Diablo III’s Necromancer Is The Best Spellcaster Yet

Diablo III’s Necromancer Is The Best Spellcaster Yet

About an hour into taking Diablo 3‘s new Necromancer class for a spin, I encountered a turgid, hulking monster called a Grotesque. I had already massacred several of the small bats preceding it, and by using my class ability Corpse Explosion, I did enough damage to the Grotesque for it to inflate and rupture. Out of its body poured wormy parasites. And I killed them by making the Grotesque’s corpse explode, too.

To reiterate: I detonated corpses to destroy a monster, then used that monster’s corpse to destroy the monsters that came out of its corpse. It was totally odious, and I loved it.

The Necromancer, which launched yesterday as a standalone purchasable class for $US15 ($20), is an avatar of Diablo 3‘s signature darkness. The dungeon-crawler’s gore and corruption are assets of the 20-year-old franchise that, when you’re grinding for levels on end, can fade into the background.

After a few hours on Diablo 3, I’ve gone into unthinking destruction mode, killing monster upon monster as if I were a kid stomping on anthills. Diablo 3‘s Necromancer lets you embody and manipulate D3‘s darkness, and by becoming a part of D3‘s morbid world, I felt more connected to it.

Diablo III’s Necromancer Is The Best Spellcaster YetDiablo 3

Diablo 3

Fans were disappointed when Diablo 2‘s Necromancer didn’t return for the game’s third iteration, released in 2012. Diablo 3‘s Witch Doctor, a ranged spellcaster who could summon undead “pets,” was a poor substitute, always feeling out of place in the game’s gothic universe.

Although the Witch Doctor could deal area-of-effect damage by sacrificing zombie mongrels, that ability was no Corpse Explosion, a celebrated and gory skill integral to Diablo 2‘s Necromancer.

The new Necromancer’s gameplay is layered, thrilling and, most important, a blast. The Necromancer’s job is to “serve the balance” — the equilibrium between order and chaos. In the story, the Necromancer has heard that a star fell on Tristram Cathedral, and his or her master tasked them with restoring balance to the dead.

Although there isn’t new content for the Necromancer to battle through, traversing Diablo 3‘s familiar dungeons and cemeteries with a trail of skeletons, skeletal mages and a huge pulsating, veiny golem (whom I will love forever) made me feel closer to Diablo 3‘s universe.

Diablo III’s Necromancer Is The Best Spellcaster YetDiablo 3

Diablo 3

The Necromancer’s skills complement each other well. There are tons of possibilities for effective, ranged combos that are satisfying to pull off. Bone Spikes will slay weaker enemies, and by exploding their corpses, you can level stronger monsters. Using a more summoning-focused build allows you to leave the smaller monsters to your skeletons while you clear out tougher baddies (again) with your Corpse Explosions.

I’ve toyed with builds that have the Necromancer use a skill called Devour to feed on enemies for Essence, this class’s version of mana, but to use Devour, you need to swap out Corpse Explosion. Not worth it. (The Essence-absorbing Siphon Blood, however, can be a useful substitute for Bone Spikes.)

Diablo III’s Necromancer Is The Best Spellcaster YetDiablo 3

Diablo 3

When teaming up with someone else playing Monk or Templar, I received complaints that my Necromancer slaughtered enemies far before melee heroes could even approach them. (Sucks for them!)

That said, the Necromancer struggles to solo on harder difficulties and thrives as a damage-dealer when you have someone else (or an adorable Golem friend) to absorb damage. To accommodate my partner and make myself less powerful for a bit, I switched out my Bone Spikes for a close-range Scythe attack, which was significantly less fun and harder to combo with.

I’ve played quite a bit of Witch Doctor and Wizard and can say with confidence that Necromancer is the most fun spellcaster in the game. Necromancer got me into Diablo 3 again.


  • The necro looks good but I was abit annoyed at the price. In Australia we are being charged $22 for what is pretty much just a new class with no new content; I feel this is abit overpriced

    • I was expecting $5-$10 for what this includes. Nearly fell off the couch when I saw the $21 price tag.

      Still bought it. I’ll openly admit that I am part of the problem.

      • I agree. Prior to release I was under the impression the new content & update was locked to the Necromancer DLC. Obviously, this is not the case. As a result, I also feel $20 or so is a bit much for a single new class. When you consider Reaper of Souls, I recall paying around $40-$45. This obviously included a new act, a new class and additional content. I haven’t forked out for the Necromancer yet, but considering I have around $17 in spare credit on my BNET account, it should lighten the blow.

      • the character is fully voiced and it seems to be integrated into the main campaign (well I’ve only finished ACT 1 which had Necro cinematics) including companion banter.

        I know most players only play through Adventure mode but it looks like Blizzard left no stones unturned. I was skeptical about them charging $15 USD but having played around for a couple hours last night it seems the price is fine given the amount of work that they put in

        • You could very well be right. I have not had a chance to dive in yet, waiting on a time that the missus can join in (probably Saturday.)

          I probably based my assumption on other games that have added similar things for a lower cost. They may not have put anywhere near as much work into it.

          Merely caught me off guard.

          • I think it’s fine to do a double take. I mean how often are you going to replay the campaign, heck you might even have sounds turned off. none of these things are particularly important to enjoying D3 but it doesn’t mean Blizzard can ignore it

            I can also totally see them eventually doing one of those all in one bundle

        • I don’t see how one class can be worth $22 if the base game at launch didn’t cost at least $110 to account for the 5 classes that it included.

          Changing from Expansion packs to DLC has really let companies get away with delivering less content for more money.

          • different production budget? break even costs? standardise pricing?

            most base games are ?$60 USD?, you build a game, expect 5000 units will help you recoup your budget, end up selling 6000 so you’ve made a profit.

            you build a DLC you hope 20% of your player base will buy it so you can recoup the cost, if you sell for more it’s a profit

            I’m using hypothetical numbers here but the idea is that you’re more guarantee to get good sales on a game then DLC so you can price better not to mention some companies are ok to absorb costs as part of production.

            I’d also add that right now blizzard is only ripping you off by about 2 dollars, 15 USD converts to about 20.XX or 21.XX depending on what exchange rate you’re going with

    • Consider me against the grain, but I’d happily pay another $22 for this Class/Content pack if they did another for the druid down the line.

  • to use Devour, you need to swap out Corpse Explosion. Not worth it.
    You can use that skill in another of the slots, just FYI 🙂

    • The setting to enable putting any skill in any slot is something like options->gameplay->elective mode.

      • Which is basically mandatory for any kind of end game activity. Not sure how much D3 has actually been played by the writer.

        • Ha, that is a wonderful, glorious change – i’d been playing for ages and getting beasted before I realised elective mode was even a thing! Game did a good job of hiding it prior to that!

          • You’re not wrong. I remember seeing it on a YouTube video I found for a Barb and searching the options for about 15 minutes trying to find it!

  • Yeah I expect the Necromancer will get some tweaks over the coming weeks – it seems right now to be a bit high on the power curve – corpse explosion has no resource cost (other than having to have a corpse to explode), no cooldown etc.. it’s a spammable “I win” button.

    With the ability to generate corpses at will (via commanding your golem or by using the rune on skeleton mages that expire after 6 seconds leaving a corpse for example) it’s just always there.. and once you start the ball rolling, you can run across an area just chaining kills.

    Perhaps it falls down a bit at higher difficulties, I don’t know yet – playing on Expert (3rd difficulty setting) and it’s unstoppable so far. I even got achievements for killing stuff within timelimits without even trying.

    Having just leveled a Witchdoctor to 70 last week for the end of the season, Necromancer is just so much faster/easier to rack up the XP.

    • Corpse Explosion REALLY doesn’t scale at higher levels and once you get up there I’m finding that you have to balance damage and survivability. You want to do big damage you’re going to be squishy. You want to be a tank you’re going to need help with the killing.

      I think they’ve actually done a pretty decent job of balancing it so far. Definitely room for improvement (some of the sets needs some changes) but much better job than they did with the Crusader initially….

  • I’ve learned to hate the endless repetition and grinding on Diablo III. People treat it like it’s awesome “seasons” this and “levelling” that. But it’s just repetitive grinding since 2012…

    At least in Dynasty Warriors and Legend of Zelda they repackage and change the maps around.

    • and yet thats all that one ever did in diablo 2’s ladder system which was an even larger grind because good loot drops and runes were few and far between

    • was D1 or D2 any better? isn’t that the whole point of the series?

      you grind for loot to get to higher difficulties to get better loot and repeat ad nauseam

  • Promised I wouldn’t be pulled back to this after dropping hours to it – luckily the price is helping me stay away-ish, these comments saying how awesome it is, not so much.

    What platform are you all playing on out of interest? I’ve got the Xbox & PC versions, but most of my friends with this play Xbox, are the console versions comparable, they were always a bit behind until recent times (I’ll admit I haven’t kept as up-to-date as I once did).

    • I play PC, they added seasons last patch (I think) for console, so I think you’re mostly on par with PC now, there’s aslo been QoL improvements like most crafting materials not taking up bank spaces (gems excluded), the ability to save loadouts and unsocketing gems no longer costs gold

      the necromancer pack on consoles doesn’t give you two extra stash slot so that’s the negative there

  • I actually managed to pay for it with my ‘Real’ Auction house money that I had from old days… woohoo

  • when they are selling the full expansion for $15 its frankly price gouging to sell a single class for $22.. screw you blizzard

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