Looking For Baal?
The community has been full of rumors and rumblings in regards to the recent updated trailer for Diablo: Immortal, which you can view below. We can see in the final scene of the trailer that Baal is back; however, we already knew that information. While there are plenty of new clips added into this trailer, the majority of the video is still the same footage as the original announcement from 2018. You can see the same tease of the Lord of Destruction from the older trailer, even the poor fallen and cultists caught in Baal's wrath.
Demons coming back to life is something we're all familiar with in Diablo games as their ability to resurrect has been well established in lore, but the process by which they return has never been fleshed out. At the end of Diablo II Baal had infused his soulstone into the essence of the Worldstone, corrupting it to a point that Tyrael decided the best course of action was to destroy the ancient artifact. Hunting down these corrupted shards of the Worldstone forms the basis of the story for Immortal and they will undoubtedly play a part in Baal's return.
We know from comments the developers made during BlizzCon 2018 that we will delve deeper into the machinations of how the Lords of Hell are resurrected, and that Skarn, one of Diablo's minions, is also looking to speed up the process of his lord's return through the shards of the Worldstone. I wouldn't be surprised to see other fan favorite characters in Immortal since the fates of Mephisto, Duriel, and Andariel are all unknown during this time period.
Baal's return does raise some interesting questions for the overall story of the franchise. We know that by the events of Diablo III Baal is dead, since his soul is captured in the Black Soulstone, and that if he were to still be alive it would cause a major disruption in Diablo's plans to steal the powers of the other Great Evils to become the Prime Evil. Could we receive help from Diablo's minions such as Adria during the game? Or could the Lord of Terror himself have a more direct hand in ensuring his brother, Baal, is dead? I look forward to the lore and world building that Immortal promises and how the game will expand our knowledge of the inner workings of Sanctuary, Hell, and beyond.
Q2 ATVI Earnings Call
Not much was mentioned for the Diablo franchise in this quarter's call, but there was a change in how Blizzard was framing the next testing phase for Diablo Immortal. In previous earnings calls, Blizzard had mentioned that Immortal was slated to begin regional testing "mid year", but now they're stating that the game will go into expanded company wide testing shortly. For more information on this, be sure to check out the Diablo: Immortal 2020 Mid-Year update from Lead Designer Wyatt Cheng
Later on in the Q&A section of the call there were some interesting points brought up about how they approached marketing for Call of Duty: Warzone by using limited marketing before the launch of the game, and ATVI is looking into expanding that kind of marketing practice to other Call of Duty titles. We've seen this kind of strategy put into practice for Immortal as well, since we've heard so little about the game since it was original announcement and subsequent backlash surrounding it.
When asked directly about the original plans for Immortal's regional testing, J. Allen Brack responded that at Blizzard they have a wide demographic of gamers that they'll be sourcing feedback from in their company wide testing, and that their goal is to deliver a deep and engaging RPG on mobile that will be authentic to the Diablo experience which will meet the expectations of core Diablo players. Brack also took the opportunity to discuss Diablo IV briefly, saying that development on that title was moving along well and that the team is motivated by the community's excitement around the quarterly development blogs.