Greater Rifts (GRs, initially known as Tiered Rifts) are a higher level of Nephalem Rift, meant to provide a greater challenge and greater rewards for players geared well enough to take them on. Greater Rifts are timed, and *must* be completed within 15 minutes to earn rewards. All treasure in Greater Rifts, with usually a legendary item or two, comes from the Greater Rift Guardian (GRG) which is an upgraded version of the regular Rift Guardians.
Difficulty: Greater Rifts are numbered as a measure of their difficulty. A level 1 Greater Rift is very easy, equivalent to Normal difficulty (or less.) Greater Rifts scale up quickly though, and will become challenging for any player ability. Level 8 is equivalent to about Torment 1, Level 15 is equivalent to about [Torment 3, and Level 25 is approximately the same as Torment 6. There should be an infinite number or Greater Rift levels since each one merely increases the hit points and damage of the monsters by some percentage.
Shrines: There are virtually no shrines or pylons in Greater Rifts. Pylons are seen occasionally, but their bonuses last only 15 seconds (instead of the usual 30) and Blizzard specifically said that Conduit Pylons would not be found in Greater Rifts since they are so powerful they would skew the entire rift Leaderboard system.
No Respecs: Characters can reallocate their Paragon Points while in a Rift, but can not access their inventory or skill menus (respec) while in a Greater Rift. It is possible to return to town mid-GR, and players can respec and make repairs then, though it’s not recommended since the GR is a timed race. This is a feature designed to limit exploits via equipment or skill changes, so players can’t change gear or skills to be more effective against a single target before they reach the Greater Rift Guardian for instance.
Rewards: Items and gold do not drop in Greater Rifts, and there are no chests or other clickables. All treasure comes from defeating the Greater Rift Guardian, who drops a huge amount of stuff, about double that of a normal Rift Guardian, and has a very high probability of dropping at least one legendary item. (Note that the lack of gold and chests hurts the effectiveness of legendary items such as Goldwrap and Harrington Waistguard that proc up in effectiveness via gold pickups or chest/clickables opening.)
Progress Bar: The progress bar in a Greater Rift increases gradually from killing trash mobs, but jumps up by larger amounts for Elite kills. (Elites drop objects that look a bit like gooey health orbs, which count for big boosts in the progress bar when collected.) This is a feature designed to keep players from simply rushing past Elites to more quickly finish the rift by killing trash mobs, as can be done in normal Nephalem Rifts, and players will fill their progress bar more quickly by killing Elites than by skipping them, except in very rare long Elite battles.
Accessing and Process
- # Get a Greater Rift Keystone level 1 from completing a Nephalem Rift. – Drop rate still being determined.
- Use the GR Keystone to open a portal to a Greater Rift at the regular Nephalem Obelisk next to Orek.
- Kill all the mobs in the Greater Rift before the timer runs out.
- No regular or champion mobs drop loot in Greater Rifts.
- The Rift Guardian will drop loot regardless if the timer has run out or not.
- If the Rift Guardian is killed before the timer runs out he will drop a Greater Rift Keystone.
- The Keystone’s level is determined by how quickly the Greater Rift was cleared. The quicker, the higher the GR key fragment.
Progress Bar and Rift Speed
The progress bar in a Greater Rift looks the same as the bar in a normal Nephalem Rift, with two added slider needles, displayed above and below the bar. The total bar coloured in orange, and the icon above it show your current progress towards completing the rift. The icon below it and any colour in blue shows how fast you need to progress to complete the rift in time.
When players are battling through a Rift that’s just at the limit of their killing power, they will often see their progress dropping behind and the bar showing blue, before they kill a couple of Elites in a row and see the bonus from Elites shoot them back up ahead of schedule. Since the Rift Guardian appears last and has very high hit points, players must be some distance ahead of the end time on the progress bar to have time to finish the Guardian as well.
Beating a rift before the timer expires will grant another Greater Rift Keystone of a higher GR level. Beating a rift very quickly will grant a larger jump up in GR number, and the system seems to count about 1 level per minute. E.g. beating a level 5 rift with 5 minutes to spare would cause a level 10 Greater Rift Keystone (GRK) to drop.
Since the speed will vary quite a bit depending on the monster spawn, players can get unlucky and fail to complete a Rift due to poor enemy density. The opposite can be true as well, and players are advised not to beat a Rift too quickly if they’re approaching the limit of their ability. For example, if you get a very easy spawn on a level 20 rift, you might want to kill a few minutes before beating the Rift Guardian, so your GRKs would be level 21 or 22, instead of jumping all the way up to say level 25, where you’d be over your head and unable to complete in time.
Players can judge their speed in a rift and know if they need to go faster or slower depending on the progress bar. Characters who are well ahead of the time but coming close to death should look to improve their Toughness and defensive properties/skills. Characters who are having no trouble surviving but are not killing fast enough to keep up with the timer should look to raise their DPS, perhaps by trading off some Toughness or defensive buffs. (These changes can not be made in any given rift, and must be made between games.)
When characters fail to complete a rift in time they can still earn the item and gold rewards for killing the Greater Rift Guardian. They just fail to earn more Greater Rift Keystones and thus can not progress to a higher level Rift. If they have no more GRKs they must restart at a level one GR and work their way back up.
Greater Rifts do not use usual Diablo 3 difficulty system. GRs are numbered and are easiest at #1, with a steady progression in difficulty above that. Early estimates of equivalent difficulty levels came from various sources, but tended to agree on the general difficulty range.
Approximate Greater Rift Level = Difficulty
* Greater Rift Level 1 = Normal
* Greater Rift Level 3 = Hard
* Greater Rift Level 4 = Expert
* Greater Rift Level 6 = Master
* Greater Rift Level 8 = Torment 1
* Greater Rift Level 12 = Torment 2
* Greater Rift Level 15 = Torment 3
* Greater Rift Level 17 = Torment 4
* Greater Rift Level 20 = Torment 5
* Greater Rift Level 25 = Torment 6
As Greater Rifts must be completed within the 15 minute time limit, simply surviving them is not enough to progress. Characters must be balanced to succeed on higher level Rifts, or play in parties that create balance. A character with very high Toughness but not a lot of DPS, who can grind out Torment 6 in normal play, will not succeed on highger level GRs since they won’t be able to kill fast enough. Likewise, characters with very high DPS but a lack of survivability will die too often, and without a “restart at corpse” option they will waste too much time running back from the start of the level.
Characters need high killing power and the ability to stay alive, to be able to finish higher level rifts quickly enough to advance.
The difficulty of higher Greater Rifts is something that will be balanced throughout the PTR process. Blizzard recently confirmed.
Nevalistis: There isn’t a direct correlation between Greater Rift difficulty and the usual difficulty modes. They are independent from one another, though you can make rough comparisons through your own experimentation.
However, we do plan on tweaking the difficulty scaling in the next PTR patch, so you may find those lines different from what you’re experiencing now and perhaps a bit easier to draw. We really appreciate the feedback we’ve received on Greater Rifts so far, and we look forward to seeing your thoughts in the next PTR patch!
All gold and item rewards in Greater Rifts are granted by the [wikiGreater Rift Guardian[/wiki] at the end of the level, who pops with a massive shower of gold, items, and materials, including usually at least one legendary item.
No gold or items are meant to drop (early in the PTR Patch testing some are still being rarely found from destructibles that haven’t been completely removed) from normal or Elite enemies in a Greater Rift, there are no chests or destructibles or clickables (loose floor tiles, dead bodies, armor/weapon racks, etc). Kills do grant experience as well as Rift Progress, but the gold and item and material rewards come entirely from the Greater Rift Guardian.
Greater Rift Reveal
Blizzard revealed the first details about Greater Rifts in a Patch 2.1 preview blog on June 17, 2014.
- While Greater Rifts are a type of Nephalem Rift, there are some key differences between the two features. In Greater Rifts:
- You’ll race against a clock to fill a progress bar by accruing monster kills.
- Most monsters do not drop loot; rewards have been completely shifted to the Rift Guardian.
- This removes conflicting pressure from attaining a better time versus picking up all your loot.
- Monsters grant differing amounts of progress for your progress bar; the tougher the monster, the more they fill up your progress bar.
- You cannot resurrect at your corpse or in town while in a Greater Rift — only at the last checkpoint.
- Note that, currently, if you die in a Greater Rift on a Hardcore character, that death will be permanent.
- You cannot use player banners or the Teleport option if the target player is in a Greater Rift.
- Higher Greater Rifts levels are progressively more difficult.
- This difficulty is separate from the standard difficulty settings (Master, Torment I-VI, etc.)
If you complete a Greater Rift before time expires you’ll advance to the next difficulty level. Should your time be exceptionally good, you might even skip a few levels! If time instead expires, you’ll have reached the end of your current Greater Rift journey and your best results will be posted to the appropriate Leaderboards.
Greater Rift Leaderboards
- Solo play for each class (e.g. top players for Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Crusader, etc.)
- 2-Player Groups
- 3-Player Groups
- 4-Player Groups
Greater Rifts are a work in progress and any aspect of it can change between now whilst it’s on the PTR and when it rolls out onto the Live servers. So far on the PTR the signs are good that Greater Rifts will add replayability to end game for most players. For how long remains to be seen as is how Blizzard will tweak them over the coming weeks.