Is it possible for a single Diablo 4 class to occupy the ranking of both best and worst class in the game? Personally, I’ve become convinced that the Necromancer is exactly that, because after completing the campaign and clocking a considerable amount of endgame hours, I’m still not sure how I feel about the class definitively.
The joy of class building in Diablo 4 is one of the core factors in making it one of the best RPGs of recent times, yet it comes down to a very simple cycle. You unlock ability points and find new gear all in the hopes that it makes your hero stronger. However, the Necromancer has a layer of complexity that really turns it into the most polarizing experience. Despite this, I just can’t stop playing.
When the Diablo 4 classes were first revealed, I can admit that it was news that simply didn’t register. I looked at the lineup, shrugged, and moved on with my day in the knowledge that my beloved Witch Doctor would not be returning, at least not until a future expansion brings him back (Blizzard, please).
This effectively meant that when I was selecting my class for my first Diablo 4 playthrough, I was stuck staring at the class selection screen for close to 30 minutes and felt completely lost. Eventually I ended up sticking the classes into a random answer generator and it revealed that Necromancer was the winner. Admittedly, I hadn’t tried out the Necromancer in Diablo 3 so had no idea what to expect, but early on, the premise seemed quite simple: build a skeleton army and rely on a mix of blood, darkness, bone, and curse skills to do damage. Oh, how naive I was.
As I unlocked more abilities it became increasingly clear that the ability bar was simply too small to achieve everything I wanted with the Necromancer class. With just six active ability slots, it suddenly felt like an impossible task to build around multiple aspects of the class without major compromises being made. At this point, if you wanted to have your skeleton minions and the golem, that was two ability slots gone straight away! My mind was blank with how to solve this issue and thus began hours of tinkering to try and create a Diablo 4 Necromancer build that felt less like a weak support champion in a MOBA, and more like a powerful master of the undead.
It turns out that the best way to build a Necromancer in Diablo 4 is to commit heavily one element of damage – in my case, this was blood. From there, I had to respec my entire ability tree around blood damage and take that out for a test drive around Sanctuary. From there, it’s best to slowly introduce other elements based around the limitations of the blood abilities. Once this was finished, I was finally happy with where the build was, right? Wrong.
It took maybe three or four levels for this to all be useless because I came across my first boss using this new build, and I was utterly dismantled. As it turns out, situational builds are also something to consider with the Necromancer. Mine was built to take down mobs of enemies with great efficiency, but struggled against a smaller number of powerful elites. Back to the drawing board it was.
The truth is, this process of slowly figuring out what the best Necromancer build is, for my playstyle at least, was incredibly fun and rewarding. Yes, it was also very frustrating but the feeling of achievement when everything came together was worth it. I’m still not done messing with my build and discovering new metas based on the gear I’m finding or the steady increase to difficulty that world tiers can offer. What does need addressing, however, is the lack of direction the game gives when you’re building a class. Advanced tooltips are once again hidden by default making the choices between gear quite rudimentary, and it never explicitly offers direction with ability choices and lets you figure everything out for yourself.
The question still remains, is the Necromancer somehow the best and worst class in the game like I so brashly claim? It would definitely make our Diablo 4 tier list look a bit odd if it was. Seriously though, I would argue that it certainly isn’t the best class to start with if you’re unfamiliar with Diablo and general ARPG games – maybe stick to the Barbarian. It also isn’t the worst class just because it demands so much attention from you to make it great. I could just as easily be here complaining that the Necromancer is too easy if things were dumbed down to make the ride easier.
Eventually I will move onto another class, but I doubt they will offer the same satisfaction and journey that the Necromancer did, and that’s something I’ll always remember about my formative hours playing Diablo 4.