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Greater Rifts (also referred to as GR) play the biggest role in Diablo III's Endgame. In this post we are going to take a deep look into the mechanics behind it!
|Torment Level||Greater Rift Level|
To open a Greater Rift you need a Greater Rift Keystone obtained in Nephalem Rifts. The higher the cleared Nephalem Rift is the higher the amount of average keys you will receive as reward. On Torment 16 you will receive 3 or 4 keys with equal probability. Cain's Destiny set can increase your average number of keys by 25%.
Click the Nephalem Obelisk next to Orek in town to open a GR & choose a Rift level. You will unlock the first tiers by completing Nephalem Rifts on certain difficulty levels.
On top of that and further along all the way to GR150 (which is the cap) you unlock new tiers by completing the Greater Rifts. To complete a Greater Rift you need to kill monsters until you reach 100% progression and then kill the Rift Guardian (also known as RG) within a 15 minute time window. The remaining time is displayed by a timer on the right side. Depending on how fast you complete the GR, you will unlock +1 (10:00-15 minutes completion time), +2 (5:00-9:59 minutes completion time) or +3 (0:00-4:59 minutes completion time) tiers.
Every time you complete a Greater Rift in time you are also placed in the in game Leaderboards if you are within the top 1000 Players for each individual category. The categories on the Leaderboards are:
- Overall Solo for each of the 7 Classes.
Since Season 23, each Class has 6 additional separate Leaderboards: one for each of the 5 Class Sets and 1 for No (6) Bonus Set (Usually Legacy of Nightmares and Legacy of Dreams builds).
Once you kill the Rift Guardian of a Greater Rift in time all your transmogrification, gear, skills and passives will be snapshotted onto the Leaderboards. Every player watching your clear on the Leaderboards can see your full setup except your follower. However this has not always been the case.
From the introduction of Greater Rifts into the game until Season 4, only the transmogrification of the players setup was shown and the actual build remained hidden. This was changed for the sake of more transparency, but also leads to some problems where a lot of people just copy paste whatever the Rank 1 player is using without understanding the builds or the mechanics behind it. In the end this feature is useful to get a general idea of what builds the top clears used, especially for newer or returning players.
Monsters killed in Greater Rifts don't drop any loot. All the Gold-generating effects (such as Boon of the Hoarder or Goldskin) are also disabled. Instead you get massive amount of loot when you finish the rift by killing the Rift Guardian.
|GR tier compared to Gem's rank||Chance of upgrading|
|+10 or higher||100%|
|-5 to -15||1%|
|-16 or lower||0%|
The Rift Guardian drops Gold, Gems, crafting materials and Blood Shards, amount of which scales linearly with Greater Rift tier. It also drops up to 12 items of varying quality. The average quality of these items increases with the Greater Rift tier but somewhere around GR100 it becomes high enough that virtually every item dropped will be a Legendary or Set item. From that point on the item drops effectively stop scaling.
If you do not have all Legendary Gems collected, the Rift Guardian is guaranteed to drop one of the Gems you are missing. The first gem you get this way is always Bane of the Powerful. Legacy of Dreams has significantly higher drop chance compared to all other gems and is usually found soon after. Otherwise the order is completely random.
If you complete a Greater Rift on time, you can attempt to upgrade your Legendary Gems by talking to Urshi (who spawn next to a random player). You get 3 upgrade attempts baseline, one more if you don't die for the entire rift and another one if you pay Gold to empower the rift before entering it. You can spend these attempts on any gems that you have on your character or in your shared stash. The chance of successful upgrade depends on the Greater Rift tier and Gem's rank. Refer to the table above for the exact chances on each level.
After you kill the Rift Guardian (and upgraded your Gems if you succeeded), you can talk to Orek in town to finish the quest. This close the Greater Rift and grants you a large amount of Gold and Experience scaling exponentially with the Greater Rift tier.
New personal solo records will also unlock a new maximum Blood Shards cap the player can carry at a time. You start with a base cap of 500 and get an increase of +10 Blood Shards per cleared Greater Rift Level. That means if you manage to clear a GR100 solo you get a cap of:
500 Base + GR100 * 10 = 1,500 Blood Shards
In a fresh season or on a new account you will also get access to the best items in the game, the Primal Ancients, by clearing a GR70 Solo! Completing a GR75 Solo will also unlock Torment 16 difficulty in Public Games for your character. This is done to ensure that you are capable to clear certain content before being assigned to a public group of your power level.
The penalty for death inside a Greater Rift is the additional time it takes to respawn: On the very first death you can respawn instantly without losing any time, but every death beyond that will increase your respawn timer by +5 seconds, up to a maximum of 30 seconds. The Greater Rift timer of 15 minutes will keep counting during your respawn time. There is however one counterplay to this mechanic, which consists to use the "Resurrect at Checkpoint" button to respawn instantly at the entrance of the Greater Rift floor you currently are.
The GR150 Cap
When introduced, the Greater Rift System was meant to be an infinite scaling system. This has been the case for the longest as there was no way to reach the theoretical cap. However, the powercreep brought every patch eventually allowed players to reach and clear the highest possible Rifts.
While GR130 has been the highest clear ever done for a straight year, done in Season 6 and only beaten with Season 11, the damage multipliers inflation went out of control afterwards resulting in GR150 clears by Season 14. Nowadays, it became the rule rather than the exception that GR150 is cleared within the first few days of a fresh season and speed cleared within a few minutes in the final season push, hence the use of the term Time Attack.
Blizzard has stated that the Greater Rift Cap of 150 is here to stay as it is and rather focuses on adding new builds as well as improving existing ones to further add variety to Diablo III's endgame. Here is the Blizzard's official blog post regarding this issue.
An important note, especially for those of you who have been looking for this answer: we have no plans to increase the Greater Rift level cap beyond 150. As to why, the short answer is because it causes more problems than it solves.
The long answer is that continuing to expand the end game through additional Greater Rift levels hasn’t been the healthiest approach for Diablo III. At this late stage of game development, we’d prefer to focus on making the current game the best, and most varied, experience it can possibly be. We hope to accomplish this by (1) continuing to add new builds and (2) improving existing builds that have fallen behind. Maintaining a cap, and even backing away from it a little, will allow us to focus on greater gameplay variety.
Greater Rifts get more and more difficult but also more and more rewarding the higher you go.
Each level you go up the multiplicative increase is:
- Monster health:
- Monster damage:
- Gold gain:
1.03% per Greater Rift Level
Same for the Empowered Costs but rounded
- Experience gain:
GR1-25: Handpicked numbers
- Blood Shard gain:
127 Base + (GR Level * 3)
427 Bloodshards on GR100
Most of the time you will be playing Greater Rifts above level 70 there the scaling can be illustrated as follows:
- Monster Health doubles every 4.5 tiers
- Monster Damage doubles every 30 tiers
- Experience gain doubles every 14 tiers
Blood Shards and Gold costs to empower for +1 gem up increases with every level as well as the Gold reward for completing the Greater Rifts.
The monster life further increases by 100% for each Player beyond the first one who joined the Greater Rift when it was opened. The monster damage remains the same. As there are some amazing group synergies and combinations available as well as the Strength in Numbers buff the group benefits far outweigh the monster life gain. You can check the full Multiplayer scaling here.
History & Trials
Back when Greater Rifts got introduced you had to farm Bounties in order to open Torment Rifts with special Keys. Then you had to farm Torment Rifts in order to get Keystone of Trials from the Rift Guardian to access the Trial Realm.
The Trial Realm was a relatively small area where players had to clear waves of monsters in a certain time window. Depending on how high a wave of monster you or your party cleared in a given time you would be rewarded with a Greater Rift Keystone of the cleared difficulty level. A unique playstyle that was required to gain the highest keys resulted in an entire META revolving just around the Trial Realm.
This system was changed in 2015 with Season 4 to the system we know today as it was deemed players had to go through a lot of effort to actually play the real Diablo III endgame: Greater Rifts!
There are a variety of different maps that randomly appear when a Greater Rift is opened. There are some exceptions like the Sewer & Westmarch map layouts that cannot spawn as Greater Rift floor 1. Generally Players are looking for open map layouts where it is easy to build up density of trash monsters while damaging Elites and dragging them along to finish them off. On top of that the top Rift layouts have plenty Pylon spots for very flexible use. Here is a full list of Maps with a chance to be opened as floor 1 (sample-size of 1000 runs) and a short description of each map in the pool, sorted by potential:
A couple things that have changed from the past:
Maps that have been great, like the Aranae Cavern (Spider Cave) for example have been reduced from a possible 2 room layout to only 1, making it one of the worst maps nowadays.
A lot of map layouts like the 4 corner Arreat Craters that you can see in Torment Rifts are just not possible to spawn in Greater Rifts anymore.
Here you can see the maps data showcased in a video by wudijo:
There are a variety of different monsters with different progressions that appear inside a Greater Rift:
The Rift Guardian spawns after 100% progression is reached and is the final boss of the Greater Rift. They all have the same amount of hit points, count as Elites and are different monster types. There are a total of 25 Rift Guardians each with different and unique mechanics.
You can find a full article by Chewingnom about Rift Guardian Mechanics here, from Force Teleport mechanics to Bane of the Stricken, without forgetting all Rift Guardians Abilities!
Rules & Management
Another important mechanic inside Greater Rifts are Pylons. Pylons are very important and can make the difference between an attempt and a clear in push. Here is all you need to know about Pylons:
- Each Pylon type can only spawn once within the same Greater Rift.
- It is only possible to spawn up to four Pylons per Greater Rift.
- After the Rift Guardian is spawned, Pylons cannot spawn anymore.
- Pylon spawn locations are always fixed in every layout. With enough practice, you can be able to tell where every Pylon location is just by looking at the layout!
- Pylon spawn chance is tied to how much progress you did. This chance is resetted to ~1% after spawning a Pylon and scales linearly up to ~50% progress where your chance to find a Pylon on the next spot is 100%.
- As the base spawn chance is ~1%, you can get a Pylon at 0% progress, or get two Pylons in a row without doing any progress. That is however very unlikely.
- Due to the aforementioned rules, the optimal progression to actively look for a Pylon is between 20% and 33%. The sooner you find a Pylon, the sooner you can make progress towards spawning another!
- Pylon spawn locations are checked when you are 75 yards away from them, which is further than your screen edges (50 to 60 yards). Take care or you can miss a Pylon!
- Pylon spawn locations all have an independant chance to spawn a Pylon. Because you don't get a Pylon on a spot doesn't mean you can't get one on the next spot without doing any progress!
This means you can check two Pylon spawn locations in a row if you have enough at disposition and you did a lot of progress. However, if you don't get any Pylon after checking two locations, you need to make some progress before checking another spot.
- You can check on purpose Pylon spawn locations to "block" them if your team does not want a Pylon on the floor you're fighting on. The same way, you can spawn Pylons on the next floor while your team is fighting on the previous floor.
- In group push, the Pylon management is generally the responsability of Supports, especially the zBarb.
- Pylon effects are lost if you teleport out of the Greater Rift. This is especially useful for Shield Pylon as Supports generally want to be able to use their Bottomless Potion of Kulle-Aid to break walls. This can also be used to remove the Speed Pylon knockback effect while retaining the other benefits.
- The only item interacting with Pylons is The Flavor of Time, which doubles the Pylon effect duration for players wearing it. Followers can wear it for you in solo as it emanates.
- Channeling Pylon
- Effect: Reduces resource costs by 100% and all cooldowns by 75%.
- Duration: 30 seconds
- Best use: Offensive for high cooldown burst skills like the Necromancer's Land of the Dead and to skip maps quickly by spamming movement speed abilities.
- Conduit Pylon
- Effect: Releases Lightning ticks from your character damaging monsters and scaling with the Greater Rift level. Deals reduced damage to Rift Guardians.
- Duration: 30 seconds
- Best use: At the end of open maps after dragging Elites alongside.
- Shield Pylon
- Effect: Grants immunity to all incoming damage and Crowd Control effects.
- Duration: 60 seconds
- Best use: In huge prepared pulls or on the Rift Guardian.
- Speed Pylon
- Effect: Increases Movement Speed by 100%, Attack Speed by 30% additive, grants the ability to move unhindered and to knock monsters up applying a Crowd Control effect onto them.
- Duration: 60 seconds
- Best use: This Pylon is skipped by some builds and often in group play because of the added Crowd Control effect, but it still can be used to skip floors fast or to help stacking Bane of the Stricken on the Rift Guardian. Leaving the Greater Rift only removes the knockback effect and let you keep the other benefits.
- Power Pylon
- Effect: Grants you a 250% separate damage multiplier (x3.5).
- Duration: 30 seconds
- Best use: Usually in huge pulls with some Elites timed with Convention of Elements cycle or on the Rift Guardian after stacking Bane of the Stricken for some time.
Getting a high rank on the Leaderboards usually requires a huge amount of GR fishing. You are looking for a top tier map with a top tier mob type, usually a Conduit Pylon and a decent boss for your individual build. Sometimes you even rely on some more RNG factors like Seasonal Themes (S21) or Elite Affixes like Missile Dampening. Here is a list of usual RNG factors that go into Greater Rift fishing and we can "build" our dream Greater Rift with roughly estimated chances:
1. You need a good Rift Tileset: Festering Woods is the best one.
~ 5.4% chance
2. You need a good Tileset Layout: On Festering Woods, the best tilesets are 4 corner layouts.
~ 20% chance
3. You need a good Mobtype: Transformers or Lacuni Slashers for instance.
4. You need a good density of trash monsters or good amount of specific monsters (Unholy Thralls or Wretched Mothers for instance).
~ 33.3% chance
5. You need good Elite Affixes: Preferably no Wormwhole or Juggernaut Elites.
~ 20% chance
6. You need good Elite Types: You want to have mostly melee Elites (these usually stay inside the pull and follow very easily) or Summoners, Mothers, Vile Hives, Maggots to spawn additional progress and/or Area Damage.
~ 15% chance
7. You want to finish the Rift in 1 to 3 Pulls ideally to lose not too much time moving and building a new pull.
~ Covered in 1. 2. 3. & 4.
8. You need good Pylons: Ideally Conduit Pylon for the Rift, Power Pylon and/or Speed Pylon for the Rift Guardian. In solo, Shield Pylon is great during the Rift for most builds.
~ 25% chance
9. You want to get 100% Progression on one map to not lose times with loading screens, travel times and grouping up monsters. Getting ~80% Progression in one map and finish with a Conduit Pylon on the second map is more likely to happen and great as well.
~ Covered in 1. 2. 3. & 4.
10. You need a good Rift Guardian depending on your build, completely stationary single target or melee with minions for Oculus Rings for instance.
~ 24% chance
That leaves us with a rough estimation about the chance to get a dream Rift scenario:
0.054 * 0.2 * 0.3 * 0.333 * 0.2 * 0.15 * 0.25 * 0.24 = 0.000001942056%
Or 1 in around 500,000 for the absolute perfect Rift. For reference Rob has played this game for more than 10,000 hours since launch and cleared "only" 78,000 Rifts on his account. Of course you don't need a perfect Rift by any means to get a top rank, it is rather just a theoretical best case scenario. You can roughly get a decent Rift every 100 keys.
Below you can find suggestions to reduce this RNG dependency for Greater Rift Pushing and make the journey to push a high Leaderboard rank more fun for the player.
Greater Rifts are very RNG heavy and are a huge part of the game. Getting a high Leaderboard rank requires a lot of fishing and determination from the player. The system around the Greater Rift cap and the randomness factor could be greatly improved, but it has already come a long way since its launch and has been improved tremendously. Overall Greater Rifts are a great endgame tool and are fun to play solo as well as in groups with your friends.
May the RNJesus be with you on your Diablo journey!
Written by Rob. Corrected and Updated by Chewingnom.