The 2.3 patch for Diablo III brought with it a fair number of changes, and in this writer’s humble opinion, the game is better off for it. While there are certainly some exciting additions to the end game content with Kunai’s Cube, new item sets and new character builds, what can easily be overlooked is what was done to help with the process of leveling a brand new character. With a new Season upon us, this becomes extremely relevant. If you’ve been thinking about starting the new Season, or leveling a new character for any reason, here are some tips on how to do that as quickly and effectively as possible.
Choose your gear wisely
Starting with a brand new character, you’re extremely dependent on the gear that drops randomly from enemies. As you start to accumulate some items, you’ll have choices as to what you want to equip. With that said, I always advise looking for two main stats: damage, and bonus experience. Damage can come in several forms; it can be your main stat (strength, intelligence, etc. depending on your class,) it can be a bonus to your main damage skill, or to an element you’re using frequently. If you’re lucky, you might even find some bonuses to critical hit chance or crit damage. Particularly at early levels, I always recommend focusing on damage over defense. If you can take down enemies quickly, they won’t be able to deal enough damage to you for it to really matter.
After that, I always look for bonus experience. Gear can randomly roll with the “Monster kills grant +X experience” affix, and I’ll often prioritize that stat, even if it means I’m trading off a bit of toughness. In addition, even if the stats are slightly (but not majorly) sub-par, look for a helm with a socket as early as possible, and put the best Ruby you have in there. That bonus to experience goes a long way, and with the removal of gems below Square quality, it’s now more effective than ever.
Speaking of bonus experience, that leads us to…
Take advantage of the new low-level item sets
You’ll get two plans for the Blacksmith, and neither require you to train him. At level 21, you’ll unlock the Born’s Defiance set. You only need two pieces, and you get +2% life and an extra 20 experience for every monster kill. At level 23, craft three pieces of the Cain’s Fate set, which in addition to some attack speed and magic find, will reward you with 30% bonus experience.
These sets are available early, and aren’t expensive to craft. Use the set bonuses for quite a while, until you have gear that is substantially better.
Speaking of crafting…
Salvage all gear that you won’t be using
Crafting materials are extremely important, and there isn’t a time in this game where that stops being true. While it may be tempting to sell off all of the useless gear that drops to merchants, resist that temptation. The more time you spend with the game, the easier it is to obtain gold, and there even comes a point where gold becomes essentially meaningless due to the masses of it you now have. Any item you’re thinking about selling, salvage it at the Blacksmith instead. (This obviously doesn’t apply to any gear you purchased from vendors, as those can’t be salvaged.)
Play on the hardest difficulty you can handle
It doesn’t matter if you’re brand new to Diablo III, don’t start on Normal difficulty. It’s far too easy, and won’t reward you for the time you spend in it. Even if you’re playing solo and starting a completely fresh character, begin the game on Hard difficulty. It might present a bit of a challenge, but it shouldn’t be unmanageable. At all times, play on the hardest difficulty you can manage, and don’t be afraid to bump it up if you feel like your current difficulty level is very easy. The higher the difficulty, the better your gold, item, and experience rewards will be.
With that said, there is one caveat: If you can eventually slog your way through a certain difficulty, but it takes a long time to get through even simple enemies, drop it down a notch. The extra time you’re taking isn’t worth the bonuses, as you’ll get more out of your time in the long run if you can get through an easier difficulty quickly.
One of the most important changes in the 2.3 patch was the removal of an entrance cost to Nephalem Rifts. These are easily the best source of experience while leveling up, but previously, required rift keys to get in. This meant that you had to take time obtaining the keys, which was time you wished you were spending in the Rifts instead.
No more! Now that Rifts are free, take advantage of it. You may want to do bounties from time to time to obtain the act-specific bonus items or materials, or to work on your Seasonal journey. However, any time there isn’t a specific objective you’re going for, run Nephalem Rifts. They’re quickly going to become your best friend.
To test out how the new changes would affect the leveling process, I chose to bring a Seasonal character from level 1-70 completely solo. Playing just a few hours a day, I accomplished this in 4 days, which is significantly better than it was in the past. However, playing solo is not optimal, and you can take less time than I did.
When going for specific objectives (bounties, boss kills, etc.) I usually prefer to go solo. However, if you’re simply looking to run some Rifts just to level and maybe get some decent item drops, look for a public game. Your magic and gold find, as well as (and more importantly) your experience gains will be increased, making for a faster leveling process. Make some new friends in the world of Sanctuary! It’s only going to benefit you.
Gem of Ease
I saved this point for last, since it won’t actually help you level up your first character. However, once you get one character to level 70, getting a second one there just became a million times easier. Greater Rift guardians drop legendary gems, one of which is the Gem of Ease. It’s quite unique, in that it’s the only legendary gem that goes in a weapon. If you’re able to raise it up to Rank 25, not only does it provide a significant boost to experience on monster kill, it sets the level requirement of the weapon it’s socketed in to level 1.
Once you have one character at level 70, take literally any weapon your new character can equip, socket the Gem of Ease in it, and let them go to town. Your new character’s power will be astronomically higher than it would normally be, meaning you can ramp up the difficulty and still take down monster packs in one shot. This, combined with extra on kill experience, means leveling up a second character is a breeze.
That covers all of the essential things you should be doing when attempting to level a new character! Blizzard has introduced several features into the game that make this less of a chore than it used to be, so take advantage of it. See you in Sanctuary!
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Diablo III Game Page.