Now that the PTR is over and I have experienced essentially in the entire Season in one week, I have some thoughts about the Altar of Rites.
I’ll start with the first thing everyone’s going to say; the Altar needs to stay in the game permanently.
And why not? It’s just too good. It incorporates a lot of features that players have been asking for for years, both as quality of life for the player, and as material performance improvements for the character. Unfortunately, if it stays in the game as it was in the PTR, there’s a problem. It would be the same problem that we have with Paragon.
After Paragon 800, every character played by every player of the same class is essentially the same in power. All of the Paragon categories are maxed out, and in fact even getting there is an exercise in equality because of the forced rotation. So after Paragon 800, every character has essentially the exact same Paragon power boost, topped by thousands of main stat from thousands of Paragon levels. This situation does not enhance game or character diversity.
If the Altar of Rites stays in the game with every single Seal available to every player, then we will have the same situation as characters at Paragon 800, where every single one has exactly the same bonuses and benefits, and there is exactly zero character and game diversity.
But the Altar should stay in the game, because it does bring with it a lot of needed additions, and a bit of the Diablo II skill tree - but only under one condition; some of the Seals have to be mutually exclusive. Like Diablo II and its skill tree, if a player chooses one path, it has to close the door to the other paths. Only if the Altar brings with it tough choices can it succeed.
The initial layout of the Altar Seals seems initially pretty good. You have one minor gateway Seal and then you have to start making choices, usually between player convenience and character power, defense or offense. Choices that fit the way you want to play that particular character. The tree should funnel you down into the choice of a single potion buff, while beyond, everyone gets the double Primals.
If this type of thing is going to work, then the Altar must be per character, and not effective across the entire account. I may want a Monk to have certain attributes from the Altar of Rites, while I want a Demon Hunter to have different attributes, and a Crusader still others. But if all characters have all Seal benefits, then we haven’t really made any characters better or unique, we’ve simply lowered the ceiling again.
So I think the Altar of Rites should stay in the game, but it should be per character, and have mutually exclusive branches.
Only then will it succeed to breathe new life into the game.