Given the popularity of Diablo II, it was only a matter of time before Blizzard brought over another fan favorite from that game into the latest loot extravaganza. The Barbarian had been there since launch and the Crusader was a reworked (see: nerfed) Paladin. The Necromancer borrows a bit from its Diablo II counterpart but feels fresh and new from a gameplay perspective. Say what you will about the story and level design of vanilla Diablo III, but it’s hard to deny the effort Blizzard has put in to make the game a ton of fun nowadays. The Necromancer adds a new layer to that by proving to be the game’s most fun spellcaster.
Similar in a few ways to the Witch Doctor, much of the Necromancer’s build can revolve around summoning minions to do their dirty work. Most of these minions are permanent and are resummoned automatically upon death, while others last only a limited time. In my time playing, I also found some similarities to my favorite class, the Monk. I’m a big fan of how much destruction exploding palm can cause with the right abilities and gear equipped and the Necromancer offers some of the same explosive gameplay. Being able to turn my fallen foes into corpse base explosives that create more corpse based explosives is immensely satisfying. It doesn’t deliver quite the same punch (puns) as my exploding palm build, but the spectacular explosions that fill the screen still tickle my fancy.
What the Necromancer lacks in raw power compared to the Wizard, it makes up for in versatility. The basic attacks are easy to build around, a sweeping scythe, a long-range blood draining/healing attack, and my personal favorite, the AoE bone spikes. The bone spikes attack in a decent sized circle that can hit multiple enemies at once and can even stun foes. It has allowed me to fight at a safe distance (my Necromance is also my first Hardcore character because I need the trophy) and maximize my other abilities such as exploding corpse. There are also a variety of curses to debuff your enemies, making them generally more vulnerable. I’m not saying my way is right, but I’ve never been much for the curses when it comes to my Necromancers. I want the biggest army of minions I can have and I want do deal enough damage at a distance to still feel useful in a fight.
In general, I feel that Necro minions are more effective in a fight than those of the Witch Doctor, but I believe many of the Witch Doctor’s other abilities, such as his poisons and the like, meld better with a group. A Necromancer can certainly be a team player, but my build is more about individual survivability than it is team cohesion. It’s great that even after all this time Blizzard can bring a new class into the game that feels fun and exciting to play and avoids the pitfalls of being a paid bonus character by being balanced. The Necromancer is well worth your time and money if you have any desire to continue putting time into Diablo III.