Finally figured out why HoA Blade Leveling was bugging me

Often suggested as a leveling technique, it works fine on the PC, but was terrible on the console.

Demonstration: Diablo 3 Console - Demon Hunter Start Level 1-14 + Cube (No Challenge Cache) - YouTube

On the PC, the enemies were taking 2-3 hits to kill when I hit the blades at 1, and Level 6 enemies were coming. At about the 4 minute mark, you can see it requiring 5-6 hits just to kill a zombie that’s Level 6.

And it was basically a stupid oversight on my end. The monsters have double the health as the PC version. But the blades aren’t affected by NG globes. So yes, on both platforms, the blades are snapshotted to the level in which you find them. But on the PC, they still can kill enemies fairly quickly, unlike the console, where it becomes a chore.

Traps on the other hand, such as the Burning Troughs, are whatever level you break them at.

So, this in turn leads into another little aspect I learned. Enemies in which you are not engaged with (be it you, or a follower, or party member), give absolutely 0 XP if they die while they’re not engaged with you. It was one of the things bugging me for a while, why some T6 enemies skyrocketed my XP while leveling, while others gave 0 XP. And this was super easy to see in Halls of Agony 1 while blade leveling, where there was decent monster density, but you’re just not gaining levels. You have to hit them, or be hit, or at the very least, they need to be attacking you, which is really hard to do with some of these monsters, as zombies & skeletons tend to be very docile.

All of this though still makes Halls of Agony Blade Leveling still not worth it in my opinion, but at least I now have a better understanding as to why this is.

yeah, most of the shortcuts and cheats to level fast on PC do not work on console. You can go from 0-60 in 1 hour solo on PC, which is impossible on console because some things, like kill streaks don’t work the same way.

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So, I tried a bit solo today. 87 minutes 1-70 solo as a necromancer. Grasps of Essence only. I was experimenting with different zones though, so with optimization, things could go a bit better.

Because of the reset of skills, I found that once I hit Level 38 for Land of the Dead, I was only about 4-5 minutes slower from 38-70 than on the PC. The problem here is getting to 38, as that took about an hour. On the PC, that typically takes me roughly 15 minutes due to massacre bonuses.

Post 38, I found that I was liking The Eternal Woods. Super high experience compared to other zones, decent density, and a guaranteed cursed chest. That allowed me to keep Land of the Dead up a lot.

I was thinking of perhaps Act 4, and tried Upper Realm of Infernal Fate, due to a guaranteed Cursed Chest, but the monsters just didn’t really spawn enough. The problem is, without the massacre bonuses, Temple of the Firstborn just really isn’t that fast, since on the PC, it’s the massacre bonuses where you the majority of your XP. Without those, the XP there is pretty terrible.

Yeah, it’s possible to get under an hour with group play, but I’m trying to do it solo, and something that’s repeatable. Gambling for a weapon is too risky, as you only have a 1 in 4 shot for a Bloodtide.


I made some adjustments by focusing on Cursed Chests & Shrines until Level 38, and I got it down to 64 minutes as a solo necro. Apparently the Twitch app on Xbox crashed at the 16 minute mark. I made another attempt, and hit 70 in 70m. Made a few small tweaks, and hit 60 minutes!

Diablo 3: Necromancer 60 minute 1-70 on Xbox, Season Start Conditions - Twitch

It’s a little different than what you’d see on leveling guides, which typically focus on the PC. Because massacre bonuses weren’t a focus, I added a few extra cursed chests to the mix, such as Cursed Outpost, which seems to give a ton of XP. But you’ll die. And quick bounties such as Clear the Warrior’s Rest or Kill Zoltun Kulle (once I got level reduce and could play T6). Fortunately, unlike the PC version, you can revive infinitely, so that wasn’t a big concern.

So, I think sub 1 hour solo should be possible, as long as you’re playing Necro, and get a little bit of luck.

Necro with Grasp and the poison 2-hander got me to 70 in roughly 90 minutes twice in a row, so if you are aiming for max-speed with this, it should be doable!

As mentioned above, I did hit the hour with just the gloves (no weapon), so breaking an hour should be doable. No need to push much further though, as I doubt I can get much faster.

But I’m not a big fan of upgrading a weapon at the beginning. There are far more drawbacks than benefits. The only class I’ve found it makes sense with is the Demon Hunter.

What is the drawback of getting a good weapon and then cubing it? Am I overlooking something? Sure, you have to go and get the cube and that takes a few minutes, but you get a lot of power in return… Because of the great chance at getting the Grasp and the fact that all four 2-hand scythes are good/great, I do it with a Necro, but DH could work with the Impale knife… But really, where is the possible downside?

For leveling with the DH, you really want Lord Greenstones Fan. It’s much faster than Karlei’s.

Anyway, as far as why you avoid the weapon. Most of this will apply to the PC as well as the console, unless specified. (This is going to be a very long post.)

  1. A weapon adds very little value to the leveling time. So, I posted a 60 minute 1-70. Now, to be fair, that was on an Xbox Series, so if you’re running an original Xbox, Switch, or PS4 without an SSD, there are going to be load times. Plus, I used the Infernal Helm, which comes with the Xbox seasonal characters, whereas the ring doesn’t. But the helm itself will save maybe 3-5 minutes tops, because it is so low level. And I didn’t have to upgrade the vendors, and I used a pre-crafted Level Reduce weapon.

I do that so I have a control. It’s one of the issues I have with the streamers who craft every time. Without a control, you can get inappropriate ideas of how long it takes to level. For example, you get a wizard who crafted a -30 on their first craft, and a monk who used all their materials and only got a -17, you wouldn’t have the best idea of how they really compare in terms of leveling.

And I’m not adding the Challenge Rift to the run. So let’s say it’s 1h15m-1h20m by the time I hit 70, depending on the Level Reduce. Part of my approach in the above strategy I used for console leveling is that the key level for me is 38 (when you get Land of the Dead), not the Level Reduce. Really, the weapon helps with the early levels, and I’ll fully admit, unlike the PC, that’s an issue I still need to improve upon on the console.

Still, 80m to get to 70, without a weapon, is fairly decent. With a weapon, maybe you could shave off 10 minutes at most. I’ll get to why this is still a bad idea in a bit.

Now, I’ll also agree that practice runs typically never work as well in a real season, so even if a person puts up a video of a practice run, I fully understand taking it with a grain of salt. You see all these stupidly fast practice runs, but come the day of the actual season, the streamers never run anywhere remotely close to that. And even myself, my PC practice runs are on average 45 minutes 1-70. And when you exclude Season 22 (the shadow clones), as well as Asia, which had some notorious cheating going on in a few seasons, only 5 players have ever leveled to 70 in under 50 minutes, and only 1 player has ever done it more than once. And typically, fewer than 10 players per server level to 70 in under an hour, even on the PC.

This was Americas PC at the hour mark for the Season 27 start:

(Sorry, I can’t really record all the consoles as well, as they run on the same time as Americas.)

For the most part, your first 70 achievement points will be your first 70 levels, so that’s how you can tell who hits 70 first. On the PC, they also give you a time stamp as well if you hover over their name.

The player who beat me to 70 did it by barely a minute, and he did upgrade a weapon, whereas I didn’t. That still means everyone below leveled slower. But #2 and only by a minute I would say is still pretty good.

  1. Now, onto the console, as mentioned in my post above, the key skill I use in Land of the Dead, which you get at 38.

Now, on the PC, when it groups, it might make sense to upgrade a weapon, but only in groups. Though there are other reasons why you don’t want to do that, even in PC groups. Because the HF Ring & Amulet patterns count as Jewelry recipes on the PC, unlike the console), you’ll want half your party to be running bounties while the other half level. It’s faster to power level them to 70 after you get Haedrig’s Gift than it is to run 4 person bounties.

But being the console, where weapons help are the initial corpses, not the later ones. Because I was playing high XP zones, I leveled up quickly, and the cooldown would be reset constantly, giving me near infinite Land of the Dead uptime. You add in more players in your group, and you can level up even faster, as someone will always have LotD ready to use.

  1. Upgrading is expensive. The Challenge Cache will give you slightly under 125 yellows. You can convert whites & blues with a Death breath, and you’ll have 200 more. Upgrading weapons for a Level Reduce take 15 yellows each. This gives you roughly 21 crafting attempts, assuming you craft no other gear. By the time you hit 40, you might have enough yellows to craft 2-3 more times, provided you’re not leveling via rifts.

Now, on your 90 minute runs, are you rifting? Or are you leveling via other means? You’ll get a decent amount of yellows via rifts, but if you just use regular zones, they’re very few and far between. On my demonstration above, I wasn’t.

Anyway, the upgrade of a weapon is 7 to craft a 2 handed scythe, and 50 to upgrade it. This is another 3 crafting attempts, or 19 enchants. This is huge when it comes to getting a Level Reduce weapon, and can be the difference between a -19 and a -28.

  1. Now, the big reason is post 70 (i.e. Haedrig’s Gift) matters, and if you can level in under 2 hours, it matters more than the leveling. Really, it’s not 1-70 which matters, it’s 1-Haedrig’s Gift. Once you hit 70, just completing Haedrig’s Gift can take anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours. If you’re leveling under 2 hours, completing Haedrig’s Gift takes longer than the leveling process.

Let’s take the above, and say you get a decent Level Reduce early. Here’s a screen cap from Season 26, with the materials I had:

That would have left me with barely any materials, once I hit 70. But if you don’t upgrade while leveling, you can upgrade when you hit 70. And a Level 70 legendary weapon will give a massive boost to your stats.

Also, this is one of the reasons I only gamble for the gloves, and nothing else. So that all my extra blood shards go to upgrading my gear, and whatever remaining yellows I have go to crafting a Sage Set.

But a legendary weapon will upgrade your dps roughly 15-25%, and can give a huge defense boost as well if you get vitality. Because I saved my blood shards and gear, my dps increased from 117k to 175k, and my toughness increased from 1.6 million to 4.6 million. This allows me to instantly go to T4.

This was Season 27 on Europe:

The same holds true for the console as well.

One thing people often don’t realize is that rifting at the season start is super slow. I’m not talking about leveling here either. Just running the rift. Because at this point in time, you probably have no gear which gives you speed abilities. With 4 players running a rift, even if you can one shot everything, you’re talking 6-7 minutes to clear a rift. It can be 10+ minutes trying to do it solo. For instance, I was running in a group on Americas for Season 27, and one of them failed their solo GR20. That cost our team 28 minutes. The failure time of the GR and running another rift for a key. That was half the time it took just to get to 70. The point being, until you get some speed in your build, you don’t want to be running any more rifts than you have too.

But the fact that you don’t have a legendary weapon at the moment means that you’re probably not clearing Torment 4 immediately. So that means you’re going to have to run multiple rifts to be able to get GR20 unlocked. And that’s a huge cost in time.

Here’s last season compared to the maxroll team. We had practically the same team make up. This also wasn’t anywhere close to a perfect run on our end (I was running with a new team), and also after I leveled up my real character:

2h14m vs 2h42m. Nearly half an hour faster than the maxroll team. And while we did level faster than them, it wasn’t by much. The key difference was optimizing the acquisition of Haedrig’s Gift. And a key portion of that was that we could jump immediately into T4, because I had the weapon to use.

  1. Hardcore. This is more PC oriented though. If you cube the weapon, you now have to wear the gloves. That will make you a little bit weaker, as Level 16 gloves have barely any stats, so you’re down practically one piece of gear. But what happens if you die? And on the PC, you also have to worry about disconnects and crashes as well. (On the PC, you can’t just exit immediately, so your hero waits around for 10 seconds, which can be a death sentence. And it has happened during season start on occasion to entire servers). Almost every speed leveling video you see for the necromancer uses Grasps of Essence. Worse comes to worse and you die, losing a weapon isn’t a big deal. But losing the gloves is.

  2. Consistency. There are 4 scythes. There’s only 1 pair of gloves. I only need to learn one leveling strategy. Worst case scenario, and I don’t get the gloves, I have a weapon to fall back on.

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Barb leveling from 1-70 sucks even on PC and it is even worse on console.