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Hades beginner’s guide: 9 tips for your first few hours

If escaping the Underworld were easy, everyone would do it

Hades door symbols guide Image: Supergiant Games via Polygon
Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

Hades is an incredible, run-based video game set in the Greek underworld. When you first jump into Hades, it can be pretty overwhelming. There’s a lot to take in, a ton of decisions to make, and the game purposefully doesn’t give you all the information you need.

Part of Hades’ charm is your discovery of how the game works, but there are still several things to keep in mind as you start your journey. Here are nine tips to help you through your first few hours of Hades.

Focus on Keys first

Zagreus faces a Key door in Hades Image: Supergiant Games via Polygon

When you finish a battle in the underworld, you’ll get a glimpse at the reward for an upcoming room displayed on the door that leads out. Some of these rewards, like Boons, benefit the run you’re on. But others, like Darkness and Keys, let you upgrade Zagreus for your next foray into the Underworld.

When you’re starting out, focus on Keys (they look like keys, so they’re pretty tough to miss). Keys unlock new weapons back in the House of Hades and new skills for you to pick from at the Mirror of Night.

You’ll have plenty of runs to go for the win, so keep one eye on the future and nab those Keys early. Focus on getting all of the weapons in Hades first. It’s a fun way to spice up your gameplay each run.

Spread your Nectar around for Keepsakes

One of the other random items you can find in the underworld is Nectar. It’s is like a gift for the various non-playable characters in Hades. Give Nectar to characters like Nyx or Cerberus, and you’ll improve your relationship with them.

At first, it’s best to give Nectar to many different characters.

The first time you give Nectar to a character, they’ll give you a Keepsake. These tokens of their appreciation also have gameplay implications, like bonus gold, health, or damage under certain conditions. Keep your options open. Gift each character Nectar once before Giving the same character Nectar multiple times.

Keep some Nectar for Patroclus, Eurydice, Thanatos, and Sisyphus

hades event room door npc Image: Supergiant Games via Polygon

Keep one Nectar in your pocket, at least until you have all the Keepsakes.

Certain Hades characters only appear at random. We’ve gone five or more runs without seeing Patroclus, Eurydice, Thanatos, and Sisyphus. Since running into them is random, keep some Nectar on you, just in case you find them.

You’ll know an event room by the door preview, which features a gray rock with an exclamation point on it. Sisyphus appears in Tartarus, Eurydice appears in Asphodel, Patroclus appears in Elysium, and Thanatos is a random event in any area once you’ve met him in Elysium.

Go for the experiment, not the win

Part of the reason you should pick up Keys early is so you can access tons of abilities and weapons at the beginning. In those early hours, you’ll still be figuring out how everything works while you play, and every new Boon and boss will be a surprise.

You’ll lose quite a few times before you ever finish the final boss. Focus more on experimentation and less on kicking ass. You’ll eventually get through bosses and areas, but early on, pick weapons and Boons you normally wouldn’t just to get an idea of the potential in Hades. Who knows, you may find a combo you never expected.

Talk to everyone

Zagreus and Hades trade wits in Hades Image: Supergiant Games

Unlike most roguelikes, Hades has a big focus on narrative. Usually, the story is pretty separate from the gameplay. But you’ll need to keep your relationship up with characters if you want to unlock some late-game items. You can do this with Nectar, yes, but also just by talking to people.

Each time you return to the House of Hades, you’ll find a variety of NPCs. Some have exclamation marks over their heads. These are the ones with something new to say. Before you head back into hell, chat up your pals a bit. It’ll make a difference.

Also the developers at Supergiant are well-known for their narrative and writing. Even if you’re not much of a story person, it’s worth giving Hades’ characters a shot before you just button mash through the dialogue.

Don’t be too precious with your materials

When you defeat a boss for the first time with any of the game’s six weapons, you’ll get a hard-to-find material. The three big materials are: Diamonds, Titan Blood, and Ambrosia.

Though you won’t use many of them until later in the run, these are all useful items.

  • Titan’s Blood upgrades weapons
  • Diamonds help you improve the House of Hades.
  • Ambrosia deepens your friendships with characters after you’ve already given them a ton of Nectar

As you progress, you’ll unlock an exchange shop in the lounge of the House of Hades. Hold onto your Titan’s Blood and Diamonds, as they can offer you some pretty massive gameplay upgrades once you can actually spend them. You won’t use the Ambrosia for a long time. Keep one or two on you, but if it’s really stacking up, consider trading it for something that will impact your gameplay a little earlier, like Titan’s Blood.

Change your Keepsakes often

The Olympian Gods of Hades
You can get Keepsakes from all these Gods and much more
Image: Supergiant Games via Polygon

In Hades, you’ll collect Gems on your travels, which you can spend with the House of Hades Contractors for some sweet upgrades. One of those early upgrades, which you should pick up as soon as possible, is a Keepsake Collection at the end of every level.

Many of these Keepsakes only benefit you once, like the Chthonic Coin Purse or the Lucky Tooth. Use them, and they’re essentially dead weight for the rest of your run. But with the Keepsake Collection, you can swap your Keepsake after each boss. With the Boon Keepsakes, which increase the rarities of an upcoming Boon and guarantee it from a specific god, you can essentially target a build you want by swapping mid-run.

This is also a great way to upgrade a variety of Keepsakes, as each improves every time you complete an encounter while wearing it. Just note that, if you swap Keepsakes and exit the menu, you won’t be able to use that same Keepsake again for the rest of your run.

Determine what your goal is for each run

Not every run in Hades is a win. Like we wrote in our review, it’s usually pretty easy to see failure approaching. Set a goal each time you head out into the Underworld, and don’t worry about changing it. Is this a real run, where you’re trying to defeat the final boss? Or are you looking to farm Darkness or Keys?

Another early upgrade from the Contractors is a list of prophecies, which are quest-like objectives. These require you to get every Boon from every god at least once. In these situations, it’s good to know if you’re trying to finish your run, or you’re just looking for currency. If you’re trying to get as far as you can, it’s not always the best idea to try and grab a Boon you’re unfamiliar with.

Choose the Dark weapon every time

Hades guide: What does it mean when a weapon glows purple?
When the weapon glows like this, you’ll get bonus materials
Image: Supergiant Games via Polygon

Before each run of Hades, one weapon in the armory will have a purple hue around it. This means you’ll gain bonus Darkness if you use it this run. (Skelly does explain this to you at some point, but it’s easy to miss.)

Grab and use this purple weapon for every run. It’s a big boost to your currency, and it’s a great way to experiment early with some of Hades unique Boons and weapons.