In Diablo 3, my character’s progression is tied very tightly with the questing system. This makes it extremely difficult to play with friends who are even around the same level.
In Diablo 2, only one or two quests per act were required, so if a friend fell behind or I fell behind a friend in progression – we could just finish the act in one quest and I could rapidly catch up. In Diablo 3 this doesn’t seem possible.
If I want to play with a friend who isn’t at a 1 to 1 progression of where I am at on my quests, the only way I can play is for me to go back to previous quests and start from where he is; or my friend comes back to where I am on my quests. This makes it extremely slow to progress through the game if you’re playing with different friends.
After I’ve seen the story once on normal, I am perfectly fine with skipping some parts of the story in the name of progression for higher difficulties and new characters. My question is, what strategies exist to play with friends who are not on the same quest as you while not gimping your progression through the game?
Many people are discovering this problem and very clearly the easiest method is going to be to try to work with people who are on the same quest as you.
Given that will not always be possible the choice comes down to helping your friend catch up or speeding your friend to your quests and allowing them to replay them in their own time.
By maintaining a large friend list by joining a clan, playgroup or adding your name to the spreadsheet of a forum you participate in, you should be able to find someone who is in the same general vicinity as you. Unfortunately there is no method at present to group friends or to edit their names into something more familiar to you (eg a forum ID that you recognize instead of their BattleTag/RealID) so you should maintain a list somewhere to help you recall.
A great number of people (myself included) are deciding to solo Normal mode so that they can take all the time in the world to experience all the details and nuances before worrying about co-op play.
With more experience I’ve also taken the following action; play one character as my “get through the game, unlock things and get good loot” character and started another that I quickly levelled up. In my case my primary is a demon hunter and my secondary a barbarian. I get to play different content but still get to keep pace with my friend.
I also installed skype to give us voice chat, which helped a lot.