Called Rites of Sanctuary, the next season for Diablo 3 introduces a shrine where you make various sacrifices to customize an account-wide series of powerful seasonal buffs that range from quality of life improvements to defensive/offensive adjustments. As my time has become more limited as of late, I decided to use the PTR as my official playtime for Season 28. As the new sacrifices are intended to be a long grind (particularly the Staff of Herding aspect), I felt there was no point in playing the next season. Not to mention the PTR vendor gives most of what you need, thus allowing you to bypass some of the worst grinds for the upcoming season.
I won’t go into depth for each buff, but I want to comment on my journey. Since the most powerful character at the moment on the PTR is the Demon Hunter, I decided to start off the PTR season in this manner. The shrine is accessed in Act I behind the inn and can be used from level 1. With just 10 Reusable Parts, you can get the benefit of the first buff, which extends your kill streak bonus timer. Pretty much that should help you level quicker. But the real key is getting the “all equipment is level 1” buff, which will take a little more grinding as a result of needing a Flawless Diamond.
Now, there’s some neat tricks you can do to bypass the grind on the PTR but it still will require some grinding from you. The key is to grab the Bag of Fortune via 50 Bloodshards. With that, you’ll find a variety of materials early on, including an invaluable Challenge Rift Cache. These Challenge Rift Caches have Bloodshards and quite a bit of them I might add. So getting access to that will allow you to buy more stuff from the PTR vendor. Not only that, but that Bag of Fortune also has high level gems, which you can use to sacrifice for that all items are level 1 buff. Now, with your Bloodshards from the Challenge Rift, you can just buy one of each item type. I highly suggest getting a weapon bag, followed by the legendary gem one because you can then equip a level 25 Gem of Ease and a level 99 Legacy of Dreams gem (if you want to do an LoD no-set build).
If you don’t go with an LoD build, you should buy the PTR class set bag just to gain insane bonuses that will allow you to immediate boost the difficulty to T6. Add a Boon of the Hoarder, Goldwrap and Gizzard gem and you’ll walk through T6 easily. For myself, I did the improved UE set and found it too plodding. So I ended up switching to Nats but didn’t quite understand how it was being used as I saw the leaderboards with an unusual build.
Of course, I swapped to GoD because that’s a build I’m quite familiar with and enjoy using it for gold farming among other things. While no longer competitive compared to Nats, GoD does a good job early on. Heck, I still use it to run bounties or farm gold. Unfortunately, I spent quite a bit of time trying to push that build rather than the far superior Nats build. But the Nats build on PTR is bugged because of one issue: 2 piece Shadow set. While the text implies that you’re limited to the skills available for the bonus, the actual implementation at the moment ignores the text and is applied to all damage.
So what a lot of people are doing on PTR is using 5 pieces of Nats + 2 pieces of Shadow with a Sun Keeper and Holy Point Shot to really maximize their damage. The thing with the Shadow 2 piece bonus is that if you use a melee weapon, then all damage gets multiplied by 6000. So some of the updated items meant for Spiked Trap have been cast aside in favor of this format. And this build smashes! Tonight I managed to get up to GR115 and received my Whisper of Atonement level 125, which I used for one of my sacrifices. At GR115, I don’t feel many problems and managed to get my gems to level 100 a piece. I kinda wish that the developers just say screw it and leave the bug in at this point.
Other things I’ve done was leveling up one of each class. I really wanted to give the Wizard another shot but Nats just has been too good. I know Tal Rasha is up there too but it’s clunky and slow. I might give it a try tomorrow depending on how much time I have. But I felt pretty satisfied with what I got accomplished through my journey thus far.
Now, the only real incentive for doing Season 28 will be the Wings transmog. Quite frankly, I don’t think it’s worth it. If I had far more time, I would go for it. But truth be told, the Altar of Sacrifice, while novel in concept, just isn’t that compelling for a season grind to me. I’m sure once you’re in a real season, the reward for unlocking the various seals will be great. Knowing that the altar will only be around for the season and that the only thing that will go to show for your efforts is a stupid transmog, then it really boils down to the amount of time one wants to dedicate to this effort. I don’t think it’ll be that awful but there’s definitely a variety of blockers like the annoying Challenge Rift and Staff of Herding.
Currently, the only class/build worth playing is Nats. By the end of the PTR (or perhaps during), we’ll see the Shadow set get nerfed again so the novelty of just destroying high level GRs with a spin-2-win type of build won’t be around. Compared to GoD, Nats with Spike Trap is like an automatic car vs a stick shift that needs to get revved up. It’s slightly smoother than GoD but more cooldown focused.
What about other builds? I think the various seasonal buffs we’ve been seeing made it worth trying out each class. Now, with the altar being limited to an account-wide type of system, it really makes Nats the only must-play build if you’re looking for something new to do. Maybe doing other characters to get better follower gear might be a thing but nothing really stood out foe me compared to Season 27 outside of Nats.
I think what we’re seeing is a bit disconcerting just because the Diablo 3 team is pretty much a small one focused on maintenance at this point. So while Diablo 4 is about to ramp up, I doubt we’ll see much improvements moving forward for Diablo 3. Outside of fixing old crafted sets and a few skills here and there, I think much of the Diablo 3 system will be set in stone moving forward. I do hope that now we’ve seen a large number of key seasons with their own buffs that eventually some of these themes make their way back somehow. My suggestion is to use something like the altar except that we can unlock old season buffs then select ones that we want just to keep the game somewhat interesting.