Waypoints are magical teleportation devices in Diablo II and Diablo III. They can be used to travel quickly between several areas in each Act, much like the extra passages that took heroes from Tristram to the Catacombs, the Caves, and eventually Hell in Diablo I.
Waypoints are arcane circles of teleportation etched into the ground. They were created by the Horadrim, who devised the Waypoints to provide instant transport from one place to another. The magics at work have long since been forgotten, as the original Horadrim have all but disappeared. However, these Waypoints remain as a legacy to the Horadrim's once-great power, and the value of these devices cannot be denied.
Starting in Diablo II, within every town, and at various places throughout each Act, players will find several Waypoints. By clicking on them, players can bring up the Waypoint Menu, displaying a list of destinations.
The Waypoint system featured here, at first, is nothing more than the towns for each Act. As players fight against the minions of Hell, it is advised to click on Waypoints upon finding them to add their location to the Waypoint menu. The Waypoint destinations in gray text are ones that a player has not yet discovered and activated. A player can jump to any Waypoint shown in blue text by clicking on its button in the Waypoint Menu. A player may also access Waypoints from other Acts by using the Act Tab in this menu. Since Waypoints are saved with a player's character between games, they are a quick way to bypass areas one has already explored.
Party members do not share Waypoints with each other; however, players can help transport other players to a Waypoint's location by opening a Town Portal. Players who haven't activated that Waypoint location can now use this Town Portal to reach the undiscovered Waypoint. Once there, they can activate the Waypoint and add it to their own Waypoint lists.
When a player uses a Waypoint to switch between Acts, it is best to go first to the main town of the Act to which they are traveling. This way, they can safely load the Act in town, where they cannot be attacked. From there, they can use the Waypoint to go to other Waypoints in the Act.
The Waypoint system returns in Diablo III, and for the most part, works much like it did in the previous game. As the Nephalem journeys forth to battle the minions of Hell, they will come across several waypoints. Moving near the waypoints will add them to the hero's Waypoint list. They can then return to the area at their heart's desire.
In the campaign portion of the game, any waypoints that are missed will still be added as the storyline progresses. However, once the current Act has been completed, the Nephalem may not return to that Act without progressing backwards in the storyline. At that point, the waypoints are, for all intents and purposes, considered as disabled.
In Adventure Mode, all of the waypoints for each Act of the game are immediately unlocked, to serve as the main method of reaching the several Bounties that are in place. Some waypoints have been relocated; for example, there is no waypoint in the Caverns of Araneae in the campaign portion of the game, but there is in Adventure Mode. All Waypoints that are right before the boss fights, with the sole exception of the Archives of Zoltun Kulle, are also removed.
As of patch 2.0, the Nephalem has a choice that they can make regarding the need to reach any location. They can reach the desired point by clicking that location on the map. This will teleport the character there as if they were using a Town Portal. However, if they are not in town, they will need a short casting time that works much like trying to cast a Town Portal. On the other hand, they can manually activate the waypoint if it is nearby, and reach their destination faster than they would have going by the other method.
- Lore from the Diablo II manual states that the Horadrim created the Waypoints during the Sin War. This is apparently an error, as the Horadrim were formed during the Dark Exile, long after the conflict had ended.
- Waypoints have appeared in areas such as the Burning Hells and Pandemonium. No lore explanation exists as to why they are found outside Sanctuary.