Diablo III is a game that challenges the conventions of the Action RPG genre, which was established by the first Diablo game in the first place. Blizzard wanted people to change their perception of the genre and be given a more dynamic experience as a whole, with more ways to be rewarded for completing quests and farming. With that in mind, you still have to play well in order to get the most out of your time and energy invested in this game. Here are a few things things you need to remember to become a highly effective Diablo III player.
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Use Elective Mode
Oh please, use Elective Mode, at least when you've finally gotten a hold of playing your character. This mode enables you to assign skills more freely to whatever key you desire, so you can have your most commonly used skills mapped to your mouse buttons. You can also have two or more skills of the same skill page made active, which is something you can't do when the mode is turned off.
You can enable Elective Mode through your gameplay options menu, which can be accessed by pressing Escape during gameplay. What Elective Mode does is give you a great degree of customization with your skills and thus make you a more effective member of a team as you can fulfill a role much better with a custom loadout. Knowing that Nephalem Valor does not permit you to change your skills midway, then using Elective Mode when farming champion packs is crucial to success.
Don't Pick Up White or Gray Items
This may seem like the opposite of what you should be doing since Diablo III is mostly about the loot system, but you'd get little to no gold from selling them to NPC merchants, and no one would buy them in the Auction House. Even if you do care about the gold or components you get from them, you'd be wasting time going back to town to unload your loot.
Therefore, you should just pick up magical, rare, set, and unique items. With blue items though, you may not pick them up all the time, especially if you don't care about the components that you get from the blacksmith for them. Most of your gold will come from gold drops and the Auction House, so normal items shouldn't be much of an issue to you once you've gone past the lower levels.
Prioritize Damage and Vitality Upgrades
There are plenty of stats and bonuses that you can increase in the game, but you then realize upon playing up to a hundred hours that there are only two things that are important in the game, which are damage and vitality. Staying alive and killing everything else as quickly as possible are the most essential functions that you must engage in, and everything else is either supplementary or negligible.
The blacksmith doesn't have much use due to the Auction House other than for repairs, but the jewel crafter Covetous Shen is actually quite handy, not to mention that he is an interesting character to boot. What you get with gems is a good way to add stat bonuses by being attached to socketed items. For example, rubies give you more vitality, which lets you stay alive and give more of what you got longer, especially if you're using a melee character like the Barbarian or the Monk.
You can craft better gems by having Covetous Shen combine three gems of the same type and quality to create one of a better quality. A better gem gives higher bonuses, which can vary on where it is stuck in. You must also collect Pages of Jewelcrafting and Tomes of Jewelcrafting to upgrade Covetous Shen's capabilities. If you want to maximize your character, then having gems is definitely important.
Play Every Class and Learn Their Merits
Each character class has their own strengths and weaknesses, which corresponds to a different style of play. This is crucial especially when you get to Inferno, when being mindful of every tactic and skill available at the moment is crucial to survival. Once you're farming with other players, with Nephalem Valor stacks and Monster Power cranked up, you wouldn't want to be any less effective than those who do know what they're doing.
This is where essentially doing your homework comes in, as playing Diablo III seriously is about being on point and focused at all times with your character. Every class plays differently, and it's natural for different players to be good at different classes, just like in any other game. That shows the depth and breadth of the design put into Diablo III.
Once you've decided on the character class of your choice, you must then experiment with all the different builds possible with that character and practice the strategies and tactics you'll need in your future battles.
If you want to be a worthy team member that can hold his own and not hold the team back, then you should hit as hard as you can and not die. With skills configured using the Elective Mode and leaving room in the inventory for only the best loot that you get from hunting down champion packs in a farming run, then you are on your way to getting the best out of Diablo III.