The Ritual League in Path of Exile: Echoes of the Atlas is already raging. With it come many changes to the overall PoE experience! Living up to its name, players will now encounter ritual altars scattered throughout the maps, offering a challenge in exchange for a new currency called Tribute. But, as with pretty much everything in Path of Exile, there are many details surrounding the new stuff that aren’t fully explained. This guide should cover all your questions and provide insight into what to expect from these encounters, as well as why you should take the time to complete each ritual.
How Do Ritual Altars Work? – Path of Exile
In Path of Exile, each new mechanic has a tendency to stick around even after a given League (seasonal events that occur on a quarterly basis) ends. As you fight your way through hordes of enemies, you’ll encounter different NPCs, touchstones, or special encounters that can reactivate these older events, but their presence is somewhat rare. Rituals, on the other hand, make their first appearance in the opening minutes of the game, and remain ever-present in most areas.
You can spot these at a distance by looking at the map, signified as bright runes that seem like an “M,” but missing them on the spot isn’t exactly a problem —- they cover a big circle in the ground with eerie drawings and candles. The ritual altar will be sitting right in the centre. Once activated by clicking the altar, your character becomes trapped within the circle. The only ways out are either by taking down all the enemies, or to die trying. The catch is that, unlike your normal encounters, there are always conditions attached to these.
Hovering over the ritual altar will always display the details of what to expect. Sometimes both you and your allies will become faster, but this buff applies to enemies as well. Other times, laser beams will start spinning around the altar, forcing you to stay on moving or dodge at the right time. These are the modifiers we’ve found so far:
- Bitter Ritual Altar: Monsters deal extra Cold Damage and can Freeze. Icy Beams rotate.
- Charged Ritual Altar: Monsters gain Endurance, Frenzy, or Power Charges on hit. Altar charges up and discharges monsters.
- Dreaded Ritual Altar: Monsters deal extra Chaos Damage and can Wither. Anomalies fire Chaos Projectiles.
- Emboldening Ritual Altar: Monsters are Massive. Altar causes monsters to grow even larger.
- Ensconced Ritual Altar: Monsters gain extra Energy Shield based on life. Altar restores monster Energy Shield.
- Fortressed Ritual Altar: Monsters take Reduced Damage. Fortress totems further reduce the damage monsters take.
- Foul Ritual Altar: Monsters deal extra Chaos Damage and can Poison. Toxic vines grab you while stationary.
- Fluctuant Ritual Altar: Monsters deal extra Lighting Damage and can Shock. Skull spires fire Lighting Orbs at each other.
- Infernal Ritual Altar: Monsters deal extra Fire Damage and can Ignite. Meteors fall from the sky.
- Invigorating Ritual Altar: Monsters are fast. Gales further accelerate you and monsters.
- Suppressive RItual Altar: Monsters regenerate life. Smothering Mist lowers your life regeneration.
- Vaal Ritual Altar: Items dropped by slain monsters are Corrupted. Atziri’s apparition protects the altar.
- Violent Ritual Altar: Monsters deal extra Physical Damage and can inflict Bleeding. Pain totems pulse Damaging Waves.
What’s really interesting is where these rituals pull their enemies from. When you get close to the circle, you will always notice a group of monsters roaming about. Those are the ones that will reappear with the altar’s given condition. This also applies to bosses, so if you happened to kill one inside the circle, you can start the challenge and face them again, as well as the enemies you killed before. There tend to be variants, mind you, but it always works with bosses.
Tribute – What to Know and When to Defer Favours
Of course, you wouldn’t go through all of these fights if there weren’t a reward, and the way Path of Exile implements these is intriguing to say the least. As you fight your way through a ritual, you’ll notice a number at the bottom of the screen that increases with each enemy you kill. This is called Tribute. Once you’re done, you can either click the altar or the icon on the bottom right side of the screen to access a rewards list, which are in turn called Favours (really just a fancy word for loot in this context). Jargon aside, it’s rather straightforward. Assuming you have enough Tribute to purchase something you like, just go ahead and grab it. Each piece of loot just costs a specific amount of Tribute.
This is where the new mechanic gets interesting. You can always expect between two and three rituals in corresponding areas (this number can increase in larger zones toward the end of the campaign). Completing one ritual will reveal a certain number of Favours, but not all of them. There will be hidden items that only show up as unidentifiable blocks until you complete more rituals in the area. This is where the mechanic mentioned before comes into play; enemies return each time, making them harder from ritual to ritual, but giving you more Tribute and more rewards to choose.
Tribute can also be used to reroll Favours (which is, to reiterate, just another name for the loot you can purchase after each ritual) once per area. That’s in case you don’t like the rewards you see. It also serves as a way to Defer certain items. For example, if you see a piece of armor or weapon that would be great for your character, but that you can’t afford just then, you can Defer it to an upcoming area. It will then appear at a later set of rituals at a lower price. You do this by paying 15 percent of the item’s original cost. When it reappears in a later area, it will be discounted by 10 percent of that price. Bear in mind that more valuable items might take longer to reappear, so don’t worry if you don’t see them again immediately after.
Considering that equipment such as the Tabula Rasa (chest armor that is highly sought after by players) tends to be part of the ritual loot pool, it’s really worth investing some time into the event. Consider them as small arenas that not only grant you experience points, but also increase your chances of finding rare loot as you progress through maps.
It’s worth mentioning that ritual altars can’t be repeated. However, you will retain all the Tribute you earn from one encounter to the next in the same area, so it’s not a huge loss. If you’re in a party, the currency is shared between everyone. Only the leader can make purchases, but these can be dropped on the floor or traded to the interested player without any obstacle.
Ritual altars are an interesting addition to Path of Exile — especially considering they hold items that would otherwise take ages to drop normally, from the Tabula Rasa to Chaos Orbs (the latter commonly used as a currency to purchase items in trades). We highly recommend making a stop and activating these circles the next time you encounter one. You never know if the item you were looking for awaits you there!
[Disclaimer: Tencent, the parent company that owns Fanbyte, is also a majority holder of Grinding Gear Games, the developer of Path of Exile. That being said, there is no direct nor indirect involvement in coverage whatsoever. We do share the love for hack-n-slash games, but that’s about it, really.]