Although it’s easy to pick up and start playing Hades, it’s not easy to escape the clutches of the titular character. With the best Hades builds, however, you can escape the underworld without breaking a sweat. Even with the random nature of Hades, you can focus your run around specific gods to make Zagreus and whatever weapon you’re using more powerful. Although not guaranteed, knowing what to look for is half the battle.
Below, we’ve outlined five of the best builds in Hades so you know what boons to pick up on your run. We’ll run over some terms you need to be familiar with before starting, but it’s worth pointing out that this guide assumes you have all Keepsakes and weapon Aspects unlocked.
Before getting started
Before diving into the builds, there are a few concepts you should be familiar with. First, duo boons. Duo boons combine the powers of two different gods, and they’re some of the strongest in the game. Each duo boon has different requirements, but you’ll need at least one boon from each god to even have a chance to see a duo boon later. Sea Storm, for example, requires a specific boon from Zeus and Poseidon. All of the builds below are centered around a duo boon, so it’s best to get familiar with them. Note, however, that you’re never guaranteed a duo boon, even if you’ve satisfied the requirements.
Next are weapon Aspects. When you unlock a weapon in Hades, you’re unlocking that weapon with the Aspect of Zagreus. Each weapon has three additional Aspects, each of which provides a different bonus. For example, the Aspect of Poseidon on the Stygian Blade allows you to dislodge your cast shots by using your special. You can also upgrade each Aspect with Titan Blood, offering a boost to whatever the Aspect’s concerned with (higher cast damage on Poseidon Blade, for example). This guide assumes you have all of the Aspects unlocked, at least, and the ones you want to use maxed out.
Finally, you’ll want to get familiar with Keepsakes. You can gift most of the characters you meet with nectar, which will unlock their Keepsake. Before the beginning of each biome, you can equip a new Keepsake, which is very important for getting any consistency out of Hades. Although each Keepsake has a different effect, there’s a series of them built around the gods you can encounter throughout your run. These Keepsakes guarantee that the next boon you find will be from the god that the Keepsake comes from. Aphrodite’s Keepsake, for example, guarantees that the next boon you’ll find will be from Aphrodite and even includes a small chance that the boon will be rare or better.
Because each build is centered around a duo boon, Keepsakes are essential in getting the boons you need before the end of Asphodel. Before beginning, make sure you have all of the god Keepsakes unlocked and upgraded. Otherwise, you’ll be shooting in the dark each run, hoping to pick up the pieces you need.
Eris Rail — Poseidon and Zeus
Weapon and Aspect: Adamant Rail, Aspect of Eris
Core boons: Thunder Dash + Tempest Strike = Sea Storm
Recommended boons: Splitting Bolt, Breaking Wave, Billowing Strength
Recommended Daedalus Hammers: Delta Chamber, Triple Bomb, Cluster Bomb
The go-to Aspect for the Adamant Rail is the Aspect of Eris, which gives you bonus damage for four seconds after absorbing your special’s blast (up to 75%). With the Eris Rail, your goal is to fire off your special as soon as it’s available and dash into it to absorb the blast, all while firing at enemies with your normal attack. Your special is important, of course, but this build mainly focuses on buffing dash and attack damage, allowing the Aspect of Eris to do its own work.
This build works toward the Sea Storm duo boon between Poseidon and Zeus, which causes foes impacted by knock-away effects to be struck by lightning. There are a few different ways to go about enabling Sea Storm, but we recommend sticking with Zeus’ dash (Thunder Dash) and Poseidon’s attack (Tempest Strike) or special (Tempest Flourish). Because this build works toward Sea Storm, knock-away effects are very important, so prioritize them if you can.
Start with the Poseidon Keepsake, picking up either Tempest Strike or Tempest Flourish as your first boon. Then, equip Zeus’ Keepsake for Asphodel to pick up Thunder Dash. Even if you pick up Thunder Dash in Tartarus, you’ll want to equip Zeus’ Keepsake in Asphodel. Not only will that give you a chance at picking up the duo boon, but it’ll also ensure whatever boon you do find is of a higher rarity.
This is the most consistent way to find Sea Storm. However, you may want to swap the Keepsakes and pick up Zeus’ boon first. That opens up the possibility of picking up one of Poseidon’s better boons for this build later: Breaking Wave.
Stick with Zeus’ Keepsake until you find the pieces you need (preferably the duo boon). Before Elysium or Styx, you can swap to the Hades Keepsake, which will provide better boss damage and give you a Call, opening up the possibility of finding Billowing Strength.
For Daedalus Hammer upgrades, look out for Triple Bomb or Cluster Bomb (you only need one of them). Both allow you to fire multiple bombs at once, not only increasing the spread of your special but also the damage boost you get from the Aspect of Eris. Delta Chamber is a good upgrade to pick up, too. There are more powerful Hammers, but Delta Chamber takes away the reload time from the Adamant Rail.
Hera Bow — Athena and Aphrodite
Weapon and Aspect: Heart-Seeking Bow, Aspect of Hera
Core boons: Phalanx Shot + Aphrodite core boon (attack, special, dash, or call) = Parting Shot
Recommended boons: Snow Burst, Blinding Flash, Fully Loaded
Recommended Daedalus Hammers: Triple Shot, Charged Volley
This build and the next both use stored casts to deal massive amounts of damage very quickly. The Heart-Seeking Bow with the Aspect of Hera allows you to store casts and unleash them with your charged attack. When playing with this build, it’s very important to store your casts immediately, unleash them on enemies, then dash to the area where they ended up to repeat the process all over again. Hera Bow is much more difficult to pilot than Eris Rail. However, because the duo boon for this build is so forgiving, it’s easier to pick up what you need during your run.
The Parting Shot duo boon is at the core of this build, which grants your cast the same bonus damage you get from striking an enemy from behind (an extra 35% damage with a maxed save). If you have a maxed-out mirror and plenty of boon re-rolls, getting this duo boon should be pretty easy.
Unlike Eris Rail, you’ll want to start with Athena’s Keepsake every time. You’re looking for Athena’s cast (Phalanx Shot). In addition to providing some extra damage in the early game, Phalanx Shot can also deflect attacks, allowing you to stay aggressive in the early stages. After Tartarus, equip Aphrodite’s Keepsake for Asphodel. You just need to pick up one of Aphrodite’s core boons — attack, special, dash, or call — to unlock Parting Shot. It doesn’t matter what you take, but we recommend picking up the dash (Passion Dash) or attack (Heartbreak Strike).
After that, it’s just a matter of finding Parting Shot. Along the way, there are two other boons to look out for. First, Snow Burst from Demeter, which deals damage in an area and inflicts Chill when you load your casts, and second, Blinding Flash from Athena, which leaves enemies who take deflected damage Exposed (further building your backstab bonus). Artemis’ legendary boon, Fully Loaded, is great, too, giving you two extra casts. Don’t prioritize this boon if you haven’t picked up the duo first, though.
For Hammers, the main upgrade you’re looking for is Triple Shot. It allows you to fire three shots in a spread pattern, covering more ground with your attack and cast at the same time. Charged Volley is a decent all-around pickup, too, allowing you to hold your special for much higher damage. It certainly isn’t necessary for the build, though.
Beowulf Shield — Dionysus and Artemis
Weapon and Aspect: Shield of Chaos, Aspect of Beowulf
Core boons: Deadly Strike + Drunken Dash = Splitting Headache
Recommended boons: Trippy Flare, Snow Burst, Flurry Cast
Recommended Daedalus Hammers: Sudden Rush, Breaching Rush, Ferocious Guard
Like the Hera Bow, the Shield of Chaos with the Aspect of Beowulf can store casts and unleash them in a single go. The only difference is that you’ll be releasing casts with the Dragon Rush ability with the Shield of Chaos. Instead of loading and attacking, you’ll want to load and charge your Dragon Rush ability, paying close attention to where you’ll end up. Because you dash forward when using Dragon Rush, positioning yourself to pick up your casts once you’ve released them is very important.
The core of the build is Splitting Headache, which gives you a 1.5% chance to deal critical (double) damage for each stack of Hangover (Dionysus’ signature status effect). What makes this duo boon tricky is that you need an attack and dash boon, not a cast boon. This build is centered around using your casts liberally, so we recommend picking up a cast boon, even if it doesn’t work toward Splitting Headache.
Start with Artemis’ Keepsake in Tartarus, picking up her attack right away (Deadly Strike). In addition to boosting your attack’s damage, Deadly Strike gives your attack a 15% chance to deal critical damage. Before Asphodel, equip Dionysus’ Keepsake and prioritize his dash (Drunken Dash). You can, technically, pick up Dionysus’ special (Drunken Flourish) and still end up with Splitting Headache. This build rarely uses the special, though, so we recommend going for Drunken Dash.
Although you only need Drunken Dash and Deadly Strike to unlock Splitting Headache, you’ll need a cast boon if you want to make it to the end of the game. Dionysus and Artemis both have cast boons exclusive to the Aspect of Beowulf: Trippy Flare and Hunter’s Flare. Either works, but prioritize Trippy Flare if you can. It deals Hangover damage in an area whenever you load your cast.
Snow Burst from Demeter is great with Beowulf Shield, too, much like the Hera Bow. Keep an eye out for Hermes, too. His Flurry Cast boon is solid for a build like this, allowing you to quickly store your casts instead of loading them one at a time.
For Hammer upgrades, it’s all about making your Dragon Rush faster and more deadly. Sudden Rush is great, allowing you to quickly charge your Dragon Rush, and Breaching Rush allows the ability to deal extra damage to armor. Ferocious Guard is decent, too, granting you bonus damage whenever you block an attack. You should prioritize Sudden Rush and Breaching Rush higher, though.
Demeter Fists — Ares and Athena
Weapon and Aspect: Twin Fists, Aspect of Demeter
Core boons: Curse of Agony + Divine Flourish = Merciful End
Recommended boons: Divine Dash, Dire Misfortune, Impending Doom
Recommended Daedalus Hammers: Rolling Knuckle, Breaching Cross, Flying Cutter
Playing with the Twin Fists is all about being aggressive, and the Aspect of Demeter only furthers that. After landing 12 strikes with the Aspect of Demeter, your next special will hit a number of times based on the level of the Aspect (up to five times). Given that, you’ll want to develop a cadence of dash-attacking around the battlefield to build your special, then unleashing it on a cluster of enemies to take them all out at once.
Although easy enough to pilot, finding the pieces to make the Demeter Fists work is not. The core of the build is the Merciful End duo boon between Ares and Athena, which automatically deals Doom damage whenever you deflect an attack.
Start with Ares’ Keepsake in Tartarus, picking up his attack immediately (Curse of Agony). That will provide a nice boost in damage early, unlike Athena’s special (which you’ll need next). Equip Athena’s Keepsake for Asphodel and pick up her special when you can (Divine Flourish). You can swap the two — Ares’ special and Athena attack — and still end up with Merciful End. Given how focused this build is on attacking, however, we recommend sticking with our suggested build.
The thing that makes this build tricky is the dash. Athena’s dash (Divine Dash) is basically essential to this build. Although you don’t need it to unlock Merciful End, being able to deflect attacks with your dash is what really makes Merciful End shine. You’ll want to prioritize Divine Dash basically above everything else once you have the required boons for Merciful End.
Other strong boons include Dire Misfortune and Impending Doom, both from Ares. These boons aren’t essential, but they both increase the amount of damage your Doom effects can deal.
When it comes to upgrades, Rolling Knuckle and Breaching Cross are both good for your attack, boosting dash-strike damage. For your special, Flying Cutter is great, allowing you to extend the range of your special and hit multiple enemies at once.
Poseidon Blade — Aphrodite and Ares
Weapon and Aspect: Stygian Blade, Aspect of Poseidon
Core boons: Crush Shot + Curse of Pain = Curse of Longing
Recommended boons: Snow Burst, Passion Dash, Dire Misfortune
Recommended Daedalus Hammers: Super Nova
The Stygian Blade is the first weapon you start with in Hades, and after a few runs, you can unlock the Aspect of Poseidon. This is, by far, the most powerful Aspect available. With the Poseidon Blade, you can dislodge your cast from enemies by using your special. As such, this build is all about emptying your casts as fast as possible and using your special to regain those casts shots.
Curse of Longing makes that play pattern even more powerful. It’s a duo boon between Aphrodite and Ares that applies any Doom effects you have to Weak foes. This build aims to deal Weak damage with the cast and Doom damage with the special, combining the two under Curse of Longing to deal extra damage to tough enemies and bosses.
Start with Aphrodite’s Keepsake in Tartarus. The first boon you should pick up is Aphrodite’s cast (Crush Shot), which limits the range of your cast while increasing damage and inflicting Weak. Before Asphodel, switch to Ares’ Keepsake and pick up his special when you have a chance (Curse of Pain). With those two, you’re eligible for Curse of Longing. That’s all you really need to be successful with this build, but there are a few boons that can make it even more powerful.
Like the other cast builds on this list, Snow Burst from Demeter is great for dealing damage around you while you’re firing your casts off. Aphrodite’s dash (Passion Dash) is excellent, too, especially when combined with Doom-stacking boons from Ares like Dire Misfortune and Impending Doom.
There’s one main Hammer upgrade for this build: Super Nova. In addition to giving your special a 20% damage boost, Super Nova also makes your special deal damage in a wider area. Otherwise, Hammers are up to you. The only thing we’d suggest is skipping over special Hammers that aren’t Super Nova (Dash Nova and Double Nova).
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