"Area" serves as generic term to describe any separately loaded zone in the game. Areas have various attributes and rule sets attributed them depending on the type of the area.
An instance is a specific, randomly generated copy of an area. Every instance has a distinct layout, and most instances have a distinct set of monsters. Most instances can hold up to six players at once, with the exception of towns which can hold many more.
The game automatically creates an instance when a player tries to join an area with the region based on the player's realm choice. If there is an existing instance already created by the player or any party members that that will be joined instead.
Instances with no players in them continue to exist for a limited time (about 8-15 minutes in instances created in acts, but much longer for instances created from the map device). The instance is destroyed after the time elapses, along with the items and monsters inside the instance.
When entering an area, holding
CTRL displays existing instances of the area, and allows the player to create a new instance. The latter can be used to "reset" an area and start it again with a new layout, set of monsters, etc.
Areas have a number of attributes associated with them, though certain subsets of areas may have the same attributes and not all of these are explicitly visible in the game:
- Name - The name of the area itself. Multiple areas may share the same name.
- Difficulty - the associated difficulty of the area
- Act - the associated act of the area; note that all areas have an act associated, even if they can not directly be accessed through that act.
- Connections - other areas the area is connected to. Generally this means that they have a direct option to progress to another from the given area; most commonly this can be seen on the "layout" of in game area map where areas are connected to each other.
- Area level - the level of the area, this is used for entity generation purposes, so for example a level 60 area will produce level 60 monsters, level 60 chest, level 60 strongboxes, have randomly generated modifiers that require at least level 60, etc
- Player level restrictions - used to restrict entry to players that exceed the maximum or are below the minimum. For example, the Sarn Arena has a maximum level of 40 and 60 in normal and cruel difficulty respectively
- Modifiers - areas can have modifiers applied. Some areas may have inherent (implicit) modifiers, while others may receive randomly generated modifiers or receive them from other sources like leagues and Zana's map device, map items, etc.
- Unique Monsters - areas may contain a list of unique monsters
- Flags - Areas have have special flags set to distinguish them from each other, in particular
- town - the area is a town, meaning that you can't use skills or flasks
- hideout - the area is a hideout; players can use skills and flasks inside them
- doodad - the area can have decorations placed by the player
- waypoint - the area contains a waypoint
- map - the area is a map (which enables certain special rule sets)
- Tags - a hidden mechanism used in determining which monsters or certain modifiers can spawn
- topologies and environments - which dictate things like the area's background music
- parent area - determines in which area you spawn in if you die; for example, dying in Merciless Twilight Strand has Cruel Highgate as respawn area defined.
Overview of areas