Eventually you reach a point in Diablo 4 where, instead of grinding for levels, you're grinding for gear. Unique items give unique bonuses for your class and they're essential as you climb toward the RPG's level 100 cap.
Instead of blindly sweeping through dungeons and gambling with Murmuring Obols for gear, you can actually target specific item types with Diablo 4's monster family system (a truly unfortunate name). Necromancers desperate for a scythe, for example, can seek out Drowned enemies, or if you just need a Unique helm to complete your build, you can focus on fighting Cultists.
As you finish the campaign and start the long road past level 50, you'll see why Unique items are a tremendous help in harder World Tiers. Normal enemies and bosses hit harder and require you to have some kind of synergy between your gear and your skill tree to survive. My Necromancer Bone Spear build never felt quite right until I picked up a Deathless Visage helmet to boost my AoE damage.
The details on monster families are still fuzzy, and it's unclear if the boosted drop rates apply to Unique items at all. But even if they don't, there's a chance this system will still be useful for anyone who hasn't hit level 100 yet. Rare and Legendary items carry powerful stats that you can upgrade and convert into specific Legendaries with the passive bonuses from Aspects of Power. Because let's face it, any mechanic that helps harness the unforgivable nature of RNG drops is worth trying.
Here's what each monster family drops:
- Bandits: Daggers, maces
- Beasts: Chests, crossbows, swords
- Cannibals: two-handed axes, axes, helms
- Cultists: Daggers, helms
- Drowned: Scythes, two-handed maces, pants, boots
- Fallen: Axes, staves
- Ghosts: Bows, wands
- Goatmen: Two-handed axes, axes, two-handed staves, totems
- Skeletons: Crossbows, shields, swords
- Snakes: Two-handed polearms, swords
- Spiders: Chests, focus, gloves, two-handed swords
- Vampires: Bows, two-handed swords, wands
If you're not exactly sure what specific items you need, just look for which gear slot on your character panel has the lowest item level and target the monster family that drops it. Elite enemies have a higher chance to drop items, so you'll want to farm monsters within dungeons or open world events like Helltides or Strongholds.
Someone will surely do the math to definitively determine if monster family drop rates are significant enough to go for them over regular enemy farming. Most of Diablo 4's systems seem built around the endgame, so I wouldn't be surprised if this is more useful than it might look. Blizzard also has a massive balance patch coming, which could include changes that emphasize targeted item farming. Otherwise, everyone will have to go back to refreshing YouTube and Reddit for the latest broken dungeon farm location.