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Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

The Life and Death of Diablo III's Necromancer

It's been almost five years since Diablo III launched, and three years since Reaper of Souls, but Blizzard continues to work on the game.

At last year's BlizzCon Blizzard unveiled the male version of the Necromancer that's coming to Diablo III at some point this year, and recently we got our hands on the female iteration of the class, sporting a very different build of skills. At the same event, we also had a chat with lead game producer Rob Foote and senior designer Matthew Berger about the class, and the history of the game.

"This May it will be five years since Diablo III came out and this month it's three years since Reaper of Souls came out, and a lot goes into making a class," said Foote. "Honestly, it's probably one of the most intensive features we can develop. It starts with an idea and the idea for the Necromancer was so strong. So once we have that we have to lay out the over 20 skills that go along with it, then there is five runes for every single skill, then you've got to layer on four sets on top of that as well as a host of complementary legendaries. And it ends up being quite a lot of work."

Berger also talked about how much work goes into a skill like Revive, where the developers have to go over all the possible creatures and enemies the Necromancer can bring back to life. "It's a pretty basic premise, but it's actually a lot of work," said Berger. "You have to get the skill to work and then you have to work on all the monsters you're actually going to be reviving. Making decisions on how exactly they're going to revive, that is a large amount of work for just one skill."

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

The build of the Necromancer that Blizzard showed off at BlizzCon was "more pet-centric, very classic Necromancer", whereas this build shown is more of a "melee-mancer" that puts you right into the midst of the action to get the most out of abilities like the Blood Nova, and what we got at this event was a build that featured Grim Scythe, Blood Nova, Devour, Golem, Blood Rush, and Leech. The Grim Scythe allows you to attack enemies in a wide arch while also restoring Essence, and the Blood Nova is just what it sounds like, a massive geyser of blood that erupts from the Necromancer and deals damage to all enemies around him or her. What's interesting here is that it uses up your health pool in addition to Essence, so you need to be careful you don't overuse it and leave yourself vulnerable. "It reminds me of that scene in The Shining, in the hallway where that tidal wave of blood comes down the hall," says Foote.

To counter this the build also featured Leech, an ability that puts a curse on enemies and lets you replenish life as you deal damage to them, and while we weren't able to try this in cooperative play, the ability will also let you replenish the life pool of your allies. Another skill was Devour, which lets you restore Essence by, well, simply devouring corpses left on the battlefield, and there was also Blood Rush, letting you teleport swiftly around, something that's useful if you've been hitting that Blood Nova a bit much.

While not a "pet build" per se, we got to take advantage of the Blood Golem during our time with the Necromancer as well (you may recall him from Diablo II), and the Golem skill sends him to where your cursor is (on PC) where he deals a great amount of damage to nearby enemies while restoring your health. We could see this skill also being very useful in a build that's not as focused on melee and close quarters.

Diablo III: Reaper of SoulsDiablo III: Reaper of Souls
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
Diablo III: Reaper of SoulsDiablo III: Reaper of SoulsDiablo III: Reaper of Souls
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls