This page will cover how item drops and Magic Find work in Diablo 2 Resurrected.
The basic foundation of farming in Diablo 2 Resurrected seems simple enough; enemies drop loot when slain, so the more enemies you kill, the more loot you’ll get. The faster you can kill enemies, the faster you’ll accumulate loot. Some enemies, however, drop more/different loot than others, and once you find your first item with “+X% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items”, you may be wondering how this all works in greater detail. This page will cover item drops, farming and Magic Find in some detail.
For those who don’t care about the details and want the quick overview, however, just remember that Diablo 2 Resurrected is a game that very much requires volume farming, no matter what your build, how fast your kill rate, what, exactly, you’re farming, or how high your Magic Find is. Act Bosses tend to drop more magical items per kill than any other enemy, and characters with high Magic Find will tend to find higher quality items (rare, sets and uniques instead of magical items). Killing enemies in areas with a high Area Level (aLv) - typically limited to a half-dozen dungeons in Hell difficulty - will increase the variety of items that can drop to include every item in the game.
Find a boss or dungeon you’re capable of running quickly and safely, get a good balance of kill speed, survivability and Magic Find, then kill said boss/clear said dungeon a few hundred times. Pretty much anything before Nightmare Andariel isn’t terribly lucrative to farm, with Nightmare/Hell Mephisto being a favored target. Areas worth farming include the Mausoleum, The Pit, the Ancient Tunnels and the Chaos Sanctuary, all in Hell difficulty.
Normal, Exceptional and Elite Loot
Most forms of equipment come in three tiers of quality, and are roughly correlated with the three difficulty modes. The Sash is probably the first belt you’ll encounter in the game, and you’ll soon outgrow it. Once you reach Nightmare difficulty, however (or late in Normal difficulty - the correlation between item tier and difficulty isn’t perfect) you’ll start seeing Demonhide Sashes, which look like Sashes, save they have higher stats and requirements. Moving up a tier on the Sashes hierarchy, in Hell difficulty (or late Nightmare) you’ll start seeing Spiderweb Sashes drop, which have higher base stats and requirements still. Sashes are the normal variants, Demonhide Sashes are exceptional variants and Spiderweb Sashes are elite variants.
Just as Act 1 in Nightmare difficulty picks up where Act 5 in Normal difficulty leaves off in terms of enemy stats, the Demonhide Sash picks up where the Plated Belt left off in terms of equipment stats. More importantly, exceptional and elite variants of items have different set and unique versions. The unique sash is Lenymo, the unique Demonhide Sash is String of Ears and the unique Spiderweb Sash is Arachnid Mesh.
It may be tempting to correlate the quality with the base item and the quality of the unique, but this is not always the case. Remember, it’s the modifiers that matter in most cases, not the base stats of the item, with weapons shifting the balance a bit more towards the latter. Elite items might be rarer, but there’s no hard correlation between rarity and usefulness, and there are plenty of excellent Exceptional items you can find in Nightmare difficulty.
Treasure Class and NoDrops
Whenever you kill an enemy or loot a chest the game will check the “Treasure Class” (TC) of the drop source in question. For understanding how drops work in a general sense, there’s no need to go into great detail, suffice to say that TCs are lists of possible drops, and that generally the higher the Area Level (aLv) where a drop occurs, the more TCs will be checked. The more TCs checked, the greater the possibility of higher-tier loot, ergo, the higher the aLv, the higher the ceiling is for loot quality. If you’re killing foes in low-level areas in Normal difficulty, you might get low-tier belts like Sashes to drop, but you’ll never get higher tier belts like Demonhide Sashes or Spiderweb Sashes. If the base item can’t roll, then magical/rare/set/unique variants can’t, either.
The main takeaway from this is that if you want a high-quality item, like the aforementioned Spiderweb Sash, you’ll have to hunt for it in areas with a sufficient aLv. There are other variables that may make it more likely for certain enemies to drop loot from certain TCs or another (Wraiths are more likely to drop Runes, for example) but the correlation between higher area levels and a higher ceiling for loot quality is a strong one.
Keep in mind that TCs include all possible loot in the game, from scrolls, potions, gems, runes, jewels, arms and armor, but TCs also include a chance of not dropping anything, referred to internally as “NoDrop”. If you kill an enemy or loot a container and you get nothing, it’s because the TC rolled a NoDrop. The “Better Chance of Getting Magic Items” property does not affect NoDrops in any way whatsoever - Magic Find influences the quality of the drops you get, not whether you actually get a drop or not.
Normal, Champion, Unique, Super Unique and Boss Monsters
The above information regarding Treasure Class and NoDrops mostly applies to normal sources of loot drops - your average run-of-the-mill monsters and containers. Fortunately the game is full of superior enemies which rightfully drop superior loot, and these come in several categories: Champions, Uniques, Super Uniques and Bosses.
Champions consist of several variants (Berserker, Champion, Fanatic, Ghostly, Possessed) which are worth [covering in detail] elsewhere, but for the purposes of drops, they will always drop a few potions and will very regularly drop a magical item, gem, rune, or falling that, gold.
Unique enemies are, ironically, completely random, always spawning with a pack of minions and possessing one, two, or three random modifiers (depending on difficulty). The name, locations and number of Uniques will vary from game to game, but they will always drop several potions and one magical item (or a gem/rune). Their minions are stronger than normal monsters and also have higher drop rates, although they still possess a significant NoDrop chance.
Super Uniques are static enemies that can always be found in certain areas of the game, and always have some static modifiers. For example, [Eldritch the Rectifier] is always found in the Frozen Highlands in Act 5 and always has the “Extra Fast” modifier, Rakinishu is always found in the Stony Field in Act 1 and has the “Lightning Enchanted” modifier, and so on. Like Uniques, Super Uniques have minions, and will gain more modifiers in Nightmare and Hell difficulty. Super Uniques drop several potions and two magical items (or a gem/rune) when defeated, making them useful for farming - especially when they spawn near convenient Waypoints.
Bosses include very specific, unique monsters: [Andariel], [Duriel], [Mephisto], [Diablo] and [Baal] are the Act Bosses, and are what we’re referring to in the context of Item Drops and Magic Finding, although it should be noted that other enemies are also flagged as bosses in-game, including Bloodraven, Griswold, Radament, The Summoner, Izual and Nihlathak. These non-Act Bosses drop far fewer items, than the Act Bosses, however. Bosses are always found in the same location, and have the same attacks each time you encounter them. They have no minions nor any random modifiers. Bosses also have static resistances, for better or worse, and are typically not immune to anything. Bosses typically drop around 3-6 magical items when defeated.
Player Count and NoDrops
While Magic Find doesn’t influence whether you get a NoDrop when loot is spawned, Player Count does. The exact NoDrop chance can vary from monster type to monster type, but there’s one hard correlation - the more Players in the game, the less NoDrop chance there is. Again, this doesn’t necessarily increase the quality of drops, just the frequency.
The chance of NoDrop reduction and the number of players in the game doesn’t scale linearly. With one player in the game, the NoDrop rate is roughly 60-70% (depending on the loot source), while with two players you’ve reduced the NoDrop rate down to 50%~. At Players 5 you’ve seen most of the gains (10-20% NoDrop), but even Players 3 has cut the NoDrop rate down to a mere 25-35%~. These are ballpark numbers, not exact, meant to give you an idea of how Player Count affects NoDrop rates.
As you can see, even a handful of players in a game can result in normal loot sources being more generous. Note, however, that you have to be allied to said players and be within close proximity to get the full NoDrop benefit - distant and/or non-allied players reduce the Player Count bonus by half, so being a loner in an 8-Player game isn’t significantly better than playing a close 4-Player game. Also, enemies get stronger the more players are in a game, and if this is slowing down your kill rate, you could be actually worse off than if you were in a Players 1 game. Finally, note that Uniques and Super Uniques aren’t highly affected by NoDrop, so increasing the Player Count when farming them just makes it take longer.
If you’re doing area farming - which is mostly targeted at Uniques - or doing [Eldritch], [Shenk] or [Pindle] runs, stick to Players 1, while if you’re farming bosses, Players 3 is a pretty good compromise between kill speed and NoDrop chance.
Area Level, Monster Level and Item Level
Thus far we’ve been focusing on whether anything at all drops or not, but it’s now time to talk about the quality of drops, not quantity. As we mentioned earlier, when you kill low level monsters (Monster Level = mLv) or loot containers in low level areas (Area Level = aLv) you’ll be restricted to low level items (Item Level = iLv). This is because the number of Treasure Classes a drop source has access to is restricted by its mLv/aLv, which is why, for example, Hell Andariel can drop a Harlequin Crest and Nightmare Andariel cannot - her mLv is just not high enough in Nightmare. Ironically it’s also why Nightmare Andariel more frequently drops a Stone of Jordan than Hell Andariel - her mLv is high enough in Nightmare to drop a SoJ, but not high enough to drop a whole lot of other unique rings, which otherwise dilute the drop.
If you can’t be bothered to learn the ins and outs of aLv/mLv/iLv, then you’re in luck, as in Nightmare and Hell difficulty - where you’ll be doing most of your farming - aLv is the really important factor to keep in mind. In Nightmare/Hell, an enemy’s mLv is determined directly by the aLv in which it spawns, and a drop’s iLv is determined by the mLv of the monster who dropped it (or in the case of containers, a drop’s iLv is directly determined by the aLv where the container is located). Champions have an mLv two levels higher than the aLv where they spawn, and Unique monsters and their minions have an mLv three levels higher than the aLv where they spawn, otherwise the correlation between aLv, mLv, and iLv is pretty straightforward.
Since the higher the aLv of an area means that higher quality loot can spawn there, farming the highest aLv areas in the game is a popular endgame goal. The highest aLv in the game is aLv85, and numerous areas boast this:
|The Pit||1||Tamoe Highlands|
|Maggot Lair Lv3||2||Far Oasis|
|Ancient Tunnels||2||Lost City|
|Ruined Fane||3||Kurast Bazaar|
|Disused Reliquary||3||Upper Kurast|
|Forgotten Temple||3||Upper Kurast|
|River of Flame||4||–|
|World Stone Keep||5||–|
As you can see, in Hell difficulty the aLv of dungeons and areas doesn’t strictly correlate with progression the way it does in Normal/Nightmare. This can lead to some grief for unwary players, as in Hell difficulty aLv determines mLv, and mLv determines a monster’s stats. The Blood Moor - the first area in Hell difficulty - is aLv67, while the Den of Evil is aLv79. Expect difficulty spikes if you stray into dungeons.
On the plus side, it also means you don’t have to progress too much to reach areas that can drop pretty much every item in the game. What areas you should farm depends on the monsters within and your build - no sense in taking a character who deals lightning damage into the Mausoleum, considering it’s full of lightning immune enemies, while likewise the Ancient Tunnels hosts some of the few, rare magic immunes in the game, making it less than ideal for a Hammerdin.
Finally, after all that, we can get to Magic Find.
Some equipment comes with the modifier “+X% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items”, which does what it says - increases your odds of finding magical items. This is not, however, a straight-forward process.
After a loot drop is triggered, Treasure Classes are rolled, and a drop is confirmed (or rather, a NoDrop is ruled out), only then does Magic Find have any effect. Expressed as a percentage, your Magic Find increases the odds that the dropped item will be magical, rare, set or unique. 100% Magic Find does not guarantee a drop will be magical, but rather it doubles the chances that you’ll gain a magical (or better) item when a drop is confirmed.
When a drop is generated, the game checks to see if said drop will be unique/set/rare/magic/normal, in order, assuming the type of item selected (during the TC roll) has a unique/set variant. While “100% Better Chance of Getting Magic Items” will indeed double the chances you’ll get something magical, keep in mind two things; first, any specific unique item can be rare enough that their drop rate is measured in the one-in-thousands range, so while doubling this is important, it can still take hundreds of drops to get what you want and second, there’s hidden diminishing returns for unique/set/rare items with Magic Find.
The emphasis on “Better Chance of Getting Magic Items” is, of course, Magic Items. 100% Magic Find double the number of Magic items you receive, but it only actually increases your odds of getting unique items around 70%, set items around 80%, and rare items around 85%. More Magic Find is better, but diminishing returns means there’s a point at which the amount of uniques and sets you’re finding isn’t substantially increasing, even with hundreds of extra percentage points of Magic Find. Add to this the fact that +Magic Find gear isn’t always the best for survivability, and there’s going to be a happy medium between effective +Magic Find as it relates to getting uniques and sets, kill speed, and survivability. This will vary depending on your gear and build, but the sweet spot for most characters is arguably between +300% Magic Find (+136% better chance of finding uniques) and +400% Magic Find (+153% better chance of finding uniques). It also means that even at +150% Magic Find you’ve increased your chances of finding unique and set items significantly (over +90% for uniques and around +115% for sets).
A little Magic Find can go a long way, and a lot of Magic Find… well, doesn’t really go all that much further, at least, not compared to the effort it takes to get so much Magic Find equipment, and the hits it’ll likely incur on your kill rate and survivability.