Upgrading your Unique, Set and Rare Items in Diablo 2 Resurrected

20.02.2022 - 19:23:20
D2R Gameplay Guides , Diablo 2: Resurrected , Game Guides

Upgrading your Unique, Set and Rare Items in Diablo 2 Resurrected


Upgrading, more commonly referred to as “upping” describes upgrading the base item of your unique, set or rare item. This guide will set out instructions to upp your items, as well as provide a comprehensive list of commonly upp’d items, along with their maximum defense rolls and upgraded requirements.

General Information

Upgrading an item with a Normal base will result in an Exceptional item with the same base type, and upgrading an Exceptional item will result in an Elite version of the same base type. The upgraded items will keep their pre-upgrade stats, so the attributes of the item will remain the same, but they will be applied to the new base type.

Upgrading Helms, Body Armors, Shields, Boots, Belts and Gloves will grant a higher base defense (the new base version’s defense) to the item, while the required strength and dexterity will also be increased to the upgraded version’s requirements.

Upgrading Weapon pieces will grant a higher base damage to the item (the new base version’s damage), while the required strength and dexterity will also be increased to the upgraded version’s requirements.

Horadric Cube recipes for Upgrading Unique Items:

1 Ral Rune + 1 Sol Rune + 1 Perfect Emerald + Normal Unique Weapon = Exceptional Version of Weapon

1 Tal Rune + 1 Shael Rune + 1 Perfect Diamond + Normal Unique Armor = Exceptional Version of Armor

1 Lum Rune + 1 Pul Rune + 1 Perfect Emerald + Exceptional Unique Weapon = Elite Version of Weapon (Single Player and Ladder Only)

1 Ko Rune + 1 Lem Rune + 1 Perfect Diamond + Exceptional Unique Armor = Elite Version of Armor (Single Player and Ladder Only)

Horadric Cube recipes for Upgrading Set Items:

1 Ral Rune + 1 Sol Rune + 1 Perfect Emerald + Normal Set Weapon = Exceptional Version of Set Weapon
1 Lum Rune + 1 Pul Rune + 1 Perfect Emerald + Exceptional Set Weapon = Elite Version of Set Weapon
1 Tal Rune + 1 Shael Rune + 1 Perfect Diamond + Normal Set Armor = Exceptional Version of Set Armor
1 Ko Rune + 1 Lem Rune + 1 Perfect Diamond + Exceptional Set Armor = Elite Version of Set Armor

Horadric Cube recipes for Upgrading Rare Items:

1 Ort Rune + 1 Amn Rune + 1 Perfect Sapphire + Normal (Basic) Rare Weapon = Exceptional Rare Weapon
1 Ral Rune + 1 Thul Rune + 1 Perfect Amethyst + Normal (Basic) Rare Armor = Exceptional Rare Armor
1 Fal Rune + 1 Um Rune + 1 Perfect Sapphire + Exceptional Rare Weapon = Elite Rare Weapon
1 Ko Rune + 1 Pul Rune + 1 Perfect Amethyst + Exceptional Rare Armor = Elite Rare Armor

Upgrading an item with enhanced defense

Upgrading armor can sometimes result in a lower defense due to the way Enhanced Defense% functions. When armor with ED% is generated, it always has the maximum base defense plus one. However, upgrading armor causes the base defense to be randomly rerolled, which can potentially decrease the defense which means it could have a lower defense while also increasing level and strength requirements. Remember this when upgrading armor, especially if the upgraded version can have a lower minimum defense than the maximum defense of the original version. Fortunately, this issue doesn't affect weapons since they have fixed base damage.

Upgrading Weapons

Weapons don’t have enhanced defense so are always consistently upgraded, that is, there is no variation in AD once you upgrade an item. Upgrading eth titans for instance will always roll the same damage. Note that due to the increase in requirement and the lack of variance once upgraded, typically weapons have slightly less trade value when upgraded unless the upgraded version is required in all current meta builds.

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Value of Upgraded Items

Generally Upgrading items does not increase the value of items because of their restrictive nature (higher requirements meaning less builds can utilize). In the case of specific items which only see uses, in certain builds (take Whistan’s shield for FB sorc’s as an example), or with certain items with inherently low requirements and benefit greatly from upgrading (Goldwrap for example will give you extra potion slots), then upgrading will diminish the value to a lesser extent. The exception to this is where you can get a perfect (or near perfect roll) on a perfect or near-perfect non-upgraded version. Arreats is the perfect example. A perfectly rolled 200/6 504 defense version is highly prized in the melee PvP community and can be worth from 20-50x the non-upp’d perfect version. The melee PvP community is one of the deepest D2R communities and one of the largest segments where D2R in-game wealth is held (along with the wider PvP community). Other items like rare tiaras and circlets are unaffected value wise by upgrading due to the lack of meaningful requirement change (or benefits). Items that don’t vary in stats once upgraded (like Titans) will not vary greatly in value pre or post upgrading with slightly higher trade value being commanded by non-upp’d versions.

Here is a list of commonly upp’d items with their usage details


Arreats Face

(Upgraded Version: Conqueror Crown, 176 Strength Requirement (506 maximum defense).
A commonly upgraded helmet for PvP (Barbarian v Barbarian) where defense matters, a 500+ defense Arreats (or 700+ ethereal) will fetch a hefty sum.

Rare circlets and coronets

Rare circlets or Tiaras are often upgraded to Diadems for a very minor boost to defense. There is a general preference for the Diadem aesthetic which may make them easier to trade. One should consider that upgrading the item base of these helmets will also raise the level requirement, so don’t upgrade your low level dueling circlets.

Crown of Thieves

A commonly Goldfind Barb helmet for himself or his Merc (Eth version). The Eth version is usually upp’d given the merc’s innate high strength at higher levels. Higher strength Barbarians may also choose to upp their CoT.

Jalals Mane

A popular shapeshifting druid helmet that is often upp’d when enough strength is available in the build from other gear, or for strength / damage optimizers.

Kiras Guardian

Kiras are often upgraded due to Diadems not having any further requirements than Tiaras other than a higher level requirement. They are preferred by some for the look when worn / in slot, but also offer minor additional defense when upp’d.

Vampire Gaze

A merc, PvM or sometimes melee PvP helmet. The main benefits of upping is for the purpose of small advantages in competitive PvP melee and/or providing your merc additional defense.

Duriel’s Shell

A high defense merc armor which is often used to stack defense. Upping this is common.


Herald of Zakarum

HoZ are commonly upp’d by Smiters as the exceptional base does more smite damage, making Upp’d HoZ one of the most popular Smite Shields. Both perfect upgraded Ethereal and non-ethereal varieties are valuable with high defense rolls. Ethereal are less easily tradable given Smiters generally Ber their HoZ.


An interesting offensive focussed Shield used by Amazons on switch (non-Storm Shield builds which don’t intend to invest in the requisite strength to wield SS). This shield is used to apply open wounds.


A maxblock nec shield commonly upp’d for additional defenses. Usually Enigma is used by Necro’s, boosting strength hugely and negating the increased requirements.

Moser’s Blessed Circle

A popular high defense, max block shield for Sorceress, that can be upp’d to increase defense even further (and still lower requirements than Stormshield). The two additional sockets and resistances make this a popular shield for Faceting.

Lance Guard

Similar to Swordback, this is used as an offensive Shield for it’s attack damage mods. In this case, Lance Guard provides Deadly Strike rather than Open Wounds offered by Swordback. As such, it’s utilized by melee builds like Chargers.



These gloves offer good defensive stats, and can be found very early onto leveling. It retains its usefulness late game, particularly on builds that don’t require faster cast rate, and so can be upp’d for extra value when being utilized in Nightmare on.


A low requirement, highly used glove by magic finders. While having extra defense on these builds is not traditionally required, these gloves are commonly upp’d.


Similar to Chanceguards, this is a low base requirement glove that is often upp’d to retain relevance in the late game. There is no significant powerspike or utility other than the defence which should be negligible for caster builds using this glove.


Another mage glove that is upp’d on occasion given its inherently low base requirement.


Titans Revenge

A commonly upgraded Javazon javelin that will increase the base physical damage (noting it does nothing for the lightning component). This extra physical damage may be useful for immunes, or for additional life and mana leech on hit.

Rare Cruels or Fools mod weapons

Rare Cruel or Fool’s weapons are often upgraded to their elite versions unless being used for Low Level Dueling (or Mid-level). These include Zealer melee weapons, throwing axes (throw barbs), Javelins (Javazons), 2-hand polearms (Chargers / Barbs), Bows (Bowazons), Daggers and Knives (Melee), Flails (Melee) and or Maces. Note: Optimal rare weapons for upgrading are Fool’s weapons with high enhanced damage (200 max roll) or Cruel’s weapons with high enhanced damage (300 max roll)


A commonly used melee druid weapon that needs to be upp’d to maximise DPS. Unlike some other items in this list, this item is almost always upgraded as soon as resources are available. Maximising weapon damage is very important to overall DPS, and integral for non elemental builds (like the Javazon).



A powerful melee PvP and general physical damage reduction armor offering very high defenses when ethereal. Perfect for building a mercenary tank, or for specialist high defense builds. This is extremely valuable with higher upp’d defenses and perfect base stats. A perfect upp’d version would be a once in a lifetime trophy item among the D2R community.


Similar to the Shaftstop, Toothrow is a powerful melee PvP specialist item that commands huge value at high roles (in Ethereal variants) with a perfect version remaining unseen in whole servers. Even high defense rolls will command significant trade value if you can find the right buyer.

Guardian Angel

An interesting resistance stacking item used in certain survivability based builds. Not used in melee so less valuable. Ethereal versions are worth more than non-eth but are less used.

Skin of the Vipermagi

An interesting item that is upp’d less for it’s utility, but because its a highly utilized, lower cost item. Items like this are sometimes upgraded to try and inject additional value when roll’d perfect, useful if you have an overabundance of perfect items that are difficult to trade (a rare scenario and not likely the best way to optimize value).


An interesting breakpoint armour used by certain builds for IAS as well as its other interesting mods (% chance to block, FHR, raw stats). This can be upp’d once or twice and is very valuable to specialist or collectors when you can attain a high or perfect stat’d double upp’d version.



Normal belt bases like Goldwrap are typically upp’d for additional belt slots (1 row of 4) which most find very helpful. Additionally the raw strength requirement increase from the normal the elite version is negligible when considering the stat boosts from expected items like anni/torch. Double upping Goldwraps is also an option for higher strength running builds, typically Barbarians.


Razortail is a commonly upgraded Elite belt, due to its relatively low requirement even when upgraded. It is used on missile based builds like the Javazon, Bowazon or throwbarb due to its function deriving from the Pierce (as well as dexterity) it offers. While defense is not paramount in these types of builds, it can be helpful and further buff your already high defenses (assuming you’re a dexterity based build).


A popular lightning absorb item used in both PvP and PvM. Upping this is great for additional defences in PvM for higher strength builds, while it is used to min/max in PvP.

String of Ears

SoE is a strong melee belt that is used instead of Verdungo’s on some builds. It can be upp’d for higher defence though is not as popular as many of the other belts mentioned here.



Waterwalks are most commonly upp’d by PvP Smiters and Vindicator/Templars (V/T’s) for additional defense, with higher strength usually enabled by Enigma (and required to build into CoA). 201 defense perfect Upp’d Waterwalks is an expensive item given the popularity of the V/T and inherent demand.


Gore are a popular Barb v Barb boot, the most popular melee PvP subset. Defense is also paramount in this particular matchup meaning perfect upp’d goreriders are highly desirable. The popularity of Gores in general means even non-upp’d high rolls or perfects can be expensive so be aware if you’re rolling your own Gores. A bad roll can half the value of a perfect pair.


A commonly Upp’d caster boot. Silkweave’s low cost makes it a popular upping target for those not concerned about losing value.


A commonly Upp’d or double upp’d Goldfind Barb boot that is in particular, used for goldfarming in fire dense Travincal.


We hope this guide was helpful, and you learned more about upgrading and its uses. Just remember that you can’t un-upgrade items, so make sure you don’t upgrade a one-off that you may need for a different build down the line. If you’re searching for some bases to upgrade, or don’t want to take the risk yourself, check out our store for Ladder and Non-ladder.

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Ultimate Mercenary Guide | D2R Rune Farming Guide | 4 Socket Monarch Farming Guide

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