This is the ending of the biggest PC game of the year? What a bummer.

Congratulations! You've defeated Diablo III.
Greater challenges and epic items await you in Nightmare Difficulty!

I guess I saw it coming. The story up until this point had been an undercooked mess of arch codswallop. It almost couldn't help but whiff the grand finale. And besides, story isn't the main reason that people play Diablo III. And yet I still couldn't help but laugh at the cheap, bland way it all concluded.


I realize that just about everyone else in the world finished Diablo III ages ago. Not me! I took my time. Also I kinda got bored with it a few times and spent long periods of time playing other things. Here's how it all plays out, if you somehow haven't finished the game:

First, you make your way up to where Diablo is waiting. As you go, you pass the ghosts of the people who died along the way to your final confrontation. That sounds epic, right? A real chance for the story to come full circle and tie things together in a way that makes it feel like this all meant something! Well, it isn't. It's a bunch of hollow dialogue that you fly past while clicking on more dudes and killing them.


The sub-boss is some angel or other, a guy who I certainly hadn't kept track of over the course of the game's story. Oh, but he's evil now! Better click his ass to death. So that's what I did, and he died, and then it was Diablo-killing time.

I made my way up to where the big bad waited. I felt no real apprehension about it. I walked into the room with Diablo. He attacked me for a while, so I clicked on him. He kept talking about "Terr-roar" in this hilariously overwrought way. Then, he warped us to a dark nether-realm where he proceeded to say the same handful of things over and over.

"You shall never wake from this nightmare."

"Can you feel your death approaching?"

"How tastes your fear, Nephalem?"

"Can you feel your death approaching?"

"Your Nephalem power will not help you in this realm, mort-tal."

"How tastes your fear, Nephalem?"

"You shall never wake from this nightmare."

Counter to Diablo's predictions, I did indeed wake from this nightmare. I'm not sure what he meant about how my Nephalem powers wouldn't help me—I kinda felt about the same in the nightmare realm as in the regular one. So then Diablo got more difficult, and I clicked him some more, and it felt like a proper boss fight for a little while, and then I killed him.

That was all fine—I could see this being a decent fight, particularly in a big party on a higher difficulty. But after it ended… my little entourage of still-alive NPCs assembled where Diablo had fallen, and everyone stood still for a while. I gathered some loot from Diablo—I got a belt, and a staff, and a couple of archery things that I can't use. The belt wasn't that good, the staff was okay. And then it was time to end the game.

A cutscene played (and not even a particularly cool one by Blizzard's very high cutscene standards). And then it was time to start all over again.

It's not the end of the world or anything. (Heyo! Diablo humor!) No, but really, this game just doesn't get by on its epic story, great writing, etc. I had a fine time playing it. I'll probably keep pecking at it for a good long while. All the same, I found myself surprised by the… chintziness?… of the post-boss wrapup. A game that was in development for this long, that concludes a trilogy this beloved… well, it could have felt a bit more substantial, you know?

I don't hate Diablo III, not by a long shot. But I've been disappointed with a lot of things about it. Bearing in mind all the disappointments I'd felt throughout my time with the game, I wasn't expecting the finale to blow me away or move me to tears. But I also wasn't expecting to be so thoroughly underwhelmed. I realize that the two games are very different (and hesitate to go down this path at all), but I have to say: The Mass Effect 3 ending was far more satisfying and less flawed than this business.

Immediately after finishing, I did what any good Diablo III player is supposed to do—I got started on my second playthrough on nightmare difficulty.

I arrived at New Tristram, again. I killed some zombies, again.

The guard at the gate said, "I've never seen anyone fight like that before!"

"Liar," I thought.