Are you ready to face the Season of the Malignant, the first season of Diablo 4 that launches on July 20? If you’ve already completed the main campaign and are looking for more challenges, rewards and story, then you’ll want to join the seasonal realm and start a new character from scratch.
But don’t worry, I’m here to help you level up as fast as possible. Whether you’re playing solo or with friends, you’ll need to know the best strategies, activities and builds to breeze through the Season Journey and the Battle Pass. So without further ado, let’s dive into my tips for leveling like a pro in Diablo 4 Season 1, Season of the Malignant.
Pick a decent levelling build
One of the most important factors that affects your leveling speed is how you allocate your stat points. While you can always experiment with different builds and playstyles, if you want to level up as fast as possible, you should follow a build guide for your chosen class that optimizes your damage, survivability and mobility.
For example, if you’re playing a Rogue, one of the best and easiest builds to level with is the Twisting Blades build, which focuses on high single-target and AoE damage with a mix of melee and ranged skills. You can find my detailed guide for this build here, as well as other guides for the other classes and builds.
Skip the campaign
If you’ve already finished the story mode, you don’t have to repeat it to level up your seasonal character. You can skip the campaign when you create your character and jump right into the open-world activities that grant you more XP.
One of the first things you should do is to claim the Renown rewards for each zone. Renown is a system that tracks your exploration and completion of various tasks in each region, such as finding waypoints, altars of Lilith, strongholds, side quests and dungeons. If you have already unlocked the map and waypoints on an Eternal Realm character, and you’ve logged in with that character after July 18 as per our guide on how to prepare for the season, then you will be able to claim the Renown points for discovering new areas and activating waypoints right away. This will give you a boost of Gold, Skill Points, Potion Charges, Murmuring Obol capacity and Paragon Points.
You can leave the rest of the Renown objectives for later, when you need more Paragon Points to increase your power.
Playing solo? Level up on World Tier 1. In a group? Go World Tier 2.
One of the key decisions you’ll have to make when leveling up is what World Tier to play on. World Tiers are difficulty settings that affect the strength of enemies, the quality and quantity of loot drops, and the availability of endgame features. There are four World Tiers in Diablo 4: Adventurer, Veteran, Nightmare, and Torment.
My advice is to stick to World Tier 1 if you want to level up fast and efficiently. While World Tier 2 gives you a 20% XP and 15% gold bonus, it also makes enemies and bosses much tougher, which can slow down your progress significantly. World Tier 1 allows you to breeze through quests and strongholds that reward you with Renown, which in turn gives you extra stat points and paragon points.
This advice changes if you’re playing in a group, though. With more players to share the damage and aggro, you can handle World Tier 2 much easier and benefit from the increased rewards.
TOWN IS LAVA
As the old saying goes, time spent in town is time wasted. If you want to level up fast, you should minimize the time you spend on managing your inventory, selling or salvaging items, or comparing stats on your gear.
The only thing that matters is the item power number, which indicates how strong an item is. If you find an item with a higher item power than what you have equipped, just swap it and move on. You’ll get plenty of upgrades from boss fights and dungeons, so don’t worry about optimizing your gear until you reach the endgame activities.
Carefully consider move speed bonuses
One thing that can make a big difference in your leveling speed is your movement speed. Being able to travel faster between objectives and enemies can save you a lot of time and make you more efficient.
Therefore, while you shouldn’t worry too much about secondary stats on your gear, you should always look for jewels and boots that have movement speed on them. If you have to choose between a slight item power upgrade or keeping your movement speed, go for the latter.
Complete your class quest as soon as it is available
Class-specific quests are essential to unlocking the full power of your build, and once you hit level 15 on your character (apart from Necro which is 25) you'll get a quest populate in your log to go and do your quest. These are:
- Barbarian - Level 15 - Master of Battle - unlocks Technique slot in Arsenal
- Druid - Level 15 - Spirits of the Lost Grove - unlocks all Spirit Boons
- Necromancer - Level 25 - Call of The Underworld - unlocks your Golem
- Rogue - Level 15 - True Potential - unlocks 3 specializations
- Sorcerer - Level 15 - Legacy of the Magi - unlocks Enchantments
Now you are level 15, you'll also get access to Strongholds and you can complete the first 2 in Fractured Peaks:
You will then be able to claim the level 3 rewards for the Fractured Peaks map.
Use Gems for easy stat boosts
I've a full guide to Gems and what they can be used for, but in short you'll want to bang these in your sockets for stat improvements as you play (and don't waste money removing them at the jeweler either, if you salvage gear with a gem in it, it simply returns to your stash). Rule of thumb for most classes when leveling:
- Armor sockets - Ruby (red) for LIFE will increase your survivability
- Jewelry - Skulls - increase your armor stat
- Weapon - Emerald (vulnerable damage)
Pick which makes sense with your chosen skills and build. The weapon gem is interchangeable depending on what build and skills you are using:
- Ruby (overpower damage)
- Amethyst (damage over time)
- Topaz (basic skill damage)
- Sapphire (crowd control damage)
Equip aspects selectively
Aspects can be equipped on your gear for strong improvements to your build, but they are expensive, and you'll be changing gear a lot in the climb to level 50. With that in mind, when leveling up, you don’t want to spend too much gold and resources on imprinting aspects, as you’ll be changing your gear frequently. However, there are some aspects that can make your leveling process much easier, depending on your class and build. You should prioritize these aspects and imprint them onto your amulet, as this is the gear slot that you’ll upgrade the least often. Imprinting an aspect onto an amulet also increases its effect by 50%.
To find the aspects you want, you can use your codex of power, which shows you all the available aspects and where to unlock them. You can also pin the location of an aspect to your map for easy navigation.
Complete quests for the Tree of Whispers
With the introduction of Patch 1.1, you now get much more Renown for completing dungeons and side quests, for even more rewards pick the quests and dungeons that show on your map as Whisper quests. They will have a red border around the dungeon icon and look like this:
The best way to complete Whispers of the Dead efficiently is to select an area with a cluster of them. You can often complete multiple objectives at once in a short span of time. For example, you can find an area with a dungeon quest that also has a whisper for killing enemies or finding an item in the same zone.
By completing Whispers of the Dead, you can get multiple benefits: a completed quest, a dungeon aspect, some renown, and some Grim Favors. And when you have 10 Grim Favors, you can get some new gear from the Tree of Whispers. This is the most efficient way to level and gear your character in the game following the patch 1.1 nerf to other methods.
Complete Side Quests that lead to Dungeons
North of Sanctuary
South of Sanctuary
Another 'kill two birds with one stone' method, the fine folks over at the Diablo 4 subreddit have already done some incredible leg work when it comes to finding efficient methods of playing, and user Tesday has posted this handy map of all side quests that will result in a Dungeon. Netting you the renown for completing the quests, the dungeon, and the aspect all in one.
Upgrade your Health Potion as soon as you are able
Pay attention to your health potions and when the upgrades are available from the vendor in town. If you are struggling for crafting materials to do this there is a nice easy herb cache you can get from doing a quest in Kyovoshad. Go to the North of the city by the World Tier statue and pick up the quest Raising Spirits.
To complete this quest, simply stand by the soldiers and select Cheer on your emoticon wheel and a cache of handy herbs will drop for you which should be enough for you to upgrade your potion.
Once you hit level 50 - change it up
Congratulations, if you followed the above tips you should have got to level 50 much quicker than you did completing the campaign. At this point, you'll want to change up to more efficient activities for grinding out experience points. These are:
- Nightmare Dungeons
- World Bosses
You should have gathered Sigils to access Nightmare Dungeons by farming the Whispers of The Dead up until level 50. So you'll want to switch to these as soon as you are comfortable completing them as you can start leveling up your Glyphs on the paragon board asap.
When the Helltiide is active, go do that. The Helltiide will give you essential materials for upgrading your gear. To check when Helltiides will be active and when World Bosses will spawn there are a number of third-party websites and tools for this, so check out our guide here.
Always have an Elixir active
Once you are over the hurdle of hitting level 50, you'll want to make sure you are getting the 5% buff to XP from your Elixirs. These are in your bag in the consumable tab and last 30 minutes a pop. You can use them prior to level 50 but you may run out and find it difficult to gather crafting materials, whereas they drop plentifully post-level 50 so there's no excuse to not always have one equipped.
Season of the Malignant
This guide is based on the current state of the game after Patch 1.1, which made some changes to the leveling process and the renown system. However, we still don’t know how the Season theme, the Malignant Hearts, will affect the best leveling methods and strategies. Once we get to experience the new season and test out the new mechanic, we will update this guide with any new tips and tricks that we discover.
Until then, I hope this guide helps you level up fast and efficiently in Season 1. I’ll see you in Sanctuary, nephalem.
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Jen is a News Writer for Windows Central, focused on all things gaming and Microsoft. Anything slaying monsters with magical weapons will get a thumbs up such as Dark Souls, Dragon Age, Diablo, and Monster Hunter. When not playing games, she'll be watching a horror or trash reality TV show, she hasn't decided which of those categories the Kardashians fit into. You can follow Jen on Twitter @Jenbox360 for more Diablo fangirling and general moaning about British weather.