The Necromancer in Diablo 4 is described in one of the Diablo 4 Quarterly updateswhich we talked about a bit briefly in the general summary for D4‘s lessons. In general there is definitely a sense of trying to keep the sense of the class as we have seen it in others diablo games, with specific skills that hark back to Diablo 2 while other design elements are certainly inspired by Diablo 3†
So, what does gameplay for Necromancers look like? Diablo 4† Without actually playing one, we can only say it sure is inspired by previous versions of the class without being a copy of it.
Necromancers dare to read the Book of the Dead
The real flashy, beautiful new mechanic is the Book of the Dead, which offers a Necromancer a strong level of customization. Want your Necromancer to focus on having many different types of undead minions? Would you rather focus on one in particular and trade the other potential subpoena in exchange for buffs for your other spells and abilities? Or would you like to sincerely focus instead of the diseases, blood and bones in living things and trade all your decaying servants for the power to harm your enemies more directly?
The Book of the Dead also allows you to decide and customize individual subpoenas, so you can have Skeleton Warriors, Archers, or Mages, or a variety of Golems, including Iron Golems. At least that seems to be the suggestion from this interview with Rod Fergusson and Joe Shely. So you can control a walking army of rotting corpses and bony servants, not just a few.
The Book of the Dead allows you to customize your character outside of selecting skills from the skill tree, in a manner analogous to the D4 Barbarian’s Arsenal system or the Druid’s ability to focus on animal summoning or shape-shifting.
Tap into the essence of death and use corpses as you please
The two resource pools that Necromancers use and manage are Essence and Corpses. Essence is functionally just another kind of ‘mana’ style resource – you spend it casting certain spells. Essence slowly regenerates over time, but certain abilities can be used to regenerate more of it, meaning an active spellcaster Necromancer targeting Darkness or Blood powers can generate enough Essence through the right choice of abilities to create a to continue for a while.
But what would a Necromancer even be? doing without dead things? The Corpses resource is literally that – either things you kill yourself, or just dead things you come across or kill your group members near you. There are a variety of uses for Corpses, from spells like Corpse Explosion – yes, you guessed it, turning nearby corpses into bombs that blow people up with necromantic magic – to the usual summoning of dead henchmen.
So now that we know how Necromancers harness the power of death and how their personal Books of the Dead will allow them to tailor their approach, what are the Necromancer’s basic specialization options? Well, they can use four basic categories: Bone† Darkness† Blood, and the military. These are specific builds and I’m sure you’ll be able to find your own, but let’s focus on these four for now.
Blood, bones and darkness fuel your army
The military is what you think it is. An army of darkness, a phalanx of the dead that serves your unholy and macabre will. It’s fairer to call The Army a specific focus rather than a playstyle as such – you could focus on Blood, Bone or Darkness magic and still have an army at your disposal depending on skill choices and your Book of the Dead.
Bone spells are all about using bones and bone shards as weapons, armor, and tools. Bone Spirit serves as a high essence, high damage, and AOE attack that blasts your target and everything around it with bone flakes. Bone Prison instead lets you trap enemies in a circular wall of bones that erupt from the ground. There’s no idea yet if you can summon and animate the bones of a dinosaur, but I’d personally be very happy if it worked that way.
Blood spells can be used to buffer the Necromancer, as in the case of Blood Mist, where you turn into a cloud of suspended blood and are ridiculously hard to wound. This makes sense to me – you are a cloud of drops of blood. What do a sword or ax or claws do with a cloud of blood? With the blood flow, you can draw a little bit of blood from everything around you and then for God’s sake blow it up and spray that magically tainted blood around you like a typhoon of red acid.
Darkness, meanwhile, is going to focus on the shadow of death itself, with abilities like Decompose that let you rot people while they’re still alive, generating more Essence to use in other spells and periodically creating more corpses to use. Or you can go to the effect route with Blight and just send a wave of dark energy to explode in the faces of some poor jerks, and it does more damage to people standing still, which you can control with Bone Prison or through other means .
In addition to all this, curses like Iron Maiden and Decrepify let you debuff enemies and set them up for devastating combos of skills. In terms of equipment, Warlocks use swords, daggers, wands, focuses, shields and scythes – in fact, nothing but Necromancers use scythes this time. I believe that was the case in Diablo 3 also, although there was 1 handed Mighty Weapons that also looked like scythes.
So that’s what we currently know about Necromancers in Diablo 4† Hopefully we’ll get to see more gameplay soon as the game comes out sometime in 2023.
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