Around this time of year industry writers line up to give already lauded releases a further pat on the back, offering few, if any, curveballs. But for me, picking a game of the year is not necessarily about name checking indie innovators or million dollar megahits, but instead offering a subjective opinion on the game I’ve had the most fun with these past 12 months. And that was only ever going to be Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition.
It is the most perfect PC to console port ever realised, with no meaningful compromises at all in terms of graphics or content. But the real star of the show is local co-op; something lacking from the PC original, yet the Ultimate Evil Edition’s single greatest asset. Both iterations were designed to be played with others, of course, but Diablo’s slightly silly hack n’ slash gameplay is far better enjoyed with fellow adventurers in person, pad-in-hand than via the impersonal nether of Battle.net.
Me and my partner are now on our third playthroughs, still motivated to brave Sanctury’s demon-infested, fields, deserts and hellscapes with fresh characters months after the game’s release. Diablo III’s 10 years in development shows not through any effort whatsoever to move the wheezing ARPG genre forward, but by being a pixel perfect example of that paradigm. No more, no less.
You could argue that Blizzard’s post-World of Warcraft output has been notably over-developed; honed to within an inch of its life by hundreds of thousands of hours’ playtesting and bathed in the slick veneer of practically unlimited resources. I can understand why this turns old-school fans off, but regardless of how full their coffers are, or how far they’ve come from humble beginnings as hardcore PC gaming champions, Blizzard never fail to nail the fun factor perfectly.
And when it comes to gaming, what else matters?