Bashiok broke some pretty big news via the forums, with word that Diablo III’s maximum level will not be 99 or 100, as previously stated. Instead, it’s just 60, at least in the original release. (A WoW-style +10 per x-pack seems a safe bet.)

    As Bashiok explains, it’s not about the number, it’s about the pace of the leveling up. They’re designing it so each level up is meaningful and impactful, and the theory is that your character will be around level 30/50/60 at the end of a full clear of each difficulty level. So reaching the max level won’t be a real difficult feat, but it won’t require grinding either, as it did in D1 and D2.

    We’ve been working with a level cap that’s quite a bit different. It was something I had alluded to a while back but I think it’s probably worth discussing sooner rather than later.

    So, we’re working with a lower level cap for a myriad of reasons but really the main point that they’re more or less all linked to is that we came to the conclusion that a cap of 99 exists for the sake of itself. Meaning that it’s a really high number despite all sorts of good things like meaningful player/skill/power pacing, item distribution, balance, etc. It’s sort of this long term goal that really didn’t matter, almost an Achievement without the flashy graphics or *bwong* sound. You didn’t need to reach 99 to do anything, in almost all ways the game stopped somewhere in the 80’s (for a lot of people a lot lower), but by stretching the player out over an additional 20 or so levels to 99 it created all sorts of issues we were having problems justifying forcing the game in to. So we’re working with a level cap of 60 at the moment.

    This is the point where some of you scream “60!? That’s like original World of Warcraft!” And then the rest of you /facepalm and say “60!? Couldn’t you pick any other number? Now everyone is going to compare it to World of Warcraft!”

    The 60 level cap we’re working with came from a lot of time and thinking about our content and how we want the experience to feel at every level. It so happens that it works for us really well.

    Of course it all comes down to an XP curve. We could, for instance, say the level cap in Diablo III is 60 and then pace that curve and gain out over what we estimate it took someone to reach 99 in Diablo II. Of course we wouldn’t do that but it should help illustrate that the time from 1-60 in Diablo II does not equal the amount of time it will take to reach 60 in Diablo III. 60 levels versus 99 levels doesn’t mean less content or less powerful characters, etc. These aren’t uniform levels of power that move from game to game. And in fact we are pushing a longer game than Diablo II and I’d argue our characters feel way more powerful. Ok, that out of the way, moving on!

    The leveling experience is always going to stop somewhere because the real game is the item hunt. So, instead of letting it drag out to a less meaningful 80 or so levels like most people saw in Diablo II we have 60 levels of awesome; at every level you’ll get a meaningful and noticeable increase in power. It has a ton of other benefits and fixes a lot of problems a higher cap causes, but I’ll take pause.

    Click through to read a bunch of follow up posts and explanations, with more info on skills and balancing. A key bit of new info is that characters are now limited to putting points into 7 (and only 7) active skills at any one time. Yes, there are 7 hotkeys. Passive skills appear to still in the game, but it looks like we’ll have to wait for Blizzcon to find out where/how they are accessed or boosted.

    So does that mean we get mounts at 40, and epic mounts at 60?

    (except mounts are at 20 and 40 now.

    mmmm… now i’m curious about the 3 modes? how will they be implemented?

    Hell nightmare normal?
    1-20 normal?
    20-40 nightmare?
    40-60 hell?

    if diablo 3 is supposed to be longer and more content curious how the level curve plays out.

    Logically the level differences for each difficulty would pace at 30, 20, 10 and that’s a lot of what drove the nice round 60 level cap.

    So if I’m reading this correctly…we’ll be level 30 after finishing normal, level 50 by the end of Nightmare and level 60 by the time we finish hell?
    That’s the plan. Of course subject to change.

    That said the actual number of levels is irrelevant to balance, the only thing is….gaining levels is a fun thing to do, the more the better =D. To a point of course(I don’t think D2 reached/crossed that point)
    Well we could make the level cap 1,999. And you’d be gaining a level every few seconds for a long time, and you’d have hundreds of points to spread around and each one holds very little value. You could say then there shouldn’t be skill points given every level, and we feel that gaining a level is a very powerful reward, and it shouldn’t be made less meaningful by pacing out when that reward is actually a reward.

    Augh! 60!?! I just don’t feel like this is levels for me to adequately skill and experiment with my character…. But then again I am looking at it with a perspective of 20 max skill points per skill. Its like what 5 now or something before modification. Idk 60 just seems so low…. 80 i feel l,ike feels and sounds better 60 is like meh “just over the hump”
    You can only have seven skills at any one time.

    I’m not sure that’s been laid out that specifically before, but it is important in fully understanding how skill point pacing works with the new level cap.

    Does that mean there will not be prerequisite skills need to abtain other skills?

    7total-does that include passive skills or just active. assuming there will be passives..
    Active only.

    Bash not trying to sound negative but it seems like we are getting less content? please say it isn’t so…

    Nope, as I said level doesn’t equal content as we are actually pushing a longer game than Diablo II. We also have types of content that Diablo II did not have. That’ll remain mysterious for now.

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