Diablo IV Beta | The Necromancer And My Army Of The Dead

For a while now I’ve been wanting to play the Necromancer in Diablo IV. During early access beta, we did not have access to it and had to wait for open beta. It not only lived up to my hopes it allowed me to play it the way I wanted.

The fact of the matter is deep down I’m a big Path of Exile (PoE) fan and player. While I’ve tried many, many, many times to enjoy a minion-based build in PoE it was not always what I hoped for or it ended up being quite costly to get it to where it needed to be.

Diablo IV when I found out there would be a necromancer with a heavy focus if players desire on commanding lots of minions I was delighted at that prospect. I just want to swarm the map with a giant death ball if they would let me. While it was not exactly that it was good enough.

The other thing is I wanted the necromancer to be dark, bloody, and terrorizing. Diablo IV while boasting would be a darker and bloodier game than Diablo III. Kind of did not take things far enough to that point. That was till I played the Necromancer. Things got so bloody I needed a shower after playing one.

The first day of open beta went better than I was expecting. By this time I not only had downloaded the full game since I played in the early access beta. I also downloaded the patches leading up to beta. As soon as the servers went online I was there waiting.

Playing The Necromancer

my nec char.jpg

I got in rather quickly and I already had the plan to go right for a necromancer. While it’s not like I’m in a race or anything I even had a not-so-great name already picked out. The only thing that slowed me down from getting into a game is spending a short moment selecting different aspects of my character.

I rather love the way I got the character to look. You might almost mistake him for a zombie himself. He also looks like a dude that would be invoked in some kind of dark ritual. I love the fact you can pick blood color for markets on a character's bodies in Diablo IV.

Something that is quite a big deal to me when playing a minion-based class is getting access right away to the minions. Far too many games over the years for whatever reason make you wait. All I needed was a corpse and I could turn it into my first skeleton minion right away.

Even better instead of making me wait and slowly increase the number of skeleton minions I get to have. They let you have a couple right away. Even better as I progressed I got to add another type of minion to my growing army as well.

They did not force me to pick and choose just one. I’d have my entire screen filled with minions if I could have it my way if there were no other fun options of skills to go with as well. While there are a few different kinds of minions you can unlock further in the class tree. I also wanted to have some fun with other skills as well.

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Early on I decided I would go with the reap skill. It also you to sweep the area with a giant scythe getting 4 essences per creature hit. I got to say that is a generous amount of range the reap scythe has. Any bigger and I feel it would have been comical.

using corpse explosion.jpg

By the time I made it to level six on the necromancer, I got to the other skill I just had to have. I was somewhat shocked it just required a corpse and there was no kind of essence cost attached to Corpse Explosion.

This would more or less allow me to just spam the daylights out of Corpse Explosion without much of a downside. Granted, if a minion died or if I wanted to temp boost my minions I did need to consume a corpse for them.

Corpse Explosion in Diablo IV turns the blood level up to 1000. It was a time like you were just bathing in blood. While in real life I would be utterly disgusted by such a thing. In a video game, I was all for it and could not wait to take out my next batch of creatures with further corpse explosions.

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It is also then not shocking to anyone that I quickly got the upgrade node of Enhanced Corpse explosion for a 15% increase radius as it felt like that was quite needed. I then picked up another one for 10% increased damage if the creature was stunned or vulnerable.

Since the skeletons set up for a chance to stun. On top of using another skill that I believe would contribute to a chance of creatures being vulnerable. That just felt like an amazing option to go for a corpse explosion.

The only bind going with that skill put me in was the competition between the use of a corpse between my minions and getting out some amazing area of effect damage. At the lower levels, this was not much of an issue since the minions rarely died.

There are also some options I chance between my minions and the skills I have selected for them. That if I ever decided I need more corpses. There are options for that like someone putting some actual thought into this class.

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A lot of times when I ran into things about the necromancer I was like “I wish things were slightly different. There ended up being some kind of solution to resolve whatever I was not like.

Once such solutions would later come with a skill called corpse tendrils I picked up at level 16. It allowed without a corpse to be consumed to be a focus area for surrounding creatures to get pulled into. Even better it stunned them.

As far as the issue that was solved. While corpse explosion is fun often even with the radius upgrade most creatures in a larger pack of monsters will be out of range. With corpse tendrils that stopped being such a huge issue.

That however did mean I was investing a lot more skill points into corpse explosion and related skills than I was in minions. Somewhat neglecting my army. Much later on I would end up looting a ring that allowed one of my other skills to pull creatures together. Allowing me to spec out of corpse tendrils and further into minions like I wanted all along.

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There was a rather odd moment I had while playing a necromancer. At level 10 I looted an item that allows me to have two extra skeleton mages. The only issue was you don’t get those to level 15.

For a while, everything was going decently amazing on my necromancer. While he was an alt and got some leftover gear I had in my stash. One thing I did not have was a scythe but he could at least use a dagger with his skills.

As he leveled up and I started replacing the extra gear I had that other classes looted with their skills bonus and attribute focuses into ones my necromancer looted that were better for him. Things only got better.

Some classes I’d play would have a rather noticeable drop off once the nice starter gear I had on them was no longer living up to par. Since a lot of my damage was coming from my minions they seemed to befit even better from the wrong class.

As unless I’m misunderstanding skeletons get 40% of your stats as their own. That is the game's way to try and scale them. That also means they were rather enjoying the extra critical strength that was on that gear I was wearing for quite some time.

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There was however a bit of Achilles' heel to my build. I was greedy on the damage front and was not ensuring I could produce enough corpses to save my sorry hide if things went south. I did end up finding that point once I was facing Lilith's Lament.

I’m sure you can see the issue in the screenshot. I already lost one of my five skeletons. The others were about to fall as well. I also could not replace them since there was no corpse left.

Turns out minions in Diablo IV have quite stupid and silly weaknesses. They are quite stupid in terms of AI. Not only will they stand in a puddle of death till they are dead. There was no way I could get them to go elsewhere.

So boss encounters that I would take down like they were nothing for the first 10 or so levels of the game. Ending up hitting one heck of a brick wall.

Now thankfully I did still manage to pull a win out of the bag. It was however a challenging remaining fight. I never fully restored my army during it I only half kept getting enough corpses for a couple of minions on occasion.

While there is a whole host of skill changes I could make to resolve that issue from happening again. There was also a far more fun way to resolve it.

Like I’ve said there always seems to be some interesting way to solve something I did not like about the necromancer. I ended up realizing that would take me up to level 25 to resolve it.

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At first glance, there is a skill called Army of the Dead. Sounds like it should be amazing. Since it sends out a few skeletons that explode you don’t get that overwhelming feeling that a massive army was just summoned. It also has a bit of a longer cool down.

What was far more interesting for me and why I wanted it so much was an upgrade I could a skill point into for it. Supreme Army of the dead. Allowing me to get back my fallen skeleton minions. Talk about finding the perfect solution to an issue I was having. Without having to make a bunch of other changes I did not want to for now.

This also would mean I would not be using Army of the Dead just any old time. Since it has a bit of a cool down. It’s now my “oh dang” things are going bad. Time to click the save me button and hope it gets me out of a dire situation. Far better than any defense skill other classes have as this ups my fallen office into the best defense a necromancer could ask for.

Book Of The Dead

different kinds of skeletons book of the dead.jpg

One thing I would love to spend more time playing around with is what they call The Book Of The Dead for necromancers. It allows you to fine-tune how you want to use the different minion types as you unlock them. That is if you even want minions in the first place.

For the necromancer, you have three separate major categories warriors, mages, and golems. Each one of these then drills down further allowing you to make a few different choices about the different kinds of minions you want.

skirmisher book of the dead.jpg

For instance in the skeleton warriors sections of the Book of the Dead. You can have either selected skirmishers, defenders, or reapers. You start with skirmishers that have a chance to stun. You can also select to either get an extra one or boosts a stat on them.

You could instead choose to have defenders that will be more in line with protecting the necromancer. Those can have a chance to freeze enemies when they hit them.

Finally, you have reapers that can have slower attacks but they are more devastating.

I rather love the idea of giving the player so many options. You also don’t get them all right away so you don’t become overwhelmed either with the informant. At some point, if I end up selecting necromancer as my main I’ll dive much deeper into this system. That is however not a thing I’ll be looking to do in beta on 6/6/23.

Final Thoughts

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Necromancer ended up being the second class during beta I ended up taking to level 25. I am almost liking it more than playing a sorcerer to the point it has a good chance to become my main if not a well-played alt on the release of Diablo IV.

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Screenshots were taken and content was written by @Enjar about Diablo IV. This was during the early access beta. Things are subject to change.