Diablo 3 Reaper of Souls – Necromancer Gameplay Impressions

As many of you have no doubt heard, Diablo 3 Reaper of Souls now has a new class: Necromancer, along with a few other interesting, but not overwhelming content updates in conjunction with the Rise of the Necromancer expansion on PS4, Xbox One and PC. Blizzard was gracious enough to send us a code so we could check out the new improvements, and see how the Necromancer played vs. the other Diablo 3 classes as well as vs. the Diablo 2 Necromancer which I have so fond memories of.

Diablo 3 Reaper of Souls Necromancer Gameplay Impressions

It didn’t take long to get to level 70 and really start gearing and tearing, so let’s try to answer some of the questions that have been “raised” about this new class.

How does the Necromancer Play vs. Other Classes?

Well luckily I have a level 70 character of every class in the game so am able to give a more fine impression than perhaps some people who have only played a few other classes. The Necromancer feels a bit like a combination of the Witch Doctor and the Barbarian/Crusader, let me explain.

For starters the Necromancer has a ton of minions, just like the WD, and between the two you could almost completely cover the screen in minions. Some differences here are that the Necromancer can control his minions to a limited degree, whereas the WD cannot. The Necromancer’s minions also auto summon simply by having the ability equipped, which is not the case with the WD, as he needs to use Mana to summon them. If you wish to play a pure summoner, Necromancer is definitely the superior of the two classes.

The Necromancer also, like the Barbarian/Cursader, can increase his Thorns damage by a wickedly high percentage (200%) with a passive ability and also buff his defense with Bone Armor making for a tanky variation of this class to be played. Also, unlike the Witch Doctor he builds Essence with his attacks, similar to Wrath/Fury, and this only generates from attacking with the primary attack abilities and doesn’t replenish the way Mana does.

The primary objective with the Necromancer is to get that first kill or two and then use corpses to obliterate your foes with deadly Corpse abilities such as Corpse Explosion or simply reanimate the corpses into minions that fight for you. There is usually an abundance of corpses on the screen so this is not to difficult to do. However, having more than one Necromancer in the group tends to be redundant as they will be vying for corpses with one another which is something that can be really frustrating, especially if one Necromancer uses the Devouring Aura rune of the Devour ability causing them to automatically consume nearby corpses in exchange for endless Essence.

How does the Necromancer in Diablo 3 play vs. the Diablo 2 Necromancer?

That is an excellent question. Anyone who has played both games will note immediately the flexibility of Diablo 3’s character creation, by allowing players to change their builds at will, vs Diablo 2’s permanent choices. Initially this was something I really disliked about Diablo 3, but as I’ve grown older/more casual it’s become a feature I really like. As a Necromancer in Diablo 2 you pretty much had to specialize in Curses, Minion Master, etc, but in Diablo 3, you’re really all these things at once.

Seems the Faraam Knight has been through here…Blizzard must be Dark Souls fans…

Blizzard has made it quite simple to do really, by making your skeletons and golems automatically re-summon upon their deaths, so that you can concentrate on casting Curses and dealing damage with Corpse abilities or Bone Spear. And, if you want to become more of a Minion Master, you can simply slot some more summoning abilities that allow you to replace active attack abilities, allowing the player to really customize just how much they’d like to summon vs how much they’d like to attack. In short, you can find your sweet spot for the type of Necromancer you’d like to play and play it your way.

Overall the Necromancer in Diablo 2 seemed a touch more satisfying than Diablo 3, at least as a Minion Master. I’m not sure if that’s because there simply weren’t as many enemies on the screen as there are in Diablo 3 so you felt way more badass with your army or what, but Diablo 3 is not very far behind nevertheless. I certainly don’t regret playing it, and since my Witch Doctor is my main, I felt right at home slaying and reviving the fallen into an every growing army that surpassed my Fetishes…in game Fetishes I mean.

How Much New Content is There?

Sadly the content is very short and didn’t take but an hour to complete, if that. There are two new areas to explore with one new boss battle, but neither are large, although one of the areas is the best looking visually in the entire game and has a very Lovecraftian vibe.

Lovecraftian homage to the game with a bit of Cthulhu in there

There are new Rifts called Challenge Rifts that allow the player to attempt Rifts for rewards by playing as other players, with their exact gear, skills and Paragon ranks. Some players may enjoy these, but personally I’d rather play with my own character than someone else’s. It’s a nice novelty but nothing amazing. All of these come free with the new Patch 2.6.0 anyway, even if you don’t purchase the Class.

Final Thoughts

For 14.99 getting a new Class is absolutely worth it…if you can stomach playing through the entire game AGAIN. Since this was my 7th character and Fex and I power leveled each other’s characters through much of the game in order to Platinum it, I can honestly say that it would have been more fun had I not already played the shit out of the game. That said, we still had a blast fighting over corpses as we fought our way to Hell, Heaven and beyond for the umpteenth time and I can see myself spending another week or two running some rifts, seeing just how powerful I can make him. If you were looking for a reason to get back into Diablo 3 after months or years away, this would be a great time to do it!


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Senior Editor at Fextralife. I enjoy gaming, playing and watching sports, cooking yummy food, watching a good movie and hanging out with Fex.Find more of my posts

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14 comments on “Diablo 3 Reaper of Souls – Necromancer Gameplay Impressions”

  1. Avatar TSMP says:

    Sorry Cas, gotta correct you on a couple things.

    1) None of the WD’s summon skills cost mana

    2) The Necro’s thorns-boosting passive doesn’t affect his own thorns total, it affects his minions’ thorns total

    Beyond that, I’ve so far gotten every set and nearly all of the legendary items for the class, and I can say they change up the Necro’s gameplay by a goodly amount. For instance, the Pestilent set has one ability that makes any corpses you use auto-cast Corpse Lance on top of whatever else you used them for, a legendary shoulder piece boosts the damage of your Corpse Lance skill by 30% for 3 seconds for each corpse you use for anything (stacking up to 20 times), and a legendary amulet keeps track of the number of corpses you use while Land of the Dead is active then adds up to a +200% damage bonus to that many Corpse Lance and Corpse Explosion uses afterwards. What you do here is have Devouring Aura active since it auto-consumes all corpses in your vicinity, then the Pestilence set bonus turns all those corpses into Corpse Lances, then you turn on Land of the Dead which gives you infinite corpses which makes Devouring Aura activate something like 10 times per second which Pestilence turns into 10 Corpse Lances per second, then the legendary shoulders will rack up +600% damage within 2 seconds (it gets kind of hard to see your enemies from under all the Lances flying around), and after Land of the Dead ends your screen will probably be covered in corpses which means your Devouring Aura will still be popping off Corpse Lances for a few seconds afterwards, and the amulet will have kept track of how many Lances you fired off during LotD (it’ll average about 90-100) and you’ll get another +200% damage bonus on that many Corpse Lances afterwards, meaning you’re actually doing more damage than you were when you had infinite corpses. It’s also worth noting that none of this requires actually pushing buttons beyond activating LotD, so you can use other skills in the meantime for even more damage. Oh, and on top of that the Pestilence set has another ability where it’ll keep track of how many corpses you used and add a +3,000% damage bonus to that many casts of Bone Spear afterwards, so making more corpses is really easy.

    There are three other armor sets (one for melee builds, one for minion masters, and one for life-costing skills), one weapon set (makes your Command Skeletons skill badass) and a heaping pile of legendaries (not even going to get into all of what they do) that do stuff like this, and thanks to the whole "swap around skills at will" thing it’s possible to switch between several different playstyles with one trip to town and three button presses in the auto-equipper locker thingy. Personally, I’m not completely convinced $15 for just the class was worth it, but I won’t deny there’s a whole lot of gameplay in it.

  2. Avatar Fexelea says:

    Well if we’re being a bit like that…

    1) Cas has been playing a Witch Doctor since PC launch, and we played the game to full completion on PC, PS3 and PS4. I’m assuming your definition of summon and his are not the same. Here are summoning skills that use mana for WD

    * Fire Bats costs 125 mana (the skill specifically says SUMMONS bats)
    https://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/witch-doctor/active/firebats” rel=”nofollow

    * Zombie Charger costs 150 mana
    https://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/witch-doctor/active/zombie-charger” rel=”nofollow

    * Locust Swarm costs 300 mana
    https://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/witch-doctor/active/locust-swarm” rel=”nofollow

    * Piranha costs 250 mana
    https://us.battle.net/d3/en/class/witch-doctor/active/piranhas” rel=”nofollow

    2) "The Necromancer also, like the Barbarian/Cursader, can increase his Thorns damage by a wickedly high percentage (200%) with a passive ability and also buff his defense with Bone Armor making for a tanky variation of this class to be played."

    >> The damage of your minions is your damage, increases your minions Thorns is by definition increasing your damage.

    Had to ;)

  3. Avatar TSMP says:

    I suppose, though the game defines those as "creature spells" rather than summons and they’re awfully short lived compared to proper summons. They’re basically spells in practice.

    I would argue, then, that if he’s directing attacks away from himself and to his minions, then he’s playing the role of a minion master rather than a tank, and in that case it still wouldn’t count.

    No worries, it’s all in good fun. I suppose I should probably make a post about all the Necro’s items and how they affect gameplay, since I still can’t find a good source for that info anywhere else.

  4. Avatar Fexelea says:

    You can be a tanky minion master! :P

    Also, I’d love to see a detailed post about the necro items. Set it up for the blog we’ll dress it up!

  5. Avatar TSMP says:

    Righty-o. I can’t promise it’ll be a complete list since I’m not 100% sure I have everything (I’m actually pretty sure I don’t have everything), but I think I have the important stuff. It’d have to be the sort of blog that can be edited/updated after posting, though, since I will likely come across several important items not ten minutes after submitting it.

  6. Avatar Sidney_Losstarot says:

    From my experience the Necro is one of the best class in the game….
    The damage i’ve reached with the Necro is impressive, i’ve dealt a maximum of 8 Billions damage per hit with a critical and the normal damage is between 500 millions and 1.5 Billions
    I’m using the Inarius Build, but i’m not following the builds on line, i don’t like to copy/paste builds done by other players….
    Anyway, i still don’t have all the gears i’d like to so i’m farming in the Rift each day, hoping to get a decent weapon (Ancient maybe…..) because i’m still using a Reaper wich is not part of this build but it’s Ancients and it gives me impressive stats…..

  7. Avatar Lich180 says:

    Got this expansion last night (trying to keep my mind busy), and the necromancer is the most fun class I’ve played yet. I usually get bored holding down buttons and rarely shifting to another button, and I’ve even fallen asleep playing my barbarian.

    The necromancer, though… Wow. There’s constantly stuff going on, corpses flying around, summons running amok, corpse lances flying around, stuff dying. I played through Act 1 last night, got to level 40 I think, and barely noticed 6 hours go by.

  8. Avatar TSMP says:

    Yeah, the Barbarian is kinda legendary for how boring its playstyle is. The best barbs only need to re-apply their buffs and hold the attack button, and nothing else.

  9. Avatar Fexelea says:

    I am enjoying the Necromancer but it doesn’t quite compare to my Warlock – those meteor chains are just too amazing.

  10. ckmishn says:

    May 15, 2012.

    That’s the date the original Diablo 3 was release. It’s been over 5 years. Now here comes a $15 DLC that’s devoid of genuine story expansion. I don’t get it. I’m not a big believer in doing sequels every year (Assassin’s Creed) or 2 (Forza Motorsport). 3 Years seems like a good minimum, 4 is ideal and after 5 there’s questions about whether a sequel is forthcoming.

    What I’m saying is, quit character DLC that costs barely anything to make but for which you charge the price of a full-blown expansion (wasn’t "The Witcher 3: Heart of Stone" $15? That’s what the target should be) and release Diablo 4 Blizzard.

    Also, give World of Warcraft a dignified burial and make the genuine WoW 2 that was originally cancelled like a decade ago.

  11. Avatar TSMP says:

    I don’t disagree with you, but I do like the idea of a company releasing a single game and continuing to update, fine tune, and expand it years later instead of making unnecessary sequels for no other reason than to sell a "better" version of that game. Making sequels for the sole purpose of updating mechanics tends to compromise the story (not that Diablo 3’s story is anything worth mentioning), and frankly I’d rather have one perfect game that costs $80-$100 overall instead of two gradually improving versions of the same game that cost $60 each. It’s cheaper for one, and for two the story tends to be more consistent.

    I’m not saying Blizzard is doing it the right way or anything (I mentioned before how I felt $15 might be just a bit more than I’d like to have paid), but I approve of the general concept.

  12. Avatar TSMP says:

    I noticed recently that Necromancers don’t share corpses. If you have two necros playing together, they don’t see each other’s corpses and don’t have to worry about using up anything their teammates might need.

    It looks kind of funny when Corpse Lances start erupting out of thin air, though.

  13. Avatar Fexelea says:

    It happened to us on couch coop.

  14. Avatar TSMP says:

    Ah, that may be different, then. I haven’t done local co-op with anyone.


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