Seasonal Leveling Guide
Leveling to 70 in a new season can seem like quite a slow process to some, but there are a number of tips and tricks you can use to speed the process up by a huge amount. This guide covers everything you can do to increase your leveling speed with Kanai's Cube, the Challenge Rift, and different leveling methods.
Starting a New Season
Seasons are 3-4 month fresh restarts of the Diablo 3 meta, always (so far) accompanied by a rebalancing patch with some measure of new content, be it sets, items, Season-exclusive mechanics, or simple numeric tweaks. The journey always starts with creating a new character, and this guide will take you through the most efficient steps to get this character to an endgame-worthy state.
At the very start of the Season, your first job is, naturally, to create a new seasonal hero. While this first choice does not lock you down too terribly, note that the Seasonal Journey rewards you once per Season — only for the character that completes the chapters first. Bearing that in mind, either create a new Seasonal hero or "rebirth" one of your old ones (this way, you get to keep the playtime). Always double check that your currently selected character is a Seasonal one, because it is important for the next step — you do not want to waste your Challenge Rift cache.
Challenge Rift Completion
With your Seasonal character currently selected, you should go into the Challenge Rifts from the main menu and start the current weekly run. Note that you have to have completed at least one Greater Rift on your account (either in non-seasonal or previous seasons) to have Challenge Rifts unlocked.
Challenge Rifts are a weekly challenge that provides a fixed character and a build (usually using quirky skills and/or heavily unoptimized stats and items), and challenges you to beat the Greater Rift completion time of its original owner.
The completion of the Challenge Rift is usually trivial and can be completed either solo or in a group, and will net you a Challenge Rift Reward cache. Open it up in-game with your brand new seasonal character and claim its contents: 35 Death's Breaths, a couple hundred of each of the base crafting materials (128 Veiled Crystals, 354 Arcane Dust, and 364 Reusable Parts), 475 Blood Shards, 5.1 million Gold, and 15 each of the Act-specific bounty cache materials. With your newfound riches, upgrade both your Blacksmith and your Mystic craftsmen in town to their maximum rank.
Challenge Rifts reset on Mondays for the NA server and Tuesday for EU, while Seasons traditionally start on Friday, so you will need to save the week's Challenge Rift ahead of time. There's usually no reason to complete one on Off-season, but it is important to note not to waste the valuable materials on the first weekend of progression.
Follower Weapon, Early Jewelry and Gear
While in town, approach one of the followers that most closely matches your class (Templar for Barbarians, Monks and Crusaders, Scoundrel for Demon Hunters, and Enchantress for Witch Doctors, Necromancers and Wizards), select the "Inventory & Skills" option, take their weapon and equip it yourself — it is a significant upgrade over the base weapon that you start with.
Note that once you reach Level 6, vendors in all towns — the ones with the nickname "the Fence" in their names — will start selling Rings under a new "Trinkets" tab in their inventory. Each of them has a chance to sell Rings that increase your Average Damage (i.e. 2-4 Damage), which is a massive DPS boost early on. At Level 10, you want to do the same check for vendor jewelry, since they start selling Amulets as well.
In general, you do not want to neglect vendor offerings and crafting yourself level-appropriate gear for your weakest slots every couple of runs or every other level you gain, regardless of your chosen leveling strategy. This is an easy way to maintain relevant gear even if RNG is not favorable from drops.
Your next important step is to acquire Kanai's Cube. Kanai's Cube is found in The Ruins of Sescheron — the waypoint in the top right corner of the Act III map. From that waypoint, run left towards the city and make your way around the ruins; one of its far corners (typically upper right, lower right, or lower left) will have the entrance to the next zone, the Elder Sanctum. Once in the Elder Sanctum, make your way through the zone, practically to its other end. When you find the Cube and click it, it automatically transports itself back to town.
While you can grab Kanai's Cube at any level, we strongly recommend that you do it right away at Level 1. That being said.
- If you want to immediately make use of a crafted or gambled legendary in the Cube, you can do so by getting the Cube at Level 1.
- If you want to wait to grab the Cube as quickly as possible, you can do so by doing it once your class has its movement ability; one issue to note with this is that, as you gain levels, you may find mobs more difficult to deal with due to the lack of appropriate gear for that level when compared with doing it at Level 1 with bought items from vendors.
- If you are leveling in Rifts, you can do it in parts while waiting for Rifts to close. It is important that you do not overwrite your teleport spot from the Ruins, otherwise you will need to run through everything again.
While you are at it, make sure to consult our Kanai's Cube guide for additional details on its use — it is an incredibly important part of your character progression at any point of the game, so make sure to acquaint yourself thoroughly with its properties.
Crafting an Item to Extract in the Cube
One of the strongest early game boosts that you can obtain while leveling is to craft a yellow (rare) Level 70 item at the blacksmith, then try to upgrade it into a valuable legendary at Kanai's Cube, and finally extract its property for one of the Kanai's Cube legendary power slots. Note that this strategy is stronger for some classes over others, particularly favoring Demon Hunters, Necromancers, and to a lesser degree Barbarians and Monks. The remaining classes can skip this step and directly go to gambling, sparing themselves some disappointment and saving some materials for Level 70, since you can do this recipe exactly once at the Season's start (you only have so many Death's Breaths).
When choosing which rare item to craft, keep in mind that you are looking to upgrade them into a legendary that provides some form of skill damage multiplier that will skyrocket your leveling efficiency. Every class has a different set of valuable items to attempt for:
- Barbarian: Craft a rare Level 70 Two-Handed Mighty Weapon, and use the Upgrade Rare recipe in the Cube to try to obtain Fury of the Vanished Peak, The Gavel of Judgment, Blade of the Tribes or Bastion's Revered (4/6 possibilities are good).
- Crusader: The first option is to craft a Level 70 One-Handed Flail, and use the Upgrade Rare recipe in the Cube to try to obtain either a Darklight, Gyrfalcon's Foote or Johanna's Argument (3/7 possibilities are good). The other is to craft a Level 70 Two-Handed Flails for an Akkhan's Leniency, Fate of the Fell, or a Golden Flense (3/8 possibilities are good).
- Demon Hunter: Craft a rare Level 70 Dagger, and use the Upgrade Rare recipe in the Cube to obtain either a Karlei's Point or a Lord Greenstone's Fan. Demon Hunters are excellent at this strategy since they only have 2 daggers, and they are both great for leveling.
- Monk: Craft a rare Level 70 Daibo, and use the Upgrade Rare recipe in the Cube to try to obtain Incense Torch of the Grand Temple, Balance, Flying Dragon or The Flow of Eternity (4/8 possibilities are good).
- Necromancer: Craft a rare Level 70 Two-Handed Scythe, and use the Upgrade Rare recipe in the Cube to obtain either a Bloodtide Blade, Maltorius' Petrified Spike, Nayr's Black Death or Reilena's Shadowhook. Necromancers are excellent at this strategy since they only have 4 Two-Handed Scythes, and they are all great for leveling.
- Witch Doctor: The first option is to craft a rare Level 70 Spear, and use the Upgrade Rare recipe in the Cube to try to obtain Scrimshaw (1/2 possibilities are good). The other is to craft a Level 70 Ceremonial Knife and upgrade rare for The Barber, The Dagger of Darts, or The Spider Queen's Grasp (3/12 possibilities are good).
- Wizard: Craft a rare Level 70 Wand, and use the Upgrade Rare recipe in the Cube to try to obtain either a Fragment of Destiny, Serpent's Sparker, Unstable Scepter or Wand of Woh.
Note that this part of the leveling strategy requires some amount of luck for non-DH and non-Necromancer players. Leveling in a group minimizes the risk of RNG screwing everyone over, but sometimes you will be unlucky; this is nothing to be bothered by, as leveling in Diablo is still a fairly easy and straightforward process.
If you are lucky, however, and obtain one of the items outlined above, you will have just about enough Death's Breaths to use the Extract Legendary Power recipe in Kanai's Cube. Do that, and then slot the (now maximized) legendary power of the item in the Cube, netting yourself a considerable leveling bonus. Needless to say, adjust your build accordingly to the legendary power, i.e. if you get Guard of Johanna as a Crusader, make Blessed Hammer your main damage dealing skill throughout leveling.
Spending the Challenge Rift Blood Shards
Your next step is to try and gamble for valuable items from Kadala at Level 1. Since not every legendary is available right from the start, the legendary item pools for some classes are restricted in a beneficial way to obtain another strong damage multiplier right from the start. If you do not consider the legendaries listed for your class particularly attractive, you can always gamble for Helms for a considerable chance at obtaining Leoric's Crown (extracting its power and socketing rubies in your helmets throughout leveling will net you a hefty amount of extra experience), or Pants for Pox Faulds (the damage proc of this item is fairly good for leveling).
- Barbarian: Gamble for Bracers, trying to obtain either Bracers of Destruction or Bracers of the First Men. If you have any Shards left over, or you simply want to make Toughness a non-issue for the entirety of your Barbarian's journey, gamble Rings for an almost guaranteed Band of Might. If your Haedrig's Gift set is Might of the Earth, gamble Boots for almost guaranteed Lut Socks.
- Crusader: Depending on your the success and type of your craft (see above), you will either gamble for Bracers or Shields. If you lucked into Johanna's Argument, you should gamble Bracers for a chance at Gabriel's Vambraces. If you are particularly lucky and get these bracers before you run out of Shards, you can also spend on Shields for Guard of Johanna. With some absurd luck, you can complete your Hammerdin at Level 31, when you can gamble for Pants for Hammer Jammers (50% chance). If you went for Two-handers and crafted Golden Flense, you should directly gamble for Shields in hope of Denial. If you got nothing useful from your crafts, dump the Shards into Shields and hope for the best. If you crafted Fate of the Fell, you should save your Shards until exactly Level 33, where you have a 1/3 chance of gambling Bracer of Fury. If you favor Cpt. America builds, you can try your 50% chance for Akkhan's Manacles at Level 23.
- Demon Hunter: Not many great options; you can gamble for Belts, trying to obtain the Hellcat Waistguard, although Grenade comes a little later in the leveling process. Otherwise, either go for Leoric's Crown or the damage proc of Pox Faulds. Another gambling strategy you can attempt is saving shards for Level 30, when you can gamble on Quivers for a chance at Sin Seekers, or Level 31 — for the additional chance at Holy Point Shot and Spines of Seething Hatred.
- Monk: Gamble for either boots (hoping to obtain Rivera Dancers or The Crudest Boots) or bracers (hoping to obtain either Pinto's Pride, Cesar's Memento or Gungdo Gear). Adjust your gambling strategy for Monk depending on the item you obtained (if any) on the previous step, Upgrading a Rare Item (i.e. gambling for bracers if you got an Incense Torch of the Grand Temple, hoping to get Pinto's Pride).
- Necromancer: Gamble for Gloves, as it is almost guaranteed that you will get Grasps of Essence. If your result from the crafting session was Reilena's Shadowhook, you can also consider gambling Rings for Circle of Nailuj's Evol. With some great RNG, you can spend leftover Shards at Level 19 for Razeth's Volition.
- Witch Doctor: Not many great options; you can gamble for Mojos, trying to obtain a Gazing Demise, which is decent if you crafted The Barber. Otherwise, either go for Leoric's Crown or the damage proc of Pox Faulds. If you feel especially lucky and/or crafted The Dagger of Darts, you can try again at Level 34 for Mask of Jeram or Carnevil.
- Wizard: Gamble for Sources for an almost guaranteed Winter Flurry; this will be even better if you crafted yourself a Serpent's Sparker. If you sniped both of these, you might as well try Helm gambling in hopes of The Magistrate at Level 34. Your alternative gambling shot is for Sources at exactly Level 33, where Etched Sigil becomes available.
Crafting a High Level Rare and Reducing Level Requirement
Pick a two-handed weapon category of your choice (2h Axes, Maces, Swords...) and craft a Level 70 weapon of the chosen type. You are looking for a roll with:
- At least a Crowd Control secondary stat — Chance to Stun, Slow, Fear,.. etc. On Hit;
- Ideally, also a Life per Hit primary stat;
If both these stats are present, you have eliminated a large part of the possible Secondary stats on the weapon. Thus, you can easily reroll the other Secondary stat (the one that is NOT the crowd control stat) into Reduced Level Requirement — making the item wearable up to 30 levels prior to Level 70. This is a tremendous damage increase for a large chunk of your leveling process.
Of course, if you are very lucky, the Reduced Level Requirement can roll onto your crafted item outright.
Complete a Boss Bounty
An easy early boost to your character in Seasons is to check your bounties for any easily completed act boss killing bounties — the most famous examples being Zoltun Kulle (at the Archives of Zoltun Kulle waypoint) and Maghda (down from the Road to Alcarnus waypoint) in Act II.
The boss bounties reward you with a Diabolic Hoard chest that is guaranteed to drop you a couple of rare items; they will boost your overall character power nicely right at the beginning.
Get a Soul Shard (Season 25 Exclusive)
In Season 25, you can get specific Soul Shards from specific Act bosses in Adventure Mode as early as Level 1, making them a target-able bonus from the very beginning of character progression and a massive boon during leveling. The tactic works all the way to Level 70. While they are all powerful in their own right, not all of these Shards will be at their full potential outside of complete endgame builds. Some of them will fare much better than others during the leveling process, and the actual best thing to do with your first Soul Shards is to salvage them for a chance at acquiring level 70 standard gems. It is recommended that you farm the following Soul Shards for leveling:
- Any class — Important at Level 1: Kill Zoltun Kulle in Act II for a Soul Shard to salvage. This will net you 3 random gems of Marquise or Imperial quality, with a minor chance to give 1 Flawless Royal gem instead. The chance to get Rubies of any of these tiers of quality will be so influential to your leveling that doing 5-10 runs of Zoltun Kulle near the start of your leveling process to guarantee the Ruby drops is not unreasonable.
- Any class: Kill Rakanoth in Act IV for Sliver of Terror. Rakanoth is easy to reach, and this Shard will fit almost any build as it empowers you for every cooldown you add to your skill bar. The alternative Shard you can get from Act IV, Remnant of Pain, can also be decent if you have access to a hard crowd control skill from early on.
- Cooldown-dependent classes (Barbarian, Crusader, Wizard): Kill Azmodan for Fragment of Destruction, whose Messerschmidt's Reaver-like proc can help you get impactful cooldowns available ( Wrath of the Berserker, Akarat's Champion...) much faster.
- Pet-based classes (Necromancer, Witch Doctor, Monk with an early gamble of The Crudest Boots): Kill Zoltun Kulle or Maghda in Act II for Dregs of Lies.
- If you level via Massacre bonuses: Consider killing Malthael (despite the slow fight) to get Shard of Hatred, which scales your damage the bigger your pull is.
These are the five most popular strategies for leveling, ranked from fastest to slowest.
Via Cursed Chests — Groups, ~45 Min
This is predominantly a group strategy, where one or more Necromancers are expected to carry the group in low-ish Torments (1 through 6, depending on luck with crafting and gambling) with the tremendous power of Corpse Explosion plus Grasps of Essence. The party can either be comprised of Necromancers, or the other characters can assume a pseudo-support role of trying to keep the squishy Necromancer alive.
As its name would suggest, this tactic involves hunting for Cursed Chest bounties, which spawn waves upon waves of enemies (feeding right into Corpse Explosion's powers). For more efficiency, party members should split into their own games after a chest's completion and look for new Cursed Chest events to complete. You will want to find:
- Act I: Old Ruins Waypoint — The Cursed Cellar (Hardcore-unfriendly)
- Act I: Cathedral Level 2 Waypoint — The Cursed Court
- Act I: Halls of Agony Level 3 Waypoint — The Cursed Bellows (Hardcore-unfriendly)
- Act II: Archives of Zoltun Kulle Waypoint — The Cursed Pit
- Act II: Archives of Zoltun Kulle Waypoint — The Cursed Spire
- Act II: Shrouded Moors Waypoint — The Cursed Moors
- Act II: Temple of the Firstborn Waypoint — The Cursed Temple
- Act III: The Battlefields Waypoint — The Cursed Garrison
- Act III: The Ruins of Sescheron Waypoint — The Cursed Bailey
- Act V: Paths of the Drowned Waypoint — The Cursed Peat (Hardcore-unfriendly)
Torment VI Traps Method — Solo and Groups, ~1 Hour
Turn the difficulty up to Torment VI and go to the Halls of Agony Level 1. Run and dodge past monsters that come in your way until you reach the falling blades traps; they spawn near the exit of the map, and you cannot really miss them. Once you get there, your goal would be to lure the monsters towards these giant cleaver traps and see them get slaughtered by their own poor AI, netting you tremendous experience. Ideally, you will want to apply any crowd control skills (as they become available) on the monsters right when they reach the trap.
This method, while extremely efficient time-wise, is also (arguably) quite unfun and counter-intuitive, not to mention prone to mishaps. Needless to say, this strategy is not Hardcore-friendly and will result in the (frequent) death of your character.
Darkening of Tristram Event — Solo and Groups, ~1 Hour
This strategy is only available in January, when the Diablo 1 Anniversary Event becomes active, accessible via the portal in Act I, Old Tristram waypoint. This is essentially one really long dungeon with improved XP gain throughout.
Via Massacre Bonus — Solo, ~1:30 Hours
You can also consider leveling via Massacre bonuses — a very potent strategy in solo play. The Massacre bonus XP system was revised in Patch 2.4.1 into a multiplicative experience bonus that rewards you for chaining kills of monsters, starting at 15 enemies slain and capping the bonus at 500 (for a whopping x4.5 multiplier). The caveat is this bonus only works outside of Rifts.
To successfully pull of long chains of monster kills, pick highly populated zones — the Cathedral (Act I), Halls of Agony Level 3 (Act I), Fields of Misery (Act I), The Eternal Woods (Act III) and, most notably, Temple of the Firstborn (Act II). The tactic is to always be on the move, leading monster packs into one another, abusing Cursed Chests for monster spawns, and generally using skills with DoTs or high AoE ( Rend for Barbarian, Blessed Hammer for Crusader, Multishot for Demon Hunter, Wave of Light for Monk, Locust Swarm for Witch Doctors, Disintegrate for Wizards).
While Massacre leveling will require frequent restarts of the game (every 5-10 minutes), it will result in some of the fastest leveling in Diablo 3, clocking under the 1hr 30min mark when you get the hang of it. Due to its individual nature and the level of coordination required to pull it off in a multiplayer game, leveling by Massacre bonuses can only be recommended for 2+ players if they are experienced and have voice communication; this is predominantly a solo leveling technique.
Via Rifting — Solo and Groups, 2+ Hours
For groups and players that do not stress losing an hour in the 1-70 race, the general recommendation is to stick to rifts for the 1-70 journey. Rifts grant you increased legendary drop rate, blood shards for gambling, and a hefty "hand-in" bonus at the end. While rifting has a higher degree of randomness than bounties (map layout, monster density and composition are all RNG), the removal of Rift Keystones as a requirement to open them allows you to simply remake if you get a bad (difficult or slow) rift. In general, stick to a difficulty that will allow you to finish rifts in 5 minutes at most.
- 10 Dec. 2021: Revised for Season 25.
- 23 Jul. 2021: No updates needed for Season 24 launch.
- 12 Mar. 2020: No updates needed for Season 20 launch.
- 22 Nov. 2019: Guide added.
- The Darkening of Tristram Returns January 3rd
- Diablo 4 Quarterly Update, December 2021: +Skill Ranks Affixes, Legendary Affix Transfers, Paragon Talents, Visual Effects
- World First Hardcore Greater Rift 150 Solo Clear in Season 25
- Season 25 Demon Hunter Hotfix Now Live
- Big Blizzard Store Holiday Sale: D2R, Character Services, Shadowlands, Pets, Mounts and More
- Which Class to Play in Season 25?
- Diablo 4 Quarterly Update Coming in Late December
- All Diablo 3 Season 25 Guides (Patch 2.7.2)