Home Strategy Turn on “Elective Mode” now to un-dumb Diablo 3

If you’re one of the many gamers who have qualms about Diablo 3’s apparent lack of customization, you’re not alone. And even if you’re the most die-hard Blizzard apologist, you have to admit, the default skill system doesn’t leave a lot of room for creativity.

Pick two attacks, one defensive skill, and some support bonuses, and that’s it. Right?

Actually, wrong: Diablo 3 has an “advanced” option called Elective Mode that unlocks your entire ability set.


Skillbars for Algernon

no-elective-mode-Diablo 3 Wizard skills

Click to see a boring skill set.

Let’s take a step back and explain the regular system.

By default, Diablo 3 only lets you slot certain skills into certain hotkey slots. On a Wizard, for instance, only one Signature Spell (like Spectral Blade) can be equipped at once, and it must be bound to the left mouse button.

The right mouse button is reserved for “secondary” skills like Arcane Orb, and the number keys are used to trigger one Defensive, one Force, one Conjuration, and one Mastery ability each. That’s it.

While there are certainly still a lot of combinations of abilities and runes, it’s somewhat limiting.

What if you wanted to make a Wizard with lots of Signature Spells, able to spam weak attacks with no cooldowns or Arcane Power costs? By default, you can’t do this, even if you’ve unlocked every skill in the game. That is, until you turn on Elective Mode.


Power overwhelming

Found right in the goddamn options menu with almost no explanation, the cryptically named “Elective Mode” removes the restrictions on equipping and binding skills by discipline.

Now this is much more exciting!

Once you’ve turned it on, you can assign any skill you’ve learned to (almost) any button, even if you’ve already equipped other skills from that attribute. For instance, I was able to build a Wizard that used all four Signature Spells, plus two Defensive enchantments.

Is this build any good?

Probably not. Two-thirds of the abilities have the weight of a feather duster, and the other two are mutually exclusive. But the point is that with the click of a single checkbox, Diablo 3’s kid-gloves default goes out the window. You’re free to experiment!


Wait, why isn’t this the default?

A lot of players like myself who enjoyed “discovering” unorthodox builds in Diablo 2 were not happy with the design of Diablo 3’s skill system. Millions of players who would have had no trouble with “Elective Mode” turned on by default, instead opting for a “Dummy Mode” that streamlines skill selection to its current state. So why would Blizzard make this decision?

Officially, the company stated it didn’t want new players to create terrible, unbalanced builds and become frustrated. After all, they could easily create a Demon Hunter with only skills that expend (but not generate) Hatred. Or a Monk with no melee skills. Or a Wizard with only Signature Spells. The horror!

Of course, this rings hollow when you consider skill choices can be reversed at any time. There really is no danger of anyone messing up that badly, and any damage dealt could be un-dealt in a matter of seconds. In effect, Blizzard’s attempt to act as the helicopter parents for the stupidest of their players excised the actual fun of their game for their most dedicated players!


Elect to play Diablo 3 uncrippled

Assuming you’re not an idiot (you can’t be, since this website doesn’t load in Internet Explorer), you should enable Elective Mode immediately. You’ll have the option to scroll between ability groups when assigning spells and attacks to buttons and hotkeys.

From there, it’s up to you what you do. Will you create a summons-only Witch Doctor? Or a Demon Hunter homage to your Diablo 2 Trap Assassin? The world is now your oyster.

The only question is: Why didn’t Blizzard just hand you its pearls to start with?

43 replies to this post
  1. This is the best game EVER created. Sure, it has always-online draconian DRM, no LAN support, cartoon graphics, dumbed down character customization and basically looks like WoW lite. But that’s irrelevant. What’s most important is the fact that a AAA Diablo game in 2012 is launching with no PVP and a pay2win auction house that Jewish Activision gets money from and all the retarded brand loyal Blizzdrones will gobble it up. It doesn’t matter that there are other FREE games coming out that are BETTER than Diablo 3.

      • Does it makes the rest irrelevant or what
        Kikes are in charge of Activision fyi. I could go on and talk about the insane manipulation of media, the lobbying, the atrocities they’re committing against the Palestinians in the lands they STOLE thanks to their Jew friends in the United Kingdom.

      • I don’t know what to say, man. I can’t believe that such a long-time reader is going to waste his comments making off-topic hate attacks. While normally I am amused by comment flame wars I am actually for the first time personally disappointed.

        It is ignorant and irresponsible to extend your political disagreement with one country’s leadership and use it to attack an entire group of people. Would you all like the actions of your government to be 100% held against you, your family, or your nationality?

        And maybe you never thought about what the ethnic background of me or the other T3 writers are?

        Anyway it is not a matter of personal attack, it’s just that I don’t run this site to be about prejudice. If you have a problem with a specific person, you should talk to them. If you have a problem with a government or political party, you should lobby your representatives or write to their consulate. Don’t make my site about this bullshit.

    • jews are in control of blizzard and this is why it has drm!!!

      that’s pretty epic

      there are better free games coming out apparently, there’s also better free food in the bins outside

    • get it right man. leave common jewish people out of it. focus on Zionism, that is the real enemy. not all jewish people are zionist and not all zionists are jews, it is a common misconception. the leadership of zionism, the shot callers, these are the people responsible for the horrors against the arabs peoples. it is not a matter of hating on people for their beliefs. Zionism is a POLITICAL movement, not a religious one. it needs to be stopped as the evil force it is

    • Lol, this game is terrible. You clearly arent a die hard fan of the series, cause D2 is still by and far the BEST of the series. Ive put in 100 some hours into d3, and already gone back to playing D2. This was such a massive disappointment its unreal.

  2. “Assuming you’re not an idiot (you can’t be, since this website doesn’t load in Internet Explorer)”

    I’ll print this out, frame it and hang it right above my friends computer, so he is always reminded of his stupidity and incompetence to download a decent browsing software.

  3. Consider this irony, but this article nudged me more into downloading D3 by telling me there WAS a helicopter parent setting. I know, I know, but let me tell you that:
    I’m very good with math and I enjoy digging into the numbers, even if just for fun. But something just tells me that I won’t need to optimise in D3, so why should I? I have little time to begin with. I can juggle numbers enough already in WoW, when I’m going into D3, I just want to whack something hard. VERY hard.

    I’m probably making long time fans like Wing tear their eyes out with my self chosen noobiness, but why don’t you let me treat D3 like a better F2P? Because that’s what it is for me because I didn’t whine around and demand getting released from the annual pass right after I signed it.

    I play a game I enjoy and don’t see myself quitting anytime soon for a year, I get D3. Me happy.

    • Well I appreciate your honesty, especially contrasted to players who act like the default settings are the best for everybody.

      As I stated back in my last D3, article, I understand why all the changes were made, I just personally did not want them. That said, having the option to circumvent (some of) them is welcome.

      • True. At least Blizzard gives the advanced player the option to work out their very own build. A company like EA would probably just shove the presets down your throat and leave you to choke on them.

        That’s +1 for Blizzard on the counter of Who’s-evil-the-least. (It’s on 3 for EA, 21 for Ubisoft and 9001 for Blizzard right now, by the way)

      • I have to redeem myself, I turned on Elective Mode before level 20. Because when you’ve got a friend 5 levels above you who can feed you items with just insane int, who needs all categories of spells when one Signature will already wipe out armies?

        So I certainly can’t use the self-cast bomb. The slot’s far better off with Diamond Skin considering I have almost zero Vitality and can die in literally two hits from anything.
        Now it makes a lot more sense why people would want elective mode to me.

  4. I’m not a regular gamer any more, seeing as I’m now 23 and too busy, but I did purchase Diablo 3 for when I have a gaming-crave. I noticed something about the gaming community, more-so focusing on the Diablo community. Gamers have super-high expectations and when something is not done exactly their way, it “deserves” hardcore criticism. I strongly disagree with how gamers react a lot of the time when they aren’t spoon fed exactly what they want. This article is complaining about how the game is made by default, easier for new players. Seriously? I just wasted a minute of my life reading yet another article about something so insignificant, it makes me wonder if the people that run this website have a life outside of the computer. If you want to critique a game, learn to understand how much time and effort it takes going into creating games, the marketing it takes, etc. I mean… You’re spending $60 dollars and you’re complaining about something that’s not article-worthy. Good luck in life!

    • Oh please. It’s an opinion. He still plays it and says it’s fun for what it is. Why does that mean the writers have no lives outside of computers? Good luck in life? Come on.

      And from what I’ve read from the Diablo community, most people very much enjoy it. I haven’t played it myself because I’m 29 and too busy, but it looks great! There are some things I don’t agree with, but I’m certainly not bitter I wasn’t spoon fed everything I personally wanted. It deserves hardcore criticism because Blizzard had 11 years to work on it.

  5. […] 0 Thread(s) Originally Posted by Dets For D2 – LONG I finished Act1 of D3 last night in about 5 hours but that included checking out every single part of every sub level. Settle down, you were able to log on within a couple of hours of the game going live which in itself is quite a feat. The Beta stress test still produced a whole bunch of bugs that have since been fixed but you don't know about…because they've been fixed. The servers dying in the ass as millions of internet nerds log on at the same time was something they saw coming but realistically could do nothing about. Some quick tips if you didn't play in the beta or just may not know: 1) Don't vendor your blue items even if they suck. You unlock the blacksmith fairly early in the game and he can melt down blue or better quality items into raw crafting mats. These mats can be used to make other items and later on gems. They can also be sold on the Auction House and will always be in demand The Blacksmith is also account bound so if you make a new character he transfers across. 2) You can opt out of the default skills. Under Options -> Gameplay there is a tickbox that allows you to assign any skills in any slots. So as an example my Barbarian has: LMB – Cleave RMB – Frenzy 1 – Stomp 2 – Rend 3 – Revenge So I have 2 Frenzy generating abilities bound to my mouse instead of the standard setup. 3) You identify Yellow or better items by right clicking them (they changed this in one of the later beta patches) 4) Your friends can jump into your private game and vice-versa (be careful who you add as a friend I guess) 5) If your launcher keeps getting stuck because it's shit you'll need to delete your battle.net directory. By default it's located under C:ProgramDataBattle.net (win7) The ProgramData folder is hidden by default Thanks for that… I did also just see a post on FB from GG about "elective" mode.. which I think is the option to allow you to assign skills differently.. Diablo 3 Elective Mode Explanation: D3 Elective Mode Info | Top Tier Tactics […]

  6. I’ve been playing this damn game for days now. I have a 54 Barb in Hell and I just now figured this out. Nice job explaining it Blizz. Not so much as a popup window for it.

  7. I disagree regarding your comments about the default setting for Elective Mode. Because of WoW, a lot of people who play it will likely try Diablo for the first time. Think about how many subscribers that potential Diablo III playing pool contains. Now, consider how many people that play WoW are casual players, or first time players, or people who play to have fun, not caring about UI, or macros, or damage meters. You have to admit, there are a lot of those. Now, those same people get Diablo III, and they just wanna mash buttons in “I like to play LOL!” mode. They won’t understand what came before, or the advantages of using Elective mode like an experienced Diablo player would. In this case, majority rules, and Blizzard expects the smarter-than-the-average-bear players to discover the setting and use it to their advantage. I was frustrated by the UI until I discovered it, but I think they did it the right way. Oh, and btw, this website DOES, in fact, load in IE. :P

  8. I guess I come from another planet of thinking, here. I haven’t tried elective mode, and I just reached level 20 (DH). I’m really new to the Diablo scene. I’ve never played the first or second, and while I’ve on various occasions tried to get into WoW, it just wasn’t my cup (requires too much of my time and commitment — and the lore is nowhere near as cool as Diablo’s — just an opinion, of course). When it comes to this type of game (action RPG), I’m as casual as they get, and I honestly don’t feel restricted or held back by Diablo’s default combat settings.

    To me, Diablo feels streamlined, fun, yet still (in many respects) deep. And it’ll only get better from here, the more Blizzard adds patches and new content. I would like to try elective mode, when I’m ready, but right now (particularly on normal difficulty mode) I’m easing myself into its deeper mechanics. But see, that’s the whole point … Blizzard doesn’t want to alienate the newcomer, the newbie — the casual gamers. Diablo’s art design is unique, wickedly beautiful, and “leveraged” (you don’t need a machine that plays Crysis 2 on its hightest settings to play it). To compare it to WoW would be irrelevant. personally, WoW’s art design and artifacts are built on an old engine and it’s always looked dated and especially generic — which always made me gag. WoW also requires that you sacrifice a good percentage of your life for the sake of mastering it, and/or getting what you paid for.

    D3 doesn’t require that of newcomers. It wants you to have a good time, and if you want it to be deep … if you want it to last for hours on end (hence the nightmare and hell modes) … and keep leveling up … you can play it that way. Honestly, there’s no need for WoW/Diablo veterans to complain about this. You guys need to chill out. The default control scheme is a non-issue insofar as there’s an Elective mode. Use it. Don’t complain. It’s there for you, veterans. Why complain? And honestly, for the sake of newcomers … there’s no need to use the phrase “un-dumb Diablo 3” … that’s condescending. If there’s one high profile dev that I trust to have my best interests in mind as a gamer, it’s Blizzard. Have fun, people.

  9. My problem is the fact I looked up the skill calculators about 6-12 months before release, and it looked very, very good. Kind’ve like Diablo 2, but you couldn’t get everything xD
    Diablo 2 was a game casual gamers could also play, by the way. I was only a casual pc gamer when I got it. I was more of a button masher on console back then xD
    But now I see it and I don’t really understand why it’s been so limited. You have.. what was it.. 6..ish? slots to fill.
    That’s it… you can change them whenever you want, sure but.. why limit it’s battle use?
    Why not unlock them by using skill points in Diablo 2? Why change it completely?
    I haven’t tried Elective mode yet. I’ll try it when I next play it.
    But I’m still concerned as to why Blizzard is dumbing down the entire game, WoW too. That is what they’re doing. Making it more simple for children or people who don’t really play games.
    I also do wish they kept with the Diablo layout rather then making World of Diablo =/

  10. Great article.

    I totally regret buying Diablo 3. played through it once with a demon hunter (With elective turned off – cause i like customizing) and now I have no drive to play through again with a 2nd class.

  11. It’s basically Diablo 2 with much less features (no pvp, OH COME ON) and outrageous technical support, DRM, real money item shop high level characters are being forced to use (drop rates making almost impossible to get something good for out current character). Single player lags and queues, lol! Plus laughable issues like bugged auction house, hackers etc. So: a feeble diablo 2 clone with attatched f2p game model to it. For 60$ just to get access to it. So yeah, seems legit to call Diablo 3 the worst piece of gaming ever created. It should be bashed by everyone for what it does to players, treating them just like mindles drones to milk the cash out (apparently, there is much more of them than I thought at first – just look at all these blizzdrones trying to defend this title). It’s not about dumbing down anymore, it’s about goddamn Soviets’ GUŁags policy!

  12. when elective mode is on you can drag toolbar icons by holding both mouse buttons same time, and sometimes just click drag (its buggy somehow). this has caused sometimes for me to loose nephalem valor buff or spell binding in the heat of the battle, when i channel some spell on moveing target and mouse moves over toolbar. so im forced to uncheck this “feature” once i have choosen my spells.

  13. agree with you. but diablo 3 not like diablo 2 where we can totally customize our character based on our decision. i still prefer diablo leveling up system. anyway, i still play diablo 3 more than 50 hours. so it still a awesome game for me

  14. Diablo 3 is a huge dissapointment and I say this as a Blizzard fan for many years (played Diablo1&2, Warcraft and WoW for years). Blizzard simply isn’t the company it used to be. It’s all about money now, not gaming and gamers. As to the ignorant haters here blaming Jews and/or Zionists for everything bad in the world, do us all a favor – either get an education or get laid. Your brains have dropped into your sacks and need a good shake. As a side note: If it weren’t for “Jews” you wouldn’t have computers in the world to write your antisemitic garbage.

  15. I think it was very smart for them to do it that way. I played D1 and D2, and only hardcore, so I’m not a wuss Diablo player. But I do happen to be a game designer, and I agree with their stated reason for hiding elective mode.

    But they tell you about it when you first enter a nightmare game. This is how I found out about it, when I already understood the game well enough to use it.

  16. I feel Diablo 3 should have been made hardcore from the begining, the grace of a game is when its just hard, when everyone speaks of it and “WOW I BARELY MADE IT!” and make the holy game they want it to be
    BUT when a company like Blizzard, that has years in the business by now, it should knows games has to be done they way it meants to be, not what people wants, if you gives to the people what they want, then it will always (and excuse me to say it) shit, always conflicts, always made “easy” for people who dont even knows how to open a “window” or create a folder on the desk…
    If all this would have done by the time D&D was created, then just throw a 2 faces dice, where one is hit and the other miss… and why all those shit of recistences? PFFF BULLSHIT THATS TOO MUCH INFORMATION

    The world of now just ask for: easy to use bc their head will hurt, kids today dont even know how to multiply or divide without calculator! HA

  17. I’ve played Diablo 1 and 2, LoD and now Diablo 3. I was a bit frustrated in 3 (and still am a little) in that it is not as detailed of a game as 2 was. However, 2 wasn’t ether until they released LoD. I think the same thing will happen with 3. The only question is how long will we have to wait?

    I only recently discovered the elective mode. While it does make the game better to play, it is not necessary. I think Blizzard did it right by making it an option for inexperienced players, however, I do think they should have described what it actually does in the options area. I had no idea until I read about it online. I have a level 60 (2) Monk that has never used elective mode and she is kicking ass.

    I think people really need to chill out about things like video/computer games. Just because they don’t live up to your expectations doesn’t mean they aren’t fun to play. If you didn’t like it after playing it for a week, ask for your money back and get on with other games that make you happy.

    If you just sit back for a few minutes after you kill all the monsters around you, just notice how cool the background art is in Diablo 3. It is gorgeous. The twisted trees with a hand-painted look. People are too busy trying to rush to the next quest and finish the game before anybody else does. Or see how quickly they can get their barbarian to level 60.
    A LOT of work went into the art and design of the game, part of why it took so long to make. I think for that reason the game is successful, even if it isn’t yet to the level of D2: LoD. There are very few games with the level of background detail and beauty that went into D3. Maybe Myst and Riven and a few others.

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