So how about that Diablo Immortal eh? Sure is a lot of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” surrounding its release, huh? But hey, it’s for a good reason. In an ironic twist, putting that good ol’ “Blizzard polish” that defined the company for so many years on a new free-to-play mobile game illuminates just how good companies have become at manipulating our psychology to spend money. It does everything right, by evil definitions of right. And if it weren’t for the grumpy gaze of your average PC gamer, then it would’ve slipped right under the radar.
Whether or not the it’s cost you $110,000 to get every gear slot filled with best-in-slot items, this game is still very expensive. And even while I’m the type that doesn’t mind throwing down $100 for these gacha-style free-to-play pay-to-win games, even I feel like I’m getting ripped off. And I’m the target audience! So nope – I haven’t spent any money on this game at all.
When it comes to these games, I usually buy the $40 to $60 packs. But since I opted out of spending cash on this game, the $49.99 I would have just spent on orbs will just have to go somewhere else. And as Ben Franklin once said, “a penny saved is a penny got.” So let’s say other players are in the same boat as me. What are some other things they can spend that money on?
10. Six sourdough jacks
Sourdough jacks are great. They’ve got the best texture of any fast food burger. They have just the right amount of umami flavor, and they’re easy to eat while driving a stickshift, and since there are no vegetables in ’em, they’re easy to reheat in a microwave. Would I eat six sourdough jacks in one sitting at my age? Probably not. But that’s six days when I don’t have to think about what’s for lunch! And can you eat a legendary crest? No, you can’t.
9. A whole ton of classic games
I’ve been playing a whole lot of classic games lately. They’re all so cheap. While they might not be as portable as Diablo Immortal, any computer or even old laptop can run those 20-year-old games without a problem. As of this article’s writing, GOG has a pretty sweet deal going on. I personally recommend Sacred 2. I had a darn good time back when that game came out!
8. A Heroes of Might and Magic 3 coaster set
I’ve had my eye on this for a while, but coasters are always useful to have around the house! Actually, it doesn’t even have to be themed around HoMM3; every household should at least have a set of coasters.
7. Outfits in Black Desert Online
Ok, so let’s say the money was set aside specifically for microtransactions. I’d go with an outfit in Black Desert Online. Outfits in BDO run the gamut in cost, but on average they run about $30. That’s pretty steep for some folks, but at least I know what I’m getting out of it. The outfits even come in pieces so I can mix and match. And if I’m done with the outfit, I can still extract cron stones to make free attempts towards my next PEN piece.
6. A tent in Black Desert Online
Here’s something I wish more games with transactions would offer: an account-wide item that doesn’t expire and offers immediate conveniences. The tent allows players to buy potions, purchase buffs, and repair gear without having to return to town. It also offers a nice little sign post to tell folks that you’re using the grind spot and they should keep on walking. I’ve yet to regret spending the $49 on this useful item.
5. Last Epoch
Last Epoch is still in early access, but it’s got everything the modern ARPG enjoyer is going to want. The game features a time travel narrative that neatly ties its lore with the game systems. And the endgame area, aptly named The End of Time, has a system similar to Diablo 3’s rifts and greater rift. For those unfamiliar with the system, it’s basically random dungeons with special properties that make the dungeon run more difficult. And obviously you’re rewarded for their trouble with some sweet loot. Players who don’t want to support Blizzard might enjoy this game!
4. Titan Quest
This 2006 game’s most recent expansion pack released December 2021. It’s so awesome to have a classic multiplayer ARPG that’s still being supported. The game isn’t on sale right now, so it’ll be much more than the $49.99 price, but that’s still a whole lot of content to play this game with! Titan Quest usually goes on sale for Steam events, too, so if you can be patient, wait until the Summer Sale and stretch that money even further.
3. Black Desert Mobile
I’ve been playing this game on and off since release, and it’s very definitely a mobile game when it comes to monetization and everything else, so players who want to compete in the upper tiers of content will need to dump money in this. But for players who are already used to Black Desert Online’s grind and want it in a bite-sized form, this is the mobile game to play. The game offers a ton of currency, and everything can be obtained through normal gameplay. I spent some money on some pearls, but I haven’t spent it all yet because of all the free stuff I get… something Diablo Immortal doesn’t do for some silly reason.
2. Diablo 2
Here’s one for the folks who can tolerate Blizzard but not DI’s monetization: You just can’t go wrong with Diablo 2, if for some reason you don’t already own it. With the recent patch adding a variety of new builds to the game and the first ladder season, players can get their dopamine hits by just paying once, and they’ll have hours of gameplay. And the added mobility on the Nintendo Switch is always a plus!
1. Diablo 3
Enjoying Diablo Immortal but don’t want to shell out any cash for power? Well, if there’s one thing going for DI, it’s that it’s one of the only mobile games I know that has a bigger, better version of it without any of the microtransactions, and that of course is Diablo 3. Ever since it received its Reaper of Souls expansion back in 2014 and the loot 2.0 update, players can get a whole lot of bang for their buck. And like Diablo 2, it’s playable on the Nintendo Switch. Why did I pick this over Diablo 2 for “best-in-slot”? Because Diablo Immortal is basically a mobile Diablo 3 anyway. The eternal collection is $39.99 too, so there’s left over money for at least one sourdough jack. (Since you can still play Diablo 3 with one hand and eat the sammy in the other, see.)
Yes, I’m aware that I didn’t include Path of Exile in this list. I don’t personally play it, but if you read our Wandering Wraeclast column, you already know it’s a no-brainer for OARPG fans.