It’s dangerous to go alone! ..or is it?

It’s dangerous to go alone! ..or is it?

A ton of content was released to the public recently via the official Brady Games strategy guide that sheds some light on how multiplayer scaling will work in Diablo 3:

Monster HP increase per additional player75%85%95%110%
Monster XP increase per additional player0000
Monster DMG increase per additional player0%5%10%15%

While there are distinct advantages to playing alone or with a group, there are a number of things to keep in mind when choosing how to venture into the world. Read on to determine what playstyle is right for you – things have changed quite a bit since we last explored Sanctuary.

TL;DR breakdown of play style benefits:
If you have a group of friends with whom you can coordinate well and that are of equivalent or better skill level than yourself, you will almost always benefit from group play. If you will be playing in public games with strangers, understand the risks before proceeding – solo play offers a number of advantages.


  • The game can be paused at any time
  • Your success (or failure) is completely in your hands
  • Monsters will deal less damage in Nightmare, Hell and Inferno difficulties
  • You have access to followers
  • Equivalent XP per monster compared to group play
  • Monster behavior will be more predictable (they will only react to your actions, not your group’s)


  • Potential for very high synergy among players
  • Option of faster exploring via splitting up
  • Pre-inferno, monster health scaling provides a “mini-buff” to you assuming all players are of equivalent DPS levels
  • Safety in numbers (more targets for monsters to kill instead of you)


Group play in Inferno
In Inferno difficulty, you’ll be facing off against monsters that hit harder and have proportionately more HP than they would if you were to play alone. This scaling necessitates that your functionality as a group be higher than multiple solo players with no synergy. Here’s an example:

Each player’s DPS: 50

MONSTERHPDamageTime to kill% Increase



20.00 sec

2 player



21.00 sec


3 player



21.33 sec


4 player



21.50 sec


As you can see, a 4-player Inferno game will require that each person puts out 8% more DPS to kill at the same rate as if you played alone. Said another way, if you played alone you would kill a monster 8% faster (assuming no group synergy at all). Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, each monster will be hitting 45% harder than if you were playing alone. This implies that not only should your killing speed as a group increase, but your defensive capabilities should also.

With the right group, there’s no question that killing speed is best in group play – a group of friends with whom you can synergize will always be your best bet.

Pre-Inferno play
The only major difference in earlier difficulties is that monsters have less relative HP than if you were playing alone. That is, if you have four players not synergizing at all but attacking the same monster it will die faster than if you were fighting it in a solo game. Here’s the same table as above, from the perspective of a normal difficulty game:

Each player’s DPS: 50

MONSTERHPDamageTime to kill% Decrease




2 player





3 player





4 player





Killing speeds in 4-player games with no synergy at all will be about 20% faster than a comparable solo-player. Keep in mind that this is the extreme example of normal difficulty, and this difference will lessen every difficulty level you go up (along with added monster damage). Still, chances are good that you’ll progress faster in 4-player games with moderately competent players than you would alone.

Content-appropriate gearing
Blizzard has taken away our ability to flag our games for particular types of play. In Diablo 2, a game labeled “Act 1 Hell Just Starting” would make it clear that it was not a game where powerhouse characters were rushing through content. As such, you’re being placed into games with people who may have very different ideas than you do about precisely what you’re doing in that game.

Thus, when determining if a group is suitably able to progress in a given area (especially in Hardcore play), take a look at their gear. If you’re looking for a quick magic find run in early Act 1 Inferno and got placed into a group with a number of fresh-60s that have poor gear, they may not be able to provide the DPS you’re hoping for. In these situations, you may be best suited just rolling the dice on a new game and a new set of group mates.

Hardcore Considerations
As most hardcore players already know, “soft core” players can take risks without much worry. If the group isn’t really up to snuff for the content they’re working on that’s okay – they can death train their way through it eventually. In hardcore, we don’t have that option. Make absolutely sure that everyone in your group is on the same page, geared appropriately, and prepared for what lies ahead. There is no save and exit option in Diablo 3 – proceed with extreme caution.

Another important note: pausing will be incredibly useful in hardcore. Doorbell ring? Mouse batteries die? A solo player can usually just pause and be fine. If you’re playing with a group, you better hope your group mates are looking out for you, otherwise you may find your deeds of valor being remembered.

Venturing into the internet hate machine
One of the most important considerations when choosing how to venture into Sanctuary is to understand how you play the game. If you find yourself needing to step away from the computer frequently, solo play has the very attractive option to pause the game. The benefit here is two-fold: you aren’t at risk of dying if you suddenly need to divert your attention elsewhere and you aren’t hurting your group when you suddenly disappear.

Public games are notorious for providing a bad experience, which stems from the situation where multiple players are being forced to compromise on play style. From the hardcore-gamer perspective, it’s an opportunity to be stuck with “baddies” that are going to hold you back and kill your efficiency. From the casual perspective, you may feel rushed and overwhelmed when playing with others that aren’t looking for the same experience you are. Consider the following scenario:

Player 1 – Parent, has to AFK regularly
Player 2 – Diablo fanatic, rushing through content to optimize magic find runs
Player 3 – First time seeing this area, taking their time to explore every nook and cranny
Player 4 – Trying to determine how much to sell his new loot for on the AH, looking for a price check in-game

This may be an extreme example, but it illustrates how differently we all approach the game and reminds us that solo play will always be a viable option in Diablo 3 – don’t feel like you must play the game with others. That said, there are people out there that want to play the game just like you; the tricky part is finding them. If you venture into public games, try to be tolerant of other play styles and keep an eye out for people to add to your friends list that play the game how you like to play it.

Related to this article
You're not logged in. Register or login to post a comment.

41 thoughts on “It’s dangerous to go alone! ..or is it?

  1. Interesting data. I can definitely say in my beta experience groups cleared exponentially faster than playing solo, though with the inferno scaling this may not be the case. Regardless, I’m sure Blizz will tweak the numbers if the group speed advantage is lost, as they don’t want everyone playing alone. 4 days!

    • in beta multiplayer the group cleared as fast as i cleared because i was always moving faster than them and knew the route to skele king as best as possible.  it really is all about finding equal skilled partners.

  2. you have to think about the fact that when playing in a group some of the members will at any time get to dish more damage and manouver less. so that also makes for a dmg increase that is hard to calculate and very variable.

  3. Well, the idea is by the higher levels your skills should synergize and improve your entire team more and more, so it’s a balanced trade off.

  4. 4rd player looks a bit questionable, but group gets many benefits from each player. Since there is rage timers, I’m afraid full group will be a must to kill serious bosses.

    The random undergeared player will have hard times trying to join higer content.

  5. I like this , no more some random player joining a group on some quest and then heading back out alone in a different area so that he could have max XP all by himself and making your life harder.
    Now he makes HIS life harder and yours ofcourse and gains absolutely nothing , so now play with your group and support them(they should support you too) or play on your own.

  6. very true Thompett.
    If 4 players kill 4 mobs in 1 minute, that does not mean 1 player kills them in 4 minutes.
    When you play solo you have to move around a lot more. And sometimes it means those 4 mobs are hitting you all at once.

  7. Interesting data. Too bad I can’t read the entire analysis, since word wrap seems to be broken.

  8. Apologies about the weird word-wrapping problem – not sure what happened exactly. Contacted the webmaster and should have things back to normal in short order!

    • It was the spam comment by that nob up above. Had one word that was about 500 characters long. I edited it and that fixed the page width issue.

  9. So how does Exp work? If a monster normally gives 100 Exp:
    – In a 1-player game, I kill the monster and get 100 Exp
    – In a 4-player game, I solo the monster and get ?
    – In a 4-player game, the whole party kills this monster and get ?

    • In all of those situations, you would get 100XP. XP does not scale with number of players any more.

    • Experience earned will not change.  You will need to be within about two screens distance from the kill to earn the experience though. 

  10. “Player 1 –
     Parent, has to AFK regularly
    Player 2 –
     Diablo fanatic, rushing through content to optimize magic find runs
    Player 3 –
     First time seeing this area, taking their time to explore every nook and cranny
    Player 4 –
     Trying to determine how much to sell his new loot for on the AH, looking for a price check in-game”

    I don’t think there wont be a very big difference between type 2 and type 3.  There is supposedly going to be a lot of rare content which will randomly spawn on the map.  Given that the best loot comes from hunting champion and rare packs, exploring the whole map (at least the areas capable of spawning rare content) will have to be checked anyway. 

      • Disclaimer: Blizzard has repeatedly said that beta was NOT for testing balance and mechanics, it was for testing software and hardware. All analysis is speculation as of beta patch 18 and may change post-launch.

        That disclaimer is attached to that post, and I couldn’t agree more.  Not only was the beta only the first 1/3 of Act 1, but it also had other obvious withholdings including some of the random events and areas.  You dont need to reveal every tiny corner, but the vast majority of the map is going to be mandatory exploration.

      • If you read what Enkisays its that you should avoid dead ends without elites/champions, so player 2 will still cover most of the map if he doing MF runs (only bits he avoid will be a side rooms etc that he knows never has a special mob pack in), if he doing a rush run then yes he just go straight to the exit/boss zone ASAP.

    • It’s just a hypothetical example to illustrate how different some people’s playstyles can be. Both of those types existed in the beta, and I expect that both will come release as well. If you’re looking for something more concrete, imagine the difference between the player who smashes every barrel and the player that runs past them.

  11. Besides the word-wrapping problem, the background color is completely white on my screen. Anyone else getting this?

  12. These numbers sound good in terms of keeping the content difficult in multiplayer and forcing coordination. I do wonder about the loot motivation for playing multiplayer though. Blizzard originally said it was that you killed monsters much faster but that might not be the case in Inferno, especially in pub games where it will more than likely make the game harder(and you have the added risk of teammates wasting time by dying a lot, etc).

  13. I am really concerned about balance especially for 2man.

    When you go from 1man to 2man it’s +1 player but -1 follower.

    When you go from 3man to 4man, it’s +1 player but -0 followers. It’s a larger gain, yet enemies scale up the same amount.

    It looks to me like 2man will be weak, but when you’re playing 4man the loss of a follower is averaged across 3 other players you gained instead of 1 other player, so you’re benefitting more per player. 

    I hope blizzard will figure this out and adjust scaling to take into account the loss of a follower at 2man that doesn’t repeat when gaining a third and fourth player. I hope someone can tell them. 

    • The loss of a follower isn’t a big deal at all, and the increasing potential synergy you get with additional players more than makes up for it. The addition of each additional player is usually multiplicative, since they will bring abilities that can cause their allies to do extra damage, cause enemies to take extra damage, etc.

    • Followers doesn’t do much at all… They only deals about 5% of your damage and they can’t really tank as most mobs will just ignores your follower and charge straight to you…

      Their only purpose that I can see is for story and lore-fleshing… 

      • Yep the only thing you get from a follow in 99% of cases is a couple of extra buffs, IE templar heals and Enchanter? CC spells, so you will be better with massivly better with 2nd player than with just your follower. This don’t include the PC having a human brain instead of a dumb AI.

  14. That is a good point, thanks! I didn’t think of that. I can absolutely see party buffs you get from a player helping you more than a follower (who has like 3% attack speed aura, and I imagine player buffs will do significantly more). However, it maybe biases things to 4man groups even more than before! Because you’ll have 4 people, all with the group buffs from 4 players! So that will be the best. So maybe it should scale up slightly more for the third player than the second, and then a little more than that for the 4th player. Or maybe they want to encourage group play. Anyway it’s better than I thought but I think your point still reveals some scaling issue too 🙂 

    • A well-functioning 4-player group will probably have the best potential for kill speeds, but that relies on a lot of coordination between players in the group. That coordination is an intangible that’s impossible to directly measure.

      Frankly, I don’t think 2, 3, and 4-player games need to be perfectly balanced. I’d rather a system that’s direct and easy to understand than a system that makes me pull out my old calculus textbooks to work out the details, even if the latter is a smidge more “balanced”. 

  15. “Option of faster exploring via splitting up”
    Please don’t encourage this… People need to be in the mindset of sticking together so you don’t all get killed.

    • I agree with you – for MOST players in MOST situations splitting up is a terrible idea.

      That doesn’t change the fact that splitting up can make a well-organized group even more efficient. The point wasn’t that you should split up, simply that the option is there if you’re able to take advantage of it.

  16. group play with friends == WAY more fun that solo play who will become boring after the hype is gone

    • Depends who you are, I guess – personally, I often prefer playing solo in games like this, simply due to the fact that one day I may want to explore every tiny bit of every map. while another, I may just want to blow through it all. By flying solo, I can determine the pace without delaying, annoy or frustrate other players 🙂

  17. Solo play is essential for optimized magic finding. I’ll be sure as hell be doing my mf’ing solo. Mulitplay is just there to be able to go out and show off all your neat warez with a friend or two. In the beta I found my drops to be much better in solo for some reason, I don’t know why but it just seemed to be that I was seeing better drops coming off of enemies if I was the one getting the kill. I hate this new mf system.

  18. There’s really not enough of an incentive for me to play multiplayer.  No group I ever joined went faster than when I would just solo.

  19. So this just proves that an offline single player was necessary for the epicness of the game. I know it has a single player, but I hate lag.

  20. Hmm looking at that data heres some info for Inferno.
    In inferno 1P (player) MS(Monster Strength) is 100%, 2P MS is 241.5% 3P MS is 416%, 4 P MS is 623.5%.
    ^ from this the best methods of running Inferno is solo on the surface unless the buffs between you add a huge bonus over solo, IE each extra person needs to bring a % increase in player power from buffs to keep thing the same as solo, maybe someone can work out what the numbers are.

  21. Hmm isnt monster hp exponential?
    Inferno: 1 player = monster hp 1000.
    2 player monster hp = 1000*2.10^1 = 2100
    3 player monster hp = 1000*2.10^2 = 4410
    4 player monster hp = 1000*2.10^3 = 9261
    If this is the case then maybe one should mf solo or with just a friend!

  22. Monster damage may increase but do not forget that it is being dispersed between 4 people instead of one. I would much rather have a mob distracted by 4 characters and potentially even more “summons” then just focusing on purely me. You become survivable by theoretically sharing the damage among 4 others. Then there is the obvious synergy bonuses and De-buffs that can be appropriately worked out among a team to increase effectiveness. when I “affects everyone” buff is shared by 3 others doing the same DPS as you, it is 3X as effective then if you were using that ability solo. Adding to that there are 3 other characters that could be buffing you also. Given this property of buffs affecting more then one target you easily can do more damage then solo play; while also effectively applying more De-Buffs then solo play and dispersing the damage among a greater amount of players.

  23. I won’t touch co-op until I’ve finished the game a couple of times myself, at least normal difficulty.

  24. This is good news for gamers, like myself, who sometimes prefer to play single player.

Comments are closed.