Diablo 3: Altar of Rites Thoughts

While Season 30 is said to be the end of seasonal development, the one positive that the developers have mentioned is the incorporation of the Altar of Rites as a permanent feature moving forward. It was not included in Season 29 as people theorize that it’s being adjusted. I’m guessing that the adjustment is to provide some level of RNG in terms of rotating features that go beyond the popular quality of life effects one gains through unlocking the various tiers. If that’s the case, I wanted to share some thoughts on how I would implement the Altar of Rites so that Diablo 3 never truly becomes irrelevant and that the game still can be fun, despite no longer having new seasonal themes.

Part of the inspiration for this blog was that a person on reddit came up with a tiered list of season features. Not all seasons had features especially the earlier ones.  And some of the later seasons like the Follower one simply baked the feature into the normal part of the game. But what was interesting about the list was how the seasons had tiers in terms of interests/power. So I wanted to list all the seasonal themes where there was a power or feature associated to it:

  • 14 – Season of Greed / Double Goblins
  • 15 – Boon of the Horadrim / Double Bounty Caches
  • 16 – Season of Grandeur / Ring of Royal Grandeur buff
  • 17 – Season of Nightmares / Legacy of Nightmares power
  • 18 – Season of Triune / Chance that one of three powers granted when a player hits an enemy
  • 19 – Season of the Eternal Conflict / Stacking kill streak buff that grants certain bonuses depending on number of kills
  • 20 – Season of the Forbidden Archives / Removes item type restriction in Kanai’s Cube slots.
  • 21 – Trials of Tempest / Grants a specific power randomly every 90 seconds
  • 22 – Shadows of the Past / 4th Kanai’s Cube slot + activating a shrine spawns a clone from 3 predetermined builds
  • 24 – Ethereals / Super unique weapons that were class oriented with special powers + an additional class passive
  • 25 – Soul Shards / Special gems that could be equipped in the helmet and weapon that granted specific powers and were upgradable
  • 27 – Lights Calling / Introduced Angelic Crucibles which reforges legendary items with a special additional power
  • 29 – Visions of Eternity / New area found wandering in the world that provides a mini rift with special rewards

Now, some seasons introduced permanent features like Echoing Nightmares. Many people right now are staunchly for making Visions of Eternity a permanent feature. Considering that Paragon skill points will max out at 800, it only makes sense for Visions of Eternity to become a permanent part of the game, albeit trivializing normal bounties (outside of perhaps an initial run for the season journey). The thing is that more people are going to strive for perfect gear to compensate for paragon farming. The only progress will be maximizing augments to push their stats through gear. In that sense, it makes sense to keep Visions as a farming mechanism.

But with the Altar of Rites making a permanent comeback, there will be more incentives to increase power by other means beyond augments. What’s nice about the Altar of Rites is that it provides a clearly defined carrot on the stick that is a great supplement to the season. It is not unbalanced and creates new goals that extends out the usual season journey. But if we merely use the Altar of Rites from season 28, then the game will surely stagnate and I feel that part of the reason the developers decided not to release it as a permanent feature just yet is to make the reward (and possibly quest side) more random. If that’s the case, we should examine how we can keep the game stimulating while it goes into maintenance mode through an updated Altar of Rites.

My idea was to select certain powers from the Altar and change them out in favor of past season themes. For instance, we can swap in a different power from Passability since it’s effectively the same as Illusory Boots. As that power is found on a bounty cache item, one idea is to make that power equivalent to a Ring of Royal Grandeur, which is season 16’s boon. The reddit post that I mentioned earlier had also ranked the season powers and I wanted to throw my 2 cents into the pile to establish how a tiered approach to the Altar can make this really interesting.

  • Double Goblins – Very weak. Tier C
  • Double Bounty Caches – Might be worthless if Visions of Eternity are kept permanently. If not, Tier C (also was Power O in the original Altar)
  • Ring of Royal Grandeur – Tier B. This would be huge since many builds these days end up using a RoRG to enable some of the crafted sets like the Guardians, Captains and Aughilds in addition to the normal set. Effectively, frees up a critical jewelry slot in Kanai’s Cube.
  • Legacy of Nightmares power – Tier B. You either can get rid of the LoD gem or LoN rings. So this can be great for a starting character or for those who want to go set-less.
  • Chance that one of three powers granted when a player hits an enemy – Tier B. Very powerful ability but is similar to ability AA from the Altar. So if we continue to go down this path, it would be potion activated.
  • Stacking kill streak buff that grants certain bonuses depending on number of kills – Tier C. Not a great bonus except for novelty. Should belong as a potion activated ability.
  • Removes item type restriction in Kanai’s Cube slots. – Tier C. Honestly, not that useful. Maybe for a character that’s leveling but end game characters generally are more focused.
  • Grants a specific power randomly every 90 seconds – Tier B. Powerful but not dependable. Better suited as a potion activated ability.
  • 4th Kanai’s Cube slot + activating a shrine spawns a clone from 3 predetermined builds. Tier A and Tier B for me. 4th Kanai’s Cube slot is HUGE in my opinion. More builds open up. But probably it’s actual power is more on the level of a RoRG if you want to classify where it belongs since you effectively can gain a free slot through a RoRG. The Shadow Clone is really fun but it’s more supplementary and RNG dependent on the layout of an area.
  • Ethereals / Super unique weapons that were class oriented with special powers + an additional class passive – Tier A. This should be one of those mega end game goals that you strive for in unlocking Altar powers. Besides the 5th passive you gain, certain Ethereals are just so good with certain builds. Can you imagine the mega carrot on the stick when you not only aim to complete an Altar for the season but unlock Ethereals to hunt?
  • Soul Shards / Special gems that could be equipped in the helmet and weapon that granted specific powers and were upgradable – Tier A. Just like Ethereals, these are build enabling items.
  • Angelic Crucibles which reforges legendary items with a special additional power – Tier A. More build enabling items that convert your legendaries into Ancients.
  • Visions of Eternity – Tier A these are more about rewards but they take the place of double goblins, double death breaths, double bounties, etc. all in one. I made these Tier A just because you can simplify farming by spending only a few minutes in the normal world areas and avoiding bounty mat and key farming. The time savings alone make this feature Tier A to me.

So let’s take a look at the breakdown of tiers:

  • Tier A – High end build defining features. Or super high end quality of life time savers.
  • Tier B – Powerful abilities that either enable more builds or unleash massive powers that probably are best used via potion activation.
  • Tier C – Some quality of life that already exist on the Altar or can replace other QoL features from the Altar.

The Altar itself has been praised mostly because of various quality of life effects. But here’s the ones I think are irreplaceable:

  • Items have no level requirement (really good for fresh start leveling)
  • +25% movement speed (uncapped)
  • Progress orbs from Nephalem and Greater Rifts are automatically picked up within 60 yards.
  • Pets pick up Death’s Breath.
  • Pets pick up and salvage common, magic, and rare items.
  • When a primal item drops, a second random primal item drops as well.

The auto-salvage and pickup would have been insanely useful for this season’s feature while +25% movement speed would free up one area of paragon for other things. That leaves the other features on the Altar being more open to RNG. Going back to the idea of integrating past seasons, in looking at the original Altar, one can see how it already had some of those past seasons built in. Now, moving forward, instead of using the same positions for those seasonal themes/abilities, we might consider making those sections be the spot for RNG.

The way I would implement this is through making (at minimal) three spots on the Altar open for each of those tiers of seasons. So the double bounty one (from O) could be replaced by double Goblins. Or perhaps, AD might be a Tier A theme. But to really make this scenario the most flexible and interesting, I suggest eliminating RNG completely and allow the players to choose which themes they want in those slots. For instance, I would love being able to run Ethereals with a 4th Kanai’s Cube slot or Ring of Royal Grandeur. And if you’re going for an LoD or LoN build, you might just want that seasonal ability rather than a Ring of Royal Grandeur. And these things can be locked down once you select your theme or perhaps you can choose a different one to experiment. But no matter what, you’re given more flexibility for how you want to play your season. That way the game doesn’t just stagnate where you’re forced to wait for years until Ethereals make a comeback. You just keep playing what you want each season and get to try new starts.

Now, one other thought about next season that hasn’t been addressed. The only thing I’ve heard thus far is that the developers (or singular) will no longer be adding new themes for seasons. However, what I didn’t hear nor read was whether or not more changes might be available moving forward. I assume that with the Altar, bugs still will crop up. So fixes will continue to go out until the game is completely decommissioned. At the same time, I can see where the possible permutations of effects might cause the game to be unbalanced. Even with the paragons being eliminated, there’s still a sense of competition through leaderboards. Just because of that, I predict the occasional ongoing adjustments to items.

If that’s the case, there’s no reason why more items might not be made useful. There were a few things this season, for instance, that had been adjusted. Like that Vigilante Belt and Cluckeye. And older sets like Helltooth remain in purgatory because it just hasn’t been focused on to be competitive. Why can’t we have an Acid Cloud build as an example? Or a Chakram build via the Shadow Set? And I remain hopeful that some day we’ll get an updated Ashera’s Vestments that Emanate for followers. That way we can use all three Followers at once permanently and make it worth equipping each of them.

While the main game is practically complete, there’s still some work that should be done to give more life to legendaries and other skills/builds. Combine that with randomized, mutli-tiered seasonal powers at the Altar of Rites level and the game will continue to have life after this season is done.

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