Rise of the Necromancer offers a fun new class but might sour those expecting much more.
For the past few years whenever a loot-based title has appeared, be it Tom Clancy’s The Division, Destiny, Grim Dawn and so on, Diablo 3 has always been in the conversation. Hardcore fans who swear by Diablo 2 may think that older is better. Since Diablo 3‘s Reaper of Souls expansion offered a resurgence of Blizzard’s trademark action RPG/looter gameplay, it’s been heralded as a standard for massively improving your game when all hope is lost. And believe it or not, but the systems, end-game, gearing and overall action is some of the most fun you’ll have in this genre.
"In terms of variety, the Necromancer is definitely full of different ways to succeed."
However, while everyone has been comparing the next big looter to Diablo, what’s Diablo 3 been up to? We’ve had a few major updates, buffs to gear sets, new items, Kanai’s Cube, augmenting gems, Empowered Rifts, revamps to Horadric Caches, new areas and so on. There hasn’t really been any major paid DLC, until now with Rise of the Necromancer. Patch 2.6 was also launched and added Challenge Rifts, two new areas and new bounties to complete. That’s free for everyone though so we’re going to focus on the Necromancer DLC for now.
After the trademark cinematic setting up your grim guy (or gal), the Necromancer is yours to control. The Necromancer’s main resource is Essence and you can use causes bone spikes to sprout out of the ground, siphon blood from your enemies or swing a large scythe to generate it. Each of these generators has runes which act as mods. Want your bone spikes to return health or split your giant scythe into two small scythes that gather enemies together? It’s yours. Of course, things are properly mixed up when you’re able to detonate corpses, command a small group of skeletons, summon a half-formed Golem (or Skull Mage) and so on. The Necromancer is also capable of casting curses, like Frailty which can be used to finish off weak enemies or even act as an aura to debuff them.
In terms of variety, the Necromancer is definitely full of different ways to succeed. You could command your skeletons and launch Bone Spears at enemies to create corpses before using corpse lances to attack your foes. You can throw your half-formed Golem into a group of enemies to make some more corpses, detonate them or even consume them to regain health and essence. How about pummeling your enemies with corpse lances with Land of the Dead active while self-healing with each kill? Or bringing an entire swarm of skeletons with Army of the Dead to decimate a group of foes.
"When you combine the many different ways to attack enemies with what’s currently in Diablo 3, the Necromancer becomes yet another class that’s full of opportunities."
Throw in Focus and Restraint which grant 50 percent increased damage each for five seconds when using resource-generating and resource-spending abilities, thus leading to even more carnage in the early going. If there’s one criticism I could have with the Necromancer class, it’s that the passive skills don’t come off as incredibly over-powered at first like, say, the Demon Hunter’s would. Then again, when you min-max your build properly and have the right gear, you’ll quickly find the Necromancer to be a health-sacrificing, self-healing, corpse-detonating machine.
When you combine the many different ways to attack enemies with what’s currently in Diablo 3, the Necromancer becomes yet another class that’s full of opportunities. It’s kind of the essence of what Josh Mosquiera, former game director for Diablo 3, had in mind when revamping everything – making you feel like a bad-ass with awesome action.
Though I haven’t had a chance to spend much time with the new gear sets and Legendary items that come with the Necromancer (since it’s up to RNG at the end of the day), their potency is hard to deny. The Pestilence Master’s Shroud seemed particularly fun with each corpse consumed launching a corpse lance at any enemy. Combine this with Land of the Dead and the Consume rune that heals you and dying seems pretty much out of the question. The Jesseth Arms were useful for increasing the damage done by minions like Skeleton soldiers. There’s five sets in total which includes one weapon set and again, we’ll only know which is the best when more time is spent in the game.
"The problem is that at $15, the only real new addition to the game is the Necromancer along with its associated sets and items"
Here’s the main issue though: The price. At $15, you get the Necromancer, a half-formed Golem as a pet, Wings of the Crypt Guardian as a new pair of cosmetic wings, the Blood Master pennant, a new portrait frame, the Necromancer banner, two stash tabs and two more character slots. The new areas and bounties along with Challenge Rifts are part of patch 2.6. As a side-note, the Moors and Temple of the Firstborn offer some fun adventuring with cool new enemies and it’s always great to have more levels to explore in the Greater Rifts. However, it takes roughly an hour to get through both of them. I can also see the Challenge Rifts as being nothing more than a distraction to attempt when you’re bored even if they offer a neat alternative to collecting crafting materials.
The problem is that at $15, the only real new addition to the game is the Necromancer along with its associated sets and items. It’s a ton of fun to play, don’t get me wrong. But it may be a hard sell for all but fans of the game (and they’re a bit skeptical as to whether the price is worth it). I can applaud Blizzard for keeping the new areas and such free but there could’ve been more paid content. Though I bagged on The Division’s Underground DLC, it did include an entire new area of random dungeons with modifiers, some new story missions, a new Incursion, four new gear sets and new weapons. On the other hand, I had a lot more fun with Rise of the Necromancer than with the Underground DLC.
Honestly, if you’re getting into Diablo 3 for the first time or love the gameplay and wonder if the Necromancer will be a good investment, then by all means pick up Rise of the Necromancer. Though I feel some more value could have been added to the package, the fact that the class offers so much to do, working alongside so many established systems in new and exciting ways, is simply too good to pass up. If you’re trying to get back to the game after a long time, just be aware of what you’re getting beforehand.
This game was reviewed on PC.
Necromancer class is tons of fun to play with plenty of gameplay variety. New items and gear sets are great to play with. Overall combat has that Blizzard-level of polish that you've come to love. Plenty of new cosmetics, two extra stash tabs and more.
No new areas or enemies included in paid DLC (relegated to free patch). The odd glitch with Flesh Golem that occurs rarely.
Diablo 3's Rise of the Necromancer pack is a worthy purchase for all kinds of players but it might not suit those wanting tons of new activities, areas and whatnot to explore. Still, the level of polish and sheer fun of the Necromancer makes a strong argument for purchasing.