Hades is currently part of Steam’s early access program and it just had the Blood Price update, its biggest one to date. It’s all in preparation for the game’s official launch later this year. Now, if you’re just stepping into the shoes of Zagreus, son of the underworld’s ruler, then you might be in for a fight. Here’s our beginner’s guide with several tips to help you out with survival.
Note: This guide is intended for Hades’ early access stage and certain mechanics may change in due course. For more information, check out our Hades guides and features hub.
Hades beginners guide and tips
1. You will die a lot, but that’s fine since you need to check out the House of Hades often anyway
Hades is defined as an action roguelike game. Then again, one can also think of it as a rogue-lite title due to retaining some of your items and resources in successive playthroughs. Whatever the case may be, given the genre that Hades is part of, you will die a lot. Even the game jokes around with a “hypothetical” death — where Zagreus probably got clobbered by Hades though you’ve beaten the boss — since it’s still in early access.
Dying is totally fine because you’re returned to the House of Hades, a central hub that has several characters that you can speak and give gifts to, as well as vendors that let you exchange some of your acquired resources. It’s also in this starting location that you’ll be able to spend certain resources such as Titan Blood, gems, or darkness crystals to unlock additional features.
Likewise, some characters can be gifted nectar or ambrosia to unlock various Keepsakes (think of these as relics which provide passives) or even unlock companions. Finally, this area (Zagreus’ bedroom) has the Mirror of Night which lets you obtain permanent upgrades.
2. What you keep and what you don’t
Here’s what you’ll end up losing whenever you die:
- Charon’s Obol (gold).
- Any boons/skills you’ve obtained from various gods.
- All skill upgrades and level-ups obtained via Poms of Power or other means.
- Any weapon upgrades using the Daedalus Hammer.
Here’s what you do keep:
- Almost all other items and resources (darkness crystals, gems, Titan Blood, nectar, ambrosia, keys, and more).
- All the weapons and weapon aspects you’ve unlocked.
- All the House of Hades decorations and features you’ve purchased.
3. If you’re a sucker for (or averse to) punishment, there are other difficulty modes
Although dying isn’t a problem in Hades, you might still want to progress further. If you find everything too difficult, you can always enable “God Mode” by pausing the game and going to your settings menu. “God Mode” boosts your defenses, a lot more if you end up dying often. It’s a way for you to start collecting stuff without feeling that you’re being locked out of any content.
If you are a sucker for punishment, you can choose to start the game on “Hell Mode.” This is only possible for a new save, which means you can’t enable “Hell Mode” on an existing playthrough. This mode will automatically disable “God Mode” while also ramping up the challenges by enabling the Pact of Punishment from the get-go. This will require you to select modifiers before your dungeon runs. These modifiers will always be detrimental to the player such as an increase in the number of enemies in an area or a weakening of the skills you obtain.
4. How many levels are there?
Hades has four main regions with a boss fight occurring in the final room or chamber. There’s a transition area in between each region as well which lets you buy/sell items or regen your health:
- Tartarus – 14 rooms; the boss fight will be in room 14.
- Asphodel – 10 rooms; the boss fight will be in room 24.
- Elysium – 11 rooms; the boss fight will be in room 36.
- Temple of Styx – variable number of rooms; the boss fight can be initiated once you’ve picked up a Satyr Snack for Cerberus (which is found randomly in existing rooms). Because of this region’s layout, you could find yourself finishing one run after only five rooms. Alternatively, you could be unlucky and be unable to find the Satyr Snack until you’ve ventured into 20 or so rooms.
Keep this in mind whenever you’re delving into the underworld. The limited number of rooms also means that you’re limited in the types of items and skills you can obtain.
5. Room clearing and decision making
Each chamber in Hades will have one or two (sometimes three) exits that are marked with a symbol. You can only select one room to enter and, inside, you’ll face several monsters that’ll attempt to send you on a one-way trip back to hell.
If you’re able to clear out all the mobs, you’ll then obtain the rewards associated with that symbol. Here are some examples:
- Golden coin – Charon’s Obol/gold
- Key – Chthonic Key
- Flask – Nectar
- Purple crystal tear – Darkness crystal
- Blue sphere with red cross glyph – Centaur Heart/increased HP
- Lightning bolt – Zeus’ boons/skills
- Golden shield with four small circles – Athena’s boons/skills
- Red sword with flames – Ares’ boons/skills
- Green arrow – Artemis
6. No two playthroughs will be the same
Your first playthrough in Hades (which will probably lead to an early death) will give you a glimpse of a handful of gods that you’ll encounter. As you play more and more, you’ll eventually interact with other gods who will be helping you in the underworld, as well as characters in various locations (including those in the House of Hades) that will unveil more of the story.
The gods you’ll encounter each run, along with the possible item rewards, will be different each time you go through the underworld. Although you can have an ideal “skill build” in mind, things will likely turn out differently due to RNG factors. Additionally, some rooms may randomly have other quirks such as a Well of Charon (allowing you to buy new stuff), the Infernal Trove (allows you to regain resources or HP if you kill enemies quickly), or a portal to Chaos.
7. Mobility is king
Hades (the god) might be the ruler of the underworld, but Hades (the game) considers mobility as king throughout your journey. Due to the sheer number of enemies and bosses with punishing attacks, you don’t want to stay in place for too long. As such, you’ll want to focus on boosting your dash (movement skill) to make your runs easier.
Dashing can even negate damage from traps, lava, or poisons as long as you’re able to dash through those hazards. You’ll also be able to dash past certain obstacles or gaps, allowing you to control the flow of battle easily.
Ideally, you could pick dash upgrades such as Ares’ Blade Dash (creates spinning blades that do damage), Demeter’s Mistral Dash (freezing dash that chills enemies), or Aphrodite’s Divine Dash (dashing will do damage and deflect projectiles). Hermes, meanwhile, has Greatest Reflex (gives you additional dash charges).
There are also certain Infernal Arms and weapon aspects that provide increased mobility. Examples include weapons with the Dash Strike capability (dash then slice or uppercut an enemy), or the Eternal Spear’s Aspect of Achilles (which lets you throw your spear towards an opponent and then rush to grab it and get up close).
8. You can still defy death
Even if you’ve got the right skills and you’re dashing to and fro, you can still end up getting hit and skewered by mobs leading to an untimely end. However, there are ways you can keep Zagreus alive:
- Healing Fountains – By default, these are found in the room after beating each area boss. You can also commission ones to be built in Hades‘ areas via the House of Hades contractor.
- Centaur Hearts – Depicted by a blue heart with a red trident-like symbol, this increases your maximum health during a run (also regens lost health).
- Infernal Trove – These are chests found in Hades‘ dungeon rooms. A possible reward would be additional health, but you’ll need to defeat enemies quickly to earn higher amounts.
- Food – Sometimes sold by Charon when he’s encountered in dungeons. Life Essence can sometimes be sold by a Well of Charon (vendor object) in certain rooms.
- God boons – Dionysus’ After Party restores health up to a certain threshold if your HP was low after an encounter; Poseidon’s Sunken Treasure can sometimes drop healing items; Demeter’s Nourished Soul improves the potency of healing effects and items.
- Permanent upgrades – The Mirror of Night (part of the House of Hades renovations) has the Chthonic Vitality upgrade that restores a small amount of HP when entering a new chamber. There’s also the Dark Regeneration upgrade that restores health by a percentage depending on the dark crystals you collect. Finally, the Thick Skin upgrade will boost your max health (like a permanent Centaur Heart).
- NPCs and companions – Characters such as Sisyphus and Patroclus will have options to restore your health if you find them in dungeon rooms. Meanwhile, Shady, a recruitable companion, will sometimes drop healing items.
Of course, if all this healing isn’t enough, you have talents and perks to help negate death completely:
- Death Defiance (Mirror of Night) – Restores up to 50% of your health and makes you temporarily invulnerable if you die; can have up to three charges; can trigger multiple times in the same area or encounter.
- Stubborn Defiance (Mirror of Night) – Allows you to revive at 30% health if you die in any room. Unfortunately, this only procs once per room, so it’s “bye-bye” if you die twice in the same area or boss fight.
- Lucky Tooth Keepsake (Skelly) – Obtained by gifting Skelly (an NPC in your training room in the House of Hades) some nectar. This allows you to survive a lethal hit once per dungeon run.
There are, likewise, certain perks that improve the potency of Death Defiance (and any healing related to it):
- Kiss of Styx – Purchased from a Well of Charon. There’s also the premium version purchasable from Patroclus (if you find him in one of the rooms). These restore one or all charges of Death Defiance respectively.
- Athena’s Deathless Stand and Last Stand passives – Death Defiance’s proc makes you invulnerable longer (Deathless Stand) or it restores more health (Last Stand); both restore a charge.
- Athena’s and Demeter’s duo skill Stubborn Roots – When you no longer have a charge of Death Defiance, you’ll constantly regenerate HP. This boon allows you to whittle down foes and just relax and regen before heading to the next room.
9. Use a controller
I can’t stress this enough. If you feel like you’re having trouble beating Hades‘ enemies and bosses, then you might find it comfier to use a controller. I’m using an old Logitech F310 gamepad and it works wonders since the controls are extremely responsive. Plus, due to the fast-paced and frantic nature of the game, it just works so much better compared to a mouse and keyboard setup.
10. It’s all a learning experience
Hades will, at times, challenge and punish you. The good news is that the fast-paced action will become enjoyable despite the frustrations. It’s all a learning experience as you go. In fact, I had almost half a dozen unsuccessful attempts until I was able to defeat Hades himself.
When I finally did, things just clicked. With the lessons I’ve learned and the resources I’ve accumulated, future runs became a breeze. It’s all about finding a comfortable playstyle — which includes your weapon and skill choices — and hoping that you’ve got luck on your side.