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The Battle.net ladder reset a few days ago, and already some players are up to level 90+. Myself, I've managed to play primarily solo and get to Act 3 in Normal and a comfortable level 20.

I presume these other players are going in groups and helping each other out rather than soloing, but I don't think this explains all of the difference in play. I am also willing to make some serious concessions for the fact that I have many other demands on my time and have only played about 2.5 hours per night.

I tend to find all the waypoints, clear dungeons of creatures and then move on but it seems that the preferred style is to run through as much of the level as possible and just fight the end bosses. I presume that since higher level areas give more experience this accelerates levelling.

Is this method commonly called rushing, and if so what do you do to maintain good equipment and levels so that you can continue this process? Do you just revisit the choice areas in previous acts a couple of times and move on once you're competitive again?

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Keep in mind that the top characters are usually played by groups that keep them active 24 hours a day. –  bwarner Oct 27 '11 at 16:56
    
All I remember from D2 is Hell Baal runs for leveling. It is best done with a sourceress with some decent magic resistance, so she can just teleport her way to the portals and TP on the final level. Kill all of Baal's minions then restart. You can kill Baal for items, but he doesn't give fantastic experience. This is based off of memory, so times could have changed ;) –  theorise Oct 27 '11 at 17:03
    
I didn't realize that the ladder had reset. Bummer. :-( –  FCTW Oct 27 '11 at 17:10
    
some weeks ago I stumbled across this: Charlevel 99 in Record time –  F.S. Oct 27 '11 at 17:45
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There's also this guide. –  Ian Pugsley Oct 27 '11 at 20:24

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Equipment is largely irrelevant in terms of rushing - while you're rushing, if you can't handle a monster, just back off and let others kill it. In general, unless you have someone specifically rushing for you (as mentioned in these other answers), you'll only have to worry about waypoints and the staff in Act II. You might need help with the Ancients and bosses, but you can usually find a game for that. So if you can get someone to give you the waypoints you need (and the staff...), all you really need to worry about is where you're receiving the best experience. For the best experience with very little resources, I follow this procedure:

  • Levels 1-15: Normal Tristram runs
  • Levels 16-20: Normal Tomb of Tal Rasha runs
  • Levels 21-24: Normal Cow Level or Chaos Sanctuary runs
  • Level 25: Normal Ancients to gain 1 level, achieving level 25
  • Levels 26-50: Normal Baal runs (somewhere in the 40s people usually transition to Nightmare - you can't do Nightmare Ancients until 40, but you get decent XP from Normal Baal runs until about 50)
  • Levels 51-60: Either get through Nightmare and do Ancients then Baal runs until 60, or get through Nightmare and Hell and do Hell Chaos runs
  • Levels 60+: Hell Ancients, then Hell Baal runs

Alternatively, some people get bug-rushed all the way to Hell and then do Hell Chaos until level 60.

As far as rushing goes, you can often get someone to rush you through a difficulty by offering them the drops from your Forge (Act IV, Quest II - destroying Mephisto's Soulstone).

There used to be a concept called "ubering" (which is the most expensive, but also the easiest). It involves getting a few high-level characters together to kill all the Ubers in Uber Tristram except Mephisto, then get him stuck in a house while minions continue to spawn. If you get a few Hammerdins and their mercs together, you can basically sit AFK while they kill everything (by holding down Shift + Left Click, using a script/bot, etc.). This allowed for 5-6 low level characters to gain significant numbers of levels quickly. The explicit process is available here.

Ubering (also called uber leveling or UT leveling) is no longer available as of 1.13 (it appears Mephisto's minions no longer grant experience). There are rumors of it being reinstated in 1.14, but it is unlikely.

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"ubering" is no longer possible on BNet. –  FCTW Oct 27 '11 at 20:45
    
Revised - was unaware it was removed in 1.13. –  Ian Pugsley Oct 27 '11 at 21:01
    
No worries. ;-) Thanks for editing your answer. Has 1.14 been officially announced yet? –  FCTW Oct 27 '11 at 22:36
    
1.14 has not been official announced (then again, few patches are - we just got 1.13d with the ladder reset as a big surprise). –  Ian Pugsley Oct 31 '11 at 12:55

While leveling in Diablo II it is important to remember that until you get a character to level 25 it is best to try and only kill monsters that are within three levels of yours. For example, if your character is at level 10, try and stick to killing monsters that are in the 7 to 13 range(reference). This is due to the severity of penalties that you get to the amount of experience netted before level 25.

After level 25 it is best to always kill as high a level of monster as you can safely do so.

Additionally, it will certainly not hurt to have a good build guide to help you in the process of building a character that is strong enough to make it to level 90 and beyond.

It would seem that this guide is succinct, but requires multiple players:

Using the Classic Rush method:

1. Do a classic Rush through all difficulties

2. Once you are in hell Act 3,
   convert your character into an expension char.

3. Kill Mephisto and start doing Chaos runs till level 60.
   Good experience starts at level 25.

4. On level 60 start doing Baalruns.

5. Do Baalruns till level 95.

6. Start doing Diablo and Baal.

Alternatively if you do not have a classic friend.

1. Rush to Act 5 normal.

2. Find a game where someone needs to do the Baalquest.
   Wait in town (you can not enter TP cause you have no ancients).

3. Let him finish the baal quest.
   As a party member you complete the quest too.

4. Repeat this for nightmare.

5. In hell do Chaos runs to 60.

6. Baal runs to level 95.

7. Starting there, again Diablo + Baalruns till 99.
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To be honest, this is an enormous question to ask - there are so many factors that are involved that affect the speed of your leveling. I unfortunately do not have the time it would take to detail everything as precisely as I would want to, but here are some general things to keep in mind:

  1. The more players you play with, the stronger the monsters get and the more EXP they give when killed. This is why you see people constantly killing end bosses for EXP in a 8-player game.

  2. It is important to kill monsters that are near the same level as you, with a party that is also similarly leveled. The EXP distribution across the party isn't that great when there are large differences in either the monsters, or the party members. This is the normal case for leveling (especially when playing by yourself), but see point #4.

  3. Higher difficulties/areas do indeed yield more EXP as the monster's levels are higher.

  4. After rushing (either classic rushing, normal rushing, or glitch rushing), the idea is to level up to a comfortable 75-80 range, and then go back to lower difficulties to find equipment to wear/use. You will undoubtedly find practical pieces of equipment while this leveling occurs as well.

So for rushing, you may be wondering how exactly you'd be able to level like this so fast and with no equipment. Basically, you're reliant on public games that have a human or a bot running through a Hell-difficulty end boss to do the killing for you, while you sit there and leech EXP.

These days, the most popular way to level is to glitch rush from level 1 to Hell Act 4, sit in Hell Chaos Sanctuary run games until level 60 (minimum level to do Hell Ancients), and from there do Baal runs until you're satisfied.

Please see FCTW's answer if you're looking for specifics on how to either Classic Rush or Glitch Rush. Normal "rushing" is straightforward, and aspects of normal rushing are done in both Classic and Glitch rushing.

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Woot! It's my first direct reference in an answer(o' course I am rather new...) –  FCTW Oct 27 '11 at 19:40

From what I remember, this is the optimal rushing/leveling sequence. It requires the help of a high level character and some other appropriate level characters along the way. We'll call the higher level character Roosta.

  1. Roosta rushes1 you to Act V.
  2. Since you can't complete the Ancients quest until level 20/40/60, and thus can't enter Baal's area, you need some help from another character. A bumper2 joins the game and Roosta kills Baal with the bumper.
  3. Repeat 1 and 2 for Nightmare and Hell difficulties. You are now a level 1 character in the end-game of Hell.
  4. Join 'Chaos Run' games and level like crazy by following Roosta around and not dieing.

1 The rush for each act is a bit different but basically involves Roosta getting to the next quest point while you wait in town. He then puts up a TP which you walk through and perform an action (or just watch a boss die) then head back to town while Roosta teleports to the next area.

2 A bumper is a character that can legitimately complete the last quest in Act V (killing Baal). If you are partied with the bumper, you'll get the quest and advance to Nightmare as well.

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Is it still possible for Non-ladder characters to enter Ladder games? If not, how do you get access to (equipped) high-level characters with the needed quests/waypoints right after ladder reset? –  F.S. Oct 27 '11 at 17:47
    
I find your answer fascinating - I never knew about this bumper stuff - but from reading the content of the question I think the OP is really asking about tactics for power-leveling when playing solo. –  Oak Oct 27 '11 at 20:39

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