Hades is one of the most popular rogue-like games ever released. Between its addictive combat and charming storyline, it’s a hard game to break your attention away from. It has style, it has depth, and it runs on practically every platform around. And, best of all, it’s an exciting experience for players of all ages and skill levels.
There is a catch, though. While beginners may immediately understand the basics of combat, Hades is about much more than just fighting. There are loads of interconnected systems, Boons, Artifacts, collectibles, and so much more to consider. For new players, it may be tough to know where to start. Fortunately, we’re seasoned Hades experts, and we know exactly what beginners should be focusing on during their first few runs.
What To Do During Your First Few Runs
In Hades, your goal is to survive and advance through a series of underworld battles. These battles take place in self-contained rooms, where the passage forward is blocked until all of the enemies have been defeated. After the room has been cleared, you’ll be given a reward, and the passageways out will be unlocked.
When choosing which path to take, you’ll be given a preview of which rewards await you in the next room. Choosing between room rewards like Boons and Artifacts plays an important role in rounding out your build. However, these door symbols will also occasionally offer Artifacts, and two of these Artifacts are critical during the early game hours: Darkness and Chthonic Keys.
Collect Chthonic Keys and Darkness Early
Chthonic Keys are an important resource to collect early in Hades. Beginning players need Keys in order to unlock new weapons, which are also referred to as Infernal Arms. Each of the game’s six different weapons have wildly different combat strategies, and that includes which sort of Boons you’ll want to seek out during any given run. More than that, though, unlocking new weapons is just plain fun.
Keys also unlock new abilities at the Mirror of Night, which can offer some serious advantages given certain play styles. However, in order to actually apply those abilities, you’ll need to spend ever-increasing amounts of Darkness. Well-chosen Mirror of Night upgrades can make a huge difference to how long your runs last. Make no mistake: You’ll be stopping by the Mirror often, so stockpile Darkness whenever you can.
Hades is all about experimentation, so don’t be afraid to opt for unusual rewards if the mood takes you. However, the faster you can earn Chthonic Keys, the sooner you’ll open up more advanced combat strategies. Besides, you won’t be lost for spoils, even on short runs, because Hades is brimming with other collectibles to gather.
Artifacts and How To Use Them
Even after your first run, you’ll likely have stumbled upon a new item or Artifact. There are many such items in Hades, and all of them serve a different purpose:
- Chthonic Keys are used to unlock new weapons and abilities at the Mirror of Night
- Darkness refers to the purple gemstones spent on Mirror of Night upgrades
- Titan Blood is used to upgrade as well as unlock new Aspects of your Infernal Arms
- Gemstones of the multi-colored variety are used to purchase Underworld upgrades through the House Contractor
- Diamonds are used to buy the higher-tier upgrades at the House Contractor
- Poms of Power can be used to instantly upgrade a Boon
- Daedalus Hammers can be used to upgrade your weapon, but only during that specific run
- Centaur Hearts increase your maximum health by 25 points
- Charon’s Obols can be spent at Charon’s Shop, which appears at set intervals
Chthonic Keys and Darkness should be your main priority during early runs. Most of the unlockables you’ll be faced with early on will require them. Titan Blood, on the other hand, is used to unlock Hidden Weapon Aspects once they become available.
Gemstones and Diamonds, while valuable, are essentially only used for cosmetic items through the House Contractor. There are some exceptions, such as spending a single Diamond to buy the Rod of Fishing. Either way, you’ll be able to rake in many more of these later once you have the right Mirror of Night upgrades.
The rest of the game’s Artifacts are almost entirely situational. A Pom of Power or Centaur Heart can be a great item to grab depending on your run, but it also might be largely useless. Consider your options before committing to one of these.
Daedalus Hammers are much more valuable, increasing the potency and battle potential of your weapons. Furthermore, you’re very likely to only ever see one per run. If you can, be sure to grab it, and enjoy the effects while you can — your weapon will return to normal once you die.
Finally, you will constantly be earning Charon’s Obols. These, as expected, can be used to buy Boons or other Artifacts through Charon’s shop. These are lost when you die, so don’t be shy about spending them whenever the chance appears.
Giving Gifts – Nectar, Ambrosia, and NPC Quests
Nearly every character in Hades has their own distinct story line. Progressing those stories is simple enough: You just need to speak with these characters every chance you get. Whenever you die and return to the Underworld, stop by and see what they’re up to.
Soon enough, you’ll spot the option to give a gift of Nectar. Giving a character Nectar will increase their affinity, raising their heart level. This is how you track the quest progress with various characters.
The first time you hand Nectar over, most characters will give you a new Keepsake. These Keepsakes can be used to increase your battle abilities, and their bonuses grow through use. They are quite important, so you’ll want to unlock Keepsakes as soon as you can. However, you can only do that by handing out increasing amounts of Nectar.
How to Complete NPC Character Quests
Once a character’s heart meter has been filled through gift giving, they’ll send you on their specific quest, assuming they have one. The details of these quests are considered spoiler territory, so we won’t get into that right now. However, we will say that completing those quests unlocks even more hearts to fill, except this time, the hearts can only be filled with Ambrosia.
Ambrosia is among the rarest Artifacts you’ll find. Make sure you only give it away with purpose. That’s because certain characters will take your Ambrosia and return a gift of a new Companion. Megaera, Thanatos, Achilles, Dusa, Sisyphus, and Skelly all have Companions they will trade in exchange for Ambrosia.
There’s much more to the cast of Hades characters than just giving gifts, of course. Still, by and large, you’ll see everything you need to see in their story lines so long as you speak with them at every available opportunity.
Feeling Confident? Here’s What To Do Next
Once you’ve completed a few dozen runs, you’ll have a much better idea how to master combat in Hades. The bulk of the game centers around knowing how to make a great build — combining weapons with Boons to the greatest effect. Which Infernal Arms you focus on is entirely up to you, though it’s wise to choose the weapon with the purple glow, as it increases the amount of Darkness you’ll earn.
Take your time, stay patient, and seek out a strategy that works for you. Once you’re comfortable, you can set out on a mission to finally beat Hades himself. After that, you’ll soon be diving into Infernal Gates, toying with your Heat Gauge, and seeking out the game’s rare Legendary Boons.