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John Wick Hex beginner’s guide

Our tips to help you become the Baba Yaga

John Wick Hex beginner’s guide and tips Bithell Games/Good Shepherd Entertainment
Jeffrey Parkin (he/him) has been writing video game guides for Polygon for almost seven years. He has learned to love just about every genre of game that exists.

Think of John Wick Hex as an “inside John Wick’s mind” simulator.

Any hired thug can shoot a gun. Shooting guns isn’t what makes John Wick the Baba Yaga. It’s his cold, calculating, methodical decisions about how and when to shoot his gun. John Wick isn’t a hammer. He’s a scalpel. And in John Wick Hex, you’re the surgeon wielding him.

We’ve played several hours of the game, and below we’ll walk you through what we learned so you can jump right into being the boogeyman and putting bullets into bad(der) guys.

John Wick Hex isn’t an action game, so don’t play it like one

In John Wick movies, all you see is the action. In this John Wick simulator, you’re planning the moves and choreographing the action. It’s not about speed and dazzling movement. It’s about his (and your) methodical planning and decision-making.

John Wick Hex two enemies approaching John in an alley
Letting yourself get outnumbered is a sure way to die.
Bithell Games/Good Shepherd Entertainment

Think of John Wick Hex like a board (or tabletop) game. You’re moving pieces around. You’re considering your next move and its repercussions. Every action costs time, so you’re constantly weighing what you can do against how long it will take — and what your enemies might do to you while you’re otherwise occupied.

Timing is everything

John Wick Hex timeline
The timeline at the top of the screen shows John’s previous actions to the left of the zero, and his current and planned actions to the right.
Bithell Games/Good Shepherd Entertainment

There’s a timeline at the top of the screen. The topmost one (or the only one if there are no enemies around) is John’s. When you’re considering your next option, the option you’re hovering over and the time it takes to perform show up in John’s timeline. For example, moving one hex takes 0.4 seconds, and punching someone takes 1.5 seconds.

John Wick Hex the Shoot action’s timeline breakdown
A breakdown of the timing of an action appears on the card that pops up.
Bithell Games/Good Shepherd Entertainment

The card that pops up when you hover over an action shows the steps involved. (Movement doesn’t have a card, so it just shows up in the timeline.)

Most things require preparation — like aiming or winding up to punch. That’s the gray-white bar. The action itself — punching or shooting — is the pink bar.

Interrupt your enemies with careful timing

Most enemies (everyone except bosses) will be interrupted if you hit them with an attack before they hit you — and John tends to be quicker than his enemies. This is usually your way to avoid taking damage.

John Wick Hex interrupting an enemy’s attack by shooting first
Landing an attack interrupts an enemy’s actions.
Bithell Games/Good Shepherd Entertainment

In the image above, both John and his enemy are planning to shoot each other. You can see how long each of them are going to take to aim and then shoot in their respective timelines. But because John shoots first, his (hopefully) successful hit will interrupt the enemy, and the enemy won’t get to attack.

John Wick Hex stunning enemies means they can’t take actions
Strikes and takedowns stun enemies. Stunned enemies don’t take actions for a brief period.
Bithell Games/Good Shepherd Entertainment

Strikes and takedowns add an extra element to your timing calculations. They both stun your enemies for a period of time. This is indicated by a six-dot circle icon and a diagonally slashed timeline. During that period, that enemy won’t act, and you can attack a little more freely, move, or turn your attention to someone else.

Parry is also useful for interrupting (and only interrupting) enemies you’re in melee with. It’s a quick strike, meaning you can often get it in before an attack arrives, but it doesn’t deal any damage. Parry to interrupt (and prevent) attacks and reset an enemy’s timeline so you can attack first, but remember that you won’t kill them with a parry.

Sightlines are also everything

The other way to interrupt (or prevent) attacks is to break line of sight. You don’t need to calculate anything here — the game’s fog of war makes it very clear what’s visible to John.

Since it only takes John 0.4 seconds to move one hex, and it usually takes enemies the better part of a second to aim, John can duck behind something to avoid taking damage.

Do this often. But be careful while doing it — you won’t be certain that you’ve broken line of sight until John’s finished moving. Move and spin the camera to be sure you’re moving the right way and far enough.

Breaking line of sight also resets an enemy’s aiming action. So if someone is aiming at you, and you don’t have time to interrupt, duck behind something, and immediately pop back out. John’s quick aiming (with most weapons — see below) will usually let you get an attack in before you’re hit.

Swap weapons often

At the beginning of every location, John starts with his custom handgun, 15 bullets, and one extra clip (15 more bullets after you reload). There’s no additional ammo to pick up, so you’ll have no choice but to swap it out for another weapon.

John Wick Hex swapping weapons
You’ll pick up the weapons dead enemies drop instead of reloading.
Bithell Games/Good Shepherd Entertainment

Every other gun you carry will a weapon that you pick up from slain enemies. When you kill someone, they’ll drop whatever weapon they’re holding (more on this below) in an adjacent hex. When you stand in that hex, you can pick up that weapon (but it takes time).

The number of shots each weapon has appears next to the weapon’s icon. Basically, think of this like reloading — you’re just swapping out weapons instead.

Every weapon behaves differently

Every gun shoots bullets, so that part is always the same. But each gun takes a different amount of time to aim (and anything else that happens between shooting), and shoots a different number of bullets. Think of this as the period of time you’re committing to shooting it.

John Wick Hex assault rifle timeline
This assault rifle takes 0.9 seconds to aim, and 1.3 seconds to fire.
Bithell Games/Good Shepherd Entertainment

You can see this on the timelines and the action cards. The aiming time is listed first — the gray-white 0.9 in the image above — and the amount of time you’ll spend pulling the trigger (and how much ammo you’ll use) are the subsequent pink numbers — five shots at 0.2 seconds and one more at 0.3 seconds.

This is a very important consideration. Picking up that high-damage revolver is tempting until you learn that it takes 1.6 seconds to aim — giving your enemies lots of time to attack you first. The assault rifle is quick to aim, but you’ll fire six bullets every time, eating through your magazine, and each of those shots takes 0.2 seconds — meaning you’re going to spend over 2 seconds on your shoot action.

The custom handgun and 9mm automatics are the safest options. They’re quick to aim and only fire two shots. They’re also very commonly found on your enemies.

Play the odds

Every action has a chance to successfully hit. You can see the likelihood of landing your various attacks when you click on an enemy. Things like your stance, if the enemy is moving, and their distance from John all effect this percentage.

John Wick Hex every action has a hit chance
Shooting an enemy at this distance only has a 60% chance to hit.
Bithell Games/Good Shepherd Entertainment

This is important for two reasons or considerations:

  1. Your attacks have to be successful to interrupt your enemies (and prevent them from attacking you).
  2. Ammo is precious. Don’t waste your ammo on a 40% shot, and don’t rely on a 60% shot to interrupt an incoming attack.

This is where strikes, takedowns, and throwing your gun are useful. Not only do they preserve your precious ammo, but they’re also (usually) 100% likely to hit.

Take out enemies with guns first

When John spots a new enemy and you click on them, you’ll see their stats and their weapons. Take everything above into consideration, and now think about how that enemy will attack.

For example, melee fighters can’t shoot you from a distance, so they’re only dangerous up close, and someone with a shotgun or revolver is going to need a long time to aim.

John Wick Hex melee versus ranged enemies
Brawlers don’t have a gun, so they have to approach before attacking. Armed Security can attack from a distance.
Bithell Games/Good Shepherd Entertainment

Use this to prioritize your targets — and decide who you have to break line of sight with. An enemy with a gun will (try to) shoot you as soon as they see you, but a brawler will have to approach.

Use takedowns and pushes to move out of sight

Attacks like takedown and push will end with John in a different hex than where he started. Use this to your advantage. You can push enemies while moving out of the way of someone aiming at you, or roll out of takedowns into cover.

Plan ahead, but be flexible

Everything we’ve said so far emphasizes being methodical and planning ahead — and that’s good advice. But your plan is not going to last long in a firefight. Enemies will spawn in different places or walk into your line of sight unexpectedly. Be ready to adapt, and try not to pin your survival on everything going according to plan.