Diablo 3 has a number of different difficulty levels, and with the Reaper of Souls expansion they have all changed. This has lead to many players not really understanding the new levels or what they mean. So if you're still a little confused about what each level is and why you should play anything other than normal, then this guide is for you.

What difficulty levels are available?

When you first start the game, you will be able to play in three different difficulty levels: Normal, Hard, and Expert.

A fourth difficulty level will open up once you have defeated the game, this difficulty level is called Master.

The remaining difficulty levels are Torment 1 - 6 and will become available once a character of yours has reached level 60

What do the different difficulty levels do?

Essentially each difficulty level increase makes the monsters in the game harder to defeat. In exchange for the added difficulty of beating them they will reward you with extra gold and experience. At higher character levels and high levels of difficulty there are other bonuses as well.

Here is a chart that shows the extra health and damage that monsters will have at each difficulty level.

  • Normal: 100% Health, 100% Damage, 0% extra gold bonus, 0% extra XP bonus
  • Hard: 200% Health, 130% Damage, 75% extra gold bonus, 75% extra XP bonus
  • Expert: 320% Health, 189% Damage, 100% extra gold bonus, 100% extra XP bonus
  • Master: 512% Health, 273% Damage, 200% extra gold bonus, 200% extra XP bonus
  • Torment 1: 819% Health, 396% Damage, 300% extra gold bonus, 300% extra XP bonus
  • Torment 2: 1311% Health, 575% Damage, 400% extra gold bonus, 400% extra XP bonus
  • Torment 3: 2097% Health, 833% Damage, 550% extra gold bonus, 550% extra XP bonus
  • Torment 4: 3355% Health, 1208% Damage, 800% extra gold bonus, 800% extra XP bonus
  • Torment 5: 5369% Health, 1752% Damage, 1150% extra gold bonus, 1150% extra XP bonus
  • Torment 6: 8590% Health, 2540% Damage, 1600% extra gold bonus, 1600% extra XP bonus

What are the other difficulty bonuses?

There are several other bonuses that come into play at high levels, in adventure mode, or at high difficulty levels. They are as follows:

  • Hard and above: Increasing bonus for crafting materials to drop.
  • Expert and above: Double blood shards from bounties.
  • Master and above: Imperial Gems can drop from level 61 or higher enemies.
  • Torment 1 and above: A bonus chance for legendary items to drop is applied.
  • Torment 1 and above: Special Torment only legendary and class based set items can drop.

What difficulty should you play at?

This is a bit tricky to answer as it changes all the time based on gear and level. Unlike the old difficulty system that Diablo 3 had before Reaper of Souls there is no simple answer based on your level. Monsters now all scale on the fly to your characters level and therefore you could in theory play on normal or torment 6 as a level 1 character.

The easiest way to figure out what level you should play at then is really by trial and error. This is especially true when leveling up a character. Ideally, you want to level at least hard level so that you get double experience, and even higher levels are better. However, because you are less likely to have great gear when leveling it makes it harder to calculate. There will be times you find a great item, that lets you jump up to expert or master level, but then 3-5 character levels later you may have to drop back down to hard. Try to base your difficulty level choice on the one at which you can kill elite packs in no more than 50% longer that the previous difficulty. If it takes more than that amount of time, you should be dropping down in levels.

The biggest thing to remember is that experience gain and item drops all come based on the number of monsters you kill. If you can kill a monster on a higher difficulty but it takes you twice as long, you are actually losing time and drops. The only exception is when you move up to Torment level difficulty, since there is an extra chance to drop legendaries and the availability of special torment only level 70 legendary and set items. Due to these extra bonuses it can be worth playing at torment above the normal 50% time limit discussed above, but not past the double time limit discussed here.

You are presented with a screen like this to select your difficulty, but which is the right one for you?

So what Damage should you be to do Rifts per torment level at 70?

This is what it all comes down to for many people. While being able to figure out what difficulty to play with at low levels is a little important, most players are only really worried about difficultly levels once they hit level 70 and are trying to complete rifts in adventure mode.

What most players want to know is what character sheet damage they should be at before going into different torment levels. Honestly though, it is really hard to give exact numbers and here is why:

The character sheet damage can be highly inaccurate and not reflective of your in game performance.

The damage on your character screen does not take into account a lot of different variables. Just a few of the things skipped when figuring out damage are:

  • Percentage boost to skills
  • Percentage boost to specific damage types
  • Build combinations
  • Skill interactions
  • Set Bonuses

Due to what is missing, it is possible for a well thought out and geared character that only shows 500,000 damage to significantly out damage a character showing double or even triple that number on their character sheet damage. Worse yet for comparison purposes, not all classes fit the same numbers, a Barbarian can get by with less than a Wizard, while a Demon Hunter will generally need higher numbers. Also as you progress up to higher torment levels, the numbers get even more hazy as gear, skill, and group combos become far more important. Therefore, the numbers shown here should only be considered a rough guideline and not as definitive numbers. Lastly, all number should be looked at prior to applying any buffs.

  • Torment 1: At least 200,000 and up to 400,000
  • Torment 2: 400,000 to 800,000
  • Torment 3: 800,000 to 1,000,000
  • Torment 4: 1,000,000 to 1,250,000
  • Torment 5: 1,250,000 to 1,500,000
  • Torment 6: 1,500,000 plus

Instead of using these numbers as a set guide, I would suggest referencing them as a base line and then try running the Torment level solo. If you can clear a rift at the torment level you want to play in a group game in less than 15 minutes then you are ready for that level in a group. If you can not solo that difficulty, or it takes significantly longer to complete the rift then step back a level and try again.

Messiah's Take on the Difficulty System

So far I really like the various difficulties in the new system. It can be a bit tricky when bouncing back and forth between characters to figure out exactly where you should be, but you get used to it over time. It can also be confusing for players to figure out where exactly they should be when joining a public group.

While I really like the open and flexible nature of the system, and it could stay that way for private games, I feel some limitations on public games could help out. The system will let you join any level game with no regard to your gearing level, which opens it up for abuse. While I would like to think that everyone realizes that fast kills at a lower level gets you more experience and gear, they don't. They also in general don't take kindly to players explaining that they are in a level that is to high for them, even if it is the truth. Therefore an enforced system (even if generously lax) from Blizzards end could help immensely in public games. The only other option is to not play public games and instead only play with friends or community/clan members.

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Byron 1
Byron has been playing and writing about World of Warcraft for the past ten years. He also plays pretty much ever other Blizzard game, currently focusing on Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, while still finding time to jump into Diablo III with his son.