I, Necromancer – Guild Wars 2

Yesterday, ArenaNet officially announced the necromancer profession. Of course, the fourth profession for Guild Wars 2 has been known since the gamescom demos started going public. I am happy because in Guild Wars, my main is a necromancer. I can’t say the profession is my favorite because ritualist makes the decision too close to call, but my necromancer character is my favorite.

Out of the four professions announced, the necromancer seems to have gotten more re-definition than the elementalist, warrior, or ranger. There are still supposedly two more professions based on Guild Wars professions (current belief is mesmer and assasin) and two professions that are entirely new (current belief is “paladin” and “alchemist/gadgeteer/gunslinger”), so the Guild Wars 2 necromancer might not be the furthest away from its original. However, the changes are significant enough to note.

The biggest change is that the necromancer no longer relies on corpses.  Minions and Wells originate instead from the necromancer’s own power.  However, balance must be maintained by taking away this limitation, and now a necromancer’s army is limited to [possibly] 7 minions (5 bone minions, 1 blood fiend, and 1 bone fiend) at a time.  Additionally, only one Well may be active at a time. (As an aside those little human-skulled rat-looking bone minions are some freaky stuff.)

The iconic Soul Reaping mechanic of Guild Wars necromancers has also been replaced with Life Force.  Life Force is a bar, separate from energy, that fills up when things around the necromancer die and when the necromancer uses certain skills.  Once the Life Force bar fills to a certain point the necromancer can go into Death Shroud mode.  In Death Shroud, a necromancer assumes a spectral form where health is replaced by Life Force, and the necromancer gets 4 new skills including the ability to summon a shadow fiend.  When Life Force is depleted through damage taken or time in Death Shroud, the necromancer returns to her original location where Death Shroud started to get dumped back in her body.

And, get this… instead of falling to the ground like a chump.  The necromancer’s downed state is going in to Death Shroud with full mobility! So, it is a risky maneuver, but the necromancer seems to get stronger in a way when he loses all his health.  That sacrifice, for me, defines the feeling of a necromancer.

The final big difference is the apparent lack of sustained hexes or hex-like abilities to put on an enemy.  The Blood and Curse line for a Guild Wars necromancer was hex heavy, and the Guild Wars 2 necromancer seems a lot more active without any sustained fire-and-forget hexes.  To kind of replace the missing hexes, a necromancer gets a unique condition to spread around: Fear.  Fear, as you can imagine, sends enemies running away, which has the PvP crowd kind of worried at the loss of control of their character when a necromancer targets them.  It is a condition, and thus removable; so it should be interesting to see how it gets balanced.

Overall, I am excited with the changes.  My two favorite Guild Wars professions are fairly passive, and I am a little nervous about the necromancer becoming a more active profession.  Yet, I think Guild Wars 2 is a more active game to begin with, and so times they are a changing justly.  I can’t wait to get my hands on one, and I already have a sylvari necromancer name in mind.

the line it is drawn;
the curse it is cast

18 thoughts on “I, Necromancer – Guild Wars 2”

  1. After watching the Gamescon videos, Necromancer is the GW2 class that intrigues me the most. Which is odd, because I didn’t find them all that appealing in the first game.

    I suppose it’s not that odd, for some of the differences you’re pointing out here. No need for corpses (check), no spamming minions (check), no more fire-forget hexes (I always wished they were more like WoW Warlock DoTs, which some are fire-forget but hard to put my finger on the difference).

    Most of all though, that Death Shroud mechanic looked hella cool.

  2. I already hear people whine over fear when they lose control over their char for more than 0,15 seconds.

    Think of Warlock Fear in Warcraft. The “fear of Fear” became irrational, and the spell got nerfed to hell while being one of the most difficult to use CC spells in PvE.

    But well, let’s hope the best and I really liked what I saw – except one thing! The awful “mohawk” hairstyle for Necromancers apparently made it into GW2 as well, and does not look good even if one likes the hairstyle in general.

    1. I personally loved being on the giving end of fear effect in WoW PvP as a Priest… that’s not adding much to this conversation though. ;)

  3. “a necromancer’s army is limited to [possibly] 7 minions (5 bone minions, 1 blood fiend, and 1 bone fiend) at a time”

    I understood Izzy’s tweet differently. I think he was saying how many minion skills or types of minions there are so far. As I understand it, the number of minions a player can have at one time is limited by the number of minion skills on her bar–after activating the minion skill, it becomes the secondary skill (Putrid Explosion etc.), and thus can’t be used again while that minion (or minions if the skill summons multiple) exists.

    1. Yeah, and with the minion skills we know, we can have up to seven minions with MM traits if all the minion skills are active.

  4. I think the key differences between GW2 fear and WoW fear is:

    Substantial CD (20 seconds IIRC) vs spammable in WoW.
    Predictable and controllable flight vs random pathing in WoW.
    Very short duration (2-5 seconds) vs potentially 15 seconds of control in WoW PvP.

    I don’t see fear being an issue as it stands in GW2. Since targets “run directly away from you”, fear can actually be used skillfully to force positioning, rather than being a dice roll as it is in WoW. I don’t see it being much different than the numerous knock backs available in GW2, or juggling a player through the air with a rocket launcher in TF2.

    As for the necromancer in general, I think it looks amazing. Most interesting looking profession in GW2 hands down. The mechanical variety, versatility, and just the look and feel of everything about the necro just seems really good. I’m afraid at this point the other professions are going to seem a little uninspired by comparison. :)

  5. Battlefields are going to be crazy in GW2, rangers already had traps and bonfire, and now necros bring marks and wells. You can bet there will be a lot of circling about these void zones, either to put the enemy at the opposite side of one, or to lure an enemy in front of one only to knock-back or fear them into it (then hit grasping dead for the cripple). I really like the idea of those kind of tactics.

    The way the bone minions scream before exploding is a good example of Anet’s philosophy of making skills obvious and thus avoidable, besides being totally freaky.

    I’m not going to settle on a necro just yet, will have to see what else is on offer. Was hoping for the ritualist to make a return, maybe reimagined as spirit calling shaman, but since necros got death shroud (walking in the spirit world, on the edge of life and death), plus the headgear seen in the necro skill videos it doesn’t seem likely. Will wait and see what the new paragon will be like, aka ‘blue mace lady’. But a combination of monk/dervish, a holy warrior or mystic, would be nice too. I guess what will decide is how their support role plays, but the dark aesthetics of the necro are appealing in a different from what I would normally pick kind of way.

  6. My very first toon in GW was a necromancer. Later on I found it was quite fun to also throw in 2 or 3 hero necromancers. Not much could stop an army of the dead.

  7. I think Fear is a very bad idea, but this is coming from a PvP player (but also a Necro main). If there’s one thing that infuriates me in games, it’s having the control of my character removed from me. I get the impression when developers add things like this they’re thinking about the person casting it having fun, not the person getting hit with it.

    I also don’t think the Necro spells seem very visceral. When I watch the moves execute, they don’t give me the impression that they hurt. Quite the opposite.

    It also concerns me that there’s really no form of depth with the minions anymore. Much of what made a MM good in GW1 was the ability to sustain an army, and the ability to manage them in combat. But there doesn’t seem to be any form of regulation now that they don’t use corpses, there’s a minion cap, attacks are auto-swapped with creation spells and they can be recreated so easily.

    I certainly don’t want things to be as overly complicated as they were in 1, but like many GW2 abilities, it feels as though the abilities have been dumbed down without adding any extra layers beyond “press button, receive damage/health.”

  8. I love where they’re going with the survivability of the GW2 necromancer. Not only do they have supportive healing capabilities, but they have a huge health bar and the most effective (thus far) downed state in the game. Necros will be a tough profession to defeat.

    Also, the more active combat trend in GW2 means we may have seen the end of the cast-and-forget skills, which is likely the nail in the coffin of hexes as we know them. I think I’m ok with that though. Hexes were fun with my GW1 necro, but I found myself dishing out more conditions in the end. I’m content with the GW2 necro and I’m eager to see the fate of the mesmer.

  9. i love having an army from the corpses, it was like adding insult to injury, and i loved having a huge army

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