The marvel of Hades is the progression through the world, the player, and the character. I remember my first run, and Meg took me down without much trouble. Now she doesn’t touch me.
Some spoilers ahead.
Of the 4 zones, each builds upon the last, including the bosses. Tartarus is very simple, you learn to dodge to avoid some attacks, learn that you can backstab and corner lock enemies. You can easily button mash through here – boss somewhat included. Asphodel has no real walls, and it focuses almost entirely on area awareness. There are bombs, fire pits, smoke, and waves that cross the screen. You move defensively. Elysium adds target focus to the mix, and dodging through enemies. Most of the enemies have an “eyeball” phase, where they can regenerate, so you need to focus and burn down. Styx is all about speed. The rooms are tiny, there’s poison everywhere, and AE damage from every corner. You need to clear quickly, and use the environment to protect yourself from attacks. It’s a progressive world building methods, adding to each previous challenge. When you get to Styx the first time, you’ll have mastered Tartarus and Asphodel.
This is about learning the key game mechanics. It is very rare that you can face tank anything, 90% of every build focuses on dashing in/out. So you end up learning how to dash-strike, and how to position yourself best with every weapon against every enemy. Knock an enemy into a trap for massive damage, or taunt one to attack so you can backstab them. You learn that certain boon combinations make basic enemies a breeze but are less effective against bosses. You learn which rooms should be taken when given options (Hammers are always taken).
You learn that every weapon has strengths and weaknesses, and that the limitations of Cast can be offset to tremendous effect. The most important lesson learned is that you are deadly all the time. Learn to dash in while attacking, quickly strike, then dash out while attacking. It’s like you’re a ginsu knife.
This is going to take more posts, but at the very least upgrading the Mirror buffs will make every future attempt miles easier. Maxed Death Defiance gives you 4 chances to complete a run, and should be prioritized. Getting all the keys to unlock weapons and Mirror buffs is a top priority, as well as giving 1 nectar to anyone who has affinity (hearts in the codex). The gifts they give you in return are game changers – I prefer using Skelly while still learning the basics.
The meat of it is in boons. Every god has some amazing boons, but not all boons are great. There are so many variables, it would take ages to go over all the permutations. High level, you have active boons which impacts your active skills, and passive boons that impact the rest of gameplay. You generally want to focus on a giving theme, and that can often change depending on the weapon.
- Attack – % increases here are bad, since base attack is so poor. Curses are also bad, since they often don’t stack. Zeus’ boon insanely powerful.
- Special – A good spot for curses, and the damage can be pretty high.
- Dash – Poseidon rules all here. Knockback while dashing creates room, deals damage, and can trigger other amazing boons.
- Cast – Cast already deals high damage, and almost every boon is a solid choice. The beam and pulse boons can becomes OP if you stack more boons onto them (like more Casts).
- Call – The summon ability is often used for immunity (Poseidon, Aphrodite, or Ares). If you want to use it for damage, then you need to use Call actively as the “max bar” version is less effective that using 5 charges.
Curses (doom, rupture, marked, weak, chill, jolted) will not stack, but hangover will. Doom can deal crazy damage, but takes a second to activate. Jolted is simply bonkers in power, but you need other Zeus powers to make it really shine.
% increases to attack are often the ones you want to avoid, and instead focus on flat + damage. The is because attack starts at 10 damage, and 40% to that is 4. Every single boon that applies flat damage is more. Dash alone is in the 70s. % increases to others can be useful, like say increasing Cast damage.
In a future post I’ll talk about specific builds that I enjoy. You’ll find that Zeus & Poseidon are there often, it’s impressive how powerful they are when combined.