Slow Experience Gain in Reaper of Souls: A Real Problem?

We talked about slow experience gain in Reaper of Souls on the new podcast, and it’s come up in a lot of fan feedback lately, so I did some testing tonight and wanted to write more on the issue. I’ll start off by quoting a thread with a big list of RoS issues from, since it encapsulates a lot of the current issues with the game.

The whole thread is here on — it got a Blue reply but only to ask for clarification on one of the bugs, so I won’t quote it here. All the OP’s comments are in the the quote boxes; comments by me are in normal formatting. Let’s start with the longest issue, regarding experience and level up speed:

1. Increase trash monster density outside of Rifts to be at least close to 1.0.8 levels or implement a density slider.
2. Increase the DiabloWikiexperience gain in RoS because it´s a fraction of patch 1.0.8.

I’ll agree with the OP’s point that exp gain is too slow once you hit lvl 70, but let’s start off positive — the 1-70 process is much improved in RoS! It’s faster, you can do it in DiabloWikiAdventure Mode if it’s not your first char, and thanks to dynamic mlvl scaling you don’t have to regrind the same content. If you’ve got any kind of decent gear with +exp you can easily hit lvl 45-50 by Act 5 on a single pass in Story Mode. And while the 60s are still lame due to the imminence of lvl 70 and the real game starting, they’re way better than the fearsone fifties of D3.

Paragon level up display is bugged.

Paragon level up display is bugged.

Once you hit 70 though… things get really slow. Slow in feel and slow in actuality, since exp gain is a lot slower in RoS than in D3. The feel is slow thanks mostly to Paragon 2.0, since individual chars change nothing but equipment once they hit 70 and there’s no regular level up or steady sense of progression. I worried about that right at the start of the beta and my feelings haven’t changed over a month+ more testing.

On the new podcast Rankil lamented that he’d only gained 5 Paragon levels since the Closed RoS beta began, going from 82 to 87. That made Xanth and me laugh, since neither of us had gained a single Paragon level since the closed beta began several weeks ago. That’s partly since we’re both in the 100s in our paragon levels and need more exp to increase, but exp gain per minute/hour is much slower in RoS than in D3… with some caveats.

It’s not that you need a billion exp to gain a level, either. Here’s a screenshot from last night of my softcore Monk sitting at the upper edge of Paragon 125. After I took this shot I played a pretty long game in Adventure Mode doing all the bounties in Acts 1, 3, 4, and 5, plus two Nephalem Rifts, and not until nearly the end of the second rift did I ding to 126. As you can see in the screen, I needed about 11m exp to get to that point, and it took me over an hour to get it. Decent EXP gain when farming in D3 is 1m per minute (with much higher rates possible on higher difficulty levels), which means that pulling 11m in an hour+ is a pretty big come down.

Paragon 125 to 126=214m exp. Equivalent to going from P86 to P87 in D3. The Passive MF/EXP display is an artifact/bug.

Paragon 125 to 126 = 214m exp. Equivalent to going from P86 to P87 in D3.

Click through for much more on EXP in RoS…

Monk Experience Testing

My Monk wasn’t geared for EXP and I wasn’t really hunting it. I was after items and variety of play and some fun, and I found the later two. Still, I was surprised at how slowly the EXP game came, once I was actually measuring it. Details:

  • I played on Hard, which is equivalent to MP1 and only grants a +75% exp boost over normal. (For contrast, Torment 1 is 375% exp boosted.) Hard difficulty is way below my Monk’s gear and I was pretty much facerolling and just playing for fun and item-hunting.
  • I was not wearing a Hellfire Ring (old or new), had no Ruby in my hat, had no +exp gear on my merc, etc. I did have on 3 items of the RoS version of Cain’s Set though, which grants +50% exp gain, which is about 50% more than most RoS players have. (Players are prioritizing item hunting, not EXP gain since it’s a short term beta.)
  • Bounties aren’t great for exp gain, past 70. The bounty rewards themselves are fine, with a boost to exp and gold, but the play style most of us adopt for bounties has us playing low-density areas and running right past monsters in search of the bounty target.
  • So I wasn’t really hunting EXP, but still, I was playing very quickly and wasting no time in town, hardly picking up anything to slow me down, etc. There’s no way I’d have pulled less than 30m exp in that amount of play time in the live version of D3. Even on MP1, even doing the same game instead of restarting new games to keep farming the juiciest areas…

    Experience Farming in Reaper of Souls?

    The above said… I’m not actually sure what I would do if I wanted to farm EXP in RoS. It’s pretty easy in D3 now; you just put on +exp gear, play the highest MP level you can kill quickly on, get your five stacks of Nephalem Valor up, and then head to some of the areas of highest monster density such as the Fields of Misery and the Decaying Crypt dungeon below it.

    .Three pieces of Cain's does help with EXP...

    .Three pieces of Cain’s does help with EXP…

    Those areas are found in RoS (and the D3 PTR) but they’re far lower on density, and most characters have a lot lower +exp bonus in RoS. In a way that makes the comparison invidious, since with +exp gear and +exp merc gear and MP and Nephalem Valor my character would have had something like +400% EXP in D3, while I had 125% (50% gear + 75% from Hard) in Reaper of Souls. Even allowing for that, there’s simply nothing like the D3 monster density to farm in RoS. Not anywhere in the five acts, and not even in Nephalem Rifts (once in a very long while you do get a level in a Rift that is just sardine can jammed with enemies.)

    This is obviously an intentional change by the devs. As we’ve discussed in the past, the v1.08 Monster density thing was a short term fix to tide players over while the devs toiled on large game changes for Reaper of Souls. RoS isn’t that much less monster crowded in most areas, and the overall balance feels good. It’s never as empty as some levels of D3 was pre-v1.08, and when there is an event (often from a Cursed Chest) or area with thicker crowds, it makes a noticeable difference which changes up the gameplay nicely.

    Which is fine, but if you do want to kill huge hordes of monsters, and you do want to concentrate on racking up EXP… what do you do in RoS? Complain in a forum post, I guess, since there’s nothing in the gameplay now that really gives you that option. Nothing that plays just like the super crowded EXP orgy players have grown used to in the 8 months since DiabloWikiPatch 1.0.8 was released.


    There are a lot of player suggestions about this. Some suggest that it’s not a problem and that higher density was unnatural and cheesy and made the game very one-note. That’s open to debate, but even players who feel that way will want some way to gain more EXP more quickly in RoS, and if it doesn’t come from killing more monsters more quickly, I’m not sure what it should be.

    Nothing to do with EXP. I just really enjoyed getting ponies and cuddlebears in this Rift.

    Nothing to do with EXP. I just really enjoyed getting ponies and cuddlebears in this Rift.

    A density slider is another common suggestion. A way for players to customize their play experience. Such an option would have to come with a trade off; lowered Magic Find or reduced total item drops, but that would be okay with me. I like variety in play styles, and if players want to hunt items they can do Bounties. If they want unpredictability they can do Nephalem Rifts. If they want EXP they can turn up the density slider and grind that progress bar.

    New +exp gear is another possibility. Lots of items get +exp per kill in the secondary stats, and though the bonuses to that stat are much higher in RoS, often around +150-180 per kill, they’re still irrelevant compared to the total exp required for leveling up. But what if those numbers were something like +3-10% exp? Get good rolls to that property on 4 or 6 items, stick on a HR as well, put a Ruby in your hat, and you’re controlling your own destiny.

    I’d still like to see some options for more monster density though, since it’s fun as well as rewarding. So how about enabling it through the otherwise-useless Story Mode? That old style of gameplay is almost entirely ignored by RoS beta testers, aside from playing through Act Five once after each realm wipe, since it’s required before you can start Adventure Mode. In Story Mode you’re giving up the open world and the ability to hop between acts, and you have to play in sequence and do all the quests and such. So why not make that the price you pay for super EXP gain potential? Once you’re level 70, why can’t Story Mode be as thick with monsters as the live game is now? There’s no other reason to play Story Mode, after all.

    I’d offer more suggestions and debate, but this is overlong already and besides, the RoS patch is looming. The devs must be aware of the EXP gain issues as fans have been raising them for weeks, and I’m curious to see what kind of fix they put in. They could add new game modes, add more exp items, boost density in Story Mode… or change nothing except boosting the exp value per monster, or adding a bigger multiplier on higher difficulty levels.

    There are lots of ways to deal with the problem, and it just remains to be seen how the devs choose to attack it. What do you guys think should be done, if anything? Will you miss EXP gain, or monster density, or both?

    Update: I did another trial the next day. Same Monk, but with better gear for killing. Played about the same time (maybe 75m) but on Master instead of Hard, with a Ruby in my helm, 3 items of Cain’s set, and a HR and Leoric’s Signet on my merc. Total +exp% rate was 304%. (The bonus is just x 1.0, since only NV and multiplayer multiply it, and no NV in RoS.)

    In that time I did all act 1 bounties plus a rift, plus full clears of a couple of the (formerly) best farming areas in Act 1, and my total exp take was… about 19m. Bit more than I got playing on Hard and just hopping bounties, but I think all the diff was just from more +exp gear, so the higher difficulty (+200% vs. +75% exp) made no difference compared to the slower clear speed it created.

    Achieving substantially faster exp gain in RoS would therefore require much better gear and multiplayer games. Which is largely true of D3 also, but the lesser exp gain rate is pretty obvious at this point.


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    1. Nice post Flux,

      I don’t have beta but i’ve been following posts / streams and the xp gain is something that I noticed almost immediately as a real concern. However, I have been thinking about it more recently in a different light.

      Right now in D3V most of us are level 60 with pretty gg gear. If you can do MP7+ I’m pretty confident saying you’re in the 1% club. I personally have been farming FoM with as an archon wiz on MP6 just because it’s pretty mindless and I can get roughly 125 mill xp an hour. A little more than 10x what your indicated you’re getting on the monk. But here’s my new outlook on this issue, is that really a problem? I compared it to a hardcore barbarian that I have which has some ok gear and can do MP1 without too much trouble and he only gets about 30 mill an hour on average.

      The comparison I want to make is that when you have a fully decked out gg character you can do a harder difficulty level with a greater % increase to xp gain and clear that content faster than a fresh 60 could clear MP0. I am fine with a system that basically works the same way at 70. If Normal – Expert don’t reward a ton of xp, but well geared characters clearing T3 – T6 rifts quickly are capable of surpassing the current MP7 – MP10 speed clears of FoM / Crypts then I think we are in a good place. Of course I haven’t seen any xp / hour numbers from said well geared players doing T3+ rifts so I don’t know if that’s actually where we are in the beta.

      Another concern that I have that you didn’t bring up was new players tho. If the rate of xp acquisition is across the board really low then it feels like whatever paragon level you manage to get to in D3V is just going to be what you have in RoS. Not having a 0 paragon account to test this on, what it feels like they need to do is greatly reduce the curve for the first ~100 or so paragon levels to allow new players an opportunity to catch up somewhat.

      Bleh i’m long winded sorry…

    2. The best geared ww/rend barbs can manage 300M exp per hr doing portions of act 2 solo. 100M per hr is pretty easy to hit and allows looting stuff and suboptimal play.

      Imho, these rates should be what you can get in ros. But, I think most xp should come from completing objectives or quests. The objectives should also change every week or so to keep things fresh. Otherwise we end up where we are now – everyone farming the easiest, densest trash monsters forever.

      Example objectives-
      Tremor demons grant 500% bonus xp for 1minute after death
      X million xp bonus for killing aranae and skeleton king in same game in story mode
      50% bonus xp when using skill y on class x (some underused neglected skill)

      Objectives should change often.

      • The play style for maximum exp gain in D3 is undeniably cheesy. And not very fun for most, with the rush rush never pick up anything, restart games constantly, etc. So I’m not opposed to RoS making that style of play less valauble, but clearly there needs to be something that at least sort of replaces it.

        As this post makes clear, it’s obviously not fast farming bounties on low difficulty. (Which is how most people in RoS are playing, since that’s currently the best way to get gear.) That style is actually quite a profitable EXP option in D3; some of the early Paragon 100s were achieved with lots of facerolling through MP1.

        The best exp method in RoS is to kill quickly on higher difficulty, but as documented in the current podcast, even when players were doing T6 with Crushing Blow and the bugged GODRAY Crusader in the F&F beta, that was only yielding about 1/6 the exp of the best current D3 farming methods.

    3. Perhaps the developers were watching all of this crypt running and shaking their heads. There are many posts on the Bnet forums on how to farm crypt runs with the various classes and certain skills and gear.

      You have accounts now with 10 level 100’s and a few thousand elite kills each, I am sure the nerf to xp came in ROS as a direct result of this.

    4. Yeah, Paragon XP is pretty bad right now – I’m only on the PTR but leveling takes quite a while. I started out at P120, but must have been about 120.9 since I gained a level after just a few days. I’ve been able to get up to 122.75 since and I’ve been playing the PTR quite a bit. I ran my DH through all of Act 3 recently (the only xp gear she has is a +29% from a ruby in her helm) and only gained 7% towards the next level. I was hoping that XP gain at level 70 would be a bit better but doesn’t seem to be the case.

      XP gain definitely needs a buff. Pardon the expression, but they’ve got to at least “double it” in terms of XP amount. I think that, perhaps, it wouldn’t make that big a difference in the old Paragon system, but since you have choices on how to spend your points it’s really very discouraging to have to invest so much play time for so little reward (and you’ve got to gain another 4 levels if you want to put another point into the same stat!). People rage quit D3V when they were able to quickly over-gear through the AH and complain that they could never find anything. If the Paragon leveling gets too diluted, I have a feeling a lot of players will not stick with ROS if the rewards come too slowly.

      Personally, though, I’ll end up playing for quite some time (probably long enough to gain 30-40 Paragon levels if they don’t change anything lol)…I’ll admit I’m a chronic Diablo-addict. =P

    5. Yea, basically my overly long winded post should boil down to the thought process that in RoS your base xp per hour should be a little higher than a new account in D3V, but it’s ok if it’s far below a gg WW/Rend barb so long as by the time you have gg gear in RoS and can steam roll T3+ you are able to get somewhere between slightly and significantly more xp per hour than that ww/rend barb in D3v.

    6. Monster density in vanilla is too high for ever creating balance for single-target vs AoE tbh.

      Id rather see some more strong single-target enemies thrown into the mix.

      On the other hand, the long time spend running between monsters is bad design.
      Monster density should be more like this:

      Not like this:

      As for Xp gain, just increase xp per monster => solved.

    7. My feeling is that instead of monster density being the key, increasing quest rewards is. I really like Flux’s idea about turning the ‘+ bonus XP from monsters’ mod into a percentage gain; currently it is really just a pointless roll, and that would make it much more of a viable choice. In addition to that, I think that a good way to make it work would be to give Story mode an innate bonus to XP. This way, each game mode is targeted to a different goal: if you want XP, play Story mode; if you want loot, play Adventure mode. I would say that the current XP-per-hour amount on D3V would be fine for RoS story mode, and Adventure mode could give roughly 33%-to-half of Story mode’s XP gain. One way or the other, both would need to be higher than it is right now.

    8. Maybe they should just adapt the ROS experience chart…

    9. I’d honestly prefer if they actually made Paragon non-lame or something akin to “moderately interesting,” rather than dinking around with experience gain or whatever the whining du jour is.

      At this point, feeling miffed that you’re not pushing that blue bar to the right with the desired degree of alacrity is akin to crying because you haven’t found any pennies on the sidewalk lately. Does that [5 mainstat / 0.2% crit chance / 1% splash damage / etc.] really make any difference when gear is the stat stickiest of the stat sticks? Just go farm some items and when you get an upgrade, that upgrade will be the equivalent of a bunch of Paragon levels anyway.

      At this point I’d be okay with them just blatantly ripping off the BL2 Badass Ranks system and calling them Nephalem Prestige (or Nephalem Nephalems!) and being done with it.

    10. “Give Story Mode a big XP buff…”

      So let’s take a known boring and frustrating play mode, one people have been complaining about since launch, and buff it so that it becomes a very rewarding and almost “mandatory” part of character building? That sounds like a good idea? One of the only “right” things Jay Wilson ever said or did was talk about “path of least resistance,” that if a certain playstyle or mode was the most rewarding in the quickest time, everyone would do it, even if it was boring beyond belief. Don’t add perks to boring, awful stuff people didn’t like the first time around. Stop trying to “save” story mode.

    11. QUOTE

      Curious as to whether or not they'll consider a rebirth option or something similar.
      With each "rebirth", a character will be reset to Level 1, but will permanently gain some paragon levels, EXP gain and possibly other bonuses. That's just my thoughts. I tend to get the kicks more from levelling from 1 to the cap and starting over, rather than sitting at the grindy top.

      Reminds me of how Blizzard pre-release used to talk about adding “other reasons” for lvling new characters, when they tried to defend their free-speccing. Of course nothing ever happened.
      I kinda like the concept of getting a large chunk of XP when “rebirthing” a character.
      Making character lvling into a somewhat viable way to get xp (though of course an unviable way to get gear)

      Though Blizzard would probably have to make powerlvling unviable too. Otherwise people would likely feel as if they had to power-lvl when “rebirthing”, and that would kinda remove the fun.

    12. but is it factually less EXP ? has someone actually taken the time to count numbers ?

      i feel like a bunch of people are just dumbfounded that their 380 paragon level character does suddenly takes 4 times more exp/level than from 99 to 100 ?

      to me the whole paragon power distribution is a scam anyway – they pretty much took all the power you can get from paragonlevels from passives – additionally they dumbed down itemization further by forcing crappy secondary affixes on to them. (4 core affixes + 2 crap affixes)

      whereas at Blizzcon they made it seem like they were an actually bonus affixes.

      furthermore the increments to the main affixes (crit,as,critdamage) towards level 70 affixes is minuscule when compared to attributes.

      i guess they achieved their goal of making more affixes “viable” by dumbing everything further down.

      i guess in the 3rd expansion they just unify all affixes into “DPS, toughness and healing” and remove everything else – too many affixes and game mechanics are just confusing and hard to balance !

      but hey – we’ve got got more legendary flashy proc gimmicks.

      It’s like Blizzard is doing all the wrong things for the right reasons.
      worst of all – all the feedback they receive is for naught – their have been tons of basic suggestions out since the vanilla Beta but Blizzard simply insists on doing everything “their way”.

      it makes me really sad that Blizzard prohibits Modding so vehemently.
      the minds the like of ; Median XL- creator could do wonders with the the available art assets.

      • I mentioned that in the post, that it’s a two-fold issue. 1) Perceived exp gain is slower, largely due to sharagon since then individual chars don’t gain quickly. 2) Actual exp gain is slower since there’s much less monster density and no farming options.

        #3) is the fact that people in the beta aren’t playing in a style designed to gain exp; they’re not wearing +exp gear and are just farming items and experimenting and slowly realizing that exp is coming in very slowly.

        But like I said in the article, I don’t see how to change that. There aren’t areas with huge monster density anymore, and exp gain doesn’t scale up hugely with higher MP, and there’s no NV anymore. Clearly there are better ways to gain exp than hopping bounties, but the options don’t seem anywhere near as exp-profitable as normal play in D3 now.

        • the question is; would they seem exp profitable if they only implemented sharagon onto the live servers ? i don’t think so…
          i can see how one would find 0.2% critchance for 20 hours worth of grinding unrewarding.

          as far as i can tell it’s just a side effect of the merging of paragon levels. it doesn’t surprise me that you gain paragon level-power considerably slower and slower the farther you get – it has never been advertised any other way. It’s just that everyone who still gives half damn about D3 and hangs around in d3 forums & fanpages probably already has ~100-200 exp worth of paragon levels accumulated over hundreds of hours of playtime. If you combine all that effort and put it on scale you’ll inevitably feel like you are crawling from that point forth.

          paragon farming isn’t very enticing at any rate – they prohibit real specialization with very strict unmalleable caps and they enforce an even 4-way distribution. all the Paragon boni could at best be considered complementary.

          i can see how one would find 0.2% critchance for 20 hours worth of grinding unrewarding

    13. I calculated i gonna hit paralvl 800 in about 12 years at this rate i am farming 🙂 . Paralvl arent fun for me

    14. Is it just me, or am I the only one that thinks level 70 enemies should give more xp than level 60 enemies?

      You wouldn’t grind live paragons in Hell Act 2, would you? No? That’s what I thought.

    15. The outcome of retarded new paragon system will be utter boredom. Let me explain:

      1. Goal. They way paragon works now, you have a goal . That goal is paragon 100. For hardcore players it can take propably weeks for casual months. Still it is obtainable goal and goals motivates us to play. In ROS there is no goal. What is the max 1000? or is there even max? And how long for reaching that maximum? I think it would be years even if you did nothing but play d3. So no paragon goal in d3, just endless para exping.

      2. Progress. When exping paragon levels you can see the progress, maybe you did 2 levels today, maybe you will exp 5 tomorrow! Seems good working those paragon levels up. In ROS, when all of your exp is gonna get together… enjoy leveling that 159-160 or 252-253 in low density game ,-) Surely it will bring the same amount of accomplishment when you make 1 paragon level after 3 days of nonstop playing – NOT. It will be fucking booring.

      3. Rewards. They suck now. With paragon 100 you had the max MF and you could felt it. After that 0 MF on your character and virtually a one legendary in a few days if you were lucky, you switched into 1 legendary per run. It was a really good reward and it made paragon levels special – well you can now distribute MEANINGLESS points! Watch out for thise 100+vit 100+str barbars on lvl 1, except in this game you spend time 99.9% on max level. Oh well surely the 100 maisntat will feel important when one piece of gear can have like 500? yeah?


    16. NEPHALEM LEVELS—–fixed!!!!

    17. Since I have been following all your notes and quirks this explanation on exp gain rang a bell… This is ALMOST the exact post from November 23 last year, does this mean Blizzard has NOT addressed this problem or just continues to IGNORE it as the release date barrels towards them?

    18. It should be slow in the higher levels.. slow like 95-99 in D2 classic. I wouldn’t like to get to the level cap really quickly and then wonder why do I play anymore?

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