panel transcript):
Bluddshed: There is a dungeon now where you can kind of go back in time where you fight alongside Kulle and you get to hang out with Tal Rasha. It’s kind of like a WoW-time walking event. Are you guys going to explore this mechanic further like maybe we can, I don’t know, do a dungeon after the Sin War or something like that?
Wyatt: You know that is a great call out and your spot on with even referencing WoW-time walking dungeons because that’s actually how we’ve talked about it internally as well is, “hey, the Library of Zoltun Kulle is this opportunity for us to like dive into the past. We get to see Tal Rasha and Baal, you know have this conflict and for the player to relive it;” and we really love the way that World of Warcraft use the Caverns of Time and time walking to further expand the reach of the types of stories that you could tell. So, no announcements today, but definitely something the team is excited about using.
It is mind-blowing to hear there is the possibility of new dungeons around the concept of Caverns of Time in Diablo Immortal. A few months ago, someone approached me after digging in the Diablo Immortal Android folder and showed me what amounts to a potential breadcrumb data of another dungeon in the Library of Zoltun Kulle that has not been announced.
Take this with a grain of salt, but that’s how I interpret this file data. Jered Cain will be an NPC in Diablo Immortal. He was nowhere in Closed Alpha. Jered Cain was an ancestor of Deckard Cain. In fact, Jered Cain was one of the Horadrim brought together by Tyrael exactly 260 years before the Darkening of Tristram (Diablo, 1996).
Why in the world would his name be in Diablo Immortal? Potentially… well, in the game we have a dungeon where we fight Baal, alongside Zoltun Kulle and Tal Rasha.
Therefore, this can mean that there might be a dungeon for the capture of Diablo and Mephisto into the soulstones — reenacting The Binding of the Three. This is a quote from the original Diablo game manual:
THE BINDING OF THE THREE
–for many decades the Horadrim continued their grim search for the third Brother, Diablo. They knew that if the Lord of Terror was left untamed there could never be any lasting peace within the realm of humanity.
The Horadrim followed in the wake of terror and anarchy that spread throughout the Western lands. After a great battle which claimed the lives of many brave souls, the Lord of Terror was captured and imprisoned within the last of the Soulstones by a group of Horadrim monks led by the Initiate Jered Cain. These monks carried the cursed stone to the land of Khanduras and buried it within a secluded cave near the river Talsande. Above this cave the Horadrim constructed a great Monastery from which they could continue to safeguard the Soulstone. As ages passed, the Horadrim constructed a network of catacombs beneath the Monastery to house the earthly remains of the martyrs of their Order.
Valla and Josen
While completing some quests and achievements, I encountered Josen in the Shassar Sea. I was completing the quest “Stranger in the Sands.” My eyes pop when I read the NPC name, because this is Valla’s mentor.
Josen and I chased footprints and clues pointing to his apprentice Valla’s whereabouts. A demoness that manipulates memories is on to her. My camera suddenly detached from my character and followed and zoomed on Valla, creating the effect of an in-game cutscene.
The demoness, Aeshama, pushed Josen through a Hell portal, and you are left behind with an approaching Valla who thinks you have captured Josen.
Together, you enter a special event dungeon that is not found anywhere else in the game, known as Domain of Horror.
Except, the apperance of this location doesn’t look like Hell. It is an exact dreamscape-replica of Braylen — Valla’s hometown.
So far nothing too fancy beyond that manipulation of the camera to zoom into the Hell portal, earlier. You fight a few waves of demons, face a couple of bosses with over 131,000 health. Learn some bits of lore about Valla — as this dreamscape is reenacting the day Valla’s parents are killed by demons — leading her later to train as a Demon Hunter. This dreamscape is an illusion the demoness is playing to claim Valla’s soul.
The village scene disappeared before my eyes, and it was replaced by a hellish ground. Did Blizzard switch the tilesets on the fly? Did I get teleported to an exact copy of the map with different tilesets? No idea.
From this mini-dungeon, we moved into another by clicking a portal leading into an area of the Domain of Horror named “Nightmare.” This was a much longer dungeon than the previous one by a factor of 3:1. This new dreamscape reenacts the day Valla’s sister died.
The sister in this dreamscape is revealed to be a demon disguised in her form. The demon is one of the Deceivers (the serpent-like demons we met in the Diablo III Baal encounter).
From there, we take another portal to a third dungeon; and again to a fourth dungeon named Aeshama’s Lair. This is starting to feel like a Greater Rift, but we know Wyatt said there won’t be an endless-like dungeon. Still, connecting 4 dungeons, felt interesting.
This is where the Diablo Immortal team blew my mind.
After entering Aeshama’s Lair, the camera moved behind valla, and then rotate from an above position focusing on Aeshama strangling Valla. Nowhere in Diablo Immortal this in-game cutscene effect happens, except maybe the Shadows and Immortals questlines.
The camera zooms in on Aeshama, and she grabs Valla and flies several feet above in the air. You can see the camera looking down to the ground. At this point, it is difficult to say, but these look more like cinematics that play onscreen, but using in-game assets. This really takes effort, and development time to achieve.
How long did this Valla questline last? 30 minutes. It makes you wonder what other questlines the Diablo Immortal team might have for us in the form of new Battle Pass Season content patches, and expansions. How far will they go with in-game cinematics and cutscenes? Just the thought of it is exciting. But don’t take my word for it. Watch it yourself and let me know your thoughts.
You may watch the Valla / Josen Questline with in-game cutscenes here (don’t forget to set the gear icon to 720HD and fullscreen).