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As you play through Diablo III, equipment—items that your hero can wear or wield—will come to you in droves. Every monster you slay has a chance to drop equipment; every container or corpse might conceal it.
When you see an item on the ground, select it to pick it up. It’ll glow brightly to signify that it deserves your attention, and its name will be visible, so you know what you’re grabbing.
Weapons like swords, bows, and wands affect your damage – how deadly your attacks against opponents are. The higher the number is, the more likely you are to gravely injure your enemies. As you improve your weapons, you’ll kill weaker foes more quickly and deal greater damage to even the most nightmarish invaders of Sanctuary. You can see your damage rating in the Attributes section of the Character menu (PC key: C; Xbox 360: BACK; PlayStation®3: SELECT).
When you find a new weapon, you can get an idea of how it compares to your current gear by highlighting it in your Character menu (you’ll see text that says "Stat Changes if Equipped").
Armor like helms, shields, and suits of plate mail, affects your armor rating – how resistant you are to damage. The higher your armor rating, the less damage you’ll take from incoming attacks. As you improve your armor, you’ll not only look better protected – you’ll be able to shrug off attacks that, in the past, would have instantly killed you. You can see your armor rating in the Character menu (PC key: C; Xbox 360: BACK; PlayStation®3: SELECT).
When choosing skills to complement your equipment (or gear to complement your skills), you’ll often find yourself faced with a fundamental choice: should you use a two-handed weapon, a weapon and off-hand item, or (if you’re a Barbarian, Monk, or Demon Hunter) wield two weapons? The answer comes down to your preferred play style and build.
If you need help making up your mind, consider the following, and tailor your strategy appropriately:
In general, dual-wielding aids fast attacks, resource generation, abilities that have a chance to trigger on hit, attribute bonuses, and gem socketing. Two-handed weapons empower high weapon damage attacks, critical hits and area of effect attacks.
Not every weapon or piece of armor is right for every hero. Just as skills are restricted by classes (the Witch Doctor will never master the Barbarian’s leaps, and the Barbarian will never learn to animate the dead like gruesome puppets), so too is equipment.
Most equipment is restricted by level. If you do not meet the level requirements, then you simply can’t equip it until you gain more experience. For example, a level 3 Barbarian cannot wield an axe that requires level 8.
Similarly, some equipment is restricted by character class. For example, certain ranged weapons are usable only by Demon Hunters, and massive mighty weapons can only be used by Barbarians. Each hero has unique, class-specific equipment. These items are tailored to that class, and can provide bonuses to one or more of that class’s skills.
Each piece of equipment also has a durability rating: a measure of how much damage it can take before it breaks and is no longer useful. As you use a piece of equipment, its durability decreases slightly; when you take damage, the durability of your equipment decreases more noticeably, and, when you die, the durability of all of your equipped items drops significantly.
An item’s current and maximum durability ratings can be checked by selecting the item in your inventory (they're shown, for example, like this: Durability: 52/60).
When an item runs out of durability, it no longer provides you with any bonuses, even if you still have it equipped. The merchants who hawk their wares in town can repair damaged items for a price.
You’ll notice another important distinction between items even before you pick them up off the ground or buy them from a merchant. Every item in Diablo III has a quality level, indicated by the color of its name and accompanying text.
Newly discovered set and legendary items must be identified to reveal their properties. Once picked up, unidentified items are marked with a “?” symbol in your inventory. You can identify an item by right-clicking on it or using the Book of Cain icon on your minimap to identify every item in your inventory at once (PC) or by selecting it in your inventory (Console).
Beyond straightforward attribute bonuses, there are other properties available on equipment: weapons that leech the life of monsters, boots that increase your movement speed, armor that improves your rate of health regeneration, and many more mysterious abilities.
In addition to your equipment, which stays in your inventory until you sell or discard it, you’ll also come across consumable items that will help you survive. Some of these items can be purchased, while others are rare and must be found. Here are a few examples of these limited-use items:
Potions are mystical draughts that provide you with quick healing, restoring a portion of your Life. More powerful versions of healing potions, able to provide you with additional boons, are also rumored to exist. The powerful magic of potions prevents them from being consumed in rapid succession; after drinking a potion, you must wait for a cooldown period before using another one.
Dyes are used to change the color of your armor. A single dye bottle corresponds to one armor slot, so you’ll need to acquire several bottles in order to completely change the color of your gear.
Gems are valuable and rare stones that litter the world. Once found, they can be set into equipment with sockets, providing a variety of benefits, including increased elemental damage and resistances, increased chance to find magic items, armor bonuses, and more. The higher quality a gem is, the more powerful its effects: chipped gems provide minor benefits, while the damage bonus of a flawless gem can rival the damage of the weapon it is set in. Some extremely potent gems, like Marquise gems, cannot be traded. For more information about the effects of gems, see the Jeweler recipes section.
Finding more and better magic items is critical to overcoming challenges and defeating enemies in Diablo III, particularly on higher difficulties. Magic find is a unique item property that can help you drastically improve your haul. It is tracked in the Inventory menu.
But what does that really mean?
Magic find affects the quality of items you acquire from killing enemies (but not treasure chests, vases, weapon racks, or other environmental objects). It doesn’t give you a chance to get more items on a given kill – instead, it increases the chance that an item you find will be magical, and more potent than it would be otherwise.
When a monster drops an item, Diablo III randomly determines the item’s quality from a chart that includes item quality and the number of affixes present. The game randomly "rolls" on each property in the chart to determine which affixes your item will get. Your magic find score is applied as a bonus to these rolls.
For example, if a monster has a 4% chance to drop a 6-affix rare item and you have +50% magic find, it now has a 6% chance to drop that item.
Item quality is checked in the following order:
Using the above example, when your roll ‘misses’ a higher-level item quality, the item generator proceeds to the next lowest item quality in the chain (in this case, checking to see if you got a 6-affix rare, then checking for a 5-affix rare, and so on). Your magic find bonus applies to each roll. If the same monster has a 10% chance to drop a 5-affix rare item and you have 50% magic find, you now have a 15% chance to get a 5-affix rare item.
What’s a proc? A proc is an effect that has a chance to trigger when you attack or use a skill. Some weapon abilities (and passive skills) allow you to trigger proc effects.
For example, a weapon’s knockback ability is a proc. Because it has a chance to trigger, you won’t always knock your enemies back when you hit with it.
A proc coefficient adjusts the rate at which procs trigger. Many skills trigger a proc at precisely the rate they hit an enemy – these skills have a proc coefficient of 1. A skill with a proc coefficient lower than 1 has a reduced chance to trigger a proc.
Another example: if you use the Magic Missile skill (which has a coefficient of 1) to attack just 1 enemy with your weapon, as opposed to the Energy Twister skill (which has a much lower coefficient), you might notice a difference in how frequently you trigger the knockback ability.
Why would any skill trigger procs less frequently? Some skills, like Energy Twister, hit multiple targets or continually hit enemies for a lengthy period of time, giving them many more opportunities to trigger procs. These types of ‘multi-hit’ or ‘area of effect’ skills tend to have lower proc coefficients to ensure that other skills remain potent and fun to use.