Diablo 4 finally recognizes necromancers just want a skeleton posse and sprinkles buffs on our boys in bone

Diablo 4 Necromancer wearing shop armor holding a sword and shield
(Image credit: Blizzard)

Diablo 4's necromancer class fails the only test any game with a necromancer class needs to pass—which is whether or not you can command a deadly army of skeletons. Minions in Diablo 4 are weaker than the free spider pet everyone gets as part of season 3. They're so bad that you can pick up every minion-based skill and do more damage by not even summoning them.

That could change in Diablo 4's mid-season patch next Tuesday. The necromancer skeletons are all having their damage and health increased, and complementary skills, like Corpse Explosion, are getting buffed too. Blizzard said on a stream yesterday that these changes will be the first step toward bigger reworks to minions coming in season 4.

Season 3 underlined the problems with necromancers compared to the other four classes and the new patch notes seem to be aimed at addressing them head-on. Apart from lacking good minions, necromancers had zero ways to increase their movement speed—which has become mandatory for clearing dungeons with any kind of efficiency—outside of gear.

That won't be as much of a problem next week when their passive skill, Death's Approach (formerly Death's Reach) will be boosted to give you up to 12% extra movement speed before any gear adds more on top of that.

There are so many buffs in the patch notes that it'll probably take a few days for players to figure them out. But the most notable takeaways for me are:

  • Minions will finally do more damage and survive longer
  • Corpse Explosion's increased damage helps it slot into more builds
  • Spiked Armor's new armor bonus allows you to equip more offensive gear
  • Increased survivability passives make defensive skills less important
  • Blight and Sever's buffs loosen the grip Bone Spear had on powerful mid- to long-range builds 

I haven't done the math—although I'm sure someone will—but several necromancer builds should have better damage and smoother rotations with the better selection of good skills to choose from. Even if barbarians and rogues continue to rule the game in terms of speed, necromancers won't be far behind.

The Gauntlet will be the true test. It drops on the same day as the patch and will give endgame players a fixed weekly dungeon with a scoring system and leaderboards. Blizzard has designed it to be accessible for more casual players though, and will reward you with Legendary item caches for beating its set times each week regardless of your ranking. It'd be wishful thinking to assume necromancers will claim the best scores, but the gap between it and the other classes might be smaller than you think with the help of the patch.

Associate Editor

Tyler has covered games, games culture, and hardware for over a decade before joining PC Gamer as Associate Editor. He's done in-depth reporting on communities and games as well as criticism for sites like Polygon, Wired, and Waypoint. He's interested in the weird and the fascinating when it comes to games, spending time probing for stories and talking to the people involved. Tyler loves sinking into games like Final Fantasy 14, Overwatch, and Dark Souls to see what makes them tick and pluck out the parts worth talking about. His goal is to talk about games the way they are: broken, beautiful, and bizarre.