Dancing with the devil
Over a decade after Diablo 3 was first released into the wild, Diablo 4 has finally become available to the public. I was able to play a pre-release build of the game for my review, which you can find here. In short, I have some concerns about the game in the long run, but otherwise I had a lot of fun playing it!
That said, I learned many lessons during my time with the game. Now that I’m replaying it from scratch, I’m already having more fun after figuring out how the game’s many progression systems work. Don’t worry, Diablo 4 is perfectly playable without any prior knowledge. But if you want to streamline your playthrough, I recommend considering these ten beginner tips for Diablo 4.
1: Focus on the main story
Diablo 4 features an open world, filled with secrets to uncover and dungeons to crawl. Nothing’s stopping you from getting your butt kicked by superpowered foes right off the bat, so if that’s what you want to do, knock yourself out.
That said, you will want to clear the main campaign to unlock everything Diablo 4 has to offer. Everything from mounts to the highest difficulty settings will become available with story completion. Unless you specifically need to power up for a specific story encounter, I highly recommend making those yellow quest markers your highest priority.
2: Use potions generously
Potions in Diablo 4 work off a simple charge system. You’ll start with a maximum capacity of four potions, and you can freely refill them in most towns. Don’t be afraid to use them!
Dying in Diablo 4 will damage your gear. With enough damage, you’ll need to spend valuable gold on repairs. Conversely, warping back to town to refill your potions is incredibly easy. You’ll create a gate in town that will instantly bring you back to where you left off, so you won’t even lose progress. As long as you aren’t in combat, potion refills are always seconds away and will save you serious gold from the deaths you’ll prevent.
3: Know which gear to salvage
As with any game of the genre, Diablo 4 will shower you with more gear than you’ll ever feasibly need. Fortunately, you can put that excess equipment to good use by selling or salvaging.
As a rule of thumb, the materials you’ll get from salvaging Rare or Legendary gear will give you valuable materials that you’ll be glad to have by endgame. Conversely, Common or Magic items give materials that you’ll likely have in abundance. For this reason, I recommend salvaging Rare and Legendary gear and selling Common or Magic items. This will vary a bit once you reach high-level content, as you’ll have more specific resource priorities and other ways to use your Legendary items. But starting out, this will set yourself up well for later.
4: Don’t bother level grinding
Diablo 4 uses a level scaling system you’ve likely seen in other titles by now. While you can be underleveled for certain quests or areas, enemies will scale up if you exceed their minimum level requirement. In other words, if you’re stuck on a certain boss, leveling up could potentially become counterproductive.
That isn’t to say grinding is useless. Optional dungeons and cellars can hide powerful bosses that potentially drop great gear upon completion. As long as you’re deliberately working towards goals like these instead of mindlessly grinding mobs in the overworld, you’ll be fine. There are so many side systems that will increase your strength in Diablo 4, take advantage of them!
5: Activate waypoints as soon as possible
Waypoints make your life infinitely easier. Even after you get a mount, traveling around Diablo 4’s huge world will take ample time. If you see a waypoint icon on your map, drop everything and rush over to activate it.
Not only will this give you another fast travel location, you’ll earn Renown in the region you’re exploring. Speaking of which…
6: Earn Renown for extra power
If you do want to grind in Diablo 4, the Renown system is one of your best ways to do it. By completing a variety of objectives in different areas of the map, you’ll earn Renown. With enough Renown, you’ll unlock useful perks, including bonus skill points and potions. Best of all, rewards like these apply to your entire account. New characters you create will have a huge head start with these advantages!
If you specifically want to earn Renown in an area, side quests and waypoints are your easiest sources. However, if you’re up for the challenge, clearing enemy strongholds will reward you with a hefty Renown bonus while unlocking some nice perks afterwards as a bonus. If you’re stuck, I highly recommend collecting any extra skill points you can this way.
Until you reach World Tier III or higher, Renown rewards will be locked after the third unlock. Once you reach this stage, save the Renown grind in that area for later and check out different sections of the map.
7: Prioritize certain enemies
You’ll face a wide variety of foes on your journey to defeat Lilith. While many enemies are easy fodder for you to hack through, stronger enemies will appear with potentially lethal attacks. Keep track of who exactly you’re facing on the battlefield.
Foes that buff or summon monsters should go down ASAP. You’ll often hear a sound like a rainstick if one is on the field, so playing with volume on will help. Meanwhile, bulky Elite foes might become easier to take down once you clear the field of small fry. Your priorities may change depending on your build, so always keep track of your biggest threats at any given time.
8: Use Gems if you’re stuck
Longtime Diablo fans should be familiar with Gems. Players can augment any piece of equipment with at least one open circle on its respective icon with a variety of Gems. These offer diverse perks depending on how you slot them, and these bonuses can provide some serious power boosts.
Honestly, for most of the campaign, I suggest simply collecting and storing Gems for the future. You’ll swap equipment often throughout the early and mid game, and un-socketing Gems costs Gold, so the benefit isn’t terribly worthwhile. However, once the leveling curve starts to slow down, the value prospect evens out.
Given what we know about Diablo’s level scaling, Gems go a long way in giving you that extra push to defeat a particularly tough challenge. For me, this was invaluable as I made my way towards unlocking World Tier III difficulty. Fortunately, anyone just starting the game won’t have to worry about that for some time still.
9: Remap your hotbar
As you progress down the skill tree, you’ll naturally earn skills that will automatically appear on your hotbar. This works well enough at first, but as you flesh out your kit, you may find your skills don’t play well with your muscle memory. That’s where remapping comes in.
On the skill tree screen, you can press the right stick on a controller to manually assign skills. PC players can drag and drop skills from the tree directly onto their hotbar. This let’s you swap skills around however you like, which can make the game play much more naturally. For example, I like to have skills I use most often on the face buttons while leaving skills with longer cooldowns on the shoulder buttons. This screen also lets you map multiple skills of a certain type to your hotbar, which opens up the door for particularly wacky builds. In fact, this leads me to my final tip.
10: Play with your build
Early on, Diablo 4 lets you respec for free. This gives you some time to experiment with early game abilities, but you’ll only get a feel for how certain perks synergize as you progress down the tree. Reassigning skill points will eventually require a little gold, but trust me, finding your perfect build is well worth the cost. Don’t feel committed to making your first build idea work when you were still figuring out how to play the game!
Honestly, many builds won’t even function properly until you unlock Key Passives at the end of the tree. For this reason, deliberately respeccing as you progress through the game is arguably optimal for progression. You can already find plenty of build ideas in the wild, but at the end of the day, the best build will be the one that appeals to your playstyle the most.
Mess around with your character and tinker with your abilities, especially as you find legendary loot with unique effects. Maybe you’ll need to worry about optimal meta builds later, but for now, focus on having fun. Games shouldn’t be second jobs, so enjoy the adventure however you want.
Guide Editor - Timothy started writing community blogs for Destructoid in 2012. He liked it so much he decided to write articles for the site professionally. His love for RPGs and the Ys series will endure forever.