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RPGs have long operated on the foundation of a ‘holy trinity’. In classic D&D-based games, that trinity is Fighter, Wizard, Thief. In modern MMOs, the roles broaden to Tank, DPS, and Healer. In the shadow of these archetypes, Diablo 3: Rise of the Necromancer feels like blasphemy. In a (mostly) good way.

The new Necromancer class (which, as you might’ve guessed, is at the the core of Rise of the Necromancer) doesn’t care about this archetype breakdown, operating effectively as an impervious tank, a damage-dealing cannon, and a solo healer capable of sustaining itself in the midst of intense battle. Put simply: the class is so powerful and so fun that it feels like cheating.

The Necromancer’s kit is broken into themes of blood, bone, manipulation of enemy corpses, reanimation, and curses – and nearly every combination feels like an effective playstyle. You can hang back and summon a mass of sharp, bony protrusions from the ground, slowing your enemies or stunning them in place as you launch projectiles from afar, or get up in a demon’s face as you slash it with a scythe and steal its lifeforce to supplement your own. Or just cackle maniacally as an army of undead under your control swarm over your foes.

There are very few ‘wrong’ ways to play the class, which is both a blessing and, somewhat ironically, a curse. While the flexibility and immense power is great for solo adventurers who want to re-experience the Diablo 3 campaign or take on its new challenge rifts, it actually made me a bit of a target when playing with a group.

Because the Necromancer is such an effective class, capable of dealing out large amounts of damage at long range while also impeding enemies, I was wiping out hordes left and right while my friends sometimes struggled to even get within striking distance before I cleared the field.

The Corpse Explosion ability – which does exactly what you think it does – made the Necromancer particularly annoying to friends, because as soon as they did take down an enemy, I would make it explode, which would kill more baddies, which created more corpses I could detonate, which would kill more bad guys, and so on and so on. I got to feel powerful, while my friends felt left out.

The Diablo 3: Rise of the Necromancer pack is a fascinating addition to what is now a five year old game. It shows that Blizzard’s hack-n-slash ARPG still has legs, and can essentially function as a platform through which to funnel new content. If the Necromancer is the first of more such injections of fresh content, it’s an extremely solid proof of concept.

It carries with it a relatively steep price for an add-on, though you’re technically getting some minor extras like a banner, portrait, wicked-looking wings, and a non-combat pet along with the Necromancer class itself. I personally don’t associate much / any value with these cosmetic additions, but if it helps you swallow that $15 pill a bit easier, I say dive in.

Rise of the Necromancer shows Diablo is still one of the best series in the genre. Just let your friends know that you’ll probably (definitely) be taking a larger share of the glory.



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