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So I like leveling low level characters and I did that several times on different difficulties. What I noticed that when you reach skeleton king you are about level 15. It does not seem that difficulty setting matters. Expert gives 100% more experience compared with Normal, and still by Skeleton King you are the same level. How come?

If you go through the same content and getting twice as much xp, you should end up being higher level on the same point of story progression. But somehow that does not happen.

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  • I'd think they have intentionally balanced it so that you're never grossly under (or over) leveled. However, that kind of nulifies the EXP bonus on higher difficulties. I'm also very curious about this! Feb 19 '15 at 9:32
  • @IvoCoumans The mobs scale with your level. As you get stronger, so do they (and they also award more EXP). The main difficulty is determined by how over- or under-geared you are for your level. Difficulty definitely affects level rate though - you can finish Act 5 without hitting 70 on Normal/Hard, or you can hit 70 in Act 4 on low-mid Torments.
    – Troyen
    Feb 19 '15 at 11:25
  • I see! So the difference becomes more apparent towards the end of the game. That makes sense! Feb 19 '15 at 12:11
  • I have to mention that I have never observed such a situation. In my experience Skeleton King fight (or any other point in the game) never had some level all characters gravitate to (since the game became dynamically-leveled, that is).
    – Orc JMR
    Feb 20 '15 at 4:47
  • I had the "opportunity" to level a new hardcore character today and on Torment 1 with no side-dungeons, I hit 15 right around the time I reforged the broken crown.
    – Troyen
    Mar 15 '15 at 11:04
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There's a difference in the amount of experience gained for each difficulty level.

There's no exact number but here and here it's roughly 250k experience to level 15.

If killing a monster at normal gives 100 xp, killing it at Expert would gives 200 xp. You'll level up slightly quicker but since the amount isn't that high, the difference is less noticeable.

Also, from experience of getting 5 characters to level ~10 in hardcore (in case of...), I noticed I could be level 10 with one character when finishing the quest to get Cain out of trouble while I also could get it well before with others. I did that at the same difficulty (hard).

The difference came on how much time I took to find the right path in the cemetery, so how much monsters I killed. So even at normal, if you kill more monsters, you'll gain roughly the same experience as on expert if you kill less. I also did the quest with the lady ghost after one or two characters as it can give good items for your level, which made those characters get 10 before getting Cain out. Doing it at normal and not expert can also lead to a smaller gap.

All that to say that the more you'll kill monsters in expert mode, the more experience compared to normal will be gained. If you take the time to clear every monsters, do every side quests, in both difficulties (normal and expert), you should notice a difference, even so small as it might be (like a level or 2 more in expert).

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So apparently my question logic is somehow flawed, and Jonathan's answer can explain possible reasons why. Now I can clearly see that I reached level 40 on expert in the first half of act 3, whereas on normal it only happens by the end of act 4. So it seems that indeed OrcJMR is right, it was just a coincidence for me that I ended up with level 15 on skeleton king. I played the sequence differently each time, sometimes clearing every single nook and cranny, and sometimes "speed-running".

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