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I have now had my first character at level 40 for a while and have started playing another, new, character.

The problem is that progress feels awfully slow, and my "overall progress" (for the whole account) has come to a halt, since I'm not finding any more pages of training anymore. I spent nearly 25 hours on my first playthrough (I was very thorough), and don't want to do the same again, and I'm certain many others feel the same way.

So;

  • Are there ways to level up more quickly?
  • Are there certain regions in each Act that the player should go to to farm XP?
  • Is it worth skipping content (running past monsters, etc.) to do quests only for their quest XP?
  • Are there any other tricks to level up more quickly?
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7 Answers 7

up vote 21 down vote accepted

Quest XP isn't all that awesome compared to killing monsters, honestly. You can kill many monsters in the time it takes to complete one quest stage, and the rewards for quests are considerably less than those for monsters.

As far as regions go, I would suggest just clearing everything and moving on ASAP - generally the content is balanced so that you're gaining levels at around the rate you're clearing areas. Generally the next place you should go to advance the plot is the best place for your character to be gaining levels.

If you've already made pretty good progress on at least one character, chances are you're sitting on a pile of gold. You can use this gold and the auction house in a couple of beneficial ways:

Buy rare items!

Not just ones with bonus XP, but look for rares that are around your level for all your slots. Being able to one-shot enemies due to powerful rare equipment makes killing (and therefore leveling) much quicker. If you can find some steals at the Auction House, you can be crazy, stupid overpowered for the area you're in. Class specific rares in particular are generally super cheap!

Buy socketed helmets and a good ruby!

As was noted in this question, there's no level limit for using gems, and it's almost intended that you'll use gems to level up new characters.

A square ruby, for instance, can be socketed into a helmet for a 17% experience boost, and set me back about 10k gold at the auction house. 17% more XP is generally going to do more for you in the long run than ~10-20 XP per kill, especially in Act 2 and beyond. If you can find a rare socketed helmet with +XP per kill, and you add a good quality ruby, you'll be gaining XP like crazy.

The ruby's recyclable, so you can invest in the best quality one you can find and just keep changing the helmet it's in depending on your level or the character you're currently playing.

Each upgrade in gem quality adds 2% to the XP bonus, so keep that in mind when shopping. The price will change over time, so which is the "best" to buy is going to vary depending on market conditions. Look for price breaks - 10k gold for a 6% improvement might make sense, but another 10k to gain 2% probably doesn't. Of course, if you're sitting on a pile of gold and your time's worth more than draining your bank account, your economics might be different.

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Thanks, especially for the notice about helmets. I did not think about that, and it seems like a huge amount of xp extra. –  martorf May 20 '12 at 13:38
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Once you've reached 60 and have started gaining paragon XP, leveling becomes a completely different game.

1-Hour Trials

I ran a few 1-hour long trials when the paragon system was first introduced to figure out the best way to get paragon XP. But first a few disclaimers - these trials are not intended to tell you how fast you will get experience, but rather to be compared to each other. I am a tanky monk. I am not super-geared. Chances are you will farm a lot faster than me.

Starting point -------- EXP gained -- Notes
Act 1 Quest 1  -------- 4.1 million - Took ~35 minutes to get 5 stacks of NV
Act 1 Quest 5  -------- 5.2 million - Second hour (started with 5 stacks)
Act 2 Quest 1  -------- 5.2 million - Got 5 quickly
Act 2 Quest 4  -------- 5.1 million - Second hour (started with 5 stacks)
Act 2 Quest 1 (co-op) - 4.9 million - Partner was moving pretty slow
Act 2 Zulton Run ------ 6.0 million - My farming run of zulton's dungeons, oasis, and belial
Act 3 Quest 3 --------- 6.2 million - Got 5 stacks quickly

What I gathered from this information was that even when I measured the second hour of exp gain, which had the 75% Nephalim Valor bonus from the start, nothing compared to the amount of experience I got from an hour of play starting fresh in Act 3. I am not geared enough to do Act 4 yet, but I'm not sure its even worth testing as discussed below.


Monster Level

To farm exp efficiently you want two things: The first is a lot of experience per kill.

Experience per kill is determined by both monster level and the relative difficulty of the monster. I don't know if we have exact details on the experience gained for every type of monster, but you can assume it scales as mentioned in the 1.0.4 patch notes:

Monsters across the game have had a pass to make their experience and loot rewards more proportional to the effort required to kill them For example, Imps and Tormented Stingers grant less XP and drop less items, but Lacuni Warriors grant increased XP and drop more items.

We do know the level of the monsters in each act though. And combined with this answer we can determine the following:

  • Act 1: Level 60 = 100% exp gain
  • Act 2: Level 61 = 115% exp gain
  • Act 3: Level 62 = 120% exp gain
  • Act 4: Level 62 = 120% exp gain

Act 4 should give roughly the same amount of experience as Act 3. But it sure seems a lot harder to clear, at least for me. I'll be skipping that act for XP farming.


Monster Density

The second thing you want for maximal XP gain is a lot of kills per minute. I don't have any hard data for this, but choose places to farm where you find large packs of creatures in areas that are close together.

The Cursed Hold in Act 1 or the Breached Keep in Act 3 are good areas for this. A large outdoor area where you may run for 10-20 seconds between fights is much less optimal - with 1 exception. The Fields of Slaughter in Act 3 tend to have a HUGE amount of creatures.


Experience Modifiers

Nephalim Valor. Each stack gives you a 15% increase in experience gained. Get those 5 stacks quickly.

Rubies in Helms. A ruby will give you a percentage-based increase to all experience from monster kills. A permanent ~2 stacks of NV? Don't leave home without it.

Wearing items with +XP per kill. Debatable. I wouldn't bother. +XP isn't currently a possible affix for items level 60 or higher. Kills at this level give experience in the thousands. I'd much rather have a piece of gear that let me kill something more quickly than one with subpar stats and +20-50 experience per kill.

Follower with +XP items. Definitely worthwhile. You will only get 20% of the experience bonus, but what else is your follower good for?

Legendaries. Leoric's Signet and the set bonus for Cain's Fate both give percentage-based experience bonuses. The set is probably not worth using because it requires you to sacrifice 3 slots for some pretty bad items. But the signet is definitely worthwhile - at the cost of only 1 minor gear slot you can get up to a 30% experience bonus! Every power-leveler should get their hands on one.

Massacre/Destruction/etc bonuses. Massacre bonuses and Mighty Blows don't hurt since there's no extra effort to get them. But don't go out of your way for Destruction bonuses. Based on my experience you'd need to break a TON of stuff to even get close to reaching the amount of experience you get from a single monster kill. Don't waste the time.

Quests. Quests do not grant experience at level 60, just gold. Don't worry about them too much.

Co-op. Experience is not divided or shared. Every member of the group who was present for the kill gets the full experience for the kill. If you can clear stuff faster with a partner or group, do it. If your partner isn't pulling his weight and you are doing extra work, you're better off alone.


Miscellaneous

(AKA common sense)

  • Don't farm in an Act that you can't quite handle. Dying and running back to where you left off wastes a lot of time.
  • Try an offensive build instead of a defensive one to clear things faster.
  • Have good gear to kill things faster.
  • Get movement speed. Less downtime between packs and quicker corpse runs are good things.

Summary

Pick the highest act that you can clear without dying excessively. Clear areas that have lots of monsters. Put a ruby in your helm. Get 5 stacks of Nephalim Valor as quickly as you can. Put XP gear on your follower. Buy Leoric's Signet.

And most importantly...

Just keep killing. Just keep killing. Just keep killing, killing, killing. What do we do? We kill, kill.

-Dory, Finding Nemo (2003)

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+1, an update for post-1.0.4/paragon is a welcome addition and I <3 your statistical approach. –  agent86 Aug 29 '12 at 19:46
    
I find act 3 to be the best xp personally, but like you said this depends on the gear you have and how well you can handle those locations. –  z ' Aug 30 '12 at 18:38
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I ran a lot of act 3 this weekend, here is what I've determined to be the optimal run: 1. Start on the second heart quest (have the tower 2 waypoint unlocked). 2. Clear in this order: keep 1-3 (~10-15 elites), arreat crater 1 & 2 (~5 elites), tower to cydea (~4 elites), cydea, pathway up to azmodan (2 elites), and azmodan himself. The reason for this is because arreat crater has some of the densest monster population so you get some insane xp there. This run takes me on average 30 minutes and I average 20m xp per hour and usually 1-2 inventory full of ilvl 61+ items doing it. –  z ' Sep 4 '12 at 12:12
    
@yx That's pretty similar to my run. I want to post more details about my exact route but I have more testing to do before I settle on it. –  dpatchery Sep 4 '12 at 12:21
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Its worth mentioning this leveling route by the first person in the world to reach paragon level 100: diablo3blog.blogspot.com/2012/09/… –  z ' Sep 7 '12 at 0:56
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The best thing you can do to accelerate the levelling curve is to equip items that award bonus XP per kill. These items are common, even at low levels and can be found cheaply on the auction house.

Beyond this you'll want to try to stay in content where mobs are at or slightly above your level - don't race through content too fast though -- dying loses you more time than any bonus XP could ever make up for, and theres no benefit to chasing down mobs at 4, 5, or 6 levels higher than your own.

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When you get around level 46, it would be great help to buy a Level Requirement reduced weapon from the Auction House. That way, you can have a level 60 weapon for levels 46 and up. Weapons with this enchantment don't cost too much and are definitely worth it.

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Easiest way is to just skip non-questline mini dungeons. Most of these dungeons provide a decent amount of loot or gold, but offer little experience in return for the amount of time spent. Focusing on events and main questline (not skipping mobs) should help.

Armor and weaponwise, try buying equipment ahead of time if you don't mind spending a little extra gold. Especially in Nightmare/Hell, a new weapon can add a serious amount of damage. Rather than focusing on experience, however, I believe that vitality and damage have a serious effect on clear times.

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yeah, being able to survive just standing in the middle of some mobs while aoeing them makes leveling way faster than if you have to care about dieing. +life on hit scales really well with abilities that cleave everything around you. –  Peter Cordes May 20 '12 at 18:02
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This is what I did

  1. Pick act that where you are over powered. Do not pick acts where you have to kite, etc.
  2. Then pick the last quest (perhaps one quest before the final boss).
  3. Go through the act. You don't have to worry about quest objectives. Just kill kill kill. You don't have to clear all room. If you feel like you have clear enough map, just town portal and go to the next dungeon.
  4. Use 2 handed weapon with tons of life per hit. My life perhit is 2500

From my experience, I get most experience from doing act 1. I still died a lot in act 2.

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This is what I did for my second character.

Twink that character.

Use reduce level requirement. For example, while typical axes available for lvl 43 character has 100 damage, I can get a good one that hit for 1100 damage for 1.5 million gold (75 cents).

Proceed like usual. Set difficulty to normal. Finish quests as fast as possible. Your bottle neck is your progress.

Gain 10 lvl in 2 hours play now I am level 51. Note: I measure xp per hour: 1. Monster power doesn't help. I progress more slowly and end up earning less xp. 2. Repeating quests doesn't work. They give less xp when completed the second time. 3. Avoid rooms that don't get you to progress.

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