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Hades 2 is nearly perfect, but there’s one problem that needs tweaking

Hades 2 key art from its first trailer.
Supergiant Games

In the most unsurprising news possible, Hades 2 is excellent. Anyone familiar with the first game — which Digital Trends voted one of the best games of all time — should have seen that coming, but it’s almost shocking how great the sequel is in its early access state. One might have expected an incomplete foundation to be built on over time, but developer Supergiant Games has already delivered what feels like a fantastic and fully formed product.

Like a lot of players, I’m loving it already. Its witchy vibe is a great tonal refresh, its weapons feel unique, and it boasts some wildly creative bosses that surpass its predecessor. My complaints are minor so far (spellcasting times feel a little long at present), but there is one area that I hope Supergiant tackles before 1.0: It isn’t the best experience for newcomers so far.

Getting on board

If you’re familiar with the first Hades, you should have no problem grasping the sequel’s basics. The core roguelike is mostly unchanged. Players hack and slash hordes of enemies with light and heavy strikes. Each biome contains a series of rooms, which contain combat challenges, rewards, and boons that totally change their weapons’ functions. A lot of familiar systems carry over too, like a social system that has players giving gifts to Gods to gain bonuses from them. On paper, returning players shouldn’t need many tutorials to get started.

And yet, as someone who has put over 100 hours into Hades, I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around parts of Hades 2. That’s because the sequel contains very little onboarding to explain its changes. For instance, combat does have a new twist this time. Players can cast spells by holding down attack buttons and drop Wards that can slow enemies down. None of that is explained when I’m first dropped in. I’m given some button tutorials in a training arena before runs, but there’s nothing that explains what Wards do. I spent my early hours barely using them, as I couldn’t grasp their purpose.

A character stands in a ward in Hades 2.
Supergiant Games

I run into similar confusion when I learn about Hexes. When grabbing boons from the Goddess Selene, I’m able to grab special powers activated by holding down the right trigger. It’s never explicitly given a tutorial, but easy enough to understand. What’s more confusing is when I grab that ability again and suddenly am thrown into a skill tree for that power. It’s a head-scratching moment the first time it pops up. It’s not clear what it does, how to activate it, and whether it’s a permanent upgrade or a temporary one.

Moments like that are frequent throughout the early hours of Hades 2. The Crossroads, the game’s hub area, contains several crafting systems that are new to the sequel. That includes a cauldron that cooks up upgrades, a farming component, and an Arcana Card system that gives players buffs. None of those are well explained at present. When I plant seeds, it’s unclear what I’m growing and what the plants that spring up do.

Part of the problem is that Hades 2 has a complicated new item economy with dozens of resources. Runs net me white and green blobs that look similar but are used for different things. There’s a purple rock currency that’s used at a vendor, but also several other stones used for weapon and item crafting that are earned through mining deposits during runs. One vendor, the lovable Charon, sometimes gives me tickets, which need to be taken back to a box in The Crossroads where I can exchange it for other items that are delivered back to the box later.

The incantation to make a pick in Hades 2
Supergiant Games

Each new currency and surrounding system is introduced so quickly that it’s easy to miss very simple systems. For hours, I didn’t realize that Arcana Cards used a system called Grasp that could be upgraded with a currency. I only found out when a friend mentioned that they had initially missed that too. It turned out that all I had to do was click my character portrait on the arcana board to upgrade my Grasp, but there was never any indication that I could do that in-game. Small details like this add up to make Hades 2 feel a little more overwhelming than its predecessor.

I trust that Supergiant already has onboarding tweaks on its project roadmap. The pain points I’ve seen so far are classic early access growing pains. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the final game open with a more direct combat tutorial and include a few extra tooltips that give a quick overview of its new systems. I hope that’s the case, because no one should be turned away from what’s shaping up to be another genre classic.

Hades 2 is out now on PC in early access.

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Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
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