The Necromancer DLC pack for Diablo 3 released this week and as it usually happens when I play Blizzard games, I paid for whatever it was they wanted me to buy and got the new implementation of my favourite character in Diablo 2.
In the olden days of Diablo 2 and its expansion Lord of Destruction, I used to play Necromancer almost exclusively, except for that one Assassin I built once, which I’ll admit was incredibly fun.
I remember three particular Necromancers I created in Diablo 2: Maulomancer, BonedoMancer and Summonmancer. Now, I’m fairly certain there are real names for one or two of those builds, but screw it, I’ll use my own, especially considering the first one, Maulomancer was a build that no one in their right mind would go for and it’s not so much a good build as it was an accident from the first time I played the game and didn’t know how to properly stat a necromancer and just made weird choices.
The Maulomancer I named such because he wore a heavy gothic plate and swung around a giant maul as his primary weapon. This was an attempt to make a balanced build, with enough in stats to wear the heavier armours and weapons with ease. I still killed things, but it was as heavy strength and stamina character. The closest version to a tank you can come to with a Necromancer.
The Boned-Mancer focused instead on bone spells, all to give synergies to Bone Spear, my main skills, fired off with as much frequency as you would by button mashing Mega Man. I really enjoyed that character, save for Bone Spirit which I thought was worthless.
My last necromancer was a summoner, with so many points of skeleton summoning and Skeleton Mastery that the minions took out the Act I boss, Andariel, on their own even in Hell difficulty. And once I had the Golems, well, it was over, I only had to command my minions to do my bidding, that being butchering everything in my path.
The Diablo 3 Necromancer on the other hand seems to have done away with many of the weaker spells and skills of its Diablo 2 counterpart, streamlining the character and keeping the most iconic powers of the class, such as Bone Spear, my favourite, and Corpse Explosion.
The best thing about it is that you get those powers early on, with Bone Spear at level 2 and Corpse Explosion at level 4, and it’s amazing how they change the speed of play for the Necromancer. The class is very like the monk, having resource generators and consumers, and the first generator is pretty nifty, an AoE spell called Bone Spikes. First, its area of effect is pretty wide for a level 1 ability and its runes look like they make it even better, with the first one already adding a stun component to it.
As soon as you get Bone Spear though, you’ll start blasting enemies to shreds, even more so when you acquire what is perhaps my favourite rune in all Diablo 3 for a character. The first Bone Spear rune increases damage dealt by the spear for every enemy it passes through, turning the already powerful Bone Spear into a beautiful spectacle of destruction.
The second generator I acquired was a Scythe with a wide arc but with lower damage than the bone spikes. It also forced me into melee, which I’m not too comfortable with as a spellcaster in Diablo.
Then Corpse Explosion comes around and the party really starts. With the Necromancer and the latest patch, enemy corpse design has changed, and they all look like bloated dismembered corpses on the ground, easier to recognise so you can draw enemies towards your next big Corpse Explosion.
By the time I was done with my first little play time, which I concluded just after rescuing Decard Cain, I had acquired yet another spell, Skeleton Mage, which creates a phantasmal sorcerer that blasts enemies for a good chunk of damage. Wondering if it was a single use thing, I had the pleasant surprise of watching more Mages appear as I spent my resource, each blasting foes to smithereens.
The new Necromancer is a lot of fun to play, and I only got mine to level 7 (without counting the 145 Paragon Levels I already have on the account), and for those of us who loved the character in Diablo II, it feels like Necromancer Greatest Hits in a new package. There’s a bit of nostalgia there, of course, but it has enough new ideas in it to make things feel fresh all over again.
But having said so, I don’t think the Necromancer is worth the $15 Blizzard is asking for the character. In the past, Diablo characters came with expansions, where the new character was a welcome addition but secondary to the new experience, the new content.
The new patch surely introduces new areas and new mechanics, but paying what is essentially one quarter of the original retail price of the game—and $4 fewer than the current price for the Diablo III battlechest—just for a new character feels like very little for the asking amount.
As much as I enjoyed playing the Necromancer, I lean towards the opinion of the pack not being worth the price tag. If they had instead released some additional content along with the pack, an extra story just for necromancers, not a complete expansion but some exclusive content for the pack, then I would lean towards it being worthwhile.
Then again, game investment is another thing. If you already play Diablo III religiously and are deeply invested in the game, then it’s a must-buy, of course. It’s another character, more sets, and skins and many other thingamabobs to revitalise the game. The Necromancer adds a new coat of paint to it, and that might be enough.
I’m just saying, from a simple content-to-price point of view, the Necromancer pack feels lacking. You certainly get much more bang for your buck from Hearthstone adventures, and they’re similarly priced.