There’s a lot of options when leveling up from scratch in D3 every season. While many wait for powerlevels, some suckers like me actually enjoy the process every now and then. So without further ado here’s a rundown of tips tricks and basic knowledge about the D3 leveling process. This guide assumes mostly you’re a seasonal character, though I suppose it doesn’t matter if you’re on non-seasonal too.

PLEASE BE ADVISED – This guide is meant to be used
alongside the class leveling guides.

S28’s Altar of Rites VASTLY affects leveling

S28 is the ‘Season of Massacre Leveling’ due to Node A in Alter of Rites:
“Double massacre exp bonus and duration”.
Every other method is made worse by this. Also, Node C is “no item level requirement”…

First of all, see our Altar of Rites guide / order to get a clearer picture of what I’m talking about. Basically, this hinges around “Opening your first Challenge Rift Cache”, and if you want to take it ASAP. Also, there couple notes on Node C there, specifically how to get Node C with or without the cache.

Challenge Rift Cache woes

Every season, you should be doing the Challenge Rift, and opening the cache to get a huge boost in your leveling speed. However, this season, opening the Challenge Rift cache BLOCKS you from progressing the Altar of Rites past 15 nodes “until the next monday”  since you NEED a challenge rift cache to unlock the 15th node.

To Cache or not to Cache? To open or save? 


Opening the cache makes your leveling better, no doubt as it gives you the resources to fuel the usual seasonal tricks. Not only do you get Node A (double massacre bonus and duration), you also get to craft high level items to use alongside Node C, AND the usual shenanigans with Rift Caches. It’s a wild bonus. However, you must wait “until the upcoming monday” to go further down (15+) the Altar of Rites, which is a non-issue for many. For the season start, it’s just a few days wait.

Opening is a no-brainer for relaxed players, or if you don’t really plan to nolife week 1.

You also get a considerable boost as you step into 70, as you get 1 or 2 good legendaries.


Saving the cache vastly slows your leveling speed (in comparison), but you still get the huge bonus from Node A. If you’re getting boosted? save the cache is your best bet – you simply don’t need the EXP and power boost to leveling. You DONT have to wait to completely unlock your Altar of Rites.

Saving is a no-brainer for those getting boosted, or giga-grinders for Week 1.

People forget that massacre sucks for items, and without the cache you’ll be weak at 70.

I’ll be pasting this reminder in all leveling related content. GL leveling in S28!

TLDR: S28 = Massacre leveling is “best”, Node A = Double Massacre EXP and duration. Node C = No Level Requirements. Put these together and massacre becomes an obvious path for leveling up.

The point of this guide is to help inform you about the various paths, tips, and methods of leveling in D3 so you can eventually tailor your own way through.

If you’re leveling up, open these pages alongside this one:
Leveling: Barb | Crus | DH | Monk | NecroWD | Wiz

The optimal start: CHALLENGE RIFT

No matter what method you choose down the line, massacre, nephs, or a mix of both (the last options is my choice btw) – there is one universal truth: The optimal start to anyone’s leveling process is COMPLETING THE WEEK’S CHALLENGE RIFT.

Why? Challenge Rifts give you a titanic headstart on resources: Gold, Shards, Deaths Breaths, Crafting and Bounty materials… Like, seriously it’s THAT GOOD. Not starting with Challenge Rift is seriously a huge gimp.

Aside from this, EACH CLASS HAS A WAY TO ABUSE THE GIVEN DEATHS BREATHS AND BLOOD SHARDS. Fine, not every class is equal in this regard, but generally speaking, you have a pretty good chance to gain up to 5, 10x more power. Interested?

The basic process is this

  • Complete the challenge rift, and gain the many materials from the cache.
  • Level up the Blacksmith to max.
  • Craft a level appropriate weapon (70 if you’re unsure) and UPGRADE it to legendary, hoping to get certain weapons with godly kanai effects.
  • CUBE the weapon if its decent, so you can “use” it at Level 1.

Each class has favored weapon types to upgrade,
which I outline in their specific leveling guides.

After this, the same process goes for Blood Shards, too. Either you bait an amazing legendary you can wear outright at level 1 and reap its effects until you’re 70 or cube it.

So completing the Challenge Rift allows you to do all of the above, while leaving you with a bunch of crafting materials and millions of gold for upgrades and rerolls. Seriously. Challenge Rift may as well be a mandatory part of leveling.

Find it too cheesy? Wanna level up naturally? Don’t worry the leveling guides have builds FOCUSED on that, with easy adjustments depending on what legendary you might get if you do choose to try this method.

Just spawned in Adventure Mode? Two small protips:

Steal your Templars weapon, or Scoundrel if you’re a DH. Also don’t forget to EQUIP YOUR PET to gather gold.

Out of the gate BONUS: Go to Expert and open up adventure mode and check if any of the “easy to get to” bosses are on bounty. If so, rush to and kill the boss for an easy chest with yellows. Examples of easy to reach bosses are Zoltun Kulle, Maghda, or King Leoric. Don’t bother with the others. You’ll gain a few levels in the process too. Not bad for 2 minutes work.

The Million Ways of Level

Here we will talk about the value moves you can do in the various phases and different methods of leveling!

Massacre or not to massacre?

Okay… since the dawn of Massacre Bonus, grinding has become a thing. Grinding is defined as “repeating the same few high density maps, getting as many and as high a massacre bonus as you can get”. The question is, is grinding really worth it?

Grinding PROS
  • It’s the fastest method.

That’s it. It’s roughly 2.x hours faster, on average.

Grinding CONS
  • You need to KNOW what you’re doing, inside out.
  • It depends on your class – a WD will grind much better than a Wizard, etc.
  • RNG with density, frustration with dropping massacre.
  • Looting and gold which actually has a use early game = breaks massacre.
  • Extremely repetitive.
  • No important early game resources – crafting mats for early rerolls.
  • If you mess up repeatedly, you can LOSE time.

So there you have it! These are my observations, by all means try it. I’ve tried both methods, the little time gained from grinding doesn’t outweigh the “cons”.

My stance on grinding is firm: I DO NOT RECOMMEND IT exclusively, but I acknowledge its speed. Does it matter though, since free sets require Season Journey chapters??

What some people don’t understand is it’s not BLACK AND WHITE. The ultimate leveling techniques make use of ALL processes available to you.

Nephs: Why I like ’em and the ‘Neph Breakpoint’

My personal recommendation past the “early phase”? Nephalem Rifts. Why?

  • HIGHER Legendary chance, better loot overall.
  • Materials! Gems! Money! Rift guardians!
  • Conduit? Power? Speed? Channeling? FREE LEVELS
  • I dare say, personally, “more fun”.

PYLONS are an underestimated quality of nephs. Those pylons (with the exception of shield) will give you at least 1 level in the aftermath! VALUE. I once got 2 levels off a Conduit!

Even with zero luck, the very fact you have crafting mats will make re-rolling and setting up your Fresh 70 character much easier than just going in raw. If you happen to bag 1 or 2 useful powers to cube? You gucci, son.

The Neph Breakpoint: Every class has a “neph breakpoint” usually at L21+ when they unlock their second or third passive slot. Nephing past this point is a lot safer and easier simply because you can kill elites and RG’s a lot easier. All the builds posted in the links above are easily capable of ripping nephs apart.

So just man up, do nephs and adjust difficulty as needed. It’s smooth sailing from here!

Bounties 🙁

Everyone needs to do bounties each season. Whether it’s for RoRG or Avarice, we all gotta bounty at some point. Do people like it? Probably not.

During the leveling process – bounties are notably poor. The chance for low density maps, and extremely tough purple bosses are enough of a turn off to go this route.

I would only do one set of bounties on a relaxed difficulty to complete your seasonal journey entry, I mean it’s already part of it.

Other Leveling Tips

To LEORIC or not to LEORIC?

This step details if you want to try for your sure drop Leoric’s Crown. Personally, I like getting the crown – BUT NOT RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE.

Some people say to rush to Leoric ASAP as the first step in the game. I’m not agreeable to this. You can do the above first, even clear 1 ACT of bounties before killing Leoric -WHY? The argument people use is “The earlier, the better”. Hmm but is it really true?

YOU LIKELY DO NOT HAVE A MOVEMENT SKILL for the majority of your journey to Leoric. That’s gonna bite into your time quite a bit…

NO GEMS BUDDY What use is your L5 Leoric’s crown with no gems? You can’t be sure you’ll get a gem goblin early on.

Multiplayer value: It’s better when you have a partner. Have that person go to Leoric so he or she can zone you in, then return to YOUR game where enemies level are higher!

It’s always nice to have a Leoric’s Crown since seasonal journey now requires cubing a legendary, the crown will definitely help you clear GR20 if your 4-piece sucks.

Wait a sec, I’m new – how do you get the sure drop Leoric’s Crown? Kill him in CAMPAIGN MODE, when you’re at least level 5. The minimum level has yet to be truly confirmed but I would say 5 to be safe… not like you should be there at L5….

Crafted Weapons – Always bet on AXE: Crafted 2H axes are your best friend for leveling up. This starts at Level 8, and every few levels thereafter. For this reason ALWAYS UPGRADE your blacksmith as you go along! No money? You grinded didn’t you…

Whenever you’re catchin’ a breather, always check on the Blacksmith for a new 2H axe!

Gaining Value while leveling

Ok so while you’re technically in the early game, there’s a lot of value moves you can do to have a more impactful leveling phase. How? The Season Journey.

Kill boss? Go there WHILE massacre bonusing! Value gained! Chapter 1 has two of these, and Chapter 2 has another pair of these which require L60… so why wait till 70!?

You can also go to Ruins of Sescheron ACT III to unlock Kanai’s Cube. It’s a high density map! Massacre bonus it up while you’re on your way! why wait till 70!?

Summary of leveling process and tips

As you can see, the optimal leveling path is purely defined by your own goals. But if you take the Seasonal Journey into account – ONLY massacre or ONLY doing Nephs is a mistake. Be flexible and aware!

If there is ONE THING I insist on for pure value alone: DO YOUR CHALLENGE RIFT.

A COMBINATION to maximize all types of content while getting to 70 is the ultimate way to level IMO, at least for the vast majority of the players out there. GL HF!

Fresh 70 Onward

Well, I guess you’re going to need some Fresh 70 guides for each class, and getting the free set. Note that any GR20 notes we have are as bare bones as possible, and I’ve rarely seen any guide attempt to cobble up a build together that will clear GR20 literally ASAP.

Fresh Level 70: Barb | Crus | DH | Monk | Necro | WD | Wiz

The above guides have info for characters WITH or WITHOUT the free set.

Good luck leveling up and always remember this for the seasons to come! Hopefully you learned something about the D3 leveling process! Head on to our D3 Directory Guide for other related info.

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  1. Unless my reading comprehension is poor the guide suggests to cube legendary effects without mentioning the process of obtaining the cube. Eg. “Speak to Zoltun Kulle to start the quest. > Act 3 > Ruins of Sescheron” or something similar. Additionally the guide suggests killing easy bosses such as King Leroic. I may be mistaken but on the map there is no mention of “King Leroic” as it is the colloquial name for “Skeleton King” which IS on the map. Just my two cents.

  2. Hey, What do you mean by “CUBE the weapon”? Is it extracting the abilities to put these on a lvl 1 weapon, or really “reducing” the lvl to 1? Because for the latter, you have to use a legendary gem that you do not have at the begging of the season, soooo I don’t understand ^^’

    • Extract the legendary affix and activate it on your character via the cube – not “reducing the level” using Gem of Ease. Essentially what I mean is you can access that legendary power @L1 via extraction.

  3. Why do guides separate massacre bonuses from rifts? (Some even state they are deactivated in rifts) I have gone to almost lvl 70 this season before entering a rift only to find out that I can get massacre bonus in the rift as well. Was this an old version of the game that was since patched?

    • I am 100% massacre EXP bonus still does not apply to nephs and GR’s? I’ll check again, but, while the “massacre” kill count may show – the EXP doesnt. If there IS such a change it should be in S23’s patch notes as this is a pretty huge change if it does exist.

  4. Looked at many different source for leveling tips but one of the question I never seem to see answered is what about cain’s and born’s set. It’s like 70% extra xp but idk if it’s worth it or not. And if it is, up to what level would it be recommended to keep equipped vs the higher lvl stuff.
    Thanks if you can answer

    • This is quite complex and there’s no easy answer but here goes…

      % EXP scales a little poorly with difficulty level. If you have a, lets say, 200% EXP bonus, adding a cains gives a total of 250 (or however much cains gives). So it’s not as amazing as you imagine.

      Secondly, there’s the issue of “obtaining it”. If you get it while doing your thing, great. Otherwise, the time spent trying to get a Cains or something could hamper your overall leveling speed.

      This is why something like Leorics Crown (easy to get and use) is the recommended %EXP boost strategy over others.

      Ultimately, though, every bit helps as long as it doesn’t slow you down significantly “getting it online”

  5. I really wish challenge rifts would be available to new accts. some great advice on this site though.
    one i complete a greater rift (which requires level 70), I know I’ll at least have the challege rifts unlocked for alts.

  6. I love this guide and have been using the it for the past several seasons, it had really helped getting levels faster!
    Thanks for bringing the guide to the rest of us 🙂

  7. Hi, you should had the challeng rift bag to this guide too, it helps a lot when a new season arrive 🙂

    4 millions gold to level up your blacsmith and enchantress; and the shards to gamble low level legendary, and mat to cube one :), very helpful.

    • for me, Hard mode is my baseline when I level up to 70. I just increase my difficulty to Expert if “it’s too easy” too kill enemies. But some classes, namely Barb and Witch Doctor, you can increase difficulty as you see fit. After hitting 70, the difficulty is usually determined by a neph. If it takes you more than 10 minutes to beat a neph – that’s a good indicator to lessen difficulty

  8. Just started seasons on console which is always confusing compared to the pc regarding interface and controls so found the mink Leveling guide super super useful face rolling the game cheers man


    I’ve read through several guides on leveling up and didn’t find a clear list of common tips everyone should use. Regardless of the character you’re playing or the types of runs you like, there are a couple of tips you should try. I’ve done this a couple of times and find my leveling from first spawn to Level 70 Paragon 120+ in this new Season 10 went much quicker. In fact, I often advance 2 and sometimes 3 levels on each bounty quest or rift run.

    First, before anyone complains about wrong numbers, I admit they are not specifically precise. I am trying to explain a concept here.

    1. The Leoric’s Crown legendary buff is “Increase the effect of any gem socketed intro this item by 94%”. This is usually picked up early in the game. As soon as I get this I insert the highest level Ruby gem I can for the increased experience percentage. Up to level 70 a Flawless Royal Ruby gives an additional 41% experience. That’s 41% x 94% = 79.5%. If you can’t start with the highest gem, start lower and replace it as you can. At level 70 it drops to 4.1%.Until then I keep this regardless of other options. I may not have the strongest, best helm, but I get a tremendous experience boost.

    2. Yellow pools give a constant 25% bonus, not for a given time, but for a given number of points. In fact, the experience tracking line(thin line above the skills bar) will show you how many extra experience points you’ll receive, what they will take you to until it’s expired, and change the line to yellow instead of the normal blue through multiple runs. Only if you get killed before it ends does it stop working.

    3. Massacres grant a bonus experience based on how many enemy you kill AFTER you reach 15 killed. The more you kill, the higher the bonus. At 15 killed it’s 1x or 100% bonus. At 140 it’s up to about 4x or 400% (please, don’t hold me to this. I’ve done it a couple of times and it’s based on failing memory). Along with this, try to have at least one ranged weapon you can shoot from a distance. It can keep your total running.

    So, let me give you a scenario. Do your run, and run past all smaller groups regardless of the kind or level of them. A single yellow boss is bad. It takes lots of time and gives very little for the effort. When you run into minions (love the little spiders) in a greater horde, stop and kill as many as you can. I like to run just a little past and see if there are more lurking nearby. When you get a good number, stop, backtrack a little, and begin your killing spree. As you get to the last few enemies, begin using your range weapon to shoot intermittently and from a further distance as you try to move toward more enemy nearby. Rack up as many kills as you can. Only engage the enemy when it’s worth the time to do so.

    Here’s how the results work out. Look for close horde pack of 20+ with lots of surrounding enemies. Begin killing and stretch it out near the last enemy so you can move to increase the number with nearby enemies. End up with 80 kills and a base of 10,000 points (fictitious number for calculations only). Add massacre bonus of 2.75 (275%), add the yellow pool bonus of 25%, add the Leoric’s Crown bonus of 79.5%, and you end up with 379.5% minimal increase for a grand total of 37,950 + 10,000 = 47,950 experience points.

    On any basic run you should be able to find 3 or 4 of these without much difficulty. With a little personal experience you’ll begin to recognize quickly when the setting is right. So a single bounty run can easily net you an extra 200,000 which isn’t bad at lower levels. But, wait, there’s more! These are percentage increases so they increase with your level increases.

    Grinding out these runs can actually be more fun! Try it.

  10. Hi,
    a nice summary!

    Between lvl10 and lvl20 I’m usually doing Bounties until I got the Plans for Born (lvl21) and Cane (lvl23) sets.

  11. Great guide. Thank you.
    Should mention Whimsyshire has been buffed. You can get imperial gems and death breaths from drops here. Hit the clouds also.
    Definately worth the side trip!

    • Here’s the weirdest part on this – we actually got a Whimsyshire during our S11 leveling evening. I was level 45 at the time, and actually got 4 Death Breaths from the first cloud I hit. None of the others got any, and sadly I didn’t get any level 70 weapon with enough reduced level requirement to use – which otherwise would’ve been just pure awesome 🙂 (Tried rerolling etc but ran out of mats, so just kept on leveling until I could finally use it.) It sure was a thrill and annoying as h*ll at the same time 🙂

  12. Ignore my previously submitted comment… I read the class specific and it says right there what difficulty to start this on…

    Thank you!

  13. I love the simplicity of this! This is my first time participating in a Season so have been looking up all I can to do this right. Some have very specific recommendations for difficulty. It was only mentioned once here to adjust as needed. Is that the recommendation overall? Just adjust and do as high as you can handle?

  14. I didn’t get a Leoric’s crown at 21 from the skeleton king. I’d like to know why this is ‘supposedly’ a guaranteed drop?

    • Slower weapons do much more damage per hit, which means you use less Spirit when you use your skills. This is really value since resource management can be an issue while leveling up.

      • Very informative and easliy interactive guide.
        Thank it was perfect.
        The taking of templar weapon.
        Very slick.
        Reminded me of selling all my gear to buy weapon .


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