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Hades guide: Maximize damage with Boons, Talents, and upgrades

Deal more damage and clear rooms faster

Hades guide: Maximize damage with Boons, Talents, and upgrades Image: Supergiant Games via Polygon
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.

Your basic attacks in Hades are easy to understand — it’s really just an attack and a special version of the attack. Beyond that, though, all of your Talents (skills or abilities), Boons, and weapon upgrades combine and add extra damage.

In this Hades guide, we’ll show you how your attacks and buffs work together so you can deal more damage and clear rooms quicker.

Damage stacks

The damage you deal in Hades starts with your weapon, but that’s not where it ends. Here’s how we think of it:

Damage = weapon attack + weapon upgrades + Talents + positioning + Boons + items

Hades does this calculation in the background, so you’ll see a formula like this one. Just focus on everything to the right of the equal sign. Fill in the blanks, and you’ll create your own formula that adds up to the highest damage possible.

Here’s a video of us combining everything we wrote above above to clear a room in about 20 seconds.

In the next section, we’ll show you exactly how we did that by combining the effects of two early Talents.

Shadow Presence + Boiling Blood

Talents are Zagreus’ permanent upgrades that he purchases at the Mirror of Night. Unlock them, and they work forever, which makes them more fundamental skills than temporary upgrades like Boons an items.

Talents are forever and determine your most destructive fighting style. Boons and items are just short-term bonuses.

The very first Talent (skill or ability) at your Mirror of Night is called Shadow Presence. This adds 10% damage per rank when you attack an enemy from behind. So, for example, you’ll deal 20 damage when attacking from the front with the Stygian Blade, and 22 damage when attacking from the back. Fully upgraded, this Talent will add 50%, making the backstab deal 30 damage.

Once you unlock the second set of Talents at the Mirror of Night (with 5 Chthonic Keys), you can start using Boiling Blood as well. When you Cast at an enemy, you deal your base Cast damage of 50, and that red diamond-shaped Cast ammo sticks with them. With Boiling Blood, enemies you’ve hit with cast take 10% extra damage per rank. Just like Shadow Presence, this will turn a 20 damage attack into 30 when fully upgraded.

If you use both Shadow Presence and Boiling Blood at the same time, those bonuses stack. Cast at an enemy to mark them, and then attack them from behind. The extra damage from Shadow Presence (backstab) plus the extra from Boiling Blood (marked with Cast) turn your 20 damage attack into 40 — fully double.

Depending on the weapon you’re using, your dash attack (a dash followed by an attack) might deal extra damage. The Stygian Blade, for example, deals 30 damage from a dash attack. The damage bonuses from Shadow Presence and Boiling Blood stack for this damage, too, meaning you’re now dealing 60 damage when backstabbing (plus anything extra you get from Boons).

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