Diablo III Rise of the Necromancer review Part 1

For the past four years, Diablo III fans have been entwined in what could be objectively described as a borderline abusive relationship with Blizzard. I say objectively because if you’d ask any of us if we were in any kind of trouble, we’d obviously say no and we’d be telling the truth. Blizzard hasn’t hurt us; instead they’ve been constantly sharing us with other projects, neglecting us and dropping in every now and then to give us a bone. We sat by for two years in a stale loveless relationship only to be given the Reaper of Souls.

When that spark had all but faded we were treated to seasonal updates which at least left us satisfied every few months, but we still did not get the attention we deserved. The Necromancer DLC is the latest distraction we’ve been handed and as per usual we’re all besotted with our abusive lover, caught up in digital Stockholm syndrome. I’m going to tell you why.

I’ve decided to split this review into two parts. The first one will explore the differences between our preview and how the Necromancer plays out in the live patch. The second part of this review will see the Necromancer’s performance in the upcoming Season, which begins on July 20th.

Throughout my years of Diablo III I’ve played every single class, and pretty much every single build the Nephalem have to offer. Each one plays out differently, but in the end they’re actually quite the same with regards to resources, abilities, and what functionality they bring to a team.

The Necromancer is something completely different, and I can honestly say Blizzard have outdone themselves in the design of the class. The Necromancer uses a resource known as Essence, which allows him/her to cast abilities. What separates the Necromancer in its genius design is the real resource – corpses. Your entire toolkit for dungeon running relies on the monsters you kill as you raise their corpses to fight alongside you. This made the Necromancer an absolute treat in dungeons when speed running for that juicy Ancient Primal gear.

Your health, abilities, and Essence are fuelled by the corpses around you and they’re also the main source of your damage. The Necromancer requires ingenuity and fast thinking as boss fights in Greater Rifts can often become tough with certain builds which rely heavy on AoE (Area of Effect) and not Single Target. That’s honestly one thing I’ve always loved about Diablo III, but not something I’ve ever been able to express – the mechanical depth of Diablo III characters. The Necromancer is honestly the epitome of mechanically designed play and its true power will only really be unlocked once the Season arrives.

The Necromancer’s true strength can be seen in dungeons, and as the dungeon goes on the Necromancer only gets stronger. While some classes kick-off at the get go, it takes a Necromancer a bit of a ramp to finally reach its optimal potential about 30% into a run. This is solely because as more things die, the stronger you become (another great design playing to the lore of the Necromancer). Your toolkit as a Necromancer offers a large variety of builds, which have all somewhat been tested in the live build at the moment. While these builds may differ somewhat, they all revolve around your minions, or pets as they’re known in the RPG world.

Necromancer is a pet class done right, making the Witch Doctor look like a clunky mess. The Witch Doctor, the closest comparison for the Necromancer, has some functionality in their pets but they’re mostly there to beat things up. The Necromancer, on the other hand, has a tonne of functionality for your minions which can be used in a variety of ways: like killing them off to gain an armour buff, or to summon larger minions who could tank and tear things apart.

The biggest issue with the Necromancer right now is that there’s one dominant build which is ruling the leaderboards. This is expected that the Necromancer would have a strong start in the non-seasonal leaderboards, and it seems the preferred build at the moment involves the Tag’Ouls Avatar Set and a very specific set of talents.

All the top Necromancers are running this set up at the moment, and it’s unlikely that it will change in the build up to the Season which begins next week. That’s, unfortunately, the crux of it all. On one hand you have a very diverse class with a tonne of mechanical functionality and on the other hand, you’ve got one build which dominates them all. This isn’t something new to Diablo or its classes, but I’m more interested to see if the Necromancer can add some support to a dungeon by way of tanking with minions or crowd-control, like the Monk and Crusader.

Since this is a two-part review my initial thoughts on the Necromancer in the live build are promising. It’s an extremely fun class to play, it’s extremely powerful and if you’re not aiming to smash the leaderboards there are a variety of sets to try out. They also all look really great as Transmogs. The Necromancer is extremely strong at the moment and will most like receive a nerf in the future.

Last Updated: July 11, 2017

The Necromancer adds mechanical depth to a game which has hidden the obvious for quite some years. It’s an incredible class that’s fun to play but extremely overpowered at the moment. Diablo III: Rise of the Necromancer was reviewed on PC

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