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I tend to be a completionist, so I've been fully clearing each map and dungeon. (I've also run through some areas more than once due to disconnections.) I complete all the events and optional objectives. I read all the books.

Some of my friends have said they've run into difficult situations in Act 1. However, I'm well into Act 2, and I haven't run into a single fight where I felt like I was in danger of death. I think I've only used one potion.

Now I'm starting to wonder if I'm just over-leveled for each area. Should I only be clearing maps until I find the quest objective? Or will clearing everything keep me on par with the local monsters?

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Normal mode is more or less a prolonged tutorial to the game; it starts in earnest in Nightmare. –  Nick T May 22 '12 at 6:58
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It depends also on the class you are using but don't worry too much about "overleveling". Starting with Nightmare game is more challenging and I suggest you to reach that difficulty with at least a level 30+ character. In the meanwhile take your time, explore all, read all and enjoy the story and the locations. –  Drake May 22 '12 at 7:15
    
The first character I completed Normal with was a monk. Having now gone back and tried a few other characters, it does seem to me that monk was one of the easier classes to play. –  sjohnston May 27 '12 at 4:27
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3 Answers

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Normal is pretty easy, you shouldn't expect to run in to problems unless you take risks, are unlucky with drops or rush through the game(run past mobs without killing them). There is nothing wrong with clearing all, though you will most likely get better xp(per hour) if you do not clear all and you will definitely get better drops and gold if you skip some of the random dungeons and focus on getting further in the game. Also due to the way maps and dungeons are randomly generated you can't expect to have seen all dungeons and events even after a couple of full clears.

My personal approach is to focus on getting the quest done, killing most mobs I meet on the way, doing all events I run in to and now and then going in to a random dungeon. If I run in to a part of the game that is to hard when playing solo then check AH for replacements for my lowest level items or run an earlier quest again to gain xp and items. I am now at the end of act I on hell and everything is going pretty smooth, but I have done some backtracking so I could play with others now and then.

It is very easy to go back with the way the quest system is designed so the best way to progress is to push forward til you hit a wall(game getting to hard to progress) and the go back a bit and give it a try again, then repeat until you are on Inferno :)

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Yep, i was unlucky with drops in ACTIII and near the end i was lvl 25 with 900 hp which made me squishy as hell. –  Lyrion May 22 '12 at 12:26
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As so much of your overall capability in Diablo 3 comes from gear, you shouldn't worry about overleveling much - you'll still be limited by what you can find in your difficulty, and even if you're checking every corner of the map, you'd have to spend a lot of time re-clearing levels and acts to significantly outlevel sections of the game. Don't worry about it - just enjoy it, and know that if you're looking for a challenge you'll surely find it in higher difficulties.

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Clearing all of the map and monsters in the area is a good idea. It help you level quicker and it can always give you more loot to hopeful upgrades. You also have to be level 25 to go to Nightmare and level 50 to go to Hell. Slowly clearing the levels will make sure you hit these marks before you beat the game. Stow and Steady seems to work best, especially late game where it matters the most about gear and killing all the mobs and finding all the chests is the best way to find better gear. Being over leveled is never a bad thing, considering the max is 60 and there is an entire difficulty base for that level cap.

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Level 25 for nightmare is too low, I really suggest to have at least a level 30 character. –  Drake May 22 '12 at 7:09
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I believe he was just saying that those are the required levels to entry that difficulty. –  Klokworkk May 22 '12 at 7:10
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