Supergiant Games’ Hades got its full release in late September, to widespread acclaim. Here’s how to get as much power as possible out of the infernal arms.
Hades loves killing you. Downright revels in it. “Ooh, bad luck”, it will say as you succumb to a swarm of soul-stealing butterflies, “but here’s batch of character interactions to explore, new construction projects to fund, and new player upgrades to pour your resources into. You’ll back out there in no time, slugger”.
“Thanks, Hades, for this wonderful gift of death”, you will say. And you will mean it, because each new attempt means that this time, you might get that magic combination of rewards that will let you blaze out of hell in an unstoppable berserker rage.
We’re here to help you bludgeon with the best of them. Use this (spoiler-free) weapons guide to direct your actions and choices, and you’ll be busting out of the gates of Hades in no time.
Stygius, the Stygian Blade
The first available weapon in Hades, the Blade is a favourite for those who favour an aggressive high risk, high reward style of play.
First, the Blade’s dash attack is where it’s at. Chaining together two dash attacks will get Zagreus into and (relatively) safely out of attack range. Done precisely, Zag should still be close enough to follow up with the Blade’s AoE special attack, stunning and knocking back any other enemies that have closed in on him.
While the weapon’s inbuilt ‘strike, chop, thrust’ attack combo might seem appealing at first, its short range and immobility will frequently leave Zagreus vulnerable to counterattack.
The superiority of the dash-dash-special combo synergises particularly well with the Blade’s Aspect of Nemesis, taking full advantage of its bonus to critical hit chance. Boons from Athena, Aphrodite, Demeter, Poseidon, or Artemis that boost attack damage are a natural pick, and keep an eye out for boons from Chaos that raise the damage of dash attacks further still. The Blade becomes practically unstoppable with the ‘Double Edge’ Daedalus Hammer upgrade, which causes dash strikes to hit twice, and amplifies each hit’s damage by 30%.
A special mention goes to the Aspect of Poseidon, which is used in builds that rely on cast for damage, but almost never deal damage with the Blade itself.
Coronacht, the Heart-Seeking Bow
The Bow presents a relatively safe option for Zagreus, allowing him to kite enemies toward him while peppering them with arrows at range. The base bow is considered to be a relatively weak pick, but the Chiron and Hera Aspects present a variety of powerful options.
With the Aspect of Chiron, boons that amplify the incredible special’s damage are natural picks, with Artemis’ ‘Deadly Flourish’ being a particularly strong pick thanks to the additional critical damage. The ‘Relentless Volley’ and ‘Concentrated Volley’ Daedalus Hammer upgrades will boost the special’s damage greatly, making them desirable finds on any Chiron bow build.
Using the Aspect of Hera, finding cast boons that deal massive area-of-effect damage are a must. Dionysus, Poseidon or Ares’ cast abilities allow Zagreus to front-load a huge burst of damage into distant enemies – and if they’re clumped up, even better.
Picking up the ‘Charged Volley’ Hammer upgrade will give you the means to unload volleys of arrows into weakened opponents at point-blank range for thousands of points of damage, making it extremely effective at destroying bosses.
Varatha, the Eternal Spear
Unfortunately, the Spear is one of the weaker picks among Hades weapons, and feels slightly over-reliant on lucky boon or Hammer finds to achieve potential that even approaches alternative choices. Its saving grace is the long reach of its base and dash attacks, which will allow you to avoid most potential counterattacks by remaining just outside of their range. The spear-throw special’s damage is lacklustre, and its charge-up spin attack too slow and risky to be consistently relied upon.
Boons that deal per-attack damage bonuses, especially Zeus’ and to a lesser extent Dionysus, Ares and Demeter’s, will combine well with Hammer upgrades that grant additional attacks, such as ‘Flurry Jab’ and ‘Serrated Point’.
The Aspect of Achilles is considered a strong pick for its handy additional mobility options, but for builds that aim to boost the power of the Spear’s special attack (especially using the ‘Exploding Launcher’ and ‘Charged Skewer’ Hammer upgrades), the Aspect of Zagreus is the more optimal choice.
Aegis, the Shield of Chaos
If you enjoy having a handy portable metal wall to carry around with you and bully enemies into corners, the Shield is the choice for you. Groups of enemies can easily be disrupted and knocked around by charging amidst them and throwing out a flurry of basic and dash attacks, plus bonus damage from bashing foes against walls and edges can add up quickly.
The shield’s ‘hold to defend’ feature can keep Zagreus safe from almost any attack, including huge area-of-effect attacks used by bosses.
And of course, get ready for the Captain America references. Many players recommend choosing Ares’ ‘Curse of Pain’ special boon in conjunction with the ‘Aspect of Chaos’, which will help spread the delayed damage Doom effect to enemies near and far. Zagreus can crouch safely behind his shield, then throw out the bouncing-shield special while dashing away from incoming attacks. Combine this with Athena’s ‘Divine Dash’ boon to become about as safe as you can possibly be in Hades.
Malphon, the Twin Fists of Malphon
The Twin Fists’ are a brawler’s glass-cannon weapon that boast an extremely high attack rate, and are a personal favourite. The Fists require Zagreus to remain up close and personal to his enemies, placing him in high danger from counterattacks, particularly from armoured foes who won’t be stun-locked by the wave of pummelling attacks until their shields are broken.
But with careful precision, players can have Zagreus use dash attacks to both avoid damage and maintain an unending string of attacks.
Athena’s ‘Divine Strike’ attack boon combines magnificently with with Fists’ high attack rate, ensuring that many foes’ attacks will be deflected even as they are being beaten down. Attack boons for Zeus, Demeter, Dionysus and Aphrodite are also great picks. The ‘Breaching Cross’ Hammer upgrade will bust armoured enemies down before they’re able to cause problems.
Avoid ‘Heavy Knuckle’, which undermines the power afforded by the Fists’ frequent attacks. The Aspect of Talos is perhaps the most frequently used, as the Magnetic Cutter special can be used to disrupt, draw in, and group up enemies.
Special mention should go to the build that uses Ares’ attack boon to build up stacks of Doom, which can combine with the Ares/Athena duo boon ‘Merciful End’ that immediately activates Doom effects. Hades’ enemies with crumble in the face of the extremely high-damage onslaught granted by this combination.
Exagryph, the Adamant Rail
Perhaps the least broadly favoured weapon in Hades, the Rail is also one of the least thoroughly understood. New players will criticise its weak standard attack, its inability to stagger even unarmoured enemies, its sometimes finicky special attack, and its relatively short range for a projectile weapon. However, the Rail is often a favourite of speed-runners and streamers who have mastered the game.
With the right combination of boons and Daedalus Hammer upgrades, the Rail becomes perhaps the most devastating of Hades’ infernal arms. The Aspect of Eris is usually considered the most reliably potent choice, as the potential damage boost (up to 75%) can be too good to ignore.
Zeus’ ‘Lightning Strike’ attack boon is both easy to find and easy to use, complimenting the Rail’s naturally high rate of fire. Its bouncing attacks can easily multiply the weapon’s damage several fold when firing into a crowd of enemies, and improves even further if you get the chance to choose the ‘Static Discharge’ boon that applies the Jolted curse.
The ‘Spread Fire’ Hammer upgrade transforms the Rail from a mid-range machine gun to a short-range automatic shotgun, trading range for an instant quadrupling of its base attack damage. Pairing it with Artemis’ attack boon can generate bursts of critical hits in small area with truly devastating results. Picking up Hermes’ ‘Greatest Reflex’ boon for additional dashes is recommended to keep Zagreus darting between attack range and safety.
Artemis’ attack boon also pairs exceptionally well with the bonus first-shot attack damage conferred by the Aspect of Hestia. With a maximised investment of Titan Blood, this initial shot can deal an additional base damage. With Artemis’ damage increase, a fire-reload-fire-reload cycle can throw out critical hits that approach 900 damage with this one boon alone.
And that’s it!
With these tips, you should find yourself mowing through the hordes of Hades like never before. Of course, this game has an incredibly rich variety of mechanics, and new combinations are being discovered constantly. Don’t be afraid to experiment, because who knows – maybe the build you’re slapping together on the fly will turn out to be the next big thing.
Now get out there, and give ’em hell.