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DiabloApr 2, 2021 1:00 pm CT

Everything you need to do to prep for Diablo 3 Season 23, starting tonight!

Diablo 3 Season 23

The new Season’s start is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s like a mini gamer holiday for Diablo 3 players. I spend the time between Seasons cleaning up my stash (ugh), enjoying my newly increased Paragon numbers, and generally trying to push the limits that much more. But I also do my prep homework because I want to have everything together come 5:00 p.m. Pacific (or earlier, if you play in the Europe or Asia regions). And since the season starts today, we’re all running out of prep time.

Whether you’re at that bleeding edge start line or kicking off your Season weeks later, here are some things you can do to make sure your Season 23 kicks off as cleanly as possible.

How to choose your class

Class choice is a particular beastie. Some people have their favorites that they play every Season and could not care less about how they may have changed at the patch. Some are looking to kick butt and take names and want to optimize from the get-go. And some fall in between those two extremes. I tested the waters of Seasonal play in Season 10 and never looked back. I know what I like to play, but I also want that initial grind to go pretty quickly. Here are a few factors to consider when selecting a class:

  • What are your goals? Do you want to farm as many Death’s Breaths as possible, be the top solo Crusader with your build, group with your friends to run Greater Rifts every weekend, or maybe make the leaderboards for Conquests? Whatever your goals, they can have a significant impact on your first steps in the new Season.
  • What are the Starter Sets for the Season? Class sets are effectively on a rotation per Season, so even before the announcement, you can do a quick search online and put forward a solid guess as to what will be available.
  • What set Build ticks most of your boxes? Let’s say you want to start off playing solo in Hardcore mode (go you!). Survivability is likely your top requirement for both build and playstyle, so that you may look for a class with more defensive skills. Knowing how you want to play is just as important as knowing what you want to do.

From here, you can order the class list in your brain, farm through YouTube videos, or make a spreadsheet. Guess which one I do? (Hint: it’s all of them.)

In my spreadsheet, I rank different facets for each class from 1 (lowest) to 7 (highest) to get an idea of what may work best for me. I have played every class at this point, so I understand what I enjoy playing, and ordering things gives me a starting point to consider. I consider the starting sets from Haedrig’s Gift (and the associated builds), the strongest and most useful builds for the Season, and what classes I have the most fun playing.

Once I have a rough idea of my thoughts, I hit YouTube to see where other folks are leaning. Many streamers and YouTubers analyze classes/builds as part of their living, and they are brilliant people. I check out their feedback for what builds they tested and add that to my spreadsheet. Their opinions add another data point for me to consider. The whole process is another way I engage my mind with the game.

Strong class options for Season 23

After weighing all the options, it’s time to make a choice, and the sets each class gets this Season could play into it.

Believe it or not, the top of my list is not necessarily what I play. As you make your choice, keep in mind that this season rewards the new class sets as part of Haedrig’s gift. Barbarians continue to be a reliable choice in Season 23, and no, Rossi did not pay me to say that. The Wrath of the Wastes starting set uses the Whirlwind-Rend build, so you’ll be burning through demons faster and faster as you progress.

The Crusader’s Roland’s Legacy starting set is going to be your friend if you want to get up close and personal while demolishing the forces of Hell. The associated Sweep Attack build is solid and, honestly, pretty fun! There’s also a Shield Bash variant to the build that really gets you in creatures’ faces to do some real damage. Enjoy your gleeful smashing of demonic hordes.

Monks don’t have quite as fun of a season kick-off with the Raiment of a Thousand Storms set. The associated build depends on spirit generators (like Crippling Wave or Fists of Thunder) to empower your Dashing Strike. On the upside, it can be amazing for mobility, so this could be your best friend if you’re going after some of the timed conquests.

Similarly, the Witch Doctor‘s Helltooth Harness starter (and associated Zombie Bears set) pales in comparison to how much fun I had with the Mundunugu’s set before its nerfs, but come on. You get to summon a stampede of zombie bears to mow down your foes. That’s awesome, at least from a bragging rights standpoint.

I’ve referred to the Necromancer as my “old faithful” class in the past, and I spent Season 22 darting around cheerfully shooting Bone Spears at pretty much anyone in my path. That said, the Bones of Rathma starting set was recently reworked, and I did not get to test it out on the PTR. Its focus on Army of the Dead means another build that’s heavily focused on reducing cooldown; realistically, I’m more likely to deploy a Gem of Ease and farm up the Masquerade set.

However, if I’m going the Gem of Ease route, I’m much more likely to consider the Wizard for Season 23. Yes, the Tal Rasha’s Elements starting set is pretty low on the relative “push build” power scale. But the Firebirds set now focuses its build around one of my favorite Wizard spells — Disintegrate! Who doesn’t love shooting lasers from their fingertips?

Luckily, the Demon Hunter provides our ranged friends with a fantastic starting option in the Unhallowed Essence set. Not only is its Multishot build solid enough to get you through the bulk of your Season’s Journey, but you can also switch over to the Gears of the Dreadlands set that made Seasons 21 and 22 a wild, spinny ride.

Personally, I’m torn between Demon Hunter and Barbarian for my starting class! Normally, starting as Barbarian would be unheard of for me, but it has such a strong start that it may inch ahead of one of my favorites. Now, keep in mind: Unless you want to push the tops of the leaderboards, you can move on from your starting choice. You always have the option to get to 70, grind Greater Rifts for a Gem of Ease to add to a level-70 weapon, and power-level another class!

Get started with a Challenge Rift

Hurray! You figured out your class and are ready to go when the Season starts!. There is a reliable way to give yourself a leg up on your Season: the weekly Challenge Rift.

Completing the week’s Challenge Rift grants you a cache full of resources to get your Season started; however, heed these critical caveats, or you won’t be able to claim the reward on your new character:

  1. You have to have completed a Greater Rift in your region. If you are a brand new player, this trick won’t work for you.
  2. You have to create your Seasonal character and log in to that character before you complete the rift.
  3. You need to wait until the Season starts before completing the Challenge Rift.

Trust me; it’s worth the wait to boost your start-off. The Challenge Rift cache drops:

  • 35 Death’s Breaths
  • 475 Blood Shards
  • 5,100,00 Gold
  • 125 Veiled Crystals
  • 350 Arcane Dust
  • 375 Reusable Parts
  • 15 of each Act’s bounty crafting materials —  Khanduran Runes, Caldeum Nightshade, Arreat War Tapestries, Corrupted Angel Flesh, and Westmarch Holy Water

Once you complete the Challenge Rift, log back in on your Seasonal character in Adventure Mode. Start on Hard if you are comfortable with raised difficulty, as you will get a nice increase to experience. With the gold (and 1 Death’s Breath apiece), you can max level both the Blacksmith and the Mystic, which also knocks out two of the Season’s Chapter 1 requirements. Spend the blood shards at Kadala for gear roulette based on your class (and another Season requirement in Chapter 3); you can see what is available for your class at level 1 on D3 Planner.

Kick-start your Season 23 leveling

There are a few more things you can do to give your Seasonal Character a strong start. I use various YouTube leveling guides as the starting point for my method that I have described. Follow what I set out, check out other Season starter build videos on YouTube, or ignore all of it and go gangbusters in your way! It is a game, after all.

This is how my typical Season start plays out:

  • Play in Adventure Mode. I always start in Adventure Mode; while I enjoy the story in D3, it doesn’t bring anything to the Season for me. (Plus, it lets you dive straight into bounties for big rewards.)
  • Don’t forget the follower. Hire a follower — Enchantress, Scoundrel, or Templar — to lend a hand as you go, especially since the follower revamp in 2.7.0 is the “theme” for Season 23.
  • Upgrade your weapon. Hit the merchants to get an upgraded weapon. Some recommend grabbing the weapon from one of your followers; you can do this, but the merchants may have better options, and you have the gold from your challenge cache. Live a little!
  • Get Kanai’s Cube. Alternatively, go straight to grab Kanai’s Cube (after talking to the spirit of Zoltan Kulle in town) from the Ruins of Sescheron in Act 3. You will need it for the next steps.
  • Extract a power for Kanai’s Cube. From there, your biggest priority as you level up is to stay on top of upgrading your weapon. First thing, use the challenge cache materials to craft a level 70 rare weapon for your class and upgrade it to legendary with Kanai’s Cube using Recipe 3 (Hope of Cain). Use Recipe 1 (Archive of Tal Rasha) to extract the legendary power and equip it in your Kanai’s Cube. A boosted ability is yours, right from the onset!

Remember to check back with your Blacksmith every 5-10 levels. You will be able to craft a new weapon for yourself with an impressive damage boost: two-handed items are your best bet on this front.

Easy leveling for solo players

There is a known optimal path for leveling in Season — burning through Nephalem rifts in a 4-person group. As a solo player, I’ll usually deviate from this plan and level up with this strategy:

  • After getting Kanai’s Cube, run a Nephalem rift (or 2) to hit level 10.
  • Go to Act 1 to kill Leoric for his crown. From here to 70, equip the highest level ruby gem you have handy for an impressive XP boost. (Thank you, andreios!)
  • Run the Act 1 bounties after checking the Season Journey to see how much progress I can make on my Season’s Journey! If this doesn’t get me to level 20, knock out a Nephalem Rift.
  • Go to Act 2 to complete the bounty quests, then rifts to 30.
  • Rinse and repeat across all 5 acts.

This may not be the optimal path, but by level 60, I’ve completed most of Chapter 1 through 3’s requirements in the Season Journey. If you want to increase the experience boost you’re receiving, try increasing the difficulty every 10 or 20 levels. Before you know it, you’ll have all four chapters completed and your full set from Haedrig.

Don’t forget out-of-game prep!

Video games are immersive. Some top-tier players grind the first 24-48 hours of the Season to secure their leaderboard ranking. Don’t forget — you still need to take care of yourself during your Diablo binge! Here are some tips to make the most of your Season start:

  • Hydrate. Water is your friend. If straight water is not for you, try adding lemon, cucumber, or mint. Decaf tea and sparkling water are also alternatives to consider.
  • Prep snacks. For me, this normally means going to the grocery store and getting some fruit, baby carrots, and peanut M&Ms, but this season I have a fantastic source of recipes right here on Blizzard Watch (more below)! Just make it something easy to munch on while playing (breaks for meals are good too).
  • Move around. You don’t need to hit the gym for an hour; that may not be your thing. It’s still important to stand up every so often. Changing positions makes it easier to play for long stretches. Bonus points if you go outside!
  • Sleep. Yes, even if burning through the first 48 hours with your team. If you are 100% committed to that level of play, clear your Sunday for a stretch of sleep.

We really lucked out in that Blizzard Watch has acquired writer Rob Flanagan for all things delicious, so if you’re looking for some magnificent munchies to accompany your weekend leveling binge, enjoy the treats below!

Final thoughts

I approach the game from a solo casual perspective. I actually met my usual Season goal of Paragon 1,000/GR 100 solo in Season 21 but fell extremely short in Season 22, so my goal for Season 23 is to enjoy myself and get that adorable Lacuni Cub! Regardless of your goals — GR100 on the first day, by the end of the season, or even never — have fun and be good to yourself. See you in Sanctuary!

Updated 4/2/2021

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