Reaching Level 70 is one main milestone during the night of a season start and optimizing it can save you a lot of time on your way there. Top-end times with fresh characters can be as little as 45 minutes in an organized, efficient group which is many times faster than what is otherwise achievable without these strategies in mind.
Even in solo sub 1 hour times are possible with the right class and some luck. Most people just want to rush to endgame to start building their character's gear and paragon levels. In some cases, like during season releases in January or March, there are special events available you can use to level in a different way (Diablo Anniversary Event / Kanai's Stomping Grounds) or certain seasons offer unique themes that also help you out (such as the Shadow Clones from Season 22 or the Ethereal Weapons from Season 24).
If you want to learn more about how to level beyond 70 and acquire experience the most efficient way for Paragons, check out the post about Experience Mechanics by Rob.
First 10 Steps
Here are all the steps to take in the first minutes of a fresh season to ensure a good start:
1. Complete Challenge Rift
You can start the Challenge Rift before the season begins, which will give you a Challenge Rift Reward Cache containing a good bunch of crafting materials, 475 Blood Shards and 5.1 millions Gold to kickstart your leveling process. You don't actually need to have a seasonal character to collect the rewards from a Challenge Rift there later. However, don't complete it (don't kill the Rift Guardian) before the Season Start notification has popped up. Seasons always begin on a Friday at 5PM server time (CET in EU, PST in NA) and you can prepare the run in a way that you have the rift guardian spawned and kill it immediately when the season begins.
There will be a system message displaying in chat, a pop-up notification on your screen and you can also check your friends list for seasonal heroes if you're unsure. Double-checking is recommended as the season start can sometimes be slightly delayed and not happen precisely down to the second. When you're done, just make sure to create/rebirth a seasonal character and log in there first, don't log into the game on Non-Season.
Keep in mind there are some risks involved here because if you accidentally complete it too early you will lose your chance to get the reward or you might run out of time and have to restart the run after the season has gone live. Best case, try to practice the run, learn how to reach the Rift Guardian quickly and then leave once you are confident you can replicate that easily. If you want to be safe and don't feel the need to squeeze out every second at the start, just wait until you have created your seasonal character.
Challenge Rifts rift always reset on Monday (for NA, 1PM PST) or Tuesday (for EU, 4AM CET) and season starts always happen on Friday, so during that week you have to wait with the rift. Be sure to check our Challenge Rift guides to be properly prepared and not potentially waste valuable leveling time when it might be a particularly difficult one on a season start.
2. Create/Rebirth Seasonal Character
After the first step is taken, you can now create your character and select the “seasonal” checkbox. You can also rebirth one of your old characters, which will send all of its items to your nonseasonal mail and give you a fresh level 1 character with that name and playtime history (keep that in mind in case you want to accurately track your seasonal playtime – you will have to do so through your seasonal profile page).
3. Open Challenge Cache
Once in the game, open the mail and Challenge Rift Cache. It will contain 35 Death’s Breaths, 5.1m Gold and some materials that will give you a great boost at the start.
4. Level Blacksmith + Mystic
Get both of these artisans to max. level as you will need them now. You can ignore the Jeweler for the time being.
5. Take Follower Weapon & Equip a Pet
Depending on your class, go to your follower and grab their weapon. They are straight upgrades in every single case and help you out for the first few levels. Make sure to bring a Follower along though since they now can be fully equipped in season 23! Give them your old gear as you replace it, especially items that emanate like Nemesis Bracers & The Flavor of Time or items that grant bonus experience such as Leoric's Crown with a Ruby in it. Also don’t forget to use a pet, it will pick up gold for you while you’re busy fighting enemies, which can help you out early on.
6. Get Kanai’s Cube
The Kanai’s Cube is located in the Ruins of Sescheron in Act 3. Go to the end of the second level, called Elder Sanctum where you will find and permanently unlock it for the rest of the season. On your way there, make sure to choose a comfortable difficulty (typically normal-master) so that you can fight your way through without much trouble and keep up a massacre bonus through the entire zones if possible. This will give you a great head start.
7. Craft, Upgrade and Cube an Item
Once you unlocked the cube, go to the Blacksmith and craft one weapon for your class that you will try to upgrade into a useful option with the Upgrade Rare feature (3rd cube recipe). You only have this one shot and it comes down to luck, so hit something good! The chances are between 17%-100% to get one of the top choices depending on your class. Some of them have decent alternatives that are helpful even when you don’t get the best one and can easily jump a few difficulty levels. By getting the right item here you can save up to half an hour on your journey to 70.
Here is a quick overview of the desired weapons:
2H Mighty Weapons - 4/6 Good Results
- Bastion's Revered
- Blade of the Tribes
- Fury of the Vanished Peak
- The Gavel of Judgment
- Spears - 2/3 Good Results
- Arreat's Law
- The Three Hundredth Spear
- Empyrean messenger
2H Flails - 3/8 Good Results
- Akkhan's Leniency
- Fate of the Fell
- Golden Flense
- 1H Flails - 3/7 Good Results
- Gyrfalcon's Foote
- Johanna's Argument
2H Scythes - 2/4 Good Results &
2/4 Decent Results
- Bloodtide Blade
- Reilena’s Shadowhook
- Nayr's Black Death
- Maltorius' Petrified Spike
- Witch Doctor
Spears - 1/2 Good Results
- Ceremonial Knives - 3/12 Good Results
- The Barber
- The Dagger of Darts
- The Spider Queen's Grasp
- Demon Hunter
Daggers - 2/2 Good Results
- Lord Greenstone’s Fan
- Karlei's Point
Daibos - 4/8 Good Results
- Incense Torch of the Grand Temple
- Flying Dragon
- The Flow of Eternity
Wands - 4/10 Good Results
- Fragment of Destiny
- Wand of Woh
- Unstable Scepter
- Serpent's Sparker
Find more details about this in our in-depth guide about Level 1 Cubing & Gambling!
With your Blood Shards, you want to gamble early on at Kadala, to try and get an item with a big multiplier (that ideally synergizes with your weapon). Typical gambling choices are Gloves, Bracers, Offhands, in some cases you also want to wait until a certain level. At level 1 the pool of possible items is rather small, which you can use to your advantage to almost guarantee a good result that can carry you all the way to 70. In some cases, better options unlock a little bit later so you should hold onto your shards until exactly the mentioned level. The chance to get any legendary at all from gambling 475 Blood Shards (19 attempts) on armor pieces is 86.5%.
Here is a quick overview of what to gamble (and when where specified):
- Barbarian: Bracers (Bracers of Destruction and Bracers of the First Men) or Rings (Band of Might)
- Crusader: Bracers (Gabriel's Vambraces) or Shields (Guard of Johanna and Denial)
- Demon Hunter: Bracers (Wraps of Clarity) or Helms (Leoric’s Crown) or Quivers at level 31 (Holy Point Shot, especially if you upgraded into Karlei's Point)
- Monk: Bracers (Gungdo Gear, Cesar's Memento and Pinto's Pride) or Boots (Rivera Dancers and The Crudest Boots)
- Necromancer: Gloves (Grasps of Essence) or Rings (Circle of Nailuj's Evol, especially if you upgraded into Reilena's Shadowhook)
- Witch Doctor: Mojos (Gazing Demise, especially if you upgraded into The Barber)
- Wizard: Offhands at level 1 (Winter Flurry) or at level 33 (Etched Sigil)
Alternatively every class is able to get Pox Faulds at level 1 as the only item in that pants-slot. This item alone can already provide a decent power boost for an easy start. Find more details about gambling in the in-depth post for Level 1 Cubing/Gambling.
9. Craft lvl 70 Weapons
With your remaining materials try to craft a good two-handed level 70 weapon. You don’t have that many chances so better go one-by-one. The stats you are looking for are:
- Primary – Life per Hit
- Secondary – Crowd Control Effect (Chance to Slow/Immobilize/Blind/Stun/… on Hit)
If you manage to get one of these, you then go to the Mystic to try to reroll the secondary to Reduced Level Requirement, which can roll up to -30 (and will make the Weapon usable at level 40, effectively allowing you to oneshot everything on Torment 6). That stat in particular is quite difficult to roll, as it has a very low chance to appear. However, with Life per Hit blocking the secondary Life per Kill roll and one of the Crowd Control effects block all other similar rolls, there are only 3 secondaries left to find on a regular (non class-specific) weapon. This greatly increases the odds to get it once you have the other stats already present on the item.
10. Check Vendors and Artisans
Every few levels / after every 1-2 runs, you should take a look at the vendors in town. Sometimes they sell decent yellow items that you can grab for almost no cost. At level 6 and level 10 specifically, you want to look for Rings and Amulets respectively. Likewise, you can also have a look at the Blacksmith and see if you can craft something appropriate for your level in case you’re unlucky with upgrades in some slots (make sure to select the “highest usable” option).
Don’t hesitate to spend your materials, reaching 70 fast is a bigger priority than trying to save up for whatever awaits you there. Once you reach max. level, you will typically be busy trying to acquire the Haedrig’s Gift as fast as possible and you will not have much time to waste on spending materials.
Choose Your Leveling Strategy
a) Nephalem Rifts
In short: Slow, but easy
Expected fastest times: 2:00-3:00h (solo & group)
By far the simplest strategy, you just chain rifts all the way to 70. Typically you can reach it by the 2.5 to 4 hour mark, which unfortunately is not very fast compared to other strategies. You have the very small advantage of accumulating a few materials and Bloodshards, which don’t outweigh the slower pace at all though. If you don’t care much about how slow it is and just want to have a bit of fun, this is the best way to go, as not much can go wrong. As a plus, you can get some cool legendary drops twice as often that could make it a bit exciting (as Nephalem Rifts have a 100% bonus to magic find). If you play in a group and find Conduit Pylons, be sure to spread out before clicking so that you can get most out of it, as they can give you a nice bonus and you will oneshot everything anyway. Stick to a difficulty that allows you to finish a run in 3-5min.
b) Massacre Bonuses
In short: Preferred choice for solo players, especially good for pet classes (WD / Necro)
Expected fastest times: 1:00-1:45h (solo & group)
Massacres are a bonus you can use to level experience quickly outside of Nephalem and Greater Rifts - where they are deactivated - by killing at least 15 enemies in quick succession without stopping to hit anything for more than a few seconds. Popular locations include Fields of Misery, Eternal Woods and Temple of the Firstborn. Especially the latter has gained a lot of popularity ever since it was implemented. Massacre bonuses are very fast when you can keep them up well, as you will get a multiplicative experience bonus at the end of your streak. This bonus keeps increasing the more enemies you have defeated and starts at 15 enemies slain all the way up to 500 in sequence (awarding a x4.5 multiplier at the end). Like this you will be able to jump multiple levels at a time at the end of your run, even all the way up to 70. In groups make sure to allow your party members to hit all/most enemies at least once, else it won't count for their streak.
c) Halls of Agony Blades
In short: Annoying and needs lots of practice to be efficient enough
Expected fastest times: 1:00-1:15h (solo & group)
Previously the fastest leveling strategy, it has lost some of its appeal with the Cursed Chests. With good execution, you can reach level 70 in little more than 1 hour. However, you will need to practice this first, as you will die oneshot to anything that hits you. Because of this, this strategy is strictly softcore-only.
If you decide to try it, go to Halls of Agony level 1 and search for the cleaving blades, they are always located near the exit of the map. Your objective is to kite enemies through them and have them killed by this environmental effect. Most trash monsters will get oneshot, if you have slows (e.g. Caltrops), it will make this strategy much easier. On the higher levels, beware of elites with dangerous affixes that could oneshot you, as you generally have no toughness to survive any hit at all. It could still be useful to try to buy items with resistances and Vitality from vendors whenever you enter town, as you could survive certain small elite effects like Plagued at least.
d) Cursed Chests
In short: Top strategy especially for groups with at least 1 Necromancer (due to Corpse Explosion with Grasps of Essence or Death Nova with Bloodtide Blade.
Expected fastest times: 0:45h (group), 1:00-1:30h (solo)
In recent times, especially with buffs to the Necromancer’s Corpse Explosion, this has emerged as the dominant leveling strategy, especially in groups. A single Necro is enough to carry a party into the lower Torments at least, and with some luck from cubing/crafting, can even go all the way until level 70 carrying on higher Torments up to 6. In such cases other players in the group could go for more supporting choices in their skill setup as the Necro(s) will be able to carry them easily but are generally very squishy.
In order to find cursed chests fast and easily, every party member should leave the group after a completed run and search for a cursed chest bounty in their own game. They are quite common, so in many cases someone will be able to call out that they found one on the first or second try. These are the Cursed Chest events you are looking for:
- Act I
- The Cursed Cellar - The Old Ruins (avoid this chest on hardcore)
- The Cursed Court - Cathedral Level 2
- The Cursed Bellows - Halls of Agony Level 3 (beware of fire on hardcore)
- Act II
- The Cursed Pit - Archives of Zoltun Kulle
- The Cursed Spire - Archives of Zoltun Kulle
- The Cursed Moors - Shrouded Moors
- The Cursed Temple - Temple of the Firstborn
- Act III
- The Cursed Garrison - The Battlefields
- The Cursed Bailey - The Ruins of Sescheron
- Act IV
- Act V
- The Cursed Peat - Paths of the Drowned (beware of Tusked Bogan charges on Hardcore)
e) Darkening of Tristram Event
In short: Special Event only active during January
Expected fastest times: 1:00-1:30h (solo & group)
In case the season starts during January, you will have the option to enter the Diablo 1 Anniversary Event through the portal in Old Tristram (Act 1). It’s essentially like a really long rift with some special enemies and drops and typically you get rather good experience, as you can build up massacre bonuses there. Comparable to regular massacre bonus leveling in efficiency.
Additional Leveling Tips
- Always choose a difficulty where you can both comfortably survive and kill most enemies within a few seconds, the Rift Guardian in max. 30 seconds.
- Use bursts in character power to crank up the difficulty and increase your speed (e.g. a great legendary find, a reduced level requirement weapon, a new skill rune).
- Pick up all items from the ground, especially yellows.
- Decide quickly which items to keep and which to salvage (take a look at the overall stats or stat comparison and then equip or unequip).
- Make sure to leave the game at the same time when in a group, don't keep the other members waiting.
- Use Diamonds for defense and a Ruby in helmet and weapon.
- Use good map layouts to clean them up instead of going next rift/next game immediately.
- Use all your gold and mats to improve your speed - you can easily farm it back at 70.
If you want to see these details explained in moving pictures, check out the below video:
Related Content and Videos
Make sure to check out some of these videos to see how it’s done:
- 1-70 Solo DH Practice ~1h 30min by wudijo
- 1-70 Group Leveling Practice ~54min by sVr
- 1-70 Agony Blades ~69min by Rob
- Experience Mechanics by Rob
In short, remember the steps at level 1 (Challenge Rift, follower Weapon, Kanai's Cube, craft, upgrade, gamble, ...). Choose the right leveling strategy (perhaps practice it once or twice if you haven't done it yet) and try to be efficient with your time. Check quickly for item upgrades and don't hesitate to create new games when your rifts or layouts are bad. And finally, choose the right difficulty, leveling should go smooth at all times!
I hope you took some things from this guide that will help you out with a better season start. Whenever a new season comes around, it will come in handy to learn these things once and keep improving on them.
Guide and updates by wudijo
Updated for Season 26 / Patch 2.7.3.
Updated for Season 27 / Patch 2.7.4.