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Diablo 2 leveling guide: EXP scaling and where to power level in Diablo 2 explained

How to get your head around level scaling, EXP loss, and the best areas to grind.

Diablo 2 leveling is more complex than most role-playing games due to a number of factors.

From your own level to the monsters you fight, there are a lot of factors in play as to how much EXP you'll receive.

Regardless, we explain where the best place to level in Diablo 2 is according to where you are in the game - and plenty of other tips besides.

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Diablo 2 leveling and EXP explained

As in any RPG, gaining experience allows your character to gain levels. The twist comes with the amount of experience obtained after killing a monster, which will vary depending on the following factors:

  • The difficulty you're playing, since harder modes will reward you with more EXP, but also penalize you if you die.
  • Your Character Level, which alters the EXP gain percentages.
  • The Area Level you're currently in, with a level difference between your character and the monsters within.
  • Whether you're playing solo or in multiplayer mode, which affects how EXP is distributed across a party of players.

We will now categorize the way you can obtain EXP depending on your character level, as well as more specifics on how EXP penalties come into play.

Diablo 2 EXP scaling explained

As you level up, the EXP you earn changes dependant on the difference between your character's level and that of the monsters you defeat. Here's how it works, as well as the figures, as we climb to level 99.

Leveling characters under Level 25

Characters in this category will gain 100% of the potential experience from a given monster if the character's level and the monster's level are within five levels of difference.

The more levels above or below that range, the less experience awarded, which is designed to prevent players from leveling up on weaker monsters and to keep low-level characters from gaining a ton of experience by partying with high-level players. The exact percentages are the following values:

  • 10 Levels or more: 5% EXP
  • 9 Levels: 15% EXP
  • 8 Levels: 36% EXP
  • 7 Levels: 68% EXP
  • 6 Levels: 88% EXP
  • 1 to 5 Levels: 100% EXP
  • -5 to 0 Levels: 100% EXP
  • -6 Levels: 81% EXP
  • -7 Levels: 62% EXP
  • -8 Levels: 43% EXP
  • -9 Levels: 24% EXP
  • -10 Levels or less: 5% EXP

Leveling characters from Level 25 to 69

Different from earlier levels, characters in this category will gain 100% of experience by killing monsters within five levels of a character. A good amount of experience can also be obtained from monsters higher than a character's level, which the EXP gaining being penalized when the monsters are more than 5 levels below the character.

  • -6 Levels: 81%
  • -7 Levels: 62%
  • -8 Levels: 43%
  • -9 Levels: 24%
  • -10 Levels or less: 5%

Leveling characters from Level 70 to 99

Characters in this category will still gain 100% of experience by killing monsters within five levels of a character. However, all experience gained past level 70 will have a penalty applied that will only be increased with each level gained. After level 90, these penalties make leveling up an extremely draining and time-consuming task.

  • Level 70: 95.31%
  • Level 71: 90.63%
  • Level 72: 85.94%
  • Level 73: 81.25%
  • Level 74: 76.56%
  • Level 75: 71.88%
  • Level 76: 67.19%
  • Level 77: 62.50%
  • Level 78: 57.81%
  • Level 79: 53.13%
  • Level 80: 48.44%
  • Level 81: 43.75%
  • Level 82: 39.06%
  • Level 83: 34.38%
  • Level 84: 29.69%
  • Level 85: 25.00%
  • Level 86: 18.75%
  • Level 87: 14.06%
  • Level 88: 10.55%
  • Level 89: 7.91%
  • Level 90: 5.96%
  • Level 91: 4.49%
  • Level 92: 3.42%
  • Level 93: 2.54%
  • Level 94: 1.95%
  • Level 95: 1.46%
  • Level 96: 1.07%
  • Level 97: 0.78%
  • Level 98: 0.59%

How levelling and EXP works in Diablo 2 multiplayer

The total amount of EXP gained for killing a monster will increase by 35% when a teammate is in the same-named area. This amount will be divided evenly among all party members, and each member's share is equal to the member's level divided by the sum of all members' levels.

It's also worth noting that only teammates within 2 screens of the killed monster will gain EXP.

Keep in mind that monsters are worth more EXP and have more hit points when 2 or more players are in the same game, but also will have the usual penalties applied, so high-level characters will only obtain a small amount of EXP for killing low-level monsters.

Similarly, low-level characters only get a small amount of experience for killing high-level monsters.

Diablo 2 EXP loss explained

There are two circumstances where EXP loss comes into play. Before we start, however, fear not, as it is not possible to level down from EXP loss.

If a player restarts and manages to return to his/her corpse and fully loot it, the experience loss is reduced by 75%. That being said, EXP is lost for every death, so dying multiple times trying to recover your first corpse it's not the wisest decision.

Experience loss in Nightmare and Hell difficulties

While there is no experience loss from dying on normal difficulty, in Nightmare and Hell difficulties your character will lose experience each time they die. The percentage of EXP lost will be based on the amount of EXP required to reach the next level, being 5% in Nightmare and 10% in Hell.

Experience loss in PVP

EXP loss will count for PvP deaths as well, so dueling on Nightmare or Hell it's not the brightest idea. However, if you are going to duel on the higher difficulty levels anyway, try to do it right after you leveled up since you can't level down from EXP loss.

Diablo 2 power leveling: Where to level in Diablo 2 explained

So, now that we know how EXP works in Diablo 2, how do we apply that knowledge? The most efficient way to level up is called Power Leveling.

This concept involves leveling up one character in the fastest and easiest possible path, by knowing which exact locations in the game give the most experience, always keeping in mind the leveling mechanics.

This process applies to any character regardless of the build you use, and you can use it whether you're playing solo or multiplayer. Just keep in mind that you will need to clear most of the mentioned Quests before you're able to host your own public game to repeat them with other players.

Levels 1 to 15: Tristram

Once you have access to Tristram, just repeat it as long as you need until you get to level 15.

Levels 15 to 24: Tal Rasha's Tomb

Once you have access to Tal Rasha's Tomb, just repeat it as long as you need until you get to level 24.

Level 24: Ancients (Normal)

At this point in the game, you need to kill the Ancients to complete the quest "Right of Passage", the fifth and penultimate quest of Act V. This will allow you to access Baal's throne room, which is the next step of this process.

Levels 25 to 40: Baal or Chaos Sanctuary

When you hit Level 25 you will have a choice to make. You can now do runs of either the Chaos Sanctuary or the Baal fight. While Baal gives the most EXP, Chaos Sanctuary gives better drops, so change between them at your own convenience.

Level 40: Ancients (Nightmare)

After you reach Level 40, and with it, Nightmare difficulty, you will need to rush from Act I to Act V and complete the quest "Right of Passage" since you want to kill the Ancients to get to the next point.

Levels 41 to 60: Baal or Chaos Sanctuary (Nightmare)

It's time to do Chaos / Baal runs again, until you reach Level 60, and with it, the next difficulty.

Level 60: Ancients (Hell)

After you reach level 60, you will need to rush from Act I to Act V and complete the quest "Right of Passage" in Hell difficulty, since you want to kill the Ancients to get to the next point. Keep in mind that this is Hell difficulty, and things get really spicy from now on.

Levels 61 to 99: Baal or Chaos Sanctuary (Hell)

Ok, you made it to the final step, this is it, the end of the road. At this point in the game, you can start by doing Hell Chaos Sanctuary runs as soon as you get to act 4 to gear up yourself with good items, and then complete the "Right of Passage" quest, so you can begin doing Baal runs, which, again, will give you the most EXP.

Looking for more help? We have pages on the best Diablo 2 class, best Diablo 2 builds and runewords, Diablo 2 leveling, how to import saves, how to reset your skills, how to identify items, when and how to imbue items, where to find monastery locations and the underground passage, and finally, how to access the secret cow level.

Other things you should know about levelling and EXP in Diablo 2

As well as all the above, here's some other things to consider:

  • Monsters resurrected by Shamans are not worth EXP at all, and will not drop items, which makes them only worth killing them once.
  • In a similar fashion, monsters spawned by monster generators are worth experience, but not much, and won't drop items.
  • Reanimated Horde monsters are worth full experience and they can drop items when they revive, with each killing counting for the full amount.
  • Enemies killed by either your mercenary or minions are worth the full experience.
  • Monsters killed by each other via Confuse or other similar skills award their experience to whoever cast the spell.

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Santiago Leguiza