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I was wondering how multiplayer games work in Diablo 3, specifically:

  • Can I create a "normal difficulty" character and then play with my friends who created "hard difficulty" characters?
  • Can I play single player with my character and occasionally join my friends online for a multiplayer game?
  • So, what if I'm playing on normal difficulty and I'm in ACT 3 and my friend just buys the game and creates an account. What then? I can join him in ACT 1 quests, but he cannot join me in ACT 3 quests?
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For Normal difficulty character and hard difficulty character, you are talking about a normal character (without being hardcore) and a Hardcore character ? Or are you talking about the difficulty level from the map (Normal, nightmare, hell, inferno)? –  Michel Apr 17 '12 at 20:39
    
@Michel I'm pretty sure he's talking about normal vs nightmare, etc. Hardcore characters are not different from softcore in any way except permadeath. –  Sadly Not Apr 18 '12 at 0:38

2 Answers 2

There's no distinction between a single player character and multiplayer character. Since Diablo III requires a connection to Battle.net, every character is essentially a multiplayer-capable character and it's up to you if you want to play alone or with friends.

Difficulties work the same as in Diablo II. After you beat the game on Normal, you can play on harder difficulties that you've unlocked (Nightmare and Hell). If a character has access to that difficulty, you can play on that difficulty with them. If they have not unlocked Nightmare yet, you can only play Normal games with them.

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So, what if I'm playing on normal difficulty and I'm in ACT 3 and my friend just buys the game and creates an account. What then? I can join him in ACT 1 quests, but he cannot join me in ACT 3 quests? –  Richard Rodriguez Sep 21 '11 at 15:30
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@RiMMER I doubt that we'll know the answer to that question until much closer to Diablo 3's release. –  Adeese Sep 21 '11 at 15:55
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Although judging from prior releases of just about everything, I doubt that the game will let your friend skip a bunch of content to start playing with you at your position. –  Artless Sep 21 '11 at 16:36
    
Now that it's released...Yes! You can join even if you aren't that far yet on your own character. –  riv_rec May 25 '12 at 4:11

To answer your questions directly:

  1. You can only create a character starting on Normal difficulty. You'll have to defeat all 4 act bosses and complete the Prime Evil quest on Normal difficulty to go to Nightmare and play with your friend who is on Nightmare, and you'll have to redo this process for any character you create. This follows for other difficulties as well. Edit: There are now level restrictions: you must be 25 to advance to Nightmare, 50 to advance to Hell, and 60 to advance to Inferno.

  2. You must be online when playing Diablo 3, so you can join your friends whenever you want. You can join a friend's game without invitation unless it is private. If it is private, message them asking for an invite.

  3. If your friend just buys the game you can join him in his quests, but he cannot join you until he has unlocked the difficulty you are playing on.


One important thing to note is that the only restriction for friend joining you is that they have unlocked the difficulty you are playing on. Unlocking quests doesn't matter; only unlocking the difficulty does.

So if you want your friend to play with you, change your quest to a quest on their difficulty. Note that this doesn't mess up your save file or anything; you will be able to return to your previous quest and difficulty after you've played with your friend.

First click the Change Quest button in the main menu (notice I am currently on Hell difficulty):

Menu button in the main menu

Then select Normal Difficulty from the drop list:

Selecting Normal Difficulty

And finally select the any quest (here I select Prime Evil) and click the Select Quest button:

Rewinding the hands of time!

Note the warning: the only drawback to this is you lose all progress for your current quest. So finish up what you were doing before switching your quests!

Warning!

After clicking OK, then you should notice your current quest change in the main menu:

There we go!

And now when you start the game your friend can join you.

I've done this with my friend to skip the Butcher on Hell difficulty, mostly because I wasn't geared to fight him toe-to-toe. Proof is here that joining your friends can help you skip bosses (I skipped Butcher but killed Belial):

Take that Butcher!

However, to advance to the next difficulty you will have to defeat all four act bosses.

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In the beta this prevents high level characters from speed running low level characters through the quests. I find that to be incredibly stupid on bliz's part. I DO NOT want to play the game through for every single character class in the game, I want to focus on 1-2 characters, then get my other ones rushed through the game so I can enjoy end game content with them faster. –  z ' Apr 17 '12 at 16:29

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