UPDATE 1AM GMT 4TH NOVEMBER: Wyatt Cheng, the lead designer of Diablo Immortal, just stepped on stage at BlizzCon 2018 and issued a personal message about the brouhaha surrounding the mobile game's announcement and Diablo 4 no-show. It was he who fended off some harsh questions on stage shortly after Immortal's reveal.
Diablo 3 launches on Nintendo Switch this week, and good Lord it is a lovely thing. Blizzard's opulent action RPG has been on a long journey since a difficult launch on PC in 2012, but it has been a genuine classic since 2014's Reaper of Souls expansion blew the doors off the original game's stodgy structure and balancing and introduced the endless Adventure Mode. Some of the groundwork for Reaper of Souls was laid by an impeccable console conversion in 2013, which had a generous feature set, a crisp interface and cleverly adapted controls. This console game has gathered up all Diablo 3's expansions and content updates since as it has rolled from one console generation to the next, and arrives on Switch with one hell of an added bonus: you can now play Diablo on the train, which is one of the better inventions of my lifetime.
Blizzard says the Necromancer, which arrives as an add-on for Diablo 3 today, is one of the most-requested characters in any of its games. That's no surprise - it's an iconic player character and a fun class to play, and it was always very popular in Diablo 2. But perhaps there is something else going on behind the public demands for the Necromancer's apt resurrection, because the class is pure Diablo 2: none more Gothic, not so much dark as sepulchral, stitched together from sackcloth and bone, pentagrams and guttering candles. A dry, death-metal kind of fantasy horror.
Diablo 3 makes an art of relentlessly gouging your time, but rarely your wallet. If the Auction House had persisted it would be a different story, but Blizzard's hectic smash-and-grab has maintained its flip-reversed trajectory to become one of the most lovingly-maintained games in recent memory.
Since the game's launch in 2012 a steady stream of updates have added layers of complex, compelling and mutually-amplifying processes and tools to refine and power up your character. The Paragon system alone will soak up thousands of hours of play, and the endless lottery of loot drops, the daily-style Bounties and options to burn your hard-earned materials crafting elusive, perfectly rolled gear in Kanai's Cube for all intents and purposes makes Diablo 3 a game you never need to stop playing.
So, why the latest patch? 2.4.0 feels like Blizzard showboating - a high profile demonstration of the team's creative resources, a firm handshake to the game's community and, I suspect, part of a shadowy PhD project studying behavioural psychology. It's also, if you look for it, a sign of Blizzard thinking about what comes next, about what a Diablo storyline should look like now that Adventure Mode is the new heart of the game.
I lost my first character in Diablo 3's Hardcore mode - where death is permanent - to a puddle of acid excreted by an angry tree. The character was a level 17 wizard. I just wasn't watching where I was standing. That was a back before the console version, before the Reaper of Souls expansion - when the game was less fun, less pliable, less eager to please.
I went to Paris last week to meddle with ultimate evil - or rather, to play Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition. This is the PS4 strain of Blizzard's colourful and divisive action RPG, and it's a game that may actually earn that foolhardy "Ultimate" in its title. It has couch (and online) co-op and all the erupting fireworks you should expect if you've been playing the PS3 or 360 installments - and if you've been playing PS3 version, incidentally, you can look forward to importing your character. Beyond that, the particles seem to be scattered more lavishly, the frame-rate is consistently glorious, and I struggled to see any screen-tearing. Oh yes, and it bundles the forthcoming expansion Reaper of Souls in there too. That really is pretty Ultimate, then - for the time being, at least.
Glancing at preview coverage of the crusader - Diablo 3's new class, who will arrive with the Reaper of Souls expansion - initially had me a little confused. A brooding hard-nut with a melee focus? Isn't that what the barbarian's for?
"The Auction House is a very complicated conversation..."