Quite a while back I discussed the way items would be distributed in the Diablo 3 endgame. As the first months of the game unfolded it became clear that things weren’t really as predicted. The best items were locked away securely in Acts 3 and 4 Inferno. Farming Act I couldn’t get you the upgrades for progression you needed – just gold that you would need to spend on items from acts 3 and 4 that others listed on the RMAH or GAH.
This week Blizzard has changed all that. The hotfixes that dealt with item level drop rates mean that act I is one of the best places to farm gear in game. This is, in part, because of the ‘stat budget’ for ilevel 61, 62 and 63 items. Bashiok answered a post in which a player asked about how these item levels compared with each other. It’s well worth reading (though it’s a little basic):
It is one piece of what determines an item’s “budget”. You can think of an item as a blank slate, and by placing specific labels on it that have pre-determined “costs” the item essentially has a number of points it can then “spend on itself”. The game will say “This is an ilvl 63 rare set of gloves”. Those labels determine what affixes it can have, its maximum and minimum ranges, as well as damage, speed, armor, etc. Essentially every part of the item is determined by its type (common, magic, rare, legendary), what kind of item it is (head, chest, sword, etc.) and item level. Crafted, Legendary and Set items follow the same rules, but can have set affixes on them that don’t change but still have a range to roll.
Item’s also have broad ranges, and will overlap. The below concept of that overlap is in no way accurate or indicative of anything at all, except to illustrate the overlap.
Completely made up power scale that has no basis in anything:
I’m probably missing something in there, but that’s the basic gist. We’re working on adding a ton of the more nitty gritty game design specifics to the Game Guide up-top. We’re shooting for something not too unlike the old Arreat Summit to detail systems and the inner workings of the game, which should help with this specific question as well.
Overall what this means is, ilevel 61 and 62 items can be as good as, or nearly as good as, the best items in the game. When you clear act I (following a sensible and efficient route) you can get upwards of 50 rares in a sitting. The majority of these are ilevel 55 – 60 but a sizeable chunk (note the drop rate changes in the hotfix post linked above) are 61 – 63.
Not every item that’s ilevel 61 – 63 is going to be awesome but that’s RNG for you. The key thing is to have the most rolls possible: If you have 10 ilevel 61+ items identifying them is a real buzz – you can make millions of gold and real money!
The past two days I’ve found a particularly awesome mace (sold for 94 euro) and a top notch shield (worth 30 million gold at least but I’m using it for now) all from Act I. I highly recommend you start hunting those elites!