Gear sets

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A Demon Hunter in Tier 15 Sovereign Mail.

Gear sets (or Armor Sets) is a term the Diablo 3 developers use to refer to different tiers of armor found in the game. Unlike Diablo 2's armor, which repeated the same graphics three times for the Normal, Exceptional, and Elite tiers of equipment, Diablo 3 has 16 different tiers which character work through as they advance in levels, and none of which repeat. (Reaper of Souls added two more tiers at the top end.)

Gear Sets are not Item Sets, which are multiple legendary items (usually all from the same tier of Armor Set) that grant special bonuses when a character wears them all at once. Gear/Armor sets are distinguished chiefly by their graphic, and by their stats; higher tiers of armor have more Defense, higher tiers of weapons have more damage, etc. There's also a correlation between the possible stats on an item and the item's tier, as affix bonuses increase with higher levels. Level 10 monsters drop items of a low item tier, with low stat bonuses, while level 30 monsters drop much higher, and so on.

The switch from four difficulty levels to scaling difficulty made in D3v2 had no effect upon Gear Sets. Items were always dropped depending on the level of the monster dropping them, and those figures were largely unchanged between D3v and D3v2.

  • For all the pre-game focus on Gear Sets, they were hardly noticeable in the final game, as characters always used the best items they found, regardless of what tier they came from. Furthermore, with max level characters wear legendary items, many of which have unique graphics. More retrospective Gear Set discussion here.

Gear Sets Visuals[edit | edit source]

Small images showing each class in each tier of armor found in Diablo 3 classic. (Reaper of Souls adds two more tiers at the high end, plus hundreds of legendary items with unique graphics.)

Mix and Match Armor?[edit | edit source]

Female wizard variety pack.

During development, the Diablo III team stated their desire to avoid the mismatched, "clown suit" armor most characters wound up wearing in Diablo 2. This was caused in Diablo 2 by a lack of uniform upgrade tiers, and by the Exceptional and Elite level of items reusing all the same graphics twice more, with a generally flat quality level on Elite gear. Thus elite leather armor was comparable in quality to elite plate mail, while that was very much not the case at the normal or Exceptional quality levels. Thus characters wound up very mismatched and wearing something like split mail chest armor and a leather cap with heavy plate mail chest and shield.

Diablo 3 is not repeating the Exceptional/Elite tiers of armor, so characters will generally wear gear of roughly the same tier, and by the end game, almost all max level characters are in items of just the highest 2 or 3 tiers. The scaling difficulty/gear and legendary item system in Diablo 3 and Reaper of Souls reinforces this, since items from say, tier 14 or 15 will have much lower stats than items from tier 17 and 18, thus players will almost alwyas upgrade their lower level gear and assume a more unified Armor tier in their eventual costumes.

  • Armor dyes allow characters to change the color of their gear, or even make individual items not show up via Vanishing Dye.
  • Transmogrification (added in RoS) allows players to change items to look like items of other tiers, or look like individual legendary items (but only those they have actually found themselves).

Gear Icons[edit | edit source]

Icons, and gear in-game.

In Diablo III, the image seen in the Paper Doll is exactly as the item appears on the character in-game.

All classes have their own look for all armor as well, so each tier of gear has a unique appearance by class and there are gender differences as well on some items, such as chest armor. (Because boobies.)

BlizzCon 2010 Gear Set Previews[edit | edit source]

Wizard set from Blizzcon 2010.

The height of Gear Sets promotion and attention came years before Diablo 3's release. For instance, Blizzard previewed six gear sets, two each for the Barbarian, Witch Doctor, and Wizard in the weeks leading up to Blizzcon 2010. Fans loved the visuals, and many of the item looks set off passionate debates amongst the fansite community.

A summary, taken from the minute-by-minute coverage on

  • Female Wizard gear set, October 5, 2010. The second gear set was well-received by fans, proving once again that everyone loves Asian girls.
  • Male Barbarian gear set, October 18, 2010. The last of the sets, this one did not set off any big arguments with general approval of the ram's horns helm.
Two Barbarian gear sets.
Two Wizard gear sets.
Two Witch Doctor gear sets.

Blizzcon 2010 Panel Gear Sets[edit | edit source]

More Gear sets were shown off during the Crafting Sanctuary Panel at Blizzcon 2010. These images are compilations, showing several different gear sets in one large image for easier viewing.

There were three sets shown on the male Barbarian, with his animal-themed armors getting top billing.

Barbarian gear sets shown off in a Blizzcon 2010 panel. Animal themed armors predominate.

The male Witch Doctor's sets made a stir by how exotic their designs were. The lower right set in this 2x2 image is his most famous set, one fans are calling the tentacle gear set. The black limb-like things along the outside of the shoulders and helm wave around, in constant motion. The effect doesn't translate well to a still image, sadly.

Witch Doctor gear sets shown off during a Blizzcon 2010 panel. He does have some big hats.

GamesCom 2011 Gear Sets[edit | edit source]

These sets were introduce during a presentation at GamesCom 2011, with accompanied chat about the Inferno difficulty. The last set of items in each picture is found in Inferno or otherwise found in late-game hell difficulty.

Three Wizard sets.
Three Monk sets.
Three Demon Hunter sets.

Retractions and Changes[edit | edit source]

In an unexpected turn of events, perhaps based upon fan-feedback, the Wizard's notorious starfish hat, and his shoulder pads were revealed to have been changed over the course of development, showing that Blizzard does indeed listen to its fans.

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Not this guy.

Diablo II Gear Sets[edit | edit source]

The term was not used by the Diablo II developers, but they clearly structured the armor in that game into gear sets as well, of a sort. They weren't like the Diablo III gear sets, since there are very uneven amounts of different item types in Diablo II (many more types of helms or body armor than gloves or boots, for instance), and they don't line up to create matching outfits. Armor items in Diablo II look different on each class, but not as different or stylized as the do in Diablo III.

Still, it can be useful to compare the D2 characters, as seen in the 3D models below, before it was converted and compressed into the tiny 2D sprites that are seen while playing the game.

The D2 Amazon.
The D2 Barb.
The D2 Necro.
The D2 Paladin.

These images were posted in opposition/comparison to the first few Diablo III gear sets, in October 2010. See the original news post on for the full debate and lengthy fan discussions.