Platforms: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), PC, Xbox One
I’ve played Diablo 3 off and on since its release all the way back in 2012. I hardly consider myself a hardcore player, but I’ve dabbled in all the game’s classes. Despite the enjoyment I’ve gotten out of Diablo 3 throughout these past few years, I’ve yet to play a class in the game that I’ve loved truly as much as anything I played in Diablo 2.
Diablo 3’s Rise of the Necromancer DLC — as the title suggests — sees the return of the fan favorite Necromancer class. And just how Blizzard has made all of the current classes feel unique from not just each other, but their past incarnates, they’ve done so too with the Necromancer.
Like other classes, the Necromancer utilizes a resource pool — Essence, effectively a magic meter that recharges when you hit enemies with basic attacks. It’s with this Essence, however, that the real magic is done.
The basics of the original Diablo 2 Necromancer are alive and well with Diablo 3’s successor — the class involves summoning, curses, and bone-based attacks. But fans of the original class won’t just feel at home with Diablo 3’s version, they’ll feel like they are playing a Necromancer on steroids.
In no way am I an expert at class builds; I play the build that I think is fun. And with Necromancer, there’s nothing I’ve found more satisfying that exploding the guts of dead trash mobs to destroy other trash mobs. Corpse Explosion returns in glorious fashion, as you turn the corpse of dead monsters into a deadly weapon (its damage is now based on your character’s weapon damage rather than the monster’s HP as it was in Diablo 2). Not only does this provide an interesting twist to the sometimes mundane task of clearing mobs, but it also offers some tactics into your approach. The Necromancer essentially feeds and grows more powerful the longer you are in combat. Kill a minion, explode its corpse, which creates five more corpses that can then be exploded. The result is a satisfying chain reaction of blood, guts, and carnage that can clear entire rooms in seconds.
Corpse explosion is just one aspect of Necromancer that I’ve enjoyed. While curses and lifesteal are still a thing, I’ve grown fond of leading my very own army of undead. One of the core skills earned early on grants the ability raise an infinitely respawning army of seven skeleton warriors. I was pleased to discover that I could add to this army a monstrous abomination, skeletal mages, and eventually an area of effect spell that raises 10 intact corpses (Army of the Dead, which I hardly used due to its ridiculously long cooldown). While you can direct the army of minions to attack specific monsters, I found them to be pretty competent on their own.
The undead army coupled with corpse explosion has so far been my favorite combination as Necromancer, but as with all classes in the game, I’m sure players much better than me will find other, more powerful builds. For me, the class brings a new type of fun and enjoyment to Diablo 3.
This newfound fun does come at a cost, however, as the Rise of the Necromancer DLC costs $15 on its own (or bundled with Diablo 3 and the Reaper of Souls expansion for $60). It’s not cheap, but Blizzard fans are presumably used to paying premium dollars expansions and add-ons. The good news is that Rise of the Necromancer also comes with a new “Half-Formed Golem” pet who picks up gold for you, a set of wings related cosmetic items, and for PC players two new character slots and stash tabs.
If you're a lifelong Diablo fan who absolutely adored the Necromancer in Diablo 2, the $15 is worth the cost. Diablo 3: Rise of the Necromancer takes the Diablo 2 Necromancer and puts it on steroids.