Diablo 3: Rise of the Necromancer Review

by Bill Hess

Diablo III: Rise of the Necromancer is not quite the big expansion that fans of the game have been hoping for.  Instead of something the likes of what we saw in Reaper of Souls, Blizzard has opted for a smaller piece of content here.  Rise of the Necromancer is essentially a character expansion for the game — a single character called the Necromancer is the real meat of the $15 DLC.  Though with it you’ll get some equipment, a pet, a few cosmetic items and some extra stash tabs and character slots.  Alongside the release of the Necromancer, Blizzard has issued another big update to the game in patch 2.6.0 which is really starting round out the end-game for Diablo 3 players.

Diablo 3: Rise of the Necromancer Video Review

We’re not reviewing the patch here.  If you own Diablo 3 it’s free, but it you’re heading back into the game for the first time in awhile, you’re gonna notice some big changes so we’re gonna talk about those as well.  Unfortunately, it’s really hard to judge this content on a “is it worth it” basis.  The new character is great, but $15 is a lot to ask for just that.  So, with this review we’re trying not to think about the price and really take a look at this new character.

The crying shame of it all is that the character has a big backstory according to Blizzard.  The Necromancer character in this DLC are called the Priests of Rathma.  They preserve the balance between light and darkness.  Originally the offspring of a union between an angel and demon, this Priesthood was formed to step in to intervene when humanity is in danger of an imbalance between the two fundamental forces.  It sounds like something that they could’ve certainly built a bigger expansion around.  Instead, the DLC really doesn’t delve too much into the what and why of this new character like they did with the Crusader class in Reaper of Souls.


Blizzard leans in heavily on adding a little bit of content in the update that somewhat ties into the new characters with the addition of a couple new zones found in Act II of the Adventure Mode.  The Moors and The Temple of the Firstborn are free with the update, but some of the aesthetic looks like it was inspired by the new character.  There’s an abundance of blood, especially in these two new zones, and makes you wonder whether Blizzard shelved a full-on expansion for this character and storyline at some point.

Playing the new character, the Necromancer feels like a blend of many in the current roster.  A caster class by default, the Necromancer can be customized to fight from a distance or up close and personal.  It’s got some really interesting mechanics in the skill tree that make it feel quite different than the others as well.  This class can summon undead creatures to its aid —  Giant golems, a group of skeleton warriors, or mages can be called in for support.  Being a caster, it’s also got plenty of curse spells to loosen up enemies before the battle even begins.  The summoning features can make the character feel somewhat overpowered at times, but you’re constantly trying to replenish you Essence as well to keep using these powers.  So, like every character in Diablo 3 you’re gonna need to learn the right balance of what to use and when.  The Necromancer also uses Blood Magic as a powerful force to control the battlefield.  Leaving corpses in its wake, the Necromancer can blow up dead bodies that function what is essentially like detonatable explosives that are littered throughout the battlefield.  The end result of a fully leveled Necromancer can be a lot of different things depending on how you like to play.  In some builds I felt that the Necromancer felt a lot like a Demon Hunter, but with dark arts at their disposal and with the ability to cause a lot more chaos.


Taking the Necromancer on a test drive through the game was a lot of fun, trying out different builds and checking out the new zones added to the game almost got me re-hooked on Diablo 3.  There’s just so much to do in the game at this point.  The latest update added Challenge Rifts and Realms of Fate on top of what was already a pretty rewarding system of rifts and challenges in the Adventure Mode that Reaper of Souls introduced. For those that are going to dig deeper into the Necromancer character, there have been new items added to the game for that class as well.  This includes four class-exclusive sets with different themes for the character.  It’s definitely something that will keep you tackling challenges in the Adventure Mode and Rifts.

The thing is, a lot of the great new stuff in 2.6.0 is free.   If you’ve got no interest in leveling a brand new character in Diablo 3, for $15 the Necromancer is a pricey piece of content.  Outside of the character you don’t get much else here.  There’s a Half Formed Golem Pet.  A cosmetic set of wings for your character that you may already have if you purchased Heart of the Swarm.  You get a portrait frame, blood master pennant, banner, sigil, and two additional slots for new characters and stash tabs.  That’s not exactly bang for your buck when it comes to what you get for your money.  But for those that are going to dig deeper, starting a brand new character in Diablo III gives you a lot of options.  There’s the vanilla campaign and its numerous difficulties to tackle, all of the end-game content to do, and the patch work Realms of Fate are sure to keep you busy for many, many hours whether you’ve been playing the game for the last four years or just getting started.

The Verdict

While we would’ve gladly taken a full-on expansion for Diablo III instead of what is essentially a new premium character with Rise of the Necromancer, unfortunately we’re gonna have to wait.  The Necromancer is a lot of fun to play and changes the game in some unique and fun ways no matter how many times you’ve ran through this game over the years.  As good a character as it is though, the real star of the show for Diablo 3 in 2017 is patch 2.6.0, the Necromancer kind of feels like an expensive luxury.


  • Score: 3.5 / 5
  • Available On: Xbox One, PS4, PC
  • Published By: Blizzard
  • Developed By: Blizzard
  • Genre: Action RPG
  • US Release Date: June 27th, 2017
  • Reviewed On: PC
  • Quote: "The real star of the show for Diablo III in 2017 is patch 2.6.0.  The Necromancer is an expensive luxury for those that really want to have everything that the game offers. "
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