It had me at “you can blow up corpses.” Rise of the Necromancer provides a fantastic new character class for Diablo III in a dark wizard who loves the dead as much as Alice Cooper. As such, this downloadable content provides a reason for dedicated fans of Blizzard’s hack-and-slasher to revisit the game, and it even offers a little nudge for newbies to finally get with it and play one of the best action RPGs of all time. There’s one important caveat, though--all you get here is the new necromancer class and his undeadly accoutrements.
Still, playing as the necromancer offers an entertaining new way to experience the original Diablo III while also reviving a beloved character from Diablo II. This goth-inspired sorcerer stands out from other Diablo III classes thanks to his grim appearance and incredible battlefield abilities. The necromancer is an absolute powerhouse right from the start of the game, courtesy of a host of skills that let you wreak havoc. Soon after you start your adventure, you'll have a troop of skeleton warriors trotting by your side, slicing and dicing all comers while you hang back and raise the corpses they left behind as makeshift grenades via your Corpse Explosion skills. Detonating the bodies of fallen foes is endlessly satisfying, because of both the geysers of gore and how you can chain explosions, slaughtering huge numbers of enemies in strings of kabooms.
And the necromancer doesn’t just excel at blowing up corpses. A wide range of skills allow for varied playstyles; you can also let summoned skeletons and spirits do the heavy lifting while you use the Siphon Blood talents to leech enemy health and restore your own. You can wade right into melee combat or take a step back and fire off the ranged Bone Spikes or swing the mystical Grim Scythe. The Necromancer also offers some frills that allow you to sport big skeletal wings, don a custom portrait, have ghoulish pets scampering at your heels, and use over 30 new legendary items.
In short, this is a great character pack. The necromancer comes with a lot of depth and seems well thought-out. The one lingering concern is that the new class might be a little overpowered, but that’s a minor worry, given that most players will be using the goth-and-guts spellcaster for a runthrough of what’s likely a very familiar campaign in a game they know extremely well. Challenge probably isn’t as big a concern as novelty and the sheer fun factor the new character brings. The visual presentation is also extremely well done, offering a perfect balance between cartoon showers of blood and the dark grotesqueries of playing as a guy who revels in death.
But it’s still just a character pack. Despite the title, Rise of the Necromancer doesn’t offer any new quests, campaigns, or storylines. The name is more than a bit misleading, since it leads you to expect that there’s a little more (rotting) meat on this (animated and coming right at you) bone. And for $15, you’re right to expect more. The one slight saving grace when it comes to value is that the DLC arrives at the same time as the free 2.6.0 patch, which adds features to the core game like Challenge Rifts, new zones, and new bounties.
If not for the price, Rise of the Necromancer would be easy to instantly recommend to fans of Diablo III or anyone with even a passing interest in trying out a classic hack-and-slash RPG. Still, this is a fantastic character pack that adds one of the best, most enjoyable classes to the existing game roster.