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DiabloSep 21, 2020 10:00 am CT

Want to level fast in Diablo 3? Season 25’s Soul Shards make may make leveling quicker with new powers and abilities

For whatever reason you want to level in Diablo 3 and you’re not interested in slowing down to see the game. Maybe you’ve already played the story a few times now, maybe you’re trying to get through a Season fast before it ends, maybe you’re just the efficient type. Season 25 will be out soon, so maybe you’re looking to play around with the new Soul Shard mechanic. Whatever the case is, you want to get to level 70 and start grinding on Paragon Levels as fast as you can? Well, there’s fast, and then there’s fast, so we’ll talk about various ways you can get to max level as fast as possible.

One thing I’ll point out is that some of these methods only work if you know someone else who plays Diablo 3 and has a max level character, or if you already have a max level character that you can share items and gold to your lower level character. If you start a Season character and you don’t already have a high level character on this Season, and don’t know any high level Season characters? You’ll be leveling a little (or a lot) more slowly.

You should be cautious about using them anyway, as they can leave you with very little understanding of how to play your class. But they do work and it would be remiss if I pretended they didn’t exist.

But whether you know any level 70 characters or not, there are a number of things you can do to speed up your leveling journey in Season 25 (and anywhere else). So let’s talk about the fastest ways to level in Diablo 3.

The fastest way to reach max level (if you have high level friends or alts)

There are two methods that I find to be the absolutely fastest way to level. The first requires you to at least know one player with a level 70 character who is willing to help you. You want them to invite you to a game and at the highest Torment level they can easily solo, up to Torment 6 which is the highest level a non-70 player can experience. Then they run the content — a Nephalem Rift would be the absolutely most efficient way to find a host of monsters and turn them into mulch.

Since each successive Torment level increases your experience gained — Torment 6 increases it by 1600% — and because your level 70 friend will be destroying wave after wave of monsters, as long as you stay back and let them you should literally drown in experience. You’ll be level 70 in like four Nephalem Rifts or, if you prefer, one full sweep of all available bounties in each Act. And you’ll likely get some gear out of it, too. You have to be a bit careful, though, because if you get too close to the action, you’re likely to be destroyed — still, a little caution is a small price to pay for all of this XP.

The second method isn’t quite as fast, but it’s still very fast. This requires you to have a level 70 character who has obtained a Gem of Ease through Greater Nephalem Rifts. The Gem of Ease, once it reaches level 25 (so you’ll need to be able to run at least a Greater Rift 30 or so) can be socketed into a weapon to not only increase the amount of experience you get but also to lower the level requirement of that weapon to 1. This means that you can send that weapon to any alt you have that can equip it, and they can get it and start using it as soon as they get to New Tristram and the Stash in Act 1.

However, if you don’t want to have your Gem of Ease socketed into a weapon, you can use it in Kanai’s Cube to simply permanently remove the level requirement from a weapon. This does mean you won’t get the Gem of Ease’s XP bonus on that item, but it also means you’ll then be able to get a new Gem of Ease on your level 70 from a Greater Rift and then you could send another weapon to another alt, or just use the Gem yourself to grind out Paragon Levels faster. Either way, whether you use the Cube or just socket the Gem of Ease in a weapon, that level 70 weapon will be an enormous power jump for a level 1 character and will likely let you utterly destroy any and all monsters you run into for quite some time. You can set the Torment level up to 6 and just wreak havoc in Story mode for the first 40 or so levels before that level 70 ancient legendary weapon won’t just turn anything you hit into paste, and with Torment 6’s 1600% XP and the Gem of Ease’s XP bonus depending on how high you leveled it you’ll potentially be level 40 before you leave New Tristram.

These two methods are the absolutely fastest way to get to level 70.  But what if you don’t have a bunch of level 70 friends and haven’t leveled to 70 yourself? How can you speed the process up?

The fastest way to level for the less experienced

If you’re just starting out in Diablo 3 or you’re jumping into Season 25, you don’t have any of that stuff from the first part of the article. You don’t know anyone who plays, you don’t have any high level alts to feed you gold and better quality items so you can wade through monsters. You can’t even speed level the crafting NPCs like the Blacksmith or get high level gems to socket in your gear. What can you do?

First up, if you have even one friend who is willing to play Diablo 3 with you, do that. Two or more players together can take on harder mobs who are worth more experience. Plus, the game is more fun with friends. My wife and I often play the game together and to be honest she keeps me motivated and working to get leveled up because she always smashes crates before I can and it drives me up a wall.

Secondly, if getting levels is your primary concern, then gear for it. If you look at the screenshot above, you’ll notice that the ridiculously OP 2h that my level 10 Barbarian is sporting has a stat that increases the XP for each monster kill. In this particular case it gives me an additional 232 XP per kill. That stat can be found in varying levels on gear for every slot — you can find it on Legendaries, on greens and blues and yellows, on rings and boots and necklaces and weapons and every armor piece. This is the kind of gear you want to look for if you want to level fast. Even if it isn’t as good as your other gear, it may be worth it as you work through the levels.

You should gem your gear for leveling, too. You can socket a red gem into your helmet and that gem will grant you a percentage-based XP bonus. The lowest level red gems socketed into a helmet will give you +10% XP and as you level up, you’ll find or make better and better red gems up until you can make gems that will allow you to have up to a +41% XP bonus. This bonus drops once you hit level 70 — a gem that gives you 10% XP boost at level 69 will only grant 1% at 70. But for leveling up, combining as much gear with bonus +Monster Kill XP and a red gem with a socketed helm is a very solid way to get to max level as fast as possible.

If you are pursuing this approach, then Leoric’s Crown is an amazing drop you will get early in the game. If the Crown drops with the legendary effect of boosting any socketed gems by 100%, it will double the XP bonus of whatever gem you have socketed into it. This will mean you might well hold on to that Crown way past the point where a stronger item would utterly overshadow it just for that bonus, as it will double the XP boost on higher level gems as you find or make those. Getting up t0 60% bonus XP when you’re level 30 or so will definitely keep this Crown on your head for a while.

The best game modes for leveling

If you just want to get as much XP as possible as fast as possible, then after you get Leoric’s Crown from Act I and get a red gem socketed in it. That means may want to abandon the Campaign mode for Adventure Mode. As you can see above, my level 16 — yes, she gained six levels in the time it took me to take 2 screenshots of her, that’s how fast that ridiculous weapon lets me level her — can easily go to Adventure Mode and trigger a Nephalem Rift. These Rifts can only be found in Adventure mode and you can go to a Nephalem Rift any time you want — they’re the most efficient way to farm monsters, gold, items, and XP, especially if you can survive turning the difficulty level up. This works with a group, if you have anyone available to run Rifts with you, you should do it.

You should also look at the difficulty level you’re playing at — and set it as high as you can comfortably go. Every level you increase the difficulty up to Torment 6 — the highest level you can access before level 70 — will increase your XP gain. But remember, in order to hit certain game difficulties, you need to have progressed a character in the Campaign, so if you’ve never done Diablo 3 before it will ultimately benefit you to complete the main story at least once so you can unlock higher difficulty levels.

Don’t just jump to Adventure Mode if you’ve literally never played Diablo 3 before, because you’ll end up slowing yourself down in the long run. Only skip the campaign once you’ve finished it on one character. But as long as you’ve done the campaign at least once, it’s a good idea to start your new characters in Adventure Mode.

What about Season 25? Will the new Season theme change leveling?

Season 25 complicates the leveling conundrum by giving us Prime and Lesser Evil Soul Shards that you can equip in your head and weapon slot items. With three unique Prime Evil Shards and four unique Lesser Evil Shards, there’s twelve potential combinations you can try out and which can grow in power as you level up, which can absolutely alter how fast you’re leveling and what activities you prefer to level with. For just one example, let’s look at Diablo’s Sliver of Terror Soul Shard:

  • Rank 0 — Your cooldowns are increased by 25%. For every skill on cooldown, you take 12.5% reduced damage and deal 75% increased damage.
  • Rank 3 — You cast a devastating Ring of Fire after killing 50 enemies. Enemies killed is tracked with a buff icon.

By itself, that converts you from a character using cooldowns to deal more damage to someone using cooldowns to take less damage and deal more damage while you don’t have them up, which basically rewards using your cooldowns as soon as they come up at the cost of being able to use them less often. Now look at the Dregs of Lies Soul Shard and its abilities:

  • Rank 0 — Reduce the damage of enemies hit by 33% for 5 seconds. Damage you deal is reduced by 50%.
  • Rank 3 — Double the damage reduction enemies receive when you critically strike them.

So you could theoretically combine these two Soul Shards, have the Sliver of Terror essentially negate the damage reduction from the Dregs of Lies, while stacking the damage reduction from both Shards together. You’ll deal more damage than normal while taking a lot less, which could allow for an extremely tanky build. Similarly, if you are a class or have a gear build that can dish out a lot of poison damage, the Essence of Anguish is going to appeal to you:

  • Rank 0 — Every time you deal poison damage to an enemy you increase your cooldown reduction, movement speed, and damage received by 5% for 10 seconds. Max 10 stacks.
  • Rank 3 — When you deal poison damage to an enemy, they receive 50% increased poison damage from all sources for 10 seconds.

Combined with Mephisto’s Shard of Hatred which increases your damage dealt the more enemies you have within 25 yards, you may suddenly find yourself a cooldown refreshing machine, spewing poison everywhere and dealing increased damage to all the poor fools within your poisonous reach. This would make farming bounties and eventually doing Rifts to level up more attractive.

But which Shards you’ll want and how much they’ll help you level will depend on your class, so I can’t offer specific advice. Just keep an eye out for Soul Shards as you’re leveling, because their power boost could really speed things up.

And there you have it — ways you can get to max level in Diablo 3 as fast as possible. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some, but the comments are a great place to drop by and mention all the ways I’ve forgotten so others can gather more tips for the climb up.

Originally published 9/21/2020, updated 12/8/2021

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