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Diablo 3's Necromancer Delivers an Orgy of Corpse Explosions

The upcoming Rise of the Necromancer patch is really fun to play. And very gory!

Article by Jaz Rignall, .

I've only been playing for a few minutes, but I'm already loving Diablo 3's upcoming Necromancer. The character build we're using at a recent GCD 2017 preview event is a low-summon spec designed for up close and personal melee combat, and I'm fighting through a Rift, laying waste to all and sundry.

The action is centered on the character's Blood mechanics – the manipulation of life and death that's at the core of the Necromancer's theme – and it's really easy to pick up and play. My main weapon is Grim Scythe, a reaping attack that swings in an arc before the Necromancer as she strides into battle. In her off-hand is a talisman that represents her essence, a spirit energy that's her primary resource for casting spells.

As enemies close in, I let rip with the exceptionally powerful Blood Nova spell to do massive amounts of AoE damage to everything nearby. I cast it repeatedly, and it causes utter devastation. It feels all too easy, but that power comes at a high cost. Not only does Blood Nova drain the Necromancer's essence, but it also costs health. A second wave of monsters start their assault, and with my health dangerously low, I have just enough essence to cast Devour, a spell that automatically finds and destroys all the corpses of the enemies I just killed, converting them into health that tops up my life meter, as well as restoring some essence too.

That puts me right back into the fight again, but my essence is still pretty low. Fortunately, as well as being a powerful offensive weapon, Grim Scythe is a builder whose swipes restore the much-needed resource, allowing me to cast Blood Nova again to finish off the second attack. As the last of the enemies fall, I fire off another squelchy-sounding Devour, and I finish the encounter with almost full health and essence.

Even though this is a low-summon build, I still have a pet – in this case a Blood Golem that does a sterling job tanking high-threat enemies and taking some of the heat away from me. It's very useful, and should I get myself into serious trouble, I can always sacrifice the creature to give me all its health, and then have it respawn at a target location to do damage to everything in the vicinity.

As I continue to explore the Rift, I start to fold Leech into my rotation. This is a curse that can be cast on enemies so that as they're damaged, some of their health is restored to me. This helps offset some of the life lost through using Blood Nova, and soon enough I really get to grips with the ebb and flow of health and essence as I slaughter monsters by the dozen, and consume their corpses, ready to fight again. It's a veritable orgy of destruction.

The demo wraps up with a showdown with the Rift's boss monster, and I dispatch it using a combination of Leech, Blood Nova, and plenty of swings of my enormous scythe, while my Blood Golem takes all the aggro. Indeed, it seems a little too easy, and that's something on my mind as I sit down with Diablo 3 Production Director John Legrave, and Lead Visual Effects Artist Julian Love for a few minutes to chat with them about their plans for Diablo 3's Rise of the Necromancer patch.

I ask whether the Blood Golem is a little overpowered right now. John agrees, "It's powerful because we want you to enjoy the demo. We're going to have a long PTR on this, and we'll spend a lot of time getting feedback from folks who love the game. And we'll be tweaking plenty of other things. There are a lot of skills to deal with and a lot of combinations to deal with and we'll be tweaking a lot of the numbers."

He continues, "I think the goal for the Golem is that they first of all serve as a tanking pet for you. Not necessarily one where you're always watching their health. And then to give you something really special for you to do when you press that button that feeds into and supports different builds and playstyles. This one fits into the expenditure of health playstyle, and there will be other Golems that do other things as well."

While I enjoyed the low-summon build featured in the demo, I wonder what other playstyles the Necromancer will support. Julian answers, "You can be a commander of the dead, where you're raising skeletons and directing them off to targets. We've also got the corpse explosion playstyle, which is freaking awesome – one of my favorite things to do right now. The build we showed at Blizzcon had a bit of everything, but the mainline feature was it focused on corpses and utilizing corpses."

"What you just played is a much more up-close and melee style, which is taken from Diablo 2's poisonmancer build, and the low-summon fantasy that we wanted to express. Obviously at the other end of the spectrum that we haven't shown yet is what players would call zoomancer, which is all pets all the time. We intend to take that up to and quite far past what people would expect from the Diablo 2 Necromancer."

"That's the range, and there are lots of different slices of different combinations that you can find in there. Some place high importance on corpses, some place high importance on health, some place high importance on essence, or some kind of mix."

The final question I have is when will we likely see the Rise of the Necromancer content update, and what else will it feature beyond the introduction of a new character?

John responds, "We haven't announced a date or price yet. There are a lot of other things going into the patch, so if you don't care about the Necromancer, that's fine. We hope you do, of course, but we'll have zones in there with new bounties, and new events as well. We'll also be doing challenge stuff, which is the notion of taking a snapshot of a live build going through a greater rift, and giving players the chance to see if they can beat that time. We'll do that for each class and all the various builds."

That certainly sounds sufficient enough to persuade me to dust down my copy of Diablo 3 for another round of action. After playing the low-summon build of the demo, I'm really looking forward to trying out the various other Necromancer specs to see how well they perform, and how differently they play from one another. It sounds like they should deliver their own unique experiences – especially the zoomancer, which seems like a recipe for absolute mayhem.

Expect more in-depth coverage whenever the Rise of the Necromancer patch is ready.

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