BlizzCon 2016 Diablo 20th Anniversary Panel Transcript

Necromancer Gameplay

Julian: Wow, those armor sets are looking really sweet. I really want that Blood set. Yeah, like in real-life I want that Blood set…. where’s that speed dating? It would be awesome. So not everybody in the room today has played the necromancer before, you might be a little unfamiliar, so as we take a look at the necromancer from a gameplay perspective, I just want to start at the top, make sure we are bringing everybody along for the ride.



So what is a necromancer? Really quick. You know they are what we would call a pet and ranged magic class, very darkly themed. They are going to be our darkest class ever for sure.



Why are these so dark? Well, they are commanders of the dead, and that means they’re going to be leading armies of skeletons, and sometimes dead beings, and mostly dead things; and (oh, yeah!) their magic centers on the manipulation of blood, and bone, and reanimation. These are dark gritty themes.


And of course, curses are like a personal wish onto your enemies that influences the outcome of battles. So it’s like dark heavy stuff. Okay so that’s necromancy in a nutshell. The thing you might have been asking yourself looking at that first line is: “Yea… Pet, and ranged magic class …. like isn’t that the witch doctor? How are these two things going to be any different?



That’s a great question. I’m glad you asked, because we have built a bunch of slides and I’m obligated to talk about them. Okay, so well, let’s do some comparison. Right? Witch doctor versus necromancer, and see how they’re different.

Witch doctor themes – we start with themes, because themes inform all the decisions that we make about developing a class. So really quick, you know these stuff. Witch doctors, you got your zombies, zombie dogs, zombie bears. And then you get your creepy crawlers and spiders, snakes, stuff like that.


And then, you’ve got jungle culture, right? And you see this in things like big bad voodoo, hexing, even fetishes. They are like a whole jungle culture inside the culture kit of the witch doctor.



And you know, here’s the thing. Witch doctors. They are dark. No question, but they’re also kind of light-hearted. Like if you really want someone to take you seriously, maybe you should ditch that plan where you turn into a chicken every 5 seconds, and explode in feathers.

Alright. So now let’s compare that to the necromancer a little bit. Now instead of zombies, we have got skeletons, corpses, reanimation. These are darker, grittier takes on the undead vibe; and then, the curse is like a sense of very personal wishing a bad stuff to happen. And then, magic — the focus is on blood and bone which is like the raw materials of life.


What I want you to see when you look at all that stuff… What it really adds up to is a class that is very serious, grim, visceral, dark. There is not a lot of humor going on in the necromancer. So you know if you’re thinking about swinging by the Necropolis for drinks after work, just know the priests of Rathma happy hour… It’s not a thing. They don’t do that.



Alright, so now what about… do they play any different? Right? We should talk about that. How they get to play different? So our focus on pets for a second. Witch doctor pets are entirely passive, right? You pick your pet, skill, you put it in your button bar, you hit the button, pets come out, and then that’s it. They don’t do anything else. There’s nothing to do. They just run off to do their thing.



So here’s how we’re going to make necromancer pets different. Alright. They are all going to be what we call active passives which might be a new term for you, but you have played skills like this. The monk Mantras are a great example in that when you pick a skill, you get a passive benefit, but when you press the button for that skill you also get a short term active benefit that lets you interact with that skill in a strategic way.



This is how we are going to make all necromancer pets. Let’s look at our first skill: Command Skeletons, to see how this is going to play out.



So when you pick Command Skeletons, you put it on your button bar, you are instantly going to get an army of 10 skeletons. Some melee, and some ranged, but when you activate the skill it allows you to tell your pets… command them to attack specific targets; and then you get a damage buff for doing it.



So here is the thing… you don’t have to wait for your pets to like be distracted on that whatever was going on in the lower left corner of the screen. You can lead them around the battlefield and selectively take down targets: the ones that you want. This makes them a very effective single-target takedown skill, and they are a significant contributor to your overall damage output. So the difference between witch doctor and necromancer now: witchdoctor (passive)…. necromancer (active).



Okay, what about resource? Let’s talk about resource. Witch doctor, as you know, is Mana. Necromancer… we are going to have a new resource called: Essence. So here is how Essence is going to work. It is a large pool of resource. It is going to power a lot of your spenders. But it doesn’t regenerate over time like mana does. You will have to take specific action to get your essence back. We will talk about that in a minute.



The really big news here though is that the necromancer has two resources. The other one is corpses. That’s right. Corpses are actually like resource. That’s out in the battlefield laying on the ground. You generate them by killing monsters. And then, you get to use that stuff to power some of your skills. Here is how we are bringing this gameplay feature forward into Diablo III. When a monster dies by any means (whether you kill them or somebody else kills them).



In addition, to the body that goes flying across the screen or gets melted it into a sickly goo of acid, or disintegrates, there is going to be a little bit of extra corpse material left behind that only necromancers can see, and these are the corpses that the necromancers can use to power their corpse skills. Really simple.



Now what we would be doing in a Diablo III game with corpses? Blow them up. That’s right. Corpse Explosion! We are bringing it forward from Diablo II.



We’re going to let you blow corpses to smithereens. Works exactly as you’d expect. You have some corpses on the ground. Some monsters nearby. Goodbye, monsters.



The thing is we made it better. We let you blow up up to ten corpses at a time per click. It is totally unfair to monsters. Totally unfair. They use to think like, they know better. They read the terms of service down there page 33. It said might get exploded by corpse explosion. They made the choice. Alright, so Corpse Explosion. We are bringing that forward, right?

What else? How about Bone Spear? You need something to make corpses with, right? You got to kill stuff first before you get them. So Bone Spear works exactly like it did in Diablo II. Right. It’s a 100% piercing projectile skill powered by Essence. It is a significant damage output, it’s great for killing monsters, and making corpses. Now once you have Bone Speared a few of times you are going to run out of Essence. So you have to do stuff about that.



Now Decrepify is a great way for us to keep monsters clumped together. So that’s our first curse coming back from Diablo II. The way that works is you can curse a very broad area, and the monsters that are cursed by Decrepify will be slowed by 80%, have their damage output reduced by20%. This is great for keeping monsters clumped together.



So now about that essence thing. How you going to get your essence back when you have spent it all? This is where a new skill called Siphon Blood comes into play. Siphon Blood is a single-target channeled spell that lets you quickly recover both life and essence by stealing it from your enemy. So when you run out of essence pull out siphon blood, refill on your essence. go back to your monster murdering mayhem.



And we have got another skill: Blood Rush. You need to be able to move around the battlefield quickly sometimes: Pick up some gold, get some loot, great rifts, and that sort of thing. So blood rush is your skill of choice for this. The basic idea here is that when a necromancer wants to move quickly around the battlefield, the skin … it just gets in the way. if you could get rid of that skin, you could go so much faster. So they throw up all your skin, and organs, and other gross bits… channel the blood forward, and then reappear on the other side mechanically. It has a lot of the same features that teleport has. It is very precise. Let’s you jump across chasms.


Those skills that I have just covered are all the ones that you can play here in the demo at the show. But we didn’t want to just leave you with those six. I wanted to give you a peek into the future. You wanted that, right? You want more. Yea, I thought.



So let’s take a look at– well, we haven’t talked about golems. What about blood golems? We are going to bring golems back. You are going to have multiple golems to pick from. But the first one we are going to show today is Blood Golem.



Remember when I said the Necromancer is a serious class? Look at that guy. All business. They are going to work a lot like they did in Diablo II. They are going to be big. They are going to be brutes. And of course, because they are pets, they are going to be active passive. You are going to get to tell them to do things. It would be really cool.

One more, I think. We have got one more. So if you are going to be a commander of the dead, I think it is pretty important that at some point you have got an army to command. So what if we could just summon all of the skeletons that had ever died in an area to come to help? … and I’m talking about a skill called Army of the Dead.

How many skeletons make an Army? 20? 25? Ehh… That is like a squad. Right? That is not good enough. What about 50 skeletons? That would be good enough. That is kind of like a platoon. I mean… I don’t have my military manual here, but it is not… 100… who said 100? How about a 100+? Over a 100! How are we going to do that? A 100+ skeletons obeying your command, attacking an area. What is that going to look like? Awesome! I’m going to tell you, I know when we have got a hit on our hands, when we make a skill, we put it in the game because I can walk around the office, and I’ll see everybody. We have got mode on they’re doing this.

(audience wows)


Yeah… look at all those ribcages flying all over the place. Doesn’t it just warm your heart? That’s awesome! So that’s been a look at the necromancer from a gameplay standpoint.



I want to encourage you all to head by the demo area and experience the necromancer in all his necromantastic goodness. Back to Kevin.

Kevin: Thank you, Julian. Alright. So we are almost out of time. The Rise of the Necromancer Pack. It is packed full of stuff. It is not just the necromancer — with everything you’d expect from the class. It’s:

  • 2 characters slots
  • 2 stash tabs on PC
  • Cosmetic goodies
  • Pets
  • Portrait frames
  • Etc



So it’s a lot of stuff and more information will be coming in 2017 for that. If you haven’t played him, Hall C is the Diablo booth. Go play him. If you have played him, go play him again, and… “When is he coming out?” — I’m sure is the main question you have.

I am going to say next year. Is that a good enough answer?

(Audience: Nooooo.)

Alright. Second Halfish. Yeah, you are welcome. So this is an early look for the necromancer, we thought you guys would prefer to see it early and have to wait a little while for the fully filtered class to be out rather than just wait until next year and get it all at once.



So I did hope you enjoyed your sneak peek. So real quick: the Darkening of Tristram comes out in 2.4.3 on PTR next week. Please come help us test it out. It goes live on all of our platforms in January. And then later is the Armory, and Rise of the Necromancer Pack.



Tomorrow at the Dev Talk Q&A, we do have a bunch of other things. We have a brand new game mode called Challenge Rifts. We’re going to explain more about the new zones, a whole bunch of features around Greater Rifts, and Inventory Management, Seasons are coming to console — so XBox One and PS4 guys, more info on that tomorrow.

And we have lightning talks again tomorrow on the community stage upstairs at the Darkmoon Faire on the third floor. So if you’re interested in deep dives on any of these subjects some of them are happening tomorrow.



So before we wrap it up, I do want to say one last thing on behalf of this team. It is absolutely our privilege to be up here and represent this team. They so love you guys. They put their hearts and souls into this every day. They go above and beyond. They care what you think. They want you to have fun, and they love this game as much as we do. Thank you. And it’s been 20 years. One last time: How about 20 more years? Thank you very much. See you all on the showfloor.

BlizzCon 2016 Diablo 20th Anniversary Panel Transcript
Panel IntroDarkening of TristramThe ArmoryThe NecromancerNecromancer Gameplay

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