Hello and welcome to the mid-year Diablo IV Quarterly Update. We hope you enjoyed last quarter’s behind the scenes look at the art of Sanctuary and its Dungeons. That blog and our previous updates are available here if you missed out.
I’d also like to take a moment to congratulate Diablo Immortal on its launch. The Immortal team worked incredibly hard to bring Diablo to life on mobile, and it’s exciting to have another way to enjoy Diablo.
Today, we’re going to look at the final launch class: the Necromancer. Now that it's been announced on the big screen, we can jump into some of the grittier details and mechanics of the class. You can think of this blog as a companion to that announcement, with our Lead Class Designer Adam Jackson doing a deep dive into the core playstyles of the Necromancer, some of its skills, and its unique class mechanic: Book of the Dead. We'll also look at a selection of the incredible armor and weapons that Necromancers can use.
Diablo IV is committed to the principle of player choice. It shapes how we approach many of our systems, from character customization, to the density and layout of our open world, to the design of our classes and builds. As you'll see below, the Book of the Dead focuses on this idea of choice and what kind of Necromancer you want to be.
We hope you enjoy this update and look forward to your thoughts and reactions. Later this year you can expect to hear more about how we plan to support Diablo IV after launch, including our plans for Seasons. We're grateful to have you with us on this journey.
Thank you for playing the games we make.
Game Director, Diablo IV
Greetings, Heroes of Sanctuary!
Today we are thrilled to announce that a fan favorite, the Necromancer, is once again returning to slay and subjugate their enemies with necrotic magics. We had a blast working on this iconic class, and we can’t wait to get it into your hands.
We know that the Necromancer has a storied history in our franchise, and we are taking a lot of care to give players an experience that lives up to the hype. We have also spent a considerable amount of time making sure that fans of the Diablo II, Diablo III, and Diablo Immortal versions of the Necromancer see something familiar with what we have to offer while at the same time creating something unique for Diablo IV. Read on to see what the Necromancer is all about!
Table of Contents
The Necromancer has two different types of resources that they use: Essence and Corpses. Essence is their primary resource, which restores itself automatically at a slow rate. Using Basic skills on the Necromancer will also grant Essence, allowing them to cast their skills more often. Corpses, on the other hand, are the leftover remains of enemies who die near the Necromancer. These remains can be used to summon skeletal minions or to power various other skills, such as Corpse Explosion. In addition to appearing when enemies are killed near the Necromancer, Corpses can also be generated via various effects, giving you additional control over how often you want to interact with them. While there will be plenty of Corpses at a baseline level, we’re aware that some players will want to lean into this resource, and as a result have included plenty of options to ensure that they are not left wanting.
As far as weapons and other unique gear, Necromancers use Swords, Daggers, Wands, Focuses, and Shields. In addition to these, they are also the only class that can use Scythes.
Additionally, what self-respecting Necromancer would be running around the world of Sanctuary without Curses? We’re happy to say that you will be able to put these nasty debuffs on your enemies to your heart’s content with skills like Decrepify and Iron Maiden making a return.
The Necromancer has four high-level playstyles that players can choose between. These playstyles are Bone, Darkness, Blood, and the Army.
Bone skills are relatively physical in nature, and thus benefit more heavily from effects such as Critical Strike. These skills also benefit from having and spending large amounts of Essence, as they have various effects that can cause each of their individual attacks to be even more powerful.
Bone Spirit is back in Diablo IV, and it now has a unique twist that exemplifies what Bone skills are all about. Bone Spirit not only has a cooldown, but also consumes all Essence the player currently has. Once cast, a spirit of bone is conjured that seeks out the nearest enemy. Upon reaching them, the spirit will explode, dealing a high amount of damage to the target and all other enemies in the area. This damage is increased by a certain percentage per point of Essence spent, meaning that players who spend the maximum amount of Essence will deal a significant amount of damage to enemies hit. This skill can also be upgraded so that when it Critically Strikes its cooldown is significantly reduced, meaning that players who commit to generating lots of Essence while also having a high Critical Strike chance will get a lot of damage from this skill.
Another Bone skill that Necromancers will have access to is Bone Prison. When the player casts Bone Prison, they slam their weapon into the ground, calling forth a circular wall of Bone to surround the targeted enemy or area. Enemies cannot move through this space while the Bone Prison persists, which makes it incredibly versatile and able to be combined with many other skills, even those that are not themed around Bone. Bone Prison is great for blocking off hallways, trapping groups of enemies inside to set them up for an AoE attack, or for simply sectioning off a group of enemies to deal with later while you handle higher priority targets.
Darkness skills use Shadow magic to overwhelm their enemies. These kinds of attacks tend to be DoT-based or attack multiple times in a short window, with various benefits and rewards being granted for damaging enemies in this way. Darkness skills also tend to have various debuffs and crowd control elements so that they can keep their enemies at bay while they die a slow, painful death.
Decompose is a Basic Darkness skill that allows you to channel dark magic onto enemies, dealing damage to them while also generating Essence. Unlike other Basic skills, Decompose also periodically summons Corpses, making it much easier to ensure that you have a steady supply on hand to use for summoning Skeletons.
Another Darkness skill is Blight. Blight launches a ball of dark energy in a direction. Upon hitting an enemy or expiring, it deals an explosion of damage while leaving behind a defiled area, dealing periodic damage to enemies inside over time. This skill deals a high amount of damage to enemies who are standing in place, whether that’s due to fighting your undead minions or to being contained via other skills like Bone Prison.
Necromancers can also use the power of Blood magic to siphon the life from their enemies. Not only do these skills tend to have defensive-oriented benefits, they also have many ways to turn that defense into offense for the player, empowering them and rewarding them for having large amounts of maximum Health as well as keeping their current Health total high.
Blood Surge draws a small amount of blood from nearby enemies to the Necromancer that then expels a blood nova, dealing damage near the player’s location. The damage of the blood nova is increased per enemy drained, which incentivizes you to be in the middle of a pack of enemies for maximum effect.
Another Blood skill is Blood Mist. Upon activation, the Necromancer disperses into a bloody mist, becoming temporarily Immune to all damage while draining the life of any nearby enemies that they pass through. This is a universally powerful defensive skill that can give you the time you need to regroup in those dire moments where you become overwhelmed.
As you would expect, Necromancers can summon the undead to do their bidding. We also allow players to specialize into empowering their army as much as possible, which includes various kinds of Skeletons as well as the classic Golem. One advantage to this method of playing is that it can easily incorporate the benefits of Bone, Darkness, or Blood skills, allowing you to have a great deal of customization to how you want to interact with your army.
As an example, we believe it will be perfectly viable to have a player pursue a Darkness themed army build with Decompose as their Basic skill to generate Corpses, as there is an obvious synergy there. However, if the player wishes to generate Corpses via other means, they can just as easily take a nostalgia trip to the year 2000 and just chuck Bone Spears at their enemies from a distance while opting for all of the Bone skill synergies that the Necromancer has to offer.
We went through a lot of iteration on how we want the experience of summoning the undead to feel for the player, and how much of their skill bar should be dedicated to this part of the class. To that end, we’ve come up with what we feel is the best possible version to ensure that players have as much customization as possible over not only their army itself, but also in which other skills they want to use to support their own unique playstyle.
If a player wants to have the maximum number of summoned units possible then they will only have to dedicate two buttons to their skill bar: one to raising Skeletons and the other for their Golem. The Raise Skeleton button is a one-stop shop to raise all the different Skeletons a player can summon, and the Golem button is used to command the Golem to use a unique effect that is dependent on the type of Golem that is currently active. With this setup, we’ve found a great balance between having the necessary tools for raising and commanding a Necromancer army while also leaving room for player expression in what additional skills they want to put on their bar.
Book of the Dead
Speaking of armies, what self-respecting Necromancer isn’t wandering around with one? Well, actually, that might be you! While we absolutely have the full support you would expect to fulfill all your undead summoning needs, we are also giving some love to players who want a more independent playstyle.
Cue the Book of the Dead, the Necromancer’s unique class mechanic. Right from the moment you log in, you will start with an extra skill on your bar—Raise Skeleton. With this button, you will immediately be able to raise undead warriors to fight by your side. In addition to this, you will have access to the Book of the Dead. This is a space where you can customize your army (or lack thereof), with increasing options as you level your character.
There are three customizable summons in this space: Skeletal Warriors, Skeletal Mages, and the Golem. Each summon also has one of three specializations that you can choose from. As an example, you can have your Skeletal Warriors be Skirmishers, Defenders, or Reapers. Skirmishers are a more standard warrior but have increased damage and reduced Health, Defenders have bonus Health, and Reapers have slower attacks, deal damage in a AoE in front of them, and have a special wind-up attack that deals a high amount of damage. In addition to this, each specialized unit in the army has unique upgrades available to them, giving you even more customization over how each unit in their army functions in their overall playstyle. These units and upgrades will have synergies with the various playstyles mentioned above, as well as add other potential ways to play.
In addition to all this customization, we have also added the ability for players to sacrifice different components of their army for personal benefits. Next to each unit type in the Book of the Dead is an extra option to sacrifice the ability to summon that unit in exchange for a personal, permanent buff. These buffs are carefully designed and placed so that players can mix and match having none, some, or all the possible summoned units while still having relevant options to enhance their build.
Our goal with this system is that there should be something for everyone to be excited about. There are relevant, powerful options to choose from whether players want to play with the full army, part of the army, or even for those who wish to forgo their army completely and play solo. We’ve had a blast playing with this system so far, and we’re excited to see the various combinations that you all come up with to push your Necromancers to the next level.
We’re so excited to be able to bring the Necromancer to Diablo IV, and we can’t wait to get it into your hands. Whether you’re a veteran player who’s put in thousands of hours over many years, or a new adventurer in the world of Sanctuary, we hope you will have a lot of fun with what we’ve been able to create.
As always, please leave us your feedback on what we’ve shown you so far. While we’re confident that we’re on the right track, we know that the best ideas and the best games are created with input from the community. Thank you all so much for your patience, and for joining us on this epic journey through the world of Sanctuary—we promise it will be worth the wait.
Lead Class Designer, Diablo IV