So you've heard all the hype about Hades and are looking to take the plunge. Here are some early tips and tricks to help you through your first clear.
Mild spoiler warning: This guide contains no plot spoilers, but mild gameplay spoilers about playing through Hades. Don't read if you are looking for a completely blind playthrough.
Is Hades a roguelike or roguelite?
Both genres feature procedurally-generated levels and an aspect of randomness. So what's the difference?
In a roguelike (rogue-like), all progress is lost once your character dies, so the purpose of each attempt is to get as far as you possibly can with the tools that you are provided.
In a roguelite (rogue-lite), there is some degree of carryover progress when you die, so death is part of the gameplay. Hades is very much a roguelite, as you spend your attempts gathering multiple currencies to spend outside of the run that will enhance your character in future attempts. There are a lot of RPG-style progressions in Hades, making it approachable for fans new to the rogue genre.
You are supposed to die
You might die 30+ times before you reach the final boss. This is expected and normal, so don't get discouraged if you die to the first miniboss or first boss. Each run, you'll come back stronger.
Your goal should not be to get as far as you can on every run. Some runs, you'll just want to focus on farming currency or completing other goals.
Mouse and keyboard, or controller?
Both are very viable, and players seem somewhat split. The game has been nicely optimized for both keyboard/mouse and controller play, so it's mostly up to your own personal preference.
- Marginally better aim/movement speeds for those comfortable with mouse/keyboard
- There is a lot of button spamming; your hands might cramp up
- Easier on the hands, feels more natural to most people, sit back and spam
- Not everyone has a good controller for PC (we recommend either an official Xbox controller or Stratus Duo if you're playing on PC)
How many levels are there in Hades?
Hades has four main areas to fight through, each ending with a boss fight. Since the 4th zone has a variable amount of rooms based on chance, the shortest run will be ~40 chambers total (including boss fights).
- 1st zone: Tartarus, with 14 total rooms
- 2nd zone: Asphodel, with 10 rooms
- 3rd zone: Elysium, with 11 rooms
- 4th zone: Temple of Styx, with a variable number of rooms before the final boss. The amount of rooms you'll need to go through depends entirely on luck.
Which door to choose
Choosing which door to go through is a large part of the game. The icon displayed above the door will show you the award for completing the next room, so choose wisely based on what you need or are trying to accomplish.
Find a full list of chamber rewards on the Hades Wiki.
Which currencies drop on death?
Certain currency types that you gather during your run will stay with your character to be spent back at home between runs, and others drop on death.
Gold coins (AKA Chaon's Obol) = disappears at the end of the run, so spend it on upgrades before your run ends
Boons, Hearts, Pomegranates, Daedalus Hammer = upgrades that disappear at the end of the run
Darkness (purple raindrops) = carry over past death
Titan Blood, Diamond, and Ambrosia = carry over past death
Gemstones = carry over past death
Each time you die, do the rounds at home
Talk to anyone with an exclamation point. The writing in Hades is done very well, and talking to characters will provide a lot of context, backstory, and even some tips. Use the mirror in your room for upgrades, visit the contractor next to Hades (once unlocked), and get equipped for your next run in the Armory.
Gift 1 Nectar to every giftable character you meet
When picking up a boon or interacting with characters, you'll notice the option to either "interact" or "give gift", which gives 1 Nectar. In exchange for your first Nectar gift, each character will award you a keepsake to empower your escape attempts.
Medusa is particularly tricky to gift, since she always runs away nervously after you talk to her. Make sure to give her a gift prior to interacting with her!
Each level of hell also has a rare character who you will only stumble upon from time to time in a unique room (signified by a "!" symbol above the door. It's a good idea to always have 1 Nectar handy in case you run in to them.
Here are the harder-to-find characters in each section:
- Sisyphus in Tartarus (1st zone)
- Eurydice in Asphodel (2nd zone)
- Patroclus in Elysium (3rd zone)
- Thanatos is random in any area once you’ve met him
Equip a keepsake before every run
Before each escape attempt, visit the equipment box in your Armory (near Skelly) to select which keepsake to equip. You may only use 1 per run (although with a later upgrade, you will be able to swap keepsakes after each boss).
Keepsakes level up and become stronger the more you use them, so make sure to level your most important ones!
- Old Spiked Collar (from gifting Cerebus) provides additional HP when equipped
- Distant Memory (from gifting Orpheus) increases damange to enemies at a distance
- Lucky Tooth (from gifting Skelly) restories you to partial life when killed (great when combo'd with Death Defiance, which also provides a free life)
Pick the bonus weapon
Before each run, when selecting a weapon, 1 of the 6 weapons will have a faint purple glow effect on it. If you equip and use this weapon, you'll gain an additional 20% Darkness currency. It's also a good way to familiarize yourself with all the weapons and styles that they can upgrade into.
Focus on keys
When given the choice between keys and other drops, start by choosing "Chthonic keys", which are used to unlock all weapons (24 keys total) and all mirror upgrades (165 keys total), so it's important to focus on key gathering during your initial runs.
If you're struggling or want a slightly easier experience, turn on "God Mode"
God Mode gives you 20% damage resist, and an extra 2% each time you die (maxing out at 80%).
You can toggle God Mode off at any time, and you won't lose your stacking damage resist bonus when turning it back on. Since Hades is entirely single player, there's not really a balancing issue, and this option allows all players to have a fighting chance at beating the game.
More Hades tips
Once you've made a few attempts and are starting to get the hang of Hades, here are some more tips to help out!
How do I earn Titans Blood, Diamonds, and Ambrosia?
These rare currencies are be earned by defeating each boss with a unique weapon. For example, if you defeat Megara with the sword, you earn 5 additional Titan's Blood by defeating her with the other 5 weapons.
You can also trade rare currencies for other rare currencies, for example if you have a ton of Ambrosia and not enough Titans blood, you can talk to the Wretched Broker in the lounge to make a trade.
Don't turn on "Hell Mode" unless you are hardcore
Contrary to God Mode, in Hell Mode, your game will be much more difficult. This mode is only for experts and hardcore roguelike players looking for an extra challenge. Once you select "Hell Mode" when creating your save file, that save file is locked in Hell Mode and cannot be toggled like God Mode.
Choose the hammer boon
The hammer boon enhances your weapon in unique ways that will change your gameplay style during that run.
Should you spend all your Nectar on one character?
Not right away. Make sure you've gifted 1 Nectar to each character before you start playing favorites. There are unlocks once you garner a lot of favor with individual characters, but at the beginning, it's more important to make sure you gift everyone once.
Which keepsakes do characters give?
In return for 1 Nectar, here is what each character will give you in return:
- Cerberus - Old Spiked Collar
- Achilles - Myrmidon Bracer
- Nyx - Black Shawl
- Charon - Bone Hourglass
- Megaera - Skull Earring
- Thanatos - Pierced Butterfly
- Hypnos - Chthonic Coin Purse
- Orpheus - Distant Memory
- Dusa - Harpy Feather Duster
- Skelly - Lucky Tooth
- Eurydice - Evergreen Acorn
- Hermes - Lambent Plume
- Patroclus - Broken Spearpoint
- Sisyphus - Shattered Shackle
- Athena - Owl Pendant
- Zeus - Thunder Signet
- Poseidon - Conch Shel
- Aphrodite - Eternal Rose
- Artemis - Adamant Arrowhead
- Ares - Blood-filled Vial
- Dionysus - Overflowing Cup
- Demeter - Frostbitten Horn
- Chaos - Cosmic Egg
Explore the upgraded mirror
After a certain point, your mirror will upgrade and allow you to alternate between versions of your mirror upgrades. Click the triangular arrows icon to the immediate left of each mirror upgrade to swap to the alternate version. Mix, match, and upgrade accordingly! You'll want to swap around your mirror upgrades based on what kind of run you're attempting.
It costs 1 Chthonic key to optionally re-spec your upgrades in the mirror.
Don't steal from Charon unless...
If you happen to be presented with the option to "borrow" 300 gold in Charon's shop, be careful! This action will pull you in to a difficult boss fight with the shopkeeper himself.
While defeating Charon will snag you 300 gold and a 20% discount on his items during your run, it's a difficult boss fight best saved for a later run.
It's not over once you win
It's clear that once you defeat Hades, there is more to do and more to come in terms of difficulty and upgrades. From courting every god and character, to earning more unlocks, there is no end in sight for additional Hades content.
We hope these tips help you tackle your first playthrough of Hades! Chat with other fans of the game on the SteelSeries Discord!