I caught the tail end of Diablo II when I got my first PC. Myself, and a couple of friends played on a local Diablo II server and it was my first taste of an online game. Luckily for me, the one class that stuck with me from Diablo II was the Necromancer, and I was greatly disappointed when it wasn’t included in Diablo III or Reaper of Souls. We did get the Witch Doctor, but more on that later. Nonetheless, I sank a couple of thousand hours in Diablo III and the expansion, grinding away day after day, season after season, hoping for something more. That day finally came with the announcement of the Necromancer which was bitter-sweet as it arrives as a paid for DLC and not a new expansion. I got my hands on the beta, and these are my impressions.
Disclaimer: these are beta impressions, the character has not been fully released yet and there’s a strong possibility that runes, spells, etc. will change.
The Old vs. The New
The biggest question, of course, was how the new Necromancer would fare up against the infamous Necromancer from Diablo II. The biggest difference here is the new build system associated with Diablo III which leaves a lot of room for theory-crafting and designing the perfect build. When playing Diablo III each season, I rely heavily on research of my classes to ensure optimal performance. For the Necromancer I played in the dark, relying on very little information as I levelled up.
If you strip away the new systems, new UI, etc. the core of the Necromancer has not changed between Diablo iterations. You’re still set to raise and army of the dead and support them with curses and dark magic. You’re still controlling the dead, and trust me there’s a lot of them.
The most interesting thing the new Necromancer brings to Diablo III is the manipulation of corpses. You’re able to use a number of abilities with the corpses around you after you’ve killed an enemy. You can make the explode, binding enemies, or do the whole Necromancer thing and raise them from the dead. No other class or mechanic in Diablo III has used corpses, which makes the new Necromancer extremely handy in dungeons.
A mixture of playstyles
My initial thoughts when levelling my Necromancer was how its playstyle differs from the Witch Doctor, it still uses summoned minions and abilities to boost them. After all, the Witch Doctor was in a sense the replacement for the Necromancer, but you summon pets instead of raising them from the dead. Once I got to a higher level and unlocked a number of new runes and spells I realized that the Necro played a bit more like a mix between the Wizard and Witch Doctor. While some Witch Doctor builds rely heavily on minion damage, the Necromancer’s abilities aid the minions in a way which reminded me of certain Wizard abilities, especially one that slows like Frost Nova and damages enemies over time. There are builds which rely on your undead army to deal a ton of damage, but it’s different from the Witch Doctor, with some relying on heavy cooldowns and mana (which might make them not viable for dungeons).
What I loved most about the Necromancer is the large variation of builds you can do early on. You’re extremely strong by yourself, and there are certain builds which aid group play too, like the slow one I mentioned above. For solo play, I really enjoyed the build where you use all your mana to create one mega-Wraith which destroys enemies with one hit. You’re also able to make your minions and skeletons tank for you which is great for solo pushing higher tier rifts. This comes with the ability “Command Skeletons” which brings seven skeletons to your side which tank for you and have a useable ability which does damage to mobs.
Necromancer also incorporates many “life steal” abilities meaning you literally suck the life out of your enemies. This is also something unique to the new class as other classes don’t have direct life gain other than Life on Hit or Life after Kill. Because I was running around low-level dungeons I didn’t feel the need to truly try out the life steal builds and instead commanded my army of undead to do all the hard work for me. I can definitely see the promise of going for these builds for pushing Greater Rifts, but for the sake of this piece, I stuck with the fun stuff. All that can come later.
My biggest fear, as a die-hard Diablo fan, was that the Necromancer was some sort of apology from Blizzard for not putting much into Diablo since launch. The Necromancer, and my first few hours playing around with it show a revitalised Blizzard giving a fresh new character with abilities and playstyles unlike any other class. I was half expecting a fancy Witch Doctor, but I’m already excited for the final release so I can take the Necromancer into Seasonal Greater Rifts and see how far this class can go.
It will be all the hype on release, and it’s going to be overpowered, but for now I’m going to say good job, Blizzard, this seems like fun.
Last Updated: May 2, 2017