How Long Does It Take to Hit Level 160 in Diablo III?

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You’ve swept through Diablo III like a scythe through styrofoam pellets. You have every character class maxed, every item slot perfected. You’ve soloed through “Inferno,” which is even harder than reading that musty 14th-century epic poem in the original Italian.

You’ve dressed your characters in all Rare bling, because you know how badly Blizzard loused up Legendary items from the get-go. You know that eviscerating three “elite” mobs is way harder than putting any of the game’s bosses down, and you can do it routinely. On message boards, you’re the one typing “you need to play better” when someone drops by to kvetch about soloing Rakanoth in under so many minutes with a wizard or demon hunter.

So you’re bored, basically, and looking for something more engaging than Diablo III‘s unmemorable — as in still nonexistent — PvP. Well buck up, because Blizzard has you covered, and then some.

(MORE: Diablo III Review: Drop By for the Grind, Stay for the Achievements)

With patch 1.04‘s new leveling system, which Blizzard announced on Monday and rolled out Tuesday (it’s live now), the company’s lifted Diablo III‘s level cap from 60 to 160. Well, sort of. The primary leveling system still peaks at 60, but Blizzard’s added a new “Paragon” leveling system in 1.04 that clocks parallel to the primary one, but doesn’t kick in until after you hit level 60, making it for all intents and purposes 100 supplemental levels.

Here’s Diablo III game director Jay Wilson on the impetus behind “Paragon.”

Two of the issues we’ve been thinking about while working on patch 1.0.4 have been what to do with Magic Find and how to give level-60 players who aren’t satisfied with the item hunt something more to strive for. I’m sure many of you are aware of the blog we posted proposing some different Magic Find gear-swapping solutions, as well as our general thoughts on how rewarding the game is once you hit level 60. The Paragon system is designed to help us address these concerns — but before we get into exactly how it works, let’s go over these two core issues in a little more detail.

The idea is basically to keep the gaming going for diehards who’ve tired of net negative sessions, scouring levels for rare item drops that never happen and walking away less steep repair costs in gold. It’s also to level-set an equipment-swapping trick, where players don equipment keyed less to their character’s combat strengths than rolling better loot moments before delivering the coup de grace in some epic smackdown.

Here’s how it works: After level 60, experience counts toward Paragon levels, which work a lot like normal levels. You’ll get Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence and Vitality stat boosts, tantamount to those you get normal leveling. You’ll receive an automatic +3% Magic Find and +3% Gold Find bonus, the idea being that you’ll eventually be the equal of Magic Find gear, eliminating the need to gear-swap. And for vanity points, Blizzard’s slapping a snazzy new frame around your character portrait — it changes every 10 levels, slowly devoured by laurel leaves and Danzig skulls — so anyone looking you over can see where you’re at on the road to apotheosis.

Even the weird-sounding-unless-you’re-a-Diablo-wonk “Nephalem Valor” endgame system feeds into the new Paragon mechanic, dropping a 15% experience bonus per stack that applies toward Paragon leveling.

How long will it take to hit Paragon 100? Wilson:

The first Paragon level should take about as long as it took most players to get from level 59 to 60, and the experience requirement will rise from there. The time to reach the upper Paragon levels approximates the long-term time investment required to get a level 99 character in Diablo II.

Furthermore, level 100 Paragons won’t have to gear-swap ever again.

With the Paragon system in place, we’re capping Magic Find and Gold Find to 300% (before Nephalem Valor). This means that without any Magic Find gear at all, you’ll hit the cap when you reach Paragon level 100. This way, you can continue wearing your current Magic Find gear as you slowly but surely work to gain Paragon levels. Eventually, once you hit Paragon level 100, you’ll have the freedom to completely focus every slot on stats that help your character kill stuff faster and stay alive longer. The idea is that if you’re currently swapping gear in and out for the Magic Find bonuses, you can continue to do so… but gain enough Paragon levels, and you won’t need to anymore.

Excelsior! Bottle of Dom Pérignon, anyone?

MORE: Diablo III: So Far, So Rolling a Boulder Downhill