A collection of tips, tricks, and strategies for succeeding in Hades!
Tips, Tricks and Strategies
Hades is unusual in the roguelite genre in that it greatly rewards player knowledge. Not just skill, not just experience, but knowledge of mechanics themselves. Therefore, I would like to help you help yourself kick butt!
As each playthrough is randomly generated, this is not a walkthrough. Just a collection of knowledge which let you Git Gud (tm) at this fine game. There are several ranked lists to help you make the choices you'll be faced with, and some general tips on bosses and enemies.
Room Reward Rankings
When choosing your next encounter based on the offered reward, always take rooms with Daedelus Hammers. These are immensely powerful, usually run-defining modifications to your main weapons.
Next, you'll typically want to take rooms with god boons. These are the second most powerful rewards in almost all cases. Unless you're about to die or in other unusual circumstances, it is almost always best to pick a room with two boons at the same time. You'll have to fight a very hard battle, with elite enemies attacking you while the god you've angered throws stuff at you, but you'll get two rooms' worth of powerups. Since there is always a set number of rooms in each biome, this is a big deal!
Darkness, gems, keys, and nectar provide long-term benefits which build up between runs. As such, I recommend taking them over most other choices except boons and hammers. Of all the above, darkness most directly and quickly boosts your power, followed by keys.
Centaur hearts (max life), poms of power (boon levels), and obols (money) shift in relative usefulness based on your situation. One thing to keep in mind is that in most cases, the rooms with money as a reward give you less money than it would cost to buy the other types of rewards.
All gods offer boons that have similar thematic elements - Zeus does lightning, Poseidon offers water powers, Athena grants defense, and so on. Usually these have a certain theme in terms of gameplay elements. It helps to know which god offers what, which gods are useful for your current loadout, which gods are always useful, and which gods are never useful. One thing to note is that each of the following can only have ONE boon boosting it - attack, special, cast, dash. So you can't have an attack that hits people with lightning, freezes them, weakens them, pushes them back, and poisons them. Bummer, but a good balance idea.
One thing to note about this list is that almost all of the gods offer an array of very powerful boosts. Until you start getting to the very bottom of the list, they all have a lot to offer. Despite being number 5, for example Poseidon offers a powerful if situational damage boost as well as maybe the best god call in the game. Anyway, from best to worst, here we go!
1. Hermes - Speed
Hermes is unique among the game's gods, boss. Unlike all the rest he has no boons specific to attack, dash, dodge, or special. Because of that, his boons stack with just about everything, and they all have something in common - speed. He'll let you move faster, dash more, have a chance to auto-dodge enemy attacks, and so on. Of special note are his boon which allows you to auto-dodge, as it greatly increases your survivability, and his boon which gives you money each time you enter a room, which adds up to a whole lot more purchased upgrades over a run.
2. Athena - Defense
Athena is notable in that her boons are useful in any build, cousin. She has an extraordinarily powerful anti-trap boon which can reduce damage from traps by up to 90%, making them no longer a threat. Her Call is one of the the two most powerful, making you straight-up invincible for several seconds, which is great against bosses. Her dash boon is by far the best in the game, increasing the time you're invincible during your dash as well as causing it to reflect attacks. This will let you do cool things like instakill splitters (witch ghost things) by reflecting their exploding magic ball at them!
3. Dionysus - Healing, Poison
What a nice guy, and a real mate! While alcohol does not typically make you better over time, it does in this game. Dionysus has a boon which makes you get extra max health from nectar. He also has one of the single best buffs in the game - Strong Drink, which makes fountains heal all damage and give you a stacking, permanent damage boost. He also inflicts a powerful poison effect on enemies, called "hangover", which does very significant damage over time. This is especially useful for hit-and-run tactics, or weakish attack that hit multiple times or from a great distance. As a bonus, this lets you kill powerful mythical figures of tremendous power with a hangover for extra humiliation points. Wonderful for giving the final boss what they deserve.
But be warned! His cast boon is flashy and a little fun, but is a trap option to trick newbies - it removes the huge debuff your cast normally applies.
4. Demeter - Damage, Chill
She's a real jerk and doesn't offer her little sprout any boons at all in the first part of the game. When you eventually unlock her, though, she gives her some pretty good stuff. The main things she offers you are awesome boosts to attack and special attack - huge percentage damage boosts plus a really nasty status ailment which makes enemies significantly slower. Doesn't sound like a lot, but slap ten stacks onto bosses and see how much difference it makes.
But beware! Her cast, creating a cool looking laser-firing ice crystal, also robs you of the huge debuff your cast normally inflicts. It's homing ability is also very slow, so it deals less damage in function than in theory.
5. Aphrodite - Craptons of Damage
Alright, so she leaves a lot to be desired in the personality department. You'd think the goddess of love would specialize in making things not attack you, or perhaps healing magic. But... no. Aphrodite's boons offer our little godling the single biggest damage boost to attack and special of any in the game. They also apply a status ailment which causes the afflicted to deal less damage. Further Aphrodite boons improve this status ailment even further, causing it to reduce their damage further or make them take even more damage from you!
6. Poseidon - Mixed
While getting down on the list, Poseidon still offers some solid boosts to his nephew "Little Hades". Best of all, he's the cool uncle we all wish we had. In his own opinion, he's also more handsome and more fun and more powerful than Zeus. He is also the only god who doesn't posture and provoke the other gods pointlessly, and is just generally a super cool guy. Anyway, he offers a mixed variety of boons. He is the only god who will increase your income of darkness and gems, with one boon increasing the amount you earn and another boon straight up giving you goodies then and there. His knockback effects can be powerful but you need to know what you're doing to get the most of them. What really sets him apart is his god call, which is probably one of the two best in the game - even at low levels it will let you do a thousand damage to an enemy or two with just 20% of the god gauge full, and it will absolutely wreck bosses at higher levels. A high level, high rarity Poseidon god call can do more than 10,000 damage!
6. Ares - Mediocrity
Ares is the god of war. In a game about killing stuff, you'd think he'd be a big help to his cousin, but that is unfortunately not the case. He's the first god that really falls into "middling" territory for boon strength. His cast is awkward and slow. His boons that help attack and special somehow do not increase base damage, but rather inflict a status ailment called "Doom", which sets a timer after which the enemy takes a big hit. But this ironically works very poorly for an agressive playstyle (some god of war he is, pfft), since you get no bonus for repeated hits until the attack triggers. His god call is basically Poseidon only much worse. Fortunately, he does have a boon that straight up boosts the damage of all your attacks, specials, and casts, so he does have something nice to offer.
7. Zeus - Overspecialization
Pretty disappointing for the King of the Gods, Zeus has little to offer a young man. His deal is causing lightning bolts and chain lightning, which are a very small boost to your regular hits, far lower than Aphrodite, Demeter, or Poseidon. However, his boons do go very well with a select few weapons which hit frequently for low damage. He only has one really useful synergy - ironically with his own shield. Combining his lightning boons with the Zeus aspect of the shield does an absolutely massive amount of damage with his frequent hits. Other than that, though, steer clear.
8. Artemis - Shame
Despite being one of the coolest gods that her cousin gets to interact with, her boosts are remarkably feeble. They center around critical hits, which increase damage, but unreliably and without a status debuff like the hugely useful Weak or Chill. It is very useful to know that it takes exactly six stabs to kill a Lout, and sometimes killing them in three is not much of a help.
Basic Weapon Rankings
Being a game about hitting enemies with weapons, the weapons are a huge part of the game. Obviously. But which ones are good? Later, you will unlock "aspects", which are variants of the weapons with extra boosts and sometimes extra drawbacks. First up, let's talk about the weapons in general without their special aspects. From worst to best...
Choose the two-handed sword as your weapon and Zagreus will be rightly punished for picking such a stereotypical weapon that is also out of place in the spear-loving ancient Greek world. You know the phrase "Jack of all trades, master of none"? The sword is that, only an extreme emphasis on "master of none". It has the third worst damage in the game, the second worst range in the game, and the absolute worst defensive play in the game. The fists and spear, beat it in every single category.
The sword's attack is a boring short range three-hit combo. It does little damage per second, very short range, and has an abnormally long recovery time in the later hits of the base combo. For bonus annoyance, the third hit of your combo pulls you forward, so good luck fighting something hovering over lava with this.
The special attack is an area of effect hit centered on Zagreus. It has one of the worst attack timings in the game, with a long period of reduced control and a huge lag between starting and ending the attack. It is also unable to get a backstab bonus with this special, making it almost useless against bosses.
Speaking of weapons that are out of place, the gun (wut) does the lowest damage of any weapon in the game. Fighting the third boss or even the minibosses of the third area will cause you to die of boredom even before you die of attrition, as you slowwwwwwwly chip away at enemy health. It is also the most technically complex weapon in the game - it needs to reload both it's attack and special, and the special's impossibly long lag between launching and hitting makes auto-aim nearly useless. You could say that it is highly specialized in killing the least dangerous foes in the game.
The primary attack fires bullets, much like you'd expect. What you may not have expected is that it may as well be firing tiny water balloons for all the damage it does. It is good for enemies with the toughness of wet tissue paper, like floating skulls and exploding chariots, and absolutely nothing else.
The special attack does good damage, but is the most difficult attack to pull off in the entire game. It launches a grenade at a very high arc (Zagreus' weapon training didn't include grenade launchers obviously). However, with both practice and great luck with hammers, the special elevates the gun to a very high level of power. It's just harder to use and entirely dependent on luck, but no longer weak.
Now we're getting into the good stuff. There is much less difference among the top four weapons as there is between the top four and bottom two. While the sword is objectively bad and the gun is fiddly and requires lots of luck and skill, there is a lot to like about the top four and you can do quite well with any of them.
The bow does generally poor damage but does so very safely, and has an option or two for higher damage.
The bow's regular attack shoots an arrow. Astonishing! The catch is that you can charge it up and release it at a specific time to do bonus damage, allowing you to do decent damage at long range, with the downside of requiring attention and timing to do it.
The bow's special attack is basically a shotgun spread of arrows. Mostly useless from afar except to apply Doom from Ares. However, you can run right up to a bad guy's face (or better yet, back) and release this attack to do very good damage. Hmm... if only there was a way to combine the shotgun attack's sheer damage with the safety of the regular attack. (Foreshadowing!)
This is probably what the sword was meant to be. It is a true jack of all trades - good range, decent damage, quick attacks, plus it is safe and very easy to use.
The regular attack is the star of the show. It's good at basically everything except damage, which is still miles ahead of the gun. Exceptionally well suited toward a defensive style, this lets you apply status effects with relative impunity, or just stab things to death with boons that boost damage (or both, like Demeter's chill attack boon). It also has a charged spin attack which... is not very useful on it's own, but can be boosted to be pretty cool with Daedelus hammers. If only there was a way to get the range and speed of the spear with real damage output (Foreshadowing!).
Sadly, the special is the worst in the entire game. You throw your spear, and with the next button press you suck it back toward you. It has great range and terrible damage, which is basically pointless since the spear has such good range already. For further annoyance, you can't do attack while your spear is not in your hands (duh), so your only option after throwing it is to pull it back.
The shield has very poor range, but has pretty good damage if you don't know what you're doing, really good damage against mooks if you do know what you're doing. Unsurprisingly, the shield also boasts the strongest defensive play in the game.
The main attack is like the sword - a short combo of close-range attacks. It does surprisingly high damage for whacking the enemy with what is nominally a defensive tool! As a bonus, though, it knocks enemies back. Doesn't seem great until you realize that you do bonus damage for knocking enemies into things. Master that and you can make short work of anything you can back into a wall.
The special attack is fairly useful. It throws a shield for low damage at great range, similar to the spear's special. Unlike the spear, however, this is a great addition to the shield's moveset as it has really poor range in most cases, so a long range attack is good against something like an exploding chariot or some floating jerk hiding over lava. If only there was a way to make the shield's throw do more damage. (Foreshadowing!!)
Special mention goes to what happens when you hold attack - you use the shield as... a shield. Anything that attacks you from the front (which is almost everything in the entire game) just bounces right off, no need to dodge. If you've got the patience, this makes the shield tremendously better since it is now so easy to dodge. Releasing the attack button results in a shield rush, which is fine, but the real point here is just to block anything you'd rather not try to dodge. Synergizes exceptionally well with something like hangover - just apply some stacks with your regular attack or special, then cower in fear bravely hold the line behind your shield as the enemy dies on their own.
Here we are, these are the real deal. Imagine the sword only if it didn't suck, with much faster attacks and thus more damage per second plus much less vulnerability while attacking. This has very low range but does tremendous damage up close due to how fast it hits.
The regular attack is great. It's like the sword or shield in that it is low range, but it is much faster and thus more damaging than either. This also lets you get a few hits in and dodge quickly if you don't have time for a full combo.
Interestingly, the special is similar to and equally as useful as the regular attack. It's an uppercut, which does a lot of damage per hit with some recovery time, but unlike the sword's special, this hits basically as soon as you push the button.
Notably, the attack and special of this weapon work very well together, and in fact the special attack can be inserted into the regular attack as part of it's combo. This is excellent for applying two status effects in one combo - inflicting Chill and Weak on an enemy in one combo makes it much far less of a threat.
Why Use Different Weapons?
In Hades, you get bounties each time you hit new milestones for each weapon. So finishing a run once with each weapon will get you six sets of the bounties (One diamond, One ambrosia, and two titan blood per full run). In order to get another set of bounties with the same weapon, however, you need to complete a run at a higher heat level than before.
Heat is increased when you add certain penalties to the run, as will be described in a later section. It is far, far, easier to finish six runs with each weapon than it is to finish thirty six runs with one weapon, because with thirty six heat you're going to be going up against unbelievably powerful enemies while your offense, defense, mobility, versatility, and basically everything else are nerfed to hell.
Therefore, in order to get diamonds, ambrosia, and titan blood with the least difficulty, you're going to want to finish roughly the same number of runs with each weapon. This is pretty cool, as it gives you an incentive to learn and play with each weapon. This is why it pays to get to know the aspects of each weapon - even though the sword is generally terrible, you're going to need to use it eventually, and with the right aspects it can actually be pretty good.
So now, I'm going to tell you about the individual weapon aspects. With some knowledge and skill, you can mostly not suck even while using the sword or gun!
Aspect Weapon Rankings
After you unlock all the weapons with Cthonic Keys, you can start using different subtypes of each weapon, called "aspects". Each weapon has three aspects available initially, then one hidden aspect unlocked much further in the game. It is important to note that the hidden aspects are not universally better than regular aspects... and in fact they are often absolutely terrible. The first aspect of each weapons, the Zagreus aspects, are always like the regular version except with a minor buff, and such tend to be very weak. Here is my ranking of all the weapons including their aspects.
24 - Guan Yu Spear (Hidden Aspect)
This weapon of a famous Chinese hero is such garbage that is an insult to Guan Yu, to China, and to the entire human race. The main thing this does is cut your health dramatically, with a maximum of 50%, and even worse before fully upgraded. It gives you a negligible amount of health regen, which doesn't matter because you're going to die way faster than it can heal you. The final boss will be able to kill you in less than a second if you get unlucky. It is also very slow, making it hard to play defensively.
23 - Hestia Gun
The gimmick here is that if you manually reload it, it does a lot of extra damage on the first shot. Which is pointless, because that gives it such a slow attack speed that you'd be better off using the bow or spear.
22 - Zagreus Gun
The regular version of the gun but with more ammo before needing to reload. Still does abysmal damage without a lot of luck with hammers.
21 - Lucifer Gun
This is cool looking because it fires a laser, and that laser does more damage over time. The downside is that you need to stand still or attack-dash to keep the damage ramping up, and dash-attacking makes you much more vulnerable than a regular attack. It is also unable to benefit from the very strong mortar special ability of the other guns, making this one of the least damaging guns.
20 - Rama Bow (Hidden Aspect)
This is probably the most dangerous weapon to use in the entire game. The fancy thing about this bow is that the special attack debuffs enemies such that they take damage when any enemy takes damage from something other than the special. But this ability does tiny damage. The main attack takes an ungodly long time to charge, while Zagreus is a sitting duck.
19 - Poseidon Sword
It's a sword whose special knocks your spell crystal out of foes. This means that it basically ruins the debuff you put on enemies when you hit them with a spell. Herp derp.
18 - Zagreus Sword
It's just like the base sword only slightly faster. Still bad range, damage, and Zagreus still looks dumb using it.
17 - Zagreus Spear
This gives you a bonus to your special attack, which is worse than the normal attack and so is basically no better than the base spear.
16 - Zagreus Bow
It's like the normal bow, only with a chance to crit. At maximum level, this gives you a solid +30% DPS. Not bad, but not great either
15 - Beowulf Shield (Hidden Aspect)
Awkward and unwiedly, this shield actually makes you take slightly more damage. All of this weapons attacks are slower than normal, doing significantly less DPS and making you more vulnerable. It does have a cool trick though - load bloodstones into the weapon, and when you bull rush it causes an explosion which does a whole lot of damage.
14 - Achilles Spear
This gives you bonus damage after you throw it... but when you throw it, instead of pulling it back to you it instead teleports you to it. This disrupts any stunlock you have going on, and prevents you from continuously attacking.
13 - Hera Bow
Has a neat trick - load Blood Crystals into it for a giant explosion on hit!
12 - Nemesis Sword
Use the special attack and get a 30% chance to crit for three seconds. This translates to +60% DPS, finally making the sword dangerous.
11 - Zagreus Fists
This gives you a small chance to avoid damage. Still, they're fists and so attack fast and do good damage.
10 - Chaos Shield
This makes the normally useless special attack into a real beast. After you bull rush, the special attack throws up to six shields instead of one in a spread pattern. The key here is to bull rush behind something and then blast them with six shield backstabs - a little unwieldly but it does a ton of damage.
9 - Zagreus Shield
Finally, an aspect of Zagreus that really shines. The base damage of the main attack is increased by 15, which may not sound like a lot, but this is one of the very few bonuses that is multiplicative with boons.
8 - Eris Gun (Best Gun)
Now we're finally getting somewhere. If you shoot yourself with the special ability, you do up to a whopping 75% more damage for any kind of attack. This overcomes the sad damage of the gun and makes it into a legitimate threat, while keeping the bonus of long range and rapid fire.
7 - Hades Spear (Best Spear)
This weapon powers up the otherwise useless charged spin attack to mark enemies for ten seconds, increasing your damage against them by a massive 150%. This neatly and dramatically overcomes the lowish damage of the spear.
6 - Demeter Fists
Do you like really big numbers? This is a good choice, then. You charge up the weapon by hitting with basic attacks, then you use your special attack on something bothering you to get up to six full-damage hits. Ouch!
5 - Zeus Shield (Best Shield)
This also replaces the normal derpy shield throw with an incredible giant spinning disc of doom. It throws out a spinning shield that must be as wide as Zagreus is tall, doing massive damage and, most importantly, letting you continue to use your normal attack while it flies. One of the rare weapons which has useful main and special attacks, so you can combo something like Aphrodite and Demeter to completely cripple any enemy while dealing huge damage.
4 - Talos Fists
Wish the fists had more range? This pair of fists does that, sort of. The special pulls enemies to you, and then you uppercut them right in their big stupid faces. Even better, it gives you +50% damage for six seconds, giving the fists even more DPS and overcoming their biggest weakness, the lack of range.
3 - Gilgamesh Fists (Best Fists, Hidden Aspect)
This is what the Guan Yu sword and Beowulf shield wish they were. The Gilgamesh aspect attacks significantly slower than the base aspect, but it does a whole lot more damage. It feels really nice to use too, give it a try. As a bonus, it gives you two extra dashes. The special is really bizarre and mostly pointless, buffing the enemy with a medium penalty to defense and a big bonus to damage, then does a whole bunch of damage a few seconds later. Ignore that part.
2 - Arthur Sword (Best Sword, Hidden Aspect)
You know how the sword is basically terrible in every way? Excalibur might as well be an entirely different weapon. It is incredibly slow but has probably the highest in the entire game. It also gives you 50 extra health (screw you, Guan Yu) AND has great range AND the special attack creates a special field which slows enemies, increases your defense, and slows projectiles. If you get lucky you do more than 2,500 damage in a single hit - this weapon is a little slow but annihilates anything.
1 - Chiron Bow (Best Bow)
Here it is - the real deal. Hit an enemy with a regular shot and you can fire off up to three volleys of arrows with your special attack that home in on the enemies. It's basically an ultra-long range homing shotgun. Huge damage, incredible range, and still pretty simple to use. Nothing compares to how easily you can obliterate enemies at range. One of the most defensive weapons in the entire game, since the special is so fast to fire off and it can actually travel further than the range of the entire screen.