The 2020 GOTY nominee Hades launched today on the Xbox family of consoles and while it’s a very fun game, it can take a little getting used to. This beginner’s guide for Hades is designed to help you through some of the early portions of the game and will help you decide what to unlock first with the myriad of different resources the game throws at you.
In a run of Hades, you are given a choice of doors to enter. Sometimes you only have a choice of one door, sometimes up to 3. Knowing what each resource symbol does is helpful for planning your runs. On the very first run, I recommend choosing mostly keys and the purple tear drops as those will help you unlock more weapons and upgrades for Zagreus. In fact I recommend doing that for the first few runs as you get comfortable with the game. The likelihood of completing the game in the first 10 runs or so is slim, so focus on permanent boosts to make your life and subsequent runs easier.
If you’ve never played a roguelike before, each time you die in a run you lose all your boons and gold and start fresh for the next run. That means that each run plays differently. Sometimes the differences are small, sometimes they are drastic. However, there are certain resources you keep even if you die.
One of the two most important resources early on in Hades is Darkness. It’s the aforementioned purple teardrop looking item. You can gain this from completing encounters when you enter a room with that item on the door. The other ways to earn it are by completing some treasure troves and by killing bosses multiple times with the same weapon. The first time you beat a boss you’ll gain a special item that we will talk about later.
Darkness can be used at the Mirror of Night in your bedroom to give you bonuses in each run. I recommend saving up 30 darkness to use on the Death Defiance perk which allows you to revive once per run. You can rank that perk up twice more to get 3 total revives but the 2nd rank costs 500, and the 3rd costs 1000. After getting the first rank of Death Defiance, I recommend getting the 3 total ranks in Chthonic Vitality which allow you to heal 1/2/3 points when entering a new room depending on the rank. That ones a bit cheaper costing 10/20/40 darkness for each rank respectively.
After buying those two perks I recommend hoarding the darkness because after collecting 300 darkness the mirror allows a swap of perks. While Death Defiance is great, I prefer the swapped perk Stubborn Defiance which allows you to revive once per ROOM. It only restores you to 30% rather than the 50% of Death Defiance, but I find it more useful. Stubborn Defiance does cost 500 darkness though, so that’s why I recommend saving it.
The other of the two important early resources are Chthonic Keys. These keys allow you to unlock the 7 other weapons in the game. The bow costs 1 key, the shield 3, and the spear 4. Once you unlock the 4 starting weapons, you can get the fists for 8 more keys. The final weapon, the Adamant Rail, which is basically a gun costs another 8 and can be unlocked once the other weapons are purchased.
So you need 24 total keys to unlock all the weapons in Hades. Following that, you can unlock more perks from the mirror in your bedroom. The first unlock is 5 keys, and you need 65 total to unlock the total mirror.
Nectar is another important resource in Hades as it allows you to improve your relationship with characters you meet in the game. The first time you gift a Nectar to a character, they’ll return the favor with a keepsake which is an item you can equip that provides a bonus for your run. I highly recommend giving the first nectar to Skelly in the weapons room as his keepsake allows you to revive on death once per run. The second character I recommend is Cerberus as he boosts your health pool.
After gifting Nectar to those two, you can freely choose who to give to based off who you don’t have keepsakes from though I recommend giving it to Megaera, Sisyphus, and Eurydice first as Megaera can disappear for awhile from showing up in the House, and Sisyphus and Eurydice are random room encounters in the first and second levels of hell respectively. Their rooms are marked by the question symbol.
One final note on Nectar is to make sure to give it to a god you want before accepting their boon as once you accept it their symbol disappears and you have to wait until their next boon offer. Don’t make the mistake I made the first time.
General Run Strategies
The way you like to play will dictate what choices you make in Hades. For instance, I like dodging around the room so I prefer using the shield more than say the gun. That doesn’t mean the gun is worthless, and there are benefits for beating each boss with every weapon, but I prefer certain weapons over others. How I use those weapons changes based off the boons I get though.
One of my best early runs came with the sword of all things. Early on I received a boon from Zeus that made it so whenever I dashed, lightning would strike in the area. I then got a boon from Zeus that made it so enemies hit by lightning got the Jolted status which made their first attack after being struck cause 150 damage to them. So I did what anyone would do and just dashed around the room barely using any attacks and decimated enemies.
Synergy plays a big part in Hades. Once you start learning the different boons, you start realizing which ones are your favorite. If you know you like Athena’s boons, then choose rooms that give you them. Then it’s a matter of figuring out which other god’s boons play off hers the best and prioritizing them too.
That being said, no run in Hades is ever going to give you exactly the boons you want. Adaptability is the key to success. But if you know you like dodging for instance, and rarely, if ever use the cast, I wouldn’t select boons that strengthen the cast. That being said, don’t shoehorn yourself into one attack. In the run I mentioned above, I also had a boon that weakened enemies when using the special attack of the sword with the Y button. Dashing in and pressing Y before dashing out really helped.
General Door Choice Guidelines
Since each run is different there’s no hard and fast rule to which door to choose. Early on though, I like to focus on god boons. Following that I choose Pom of Power doors since they allow you to upgrade the boon. The Daedalus hammer is a good choice as well since it upgrades your weapon attacks. Then it’s a matter of if you need keys, darkness, or want gold. Gold disappears after each run but can be used to purchase boons and health refills or upgrades from Charon. If you’re having a good run then I would choose gold. If you don’t think the run is winnable and you know you’re close to the next perk in the mirror, then choose darkness.
Go and Escape the Underworld
Hopefully this beginner’s guide for Hades is enough to get you started trying to escape the underworld. Figure out what you like to do and how you like to play and tailor your runs to that. If you are really struggling there is the option to enable God Mode from the settings menu at any time. This can be useful to anyone who just wants to play the story. And the story is very worth playing so make sure you talk to all the characters and read the text boxes. Now go and slay some monsters.
You can purchase Hades from the Microsoft store for $24.99 or play it right now on Game Pass. Stay tuned for more Hades content as well as guides and more for other popular games such as how to get Shohei Ohtani in MLB The Show 21 and previews and reviews for Madden 22.