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Diablo 3 Builds, Character Development and Progression Guide


It is indeed a year of glory as gamers are to get graced with the long-awaited Diablo 3. Veterans of the series will recognize familiarities between the heroes of the past and the ones present in the third addition to the long-running RPG series.

While Diablo 3 retains many classical aspects from its predecessors, it also adds many new elements and features that make it yet more exciting.

Out of the lot is the way your character can be customized and developed. This has changed significantly when compared with Diablo II, which had a very open character development system and tree.

Basics

Apart from completely new heroes, the entire character development has changed in the game.

Now, instead of skill points to spend openly, the character is leveled in a more restricted manner initially, but the choices and variety begin to show at later stages of the game, when you can opt to enhance given skills or to get entirely new ones.

Having said that, the amount of abilities for every hero has greatly reduced. You won’t have around 50 plus abilities to choose from; instead, the focus is on a handful of abilities isolated from each other with specific purposes.

With that knowledge, the skills can be categorized into 3 types:
Mouse Skills

  • Primary
  • Secondary

Action Bar Skills
Passive Skills

Mouse Skills are the ones associated with the left and right click of the mouse. These are further divided into Primary Skills (left-click) and Secondary (right-click).

The Action Bar Skills are skills that will be placed in the Action Bar located in between your health and mana. Action Bar Skills are further sub-divided into 4 categories, different for every class.

There are many sorts of Passive Skills in the passive skill category, but only three can be activated at a time.

Skill Runes

  • In addition to a certain number of skills, the Mouse Skills and Action Bar Skills can be further enhanced with what are called Skill Runes.
  • Skill Runes are enhancements or amplifiers for a specific skill. Every skill (except Passive Skills) has 5 different Skill Runes which will further amplify the skill itself in different manners.
  • For example, for the Barbarian’s ‘Bash’ skill, the five Runes are Clobber, Onslaught, Punish, Instigation, and Pulverize.
  • Each of these Runes has different effects and is available at completely different levels. However, only one Rune can be selected at a time.
  • When a skill is initially unlocked, no Rune will be selected for it. Players must unlock the Rune at specific levels by investing Skill Points in them.
  • Passive Skills do NOT have Skill Runes.

Elective Mode

If you don’t know about Elective Mode, then chances are you are frustrated with the fact that there is such a tedious limit to what kind of abilities can be set on the mouse buttons.

There’s a not-so-well advertised feature which removes this and gives the player full authority of the skills. This is called the Elective Mode, and can be activated from the Gameplay menu in Options.

Once activated, it is possible to set any two active skills (be it Action Bar Skill or Mouse Skill) to the two mouse kicks. It is also then possible to assign Mouse Skills to the Action Bar.

For example, with the Witch Doctor, the ‘Summon Undead Dogs’ skill CANNOT be set to the left or right mouse click when Elective Mode is OFF. Once you have it on, you have the option of actually setting the skill to either of the two mouse clicks, or leaving it in the Action Bar.

Notes

Though the new character development system is initially restrictive, it will open up vastly towards the middle/late stages of the game. Therefore there is no absolute right or wrong build; the choices are entirely up to the player and his/her play-style.

These guides are meant to give you an idea of how you can develop your character, and which combinations work for what kind of situation.

This obviously opens up a lot of options for an individual. Sadly, this mode is off in default settings and there is little advertisement of it despite the fact that it is so useful.

Leveling Pattern

Unlike in Diablo II, players do not have open choices to which ability to choose. Additionally, there is no hierarchy-based unlocking i.e. there are no skills that require pre-requisites (apart from level).

This means that for a specific set of level-ups, you will get specific kinds of unlocks and specific kinds of skill points.

Initially this trait is very restrictive and makes the development seem very linear and according to the game. However, choices open up much more as a player gets past level 10, and the real variety begins to show at mid-to-high levels.

As you will see in the list, the there are no additional Active Skills unlocked after level 30 onwards (tier 3); from level 31-60 you will only unlock additional Runes and Passive Skills. Therefore, in the builds guide only the first three tiers (level 1-10, 11-20, 21-30) will be discussed and then we will jump to the final version of the build, since there are no further choices for the Active Skills from level 30 onwards.

The following is a list of unlocks for every 10 levels till level 60.

Barbarian:

Level 1-10

7 New Active Skills
2 New Passive Skills
3 New Skill Runes

Level 11-20

8 New Active Skills
4 New Passive Skills
12 New Skill Runes

Level 21-30

7 New Active Skills
4 New Passive Skills
23 New Skill Runes

Level 31-40

0 New Active Skills
2 New Passive Skills
27 New Skill Runes

Level 41-50

0 New Active Skills
2 New Passive Skills
21 New Skill Runes

Level 51-60

0 New Active Skills
2 New Passive Skills
24 New Skill Runes

Total:

22 Active Skills
16 Passive Skills
110 Skill Runes

Demon Hunter:

Level 1-10

7 New Active Skills
2 New Passive Skills
3 New Skill Runes

Level 11-20

11 New Active Skills
4 New Passive Skills
12 New Skill Runes

Level 21-30

5 New Active Skills
4 New Passive Skills
25 New Skill Runes

Level 31-40

0 New Active Skills
2 New Passive Skills
26 New Skill Runes

Level 41-50:

0 New Active Skills
2 New Passive Skills
22 New Skill Runes

Level 51-60

0 New Active Skills
1 New Passive Skills
27 New Skill Runes

Total:

23 Active Skills
15 Passive Skills
115 Skill Runes

Monk:

Level 1-10

7 New Active Skills
2 New Passive Skills
3 New Skill Runes

Level 11-20

8 New Active Skills
4 New Passive Skills
12 New Skill Runes

Level 21-30

6 New Active Skills
3 New Passive Skills
20 New Skill Runes

Level 31-40

0 New Active Skills
2 New Passive Skills
26 New Skill Runes

Level 41-50

0 New Active Skills
2 New Passive Skills
21 New Skill Runes

Level 51-60

0 New Active Skills
1 New Passive Skills
23 New Skill Runes

Total:

21 Active Skills
14 Passive Skills
105 Skill Runes

Witch Doctor:

Level 1-10

7 New Active Skills
2 New Passive Skills
3 New Skill Runes

Level 11-20

7 New Active Skills
4 New Passive Skills
12 New Skill Runes

Level 21-30

8 New Active Skills
4 New Passive Skills
23 New Skill Runes

Level 31-40

0 New Active Skills
2 New Passive Skills
27 New Skill Runes

Level 41-50

0 New Active Skills
2 New Passive Skills
22 New Skill Runes

Level 51-60

0 New Active Skills
1 New Passive Skills
23 New Skill Runes

Total:

22 Active Skills
15 Passive Skills
110 Skill Runes

Wizard:

Level 1-10

7 New Active Skills
2 New Passive Skills
3 New Skill Runes

Level 11-20

9 New Active Skills
3 New Passive Skills
13 New Skill Runes

Level 21-30

9 New Active Skills
3 New Passive Skills
21 New Skill Runes

Level 31-40

0 New Active Skills
3 New Passive Skills
31 New Skill Runes

Level 41-50

0 New Active Skills
2 New Passive Skills
28 New Skill Runes

Level 51-60

0 New Active Skills
2 New Passive Skills
29 New Skill Runes

Total:

25 Active Skills
15 Passive Skills
125 Skill Runes

Builds

Now that you understand the basic character mechanics and progression, let’s take a look at how to develop your character while leveling up. We have a detailed in-depth guide on optimum builds of each class that should get you going as you level up. Click through the link to read these guides.

  1. Demon Hunter
  2. Witch Doctor
  3. Barbarian
  4. Monk
  5. Wizard

Don’t forget to share your builds and character progression tips with us in the comments below!