When Diablo 4 was announced, we only knew about three classes: Sorceress, Druid, and Barbarian. Then we learned about the return of the Rogue, last seen in the original Diablo game. And now, finally, we know the game’s fifth class: the Necromancer.

Each of these classes hearkens back to the game’s earliest lore with a tie to the long-vanished Ancients, who were the original Nephalem. Each went their own way, and most serve as archetypes for specific classes. From these classes, we can take some hints about the direction Diablo 4 is taking. With the addition of the Necromancer and the game’s focus on Sanctuary’s origins with the return of Lilith, we may be looking at the return of the Ancients, those primordial Nephalem of old, such as (possibly) Rathma. If nothing else, we’re going to see their followers, and even play them.

Let’s run down the each of the classes and what each can do. These are all of the classes that will be in Diablo 4.

The Barbarian: A warrior powered by raw fury

  • Class type: Physical melee DPS
  • Class resource: Fury

The Barbarian is fury unleashed. They use their Fury resource to generate the power for explosive attacks that can damage multiple foes at once and wield an arsenal of weapons to rain destruction on the battlefield. Barbarians are all about raw power, tapping into the rage and aggression of their bloodline.

In the game’s story, Barbarians were long set apart as the guardians of Mount Arreat and the Worldstone before the coming of Baal destroyed their way of life, and that destruction has left them a rootless people but even more in touch with that primal anger. Using a big hammer or mace to shatter the ground around them, switching to a pair of fast axes to carve up anything close, then finally bringing out the giant claymore to impale an enemy and rip it in half, Barbarians are the brutal up close melee fighters of this game.

The Druid: Protecting nature at all costs

  • Class type: Hybrid (magical DPS, physical melee DPS, pets)
  • Class resource: Spirit

Sanctuary’s Druids aren’t (necessarily) peacekeepers: they’re happy to bring pain pain to those that would destroy Sanctuary and its wild places. Masters of natural power, Druids have a lot of options when it comes to their chosen task, with more flexibility than any of the other classes (so far). Druids can summon companion animals to fight alongside them, unleash the power of storm and rock do wreck havoc from afar, or transforming their very bodies into bestial forms to lash out against their enemies. If you think of the Barbarian as embodying raw fury, the Druid literally channels all of nature’s outrage.

Play a Druid if you want to call an unkindness of ravens to swarm an area, run into battle accompanied by fearsome wolves, transform into a half-bear giant to maul groups of foes, or call down lightning and hurl exploding boulders into the fray. This class is all about using the power of wounded Sanctuary itself to lash out against the monsters and fiends that have so thoroughly abused it.

The Sorceress: Harnessing the power of the elements

Every Diablo game to date has had a mage type-class, and this is the third time Sorcerer (Diablo 1) or Sorceress (Diablo 2) has made the cut. (Diablo 3 deviated from the Sorcerer by introducing the Wizard, but it was much the same.) In Diablo 4, the Sorceress is an elemental caster, hurling fire, frost, and lightning at her enemies. Each element has its own strengths: fire does burning damage over time, cold freezes enemies in place, and lightning focuses on AOE. The Sorceress is a bit of a glass canon, so you’ll have to learn to weave the elements together to keep your foes at arm’s length.

Lore-wise, the Sorceress class harkens back to Esu, founder of the Zann Esu Clan which delved into the occult secrets of Sanctuary. Like the other Ancients, Esu was a Nephalem, born of the demonic followers of Lilith and the angelic allies of Inarius, though we don’t know whether Esu the direct offspring of Lilith and Inarius. But while we know little of Esu, we do know that the Zann Esu Clan has been practicing their magics for eons, and the Diablo 4 Sorceress likely follows this tradition.

Play a Sorceress if you want to sear your foes with fire, freeze them in place when they get too close and then convert your very form into living electricity that leaps around the battlefield, destroying your foes. It’s a versatile class that uses magic as its weapon.

The Rogue: Skulking in the shadows, at home in the darkness

  • Class type: Hybrid (melee DPS, ranged DPS)
  • Class resource: Combo points, builders and spenders

The Rogue is the most recently revealed class, and most of what we know comes from the Rogue section of the Diablo 4: What’s Next video to get a real sense for what the class is capable of doing. But in that section, we heard about three Specializations that Rogues get: every class in Diablo 4 is designed around a unique gameplay mechanic, and for the Rogue, this is wrapped around Specializations.

The first is Combo Points, which allows you to build up your attacks and unleash a magnified rampage of stabbing, generating resources with builder attacks and then spending them on big finishes. This works well with the Rogue’s ability to switch between an up close melee fighter with a sword or daggers, and a long-range damage-dealer with bows and crossbows. Rogues can go back and forth between these playstyles seamlessly, taking advantage of the their high mobility.

Then there’s the Exploit Weakness Specialization, which focuses on precise attacks that require careful timing. These builds have a higher skill cap, but can burn down a target with ease. And they can be even more deadly with imbues, which allow Rogues to infuse their weapons with elemental magic, like frost, poison, and so on, which add specific damage types to their attacks. Their final Specialization is Shadow Realm, which is about controlling the fight. These Rogues can draw targets into another plane of existence so you can limit how many things you’re fighting, turning a large pull into a smaller, more manageable group.

The Rogue is intended for the player who wants to use a finesse, hit and run, melee then ranged then melee again style of combat.

The Necromancer: Generals of the Dead

  • Class type: Magical ranged DPS, Summoner (Pets/The Army)
  • Class resource: Essence, Corpses

The role of Necromancers in Diablo 4 comes with a lot of questions. In the announcement trailer, Rathma, who founded the Necromancer order, is set up as a potential antagonist, which could pit the Necromancers against their former leader. But whether Rathma is a villain or not, Necromancers are another group with strong ties to one of the Ancients. The Necromancer reveal trailer name checks Rathma himself, but doesn’t clear up much else about what we’re going to see from the class in Diablo 4.

Luckily for us, the Necromancer got a Quarterly Update dedicated to how it’s going to play, and so, we have some significant details on what’s going on with our ghoulish friends and their even more ghoulish friends.

Necromancers use Essence, a resource similar to Mana, as their primary power source. Essence regenerates slowly but can be regained more quickly by using Basic skills to allow the Necromancer to get back into the thick of things. But as they kill things, those recently killed bodies become Corpses, and Necromancers can use nearly Corpses to create various undead minions like skeletons to serve them in battle. Necromancers will also have debuffs called Curses they can put on enemies that weaken, sicken and immobilize them so that their deadly spells and armies of the dead can finish them off.

There are four main playstyles for Necromancers in Diablo 4 — Bone, Darkness, Blood and the Army.

  • Bone is about using literal bones as a weapon and a defense, with abilities like Bone Shield calling a barrier made of bones torn out of the ground and Bone Spirit, which sacrifices all of your currently available Essence to deal damage in the form of a storm of bone fragments slamming into multiple opponents.
  • Darkness is the shadow of the grave given a hunger for the living, with spells like Decompose filling the Damage over Time niche while also regenerating your Essence so you can cast more spells. Blight, on the other hand, sends a shockwave of dark energy to explode on your foes, dealing Damage over Time to a wide swath and also dealing more damage to anyone who is immobilized.
  • Blood is what it sounds like — you rip the blood, and the life it contains, out of your enemies and use it to empower yourself and make it harder for enemies to harm you. Blood Surge lets you drain a small amount of blood from each nearby enemy and then explode it outward in a vile, damaging area of effect attack. Blood Mist allows the Necromancer to turn into a literal cloud of blood droplets, making it much harder for enemies to harm them while also draining the life of those enemies in the process.
  • The Army is all about summoning the dead. You can choose to learn to summon a very large force of various kinds of undead like Skeletal Warriors, Skeletal Mages and Golems, or you can use the Book of the Dead feature to trade the ability to summon some or even all of these kinds of undead in for powerful buffs. You can therefore customize, being a specialist in a specific kind of undead minion or a generalist who can summon anything available to the class.

So that’s an overview of the five classes we’ll get when Diablo 4 goes live in 2023.

Originally published December 11, 2019, updated June 14, 2022

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