Nephalem Rifts are an end-game activity in Diablo III accessible in the Adventure Mode. You can enter a Nephalem Rift from any Act's town by interacting with the Nephalem Obelisk. When you open a Rift, the Obelisk will transform into a portal leading to the first floor of the Rift.
Each Rift is a randomly generated dungeon with 1 to 10 floors populated by vast amounts of monsters. Your goal there is to fill the Rift Progress Bar by killing monsters and picking up Progress Globes. When the bar reaches 100%, the Rift Guardian appears. Once it's defeated, players can speak to Orek next to the obelisk in any town to complete the Nephalem Rift event. Doing so will award you small amount of Gold and experience and start a 30s countdown. When this countdown reaches 0 the Nephalem Rift closes. All players in the Rift are teleported back to town and Nephalem Obelisk can be interacted with again.
In Nephalem Rifts monster health, damage, as well as the amount of loot they drop depends on the Game Difficulty. Monster health additionally scales with the number of players currently in the game (each player after the first one adds 50% to the monster health, up to a maximum of 250%).
Apart from normal enemies (which have a low chance of dropping Gold or items), you can find the following Elite enemies in the Nephalem Rifts:
- Rare and Champion Elite Packs - Rare or above quality item, Death's Breaths, 3-4 Progress Globes
- Treasure Goblin - various items, crafting materials, gems and Death's Breaths
- Odious Collector - large amount of crafting materials and Crafting Plans (if you still have some unlearned)
- Blood Thief - large amount of Blood Shards
- Gem Hoarder - large amount of Imperial and Marquise gems
- Gilded Baron - large amount of Gold
- Insufferable Miscreant - at least 1 Legendary item, crafting materials, gems
- Malevolent Tormentor - at least 1 Legendary item, crafting materials, gems
- Gelatinous Sire - huge amount of Death's Breaths and items of all qualities
- The Rift Guardian - crafting materials, Death's Breaths, Greater Rift Keystones, Blood Shards and large amount of various items.
Unlike the ones found on Adventure Map, none of the Treasure Goblins killed in Nephalem Rifts can open a portal to The Vault or Not the Cow Level.
You can find a lot of clickable objects in Nephalem Rifts.
- Normal Chests - one or two Magical items with a low chance of being Legendary
- Resplendent Chests - multiple Rare items with a high chance of being Legendary
- Armor and Weapon Racks - a Common item with a very small chance of being higher quality
- Corpses, Loose Tiles, Rocks and such - mostly nothing or small amount of Gold
Both Shrines (Frenzied, Fleeting, Empowered, Blessed, Enlightened) and Pylons (Power Pylon, Conduit Pylon, Channeling Pylon, Speed Pylon and Shield Pylon) can be found in Nephalem Rifts. Unlike Greater Rifts, there's no rules or restrictions on how many Shrines or Pylons can appear in one Rift. You can often find 5+ Shrines on a single floor or even two Pylons sitting right next to each other. Conduit Pylon in particular is very different in Nephalem Rifts. Its damage scales with your generic damage multipliers such as Legacy of Dreams and Patterns of Justice (6) Bonus, making it extremely powerful for the builds that use such multipliers and barely noticeable for those that use skill multipliers instead (Monkey King's Garb).
Special Nephalem Rifts
Each time you open a Nephalem Rift there's a small chance that you get one of the two special rifts. These rifts have fixed maps and unique Rift Guardians.
This rift always has 2 floors. The first floor is medium-sized Briarthorn Cemetery map with its native mobset and insane Elite density. You can typically spawn the Rift Guardian after clearing about 70% of the first floor. The Rift Guardian is a Unique Punisher called Josh Mosqueira (the game director of Diablo III at the time of Reaper of Souls release).
The second floor of the rift is another Briarthorn Cemetery map, but this time it has no Elites at all. Each of zombie and skeleton wandering the map has name of a member of Reaper of Souls dev team, with their role instead of creature type. In terms of gameplay, the Developer Rift is nothing special but you are usually happy to see it because of how fast it can be cleared.
The Cow Rift
This rift always has all 10 floors. Each floor is a small Crypt of the Forsaken map, which is populated exclusively by Infernal Bovines. On the first floor there's a modified Jar of Souls event, where you have to kill as many cows as possible before the timer runs out. Each monster killed during this event will award all players in the game bonus gold and experience. The Rift Guardian in this rift is also a cow: The Lord of Bells.
The Cow Rift is very useful during leveling 1 to 70, but later in the season you usually hate to see it, because the event on first floor is very long and maps themselves are far from great.
Nephalem Rift Builds
The goal of a Nephalem Rift build is very simple: you want to run forward very fast, killing everything in your path. There's also a number of circumstances unique to Nephalem Rifts and a good build should aim to exploit them.
- Nephalem Rifts have a lot of Shrines and Pylons. Nemesis Bracers make any build noticeably faster and you should always try to include them. The Flavor of Time and Gloves of Worship become pretty good in Nephalem Rifts as well.
- All monsters in Nephalem Rifts can drop Gold. This lets you use Boon of the Hoarder and complimentary Gold items - Goldwrap and Avarice Band. The latter is especially important because it actually lets you collect all the dropped Gold (and Progression Globes) even if you are zooming past the enemies.
- The runs are very fast and you always kill a lot of enemies and a lot of Elites. This makes snowballing items such as In-Geom, Echoing Fury and Messerschmidt's Reaver really good there.
- Abundance of clickable objects makes Harrington Waistguard a viable option, although extra damage in Nephalem Rifts is only needed when your build is incomplete.
Almost every build in the game can get enough damage to oneshot enemies in Torment 16, but good builds also have a large AoE and move very fast. Generally, nothing beats Monk using Dashing Strike with In-Geom active in terms of movement speed, so any Monk build with decent damage and AoE instantly becomes a top-tier Nephalem Rift build.
On top of that, there's also two craftable sets that are only used in Nephalem Rifts: Cain's Destiny and Sage's Journey. The best builds can still function while wearing one of these sets. Cain's Destiny in particular is very desirable, because most of the time you are farming Nephalem Rifts specifically to get Greater Rift Keystones. Note, that you only need to have Cain's Destiny equipped when the rift guardian dies, so most of the time the optimal strategy is to carry 2 or 3 pieces of Cain's set in your inventory and only put them on when you spawn the Rift Guardian.
Season 23 Patch introduced a Follower overhaul which has had a huge impact on Nephalem Rift builds for solo players. You can now get a lot of the items mentioned above for free, simply by putting them on your follower. The Flavor of Time, Nemesis Bracers, Gloves of Worship, Avarice Band, Cain's Destiny and Sage's Journey are now part of every Nephalem Rift build as long as you play solo.
Enemies in Nephalem Rifts (even on Torment 16 difficulty) are weak enough that it's possible to make your follower survive without the immortality relic. The best follower for Nephalem Rifts is the Enchantress equipped with Hand of the Prophet. She gives Cooldown Reduction and Attack Speed bonuses and these are the stats that help you go faster. In comparison Scoundrel and Templar provide offensive and defensive bonuses respectively, which are almost completely useless in Nephalem Rifts.
You can see the best Nephalem Rift builds for each class and how they fare against each other in our Key Tier List.
Farming Nephalem Rifts Efficiently
If you want to optimize your Nehalem Rift farming there's a bunch of things you can do. First and the most important is to identify what you are looking for and work towards that goal exclusively. Nephalem Rifts are the only way to farm Greater Rift Keystones and the best way to farm Death's Breaths. Apart from that you also get a decent amount of Legendaries and Blood Shards (but less than in Greater Rifts), crafting materials (but less than in Bounties) and a pretty good amount of Gold.
If you are after Keys, the only thing you care about is how many rifts per hour you want to complete. In that case, you want to ignore chests and clickables, kill everything and use Cain's Destiny set if your build allows it.
If you want Death's Breaths, then you need to play a build that can use Sage's Journey set and mostly focus on hunting down elite packs. You can even keep going after the Rift Guardian is dead if the map is better than average. Here you only care about spending as much time as possible in the Nephalem Rift fighting packs.
If you are broke and want to maximize your Gold income, you need to mostly focus on killing the trash monsters. You also need to make sure you actually pick up the Gold, so don't go too fast. Also it's important to do it in a solo game, because most of the Gold comes from your Boon of the Hoarder and if your teammates kill the mobs, you get nothing.
Finally, if you want to get a bit more Legendaries or crafting materials out of your keyfarming sessions, you need to focus on clickables more. Regular and Resplendent Chests are great for Legendaries, while Armor and Weapon Racks are the best for crafting mats. You don't care what color of mats you're getting because your good friend Iben Fahd lets you convert them at almost no cost. Since Common items produce the most materials when salvaged, it's more efficient to fill your inventory with those.
Dealing with the 30s timer
The second point of optimization is the 30 second timer you get after you complete the rift. Even if you stay in the rift fighting mobs, you are not getting any closer to killing the next Rift Guardian, so in terms of keyfarming these 30 seconds are completely wasted. There are several ways to utilize these 30s.
Leave the game
The best way to deal with those 30 seconds is to just go to the menu and start a new game. The entire process will typically take around 20s (less if you have an SSD) and you will be instantly ready to open a new Rift. When you do the "leave game" strategy it's also very useful to switch to "Public Game - Rifts".
Most Nephalem Rift builds deal overwhelming amounts of damage compared to monster health, so there isn't much difference between doing a rift in 4-player game and doing it solo. However, when you join a public game, there's a chance it already has a Rift in progress, in that case you can easily save some seconds or even a full run!
When using this strategy you keep leaving the game and opening a new Rift until your inventory is filled with Legendaries. Then you spend your 30s downtime to identify, salvage and gamble and then you start leaving games again.
Recruit a "Rift Closer"
Leaving games is fast, but it's also quite tedious. So if you don't wanna do it, you can employ a "Rift Closer". One player in the game gets out of the rift before the Rift Guardian spawns and camps at Orek in order to turn in the quest as soon as possible. Then he teleports on the flag of the player in the rift to pick up all the loot. This way when you are done picking up loot from the boss and TP to town, the timer will be at about 20s and it's just enough time to do your identifying, gambling and salvaging.
The Rift Closer doesn't really lose out on anything except for the possible Cain's Destiny bonus. Rift Closer role is perfect if someone in your group can't pay too much attention to the game (due to taking a smoke break or whatever else). In this case they can be a Rift Closer and only play for 5 seconds every 2 minutes while still getting all the Greater Rift Keystones!
Just keep going
Finally if you're playing solo and can't be bothered to make new games, you can just keep running through the rift killing some extra Elites after the Rift Guardian is dead. For that you need to start channeling Town Portal immediately after the Rift Guardian dies, talk to Orek and jump back into the portal. This way you will have about 26 seconds to pick up all the loot from Rift Guardian and go forward looking for more enemies to kill and chests to open.
Be warned however, that if you do this long enough you will at some point see a Primal item hit the ground and at the same time as the timer hits 0, closing the Rift before you get the chance to pick it up. When that happens, don't lose heart and don't let Gambler's Fallacy get to you: you only saw this item because you were following this strategy and seeing it didn't change your chances of finding the next one.
Written by Northwar.
- 21 March 2022
Updated for Season 26 / Patch 2.7.3