Picking the bones – Necromancers in review

So after dusting off a few characters and making a couple more, the week or so of undead raising and disease throwing necromancy is coming to an end. Below is my parting review before I turn my gaze towards another archetype of the mmo world. (what that will be is undecided atm)

As mentioned in my first post on the class challenge I am going to games out of the following – as all reviews this is limited to my game play – although having played EQ1, EQ2 and Rift for quiet a few years I am drawing on that experience too.

Age of Conan

a. Feel of the class 

Age of Conan is the only MMO I know of that has the undead horde approach to pets – individually they are somewhat weak but as you progress in your levels you get abilities to add more and more minions to your pack. This is very satisfying to watch your swarm go to work on a hapless victim. Backed up with some solid ice spells the AoC necromancer definitely feels the part – the cold embrace of death coupled with a pocket full of zombies!

b. Easy of play 

Once you start to get pets the game is very forgiving – AoC uses a more dynamic melee attack system but a simple button push tab targeting for spell casters. As you delve deeper into the talent tree there does appear to be a reasonable ability to customize the character to how you want to play – with in limits.  

The game is old now, the graphics and some game mechanics feel a little dated, perhaps more dated than they should.

c. Type of play 

Unfortunately due to time constraints I could not give any group play a go with AoC however in the past when I have played the necro it has been a solid dps class with a little bit of a “agro zombie running off in the wrong direction” problem. 

Solo play it is unstoppable unless you fall asleep at the keyboard.

d. Fun 

I was surprised how much fun I had in AoC – the game is fairly old as i mentioned but the swarm of pets was really nice and the ability to have your critical hits show you a finishing move was neat. 

If you have a hankering for a mass zombie style necromancer then definitely give AoC a try – its free to play so no nasty $ upfront.

e. Its place in its world 

In the base game only the Set race can be necromancers (I didnt have the expansion so unsure on the new race); In the world of Conan they are considered, like all arcane magic, to be evil. That being said game wise there is no direct conflict with the world; you do not have to sneak past guards, get thrown out for raising dead or various other unpleasant things.

 

Guild Wars2

a. Feel of the class

There is little in the way of necromancer in the guild wars 2 necromancer – the pets although somewhat dead floating things have none of that undead feel to them. The spells are dark enough and the animations look somewhat evil although having handaxe to start with just felt really odd.

As you progress you get some nice skills but in general there is little of way of classical necromancer spells.

Of all the games played GW2 manages to feel the least like a classic necromancer – this is generally true of all their classes so it comes as no great surprise,

b. Easy of play

For the most part the combat was simple a matter of hitting spells on cool down. You did feel very squishy (and missed feign death) when being attacked directly but left alone in general your spells were more than enough to melt the faces of enemies,

c. Type of play

Necromancer in groups brings a reasonable amount of debuffs and converting boons to infliction – armed with a staff they are fun in group content dropping marks (spells on the ground) and spreading curses about.

In solo play they have enough damage output to do any solo content I tried. Pets are very disposable, some of the special abilities blow up your pet for effects such as healing or area of effect damage which does take away some of the feel of being a necromancer (that being said corpse explosions are fun)

d. Fun 

They can be fun, and also frustrating, the lack of a solid pet unlike ranger means that you get hit in the face a bit more than other games – it also means your style of game play is more like a warrior with a floating bag of entrails following you about.

Of the games played the GW2 necromancer is the least fun to play for anyone looking for a fun undead experience.

e. Its place in its world

The bag of floating entrails beside you aside there is zero interaction in the world based about you being a necromancer. 

 

Everquest 1

a. Feel of the class 

Everquest 1 really defined the necromancer class for me in the early days of MMO play – a pet class with damage over time spells and several unique death based abilities such as corpse summon (in everquest when you die you drop your corpse and some items in it).

b. Easy of play 

Everquest 1 is an old game, compared to something like World of warcraft it seems impossibly archaic and will take a reasonable investment in getting use to old systems and how they do things. beyond the learning curve the basic mechanics are push buttons, tab targeting, sit about a lot waiting for mana to regen.

c. Type of play 

With fear kiting and a solid pet the necromancer shines in solo play, able to take down monsters that would eat another class for breakfast.

In groups they have some nice abilities including minor healing and off tanking adds to help the main tank. 

d. Fun 

Everquest1 takes a while to grow on you – the new tutorial does its best to ease you into the game and is quiet successful at that. Parts of the game are fun but it will depend greatly on what you are looking for in a game – it takes time and effort to level and you can loose gear and experience points when you die which can be very off-putting. 

Given the engine they are using the graphics are the best they can manage but they are not good – in this department it really shows its age.

e. Its place in its world 

Necromancers are killed on sight in any good city by the guards, some paladin npc’s and clerics – well they were when I last played at that level and I doubt such a core mechanic was removed (feel free to correct me on this). The choice of necromancer has a big impact on where you can go and what you can see – there are work arounds of course – spells that cloak your true nature or hide you from sight – and that is half the appeal; you dabble in the dark arts, now the rest of society has turned its back on you.

In evil cities necromancers are generally welcome – dark elves and iskar(lizardmen) especially welcome those that draw power from death.

 

Everquest2

a. Feel of the class

Everquest 2 carries on from its predecessor with a solid pet class that invests into dots and disease and poison based direct damage. Adding to this is a new offering of pet classes – your necromancer can raise a tank, ranged dps or melee dps pet to aid them in both solo and group play.

b. Easy of play 

With tab targeting and standard mmo pressing buttons to cast spells everquest2 is easy to get the hang of and do solid play. There are a large number of spells in the game and these need to be individually upgraded to get the best out of your abilities. Coupled with a huge talent tree system the game can be a little more intimidating than some. 

In recent updates a template system has been added to help with picking your talents (called alternative advancement) . 

The game also offers try and instant level 85th level characters (the cap is currently 90) so if you are returning and willing to depart with some cash (last time I checked it was about 30USD) then you can quickly get into the end game.

c. Type of play 
Solid in solo and with two dps pets to choose from the necromancer supports either type of play. Using the new 85th level characters I tested every EQ2 class soloing heroic content and the necromancer was up there with some of the best soloers. 

d. Fun

Like EQ1 the game is showing its age a little but it is fun and a lot less forgiving than some games. its also free to play with sub options – the ftp restrictions were relaxed a little but still anyone dedicating some time to the game should seriously consider a subscription. 

If you want a solid necromancer feel in a game that is modern enough to have some of the more recent niceties, coupled with a good community then you cant go past EQ2. 

e. Its place in its world 

The necromancer is welcome in all neutral and evil cities and attacked on sight by the guards in good ones. The class is restricted to evil only races however with the betrayal system it is possible to take the good version (conjurer) and betray your city to necromancer allowing for endless race/class combination. 

 

Rift

a. Feel of the class

Rift’s talent system is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to the feel of a class – primary you are a mage and have the option to pick three talent trees to form your skill sets – this means you cannot specialize into a single tree to build an effective character. 

That being said the necromancer tree combined with the warlock tree gives you the classic feel of the class – fears, dots and disease/poison direct damage with the option of tank, ranged dps and melee dps (which is what you start your game with) in the same vein as Everquest2. 

b. Easy of play 

The Gravelord talent build automatically assigns your points in the classic build which should be enough for any solo play – if you are serious about getting the best from your character then a solid understanding of the interplay of skills is advised but for a casual undead loving necro the default skills should be fine. The combat is standard tab targeting with button pressing skills.

As rift is the most modern of the necromancer games it has a lot of refinements learnt from the past and the game is easy to pick up and run with.

c. Type of play 

Solo play with tank or group play with damage pets the Gravelord fills the mage dps slot in a group as well as any – I have never been asked to change specs in 5 man dungeons for a more optimal build so for my level of play the build is perfect.

d. Fun

Loads of options in how to level, solid pets and nice animations with some stunning locations to explore rift is a lot of fun – if you want the most modern implementation of a necromancer that still has the necro core feel then go with Rift – its ftp is astoundingly generous with no need to purchase anything in their shop (but I suggest you do if you can afford to, a little support for games is a good idea imho)

e. Its place in its world 

Unfortunately like guildwars 2 Rift necromancer offers no impact in the world – it is a standard mage build without any negatives.

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5 thoughts on “Picking the bones – Necromancers in review

    • melbrankin says:

      Bards eh, I was thinking something rogue-ish so bards might be a great choice. Would like a few games I could add to the list for bards – I have EQ1, EQ2, Rift, Lotro so I loose AoC and gain Lotro which is fine.

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