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    In our recent Reaper of Souls Beta First and Second Impressions posts, you guys asked a lot of questions, many of them well worth answering. I did some in comments but saved a bunch for a separate post. And this is it… at least regarding questions about experience gain. I’ll cover a bunch of other topics in additional posts this weekend, including life steal and healing, Demon Hunter squishiness, Golden Chest and Gobby drop rates, music in Act Five, and more.

    But first, a short discourse on something not specifically asked about; level scaling and level up speed.

    As you probably know, the Normal/NM/Hell/Inferno system is gone in Reaper of Souls, replaced with a scaling system. DiabloWikiMonster Power is gone as well, replaced by a a new “set your difficulty” system that’s fairly similar. The theory now is that you play wherever you want to and the game adjusts difficulty on the fly, scaling the monsters and their item drops to your character level. And if you want to make that system harder, you turn up the difficulty setting as needed. Higher difficulty adds more monster hit points and damage, but also boosts your gold find and the quality of your drops, as follows:

    difficulty

    1. Normal
    2. Hard: 75% Extra gold/xp
    3. Expert: 100% extra gold/xp, Bounties award double currency (currency is gold and DiabloWikiBlood Shards, which you spend to gamble)
    4. Master: 200% extra gold/xp, Bounties award double currency, New legendary recipes can drop in this difficulty. (Unlocks when one character reaches 60.)
    5. Torment: 300% extra gold/XP, Bounties award double currency, New legendary recipes can drop in this difficulty, New legendary items can drop in this difficulty, 250% bonus legendary drop rate, Additional gold/XP/legendary drop rate per slider tick. (Unlocks when one character reaches level 70.)

    There are six levels of Torment and the tool tip is the same for all six. But note the last portion of the text, “per slider tick.” So each higher level of Torment adds some amount more gold/experience/legendary drop rate; the game just doesn’t tell you specifically. Though it probably will once they finalize the settings and finish documentation for release. (Lots of stuff is clearly work in progress this early in the beta test.)

    That’s all fine, but I wondered how the level up speed and difficulty felt playing one character through the game on Story Mode. The current system in D3V is designed so a new character will be around 30/50/60 as they end Norm/NM/Hell, but if you’ve got a lot of +exp gear on, your character will get above that leveling curve, which then causes your exp to slow down as you’re too high a level for the monsters you’re facing. That’s not a problem in RoS though, since the monsters are always your level.

    I recently played through Acts 1-4, solo, with a lot of exp gear on (Hellfire Ring, Cain’s set from lvl 23 on, Imperial Ruby (+33% exp) in my helm from lvl 15 on.) What level do you suppose I was by the end of Act 4? Click through to find out, plus get some first hand insight into how fast paragon levels gain, once you reach level 70 and start sending your experience to the Account-wide paragon levels.

    Leveling in Story Mode

    So, leveling up with twinked +exp gear, playing on Master (+200% EXP) difficulty. I didn’t start off that fast, with the hardcore Crusader and all that exp gear. I was only level 18 at the end of Act One, which was lower than I’d expected. Probably since I was not playing for exp and was heading right for the exit in most levels.

    The EXP rate picked up in Act Two, especially once I was able to put on three items of Cain’s set at 23, adding that extra exp bonus to my total. My Crusader hit level 32 by the end of Act Two, and the extra exp gain was quite obvious by the end of the act. In D3V you feel the exp gain really slowing down once you’re into the mid-20s in Act Two, since you get above the level of the monsters and that slows it down. No such trouble in RoS, and I kept leveling steadily. It felt kind of weird, partially since I realized that I didn’t actually have to keep progressing through the Acts. I could have just replayed Act 1 or Act 2, even in Story Mode, since the monsters would scale up with me. Enemies in Act 1 can be level 1 or all the way up to level 70. Which seems weird.

    In Act Three the exp gain continued unabated, and I was level 42 by the end of Act Three. That’s way above the D3V curve, where you’ve got to work to get past 35. Yet here my Crusader was 42 going into Act Four, and he was up to 45 before the midway point of Act Four, and he’d never done a full clear of anything larger than the Slaughtered Calf Inn. What might I have been by that point doing full clears? I think a lot higher, 48 or even 50.

    What was I by the end of Act Four? Could I have hit 50, gaining more exp in A1-4 on one pass than you could expect to get doing Normal and Nightmare in D3V? Maybe, but… I don’t know. I didn’t find out, since after playing some softcore streaming with Elly I wanted to keep streaming multiplayer, and Xanth was on with his Crusader at level 43, almost exactly the same as my Crusader, and I wound up joining his game in the middle of some Adventure Mode action. Soon enough Neinball joined us, and while we only did parts of a couple of acts worth of Bounties, I leveled all the way from 45 up to 52.

    Yes, I know… exp Story Mode testing FAIL!

    I think that just strengthens my point, though. The conclusion is that exp gain is not constrained by anything like the D3V system, and you can level up perfectly well anywhere. Literally, in any act you’ll get monsters at your level, so if you want to level up quickly in the RoS system, you should just select by monster density and experience value. Or better yet, do the levels you like!

    In RoS you could just say, “I love the Weeping Hollow, and I want to level up there forever.” And you could do it! Not quite from level one, but you could get there by level 4 or 5 if you rushed through the start of Act One, and then you could just clear it out, exit the game, start a new game go right to the Weeping Hollow, and repeat, and repeat, and repeat. (In Story or Adventure Mode.) The monsters would be higher level each game, corresponding to your character’s level, and you could literally go all the way to level 70 doing the same level over and over again.

    But it would be wrong.

    If you began again after that, replicating the D3V system and playing through Story Mode again, as though it was Nightmare difficulty? I dunno. Leveling speed continues pretty fast until 60+, but it slows down after that (barring really good twinks) since the low numbers on Cain’s Set is eating into your killing speed, and especially if you’re playing on Hardcore as I was, you need to start being careful as the monsters get nastier.

    That aside, you really should not restart on Campaign Mode, since Adventure Mode is worth a lot more exp and a lot lot lot more item rewards.

    Paragon Level Experience Gain

    A related issue, courtesy of a question by BaronScarpia.

    XP for next paragon level? And time how long until getting there in real life time? (In other words, you think we should be grinding paragon levels right now? Or the level 70 monsters will give much more XP/hour even on pre-torment?)

    If you really want more Paragon levels in RoS, I think you should grind now, in D3V. You gain really nice experience bonuses and items an such doing Adventure Mode in RoS, but you have to consider the equipment. Right now you’ve got D3V characters you’ve spent hundreds of hours playing and they’re in top quality gear (hypothetically speaking). You can gain exp pretty quickly in RoS… but when you first get into it your character will suck, since top end gear in RoS blows away D3V gear.

    So sure, it might be possible to gain exp more quickly in RoS than in D3V, if you’re playing on a really high difficulty level with a Hellfire Ring, a big Ruby in your hat, etc. But that’s not what you’ll be doing when you get RoS. You’ll be level 60, with gear good enough to dominate at that level, but as you level from 60 up to 70 the increasing difficulty curve is very obvious. Monsters at 65 are harder than they were at 60, and at 70 they are much harder than they were at 65. Of course you’ll find gear upgrades, but that takes time.

    One hundred hours into Reaper of Souls, if you’re playing on Torment 5 and kicking ass, you’ll probably gain more exp than you do now in D3V. But that’s a lot time down the road, and it’s very hypothetical.

    experience-paragon-150

    (The 450% MF/GF Paragon bonus display is a bug, left over from that system in D3V. No such bonus is applied. My Monk has about 52% MF and 41% GF, mostly shared bonuses from D3V gear left on my merc since I’ve put zero priority on getting MF from the new RoS gear he’s upgraded into.)

    That’s the exp bar for my Hardcore Monk. He was Paragon 70 in D3V and became Paragon 150 (like all of my Hardcore characters) when I transferred him into RoS. It took 4-5 hours to level from 60 to 70 (not doing it in any big rush) and I’ve played about that many hours of Adventure Mode since then, and his exp bar has moved from about 1.5 up to what you see in the screenshot… about 3.0 bars.

    That feels a lot slower than the paragon progression I was making at P70 back in RoS, and part of that is due to his equipment not being as good (relatively speaking) in RoS as it was in D3V. So what to do in terms of exp gain? I guess I’d be wrong to say just play what you enjoy playing and don’t worry about it? After all, I’m playing RoS beta and obsessing over new item finds, even knowing that everything I do will be wiped when the beta ends, if not sooner. But that’s because I’m testing stuff, and because it’s fun; more fun than the same old grinding exp routes in D3V.

    I feel confident saying you’ll enjoy RoS more than you enjoy D3V now. Whether that means you should grind for EXP now to be bigger in RoS, or if that means you should take a break from Diablo 3 for a while, is up to you. You’ll be somewhat higher in Paragon level come RoS if you grind now, but maybe you’ll be fresher and more ready to play and find new gear and have fun in RoS if you take some time off now and refresh yourself for the retain release?

    I’m content playing the RoS beta, even though it’s gaining me nothing in lasting gear or ex. So my advice is to do what makes you happy. It’s just a game… right?

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