Hades: escape both habits and Hell with these winning builds

Luke Albigés - August 17th 2021

Here we are again, Hades people, this time with a selection of some of our favourite Boon combos and builds for our mate Zagreus. Whether you're looking for consistency, burst damage, or just something fun and interesting to try on your next few escape attempts, we've got you covered. Give some of these a go, gods permitting, and let us know how you get on! If you haven't started Hades yet, don't forget to check out our review to see why you should, and we've also got a Road to 1K companion piece if you want a better idea of what the completion looks like. For now, though, please enjoy some fantastic Hades builds!

General tips

  • Don't get too attached to one weapon type. Using whichever has the Dark Thirst aura will both net you more Darkness to invest in permanent upgrades, and help you get better acquainted with the lot. Learning the sweet spot for the bow's power shot, for instance, will prove useful when Daedalus offers a similar upgrade for the shield's Bull Rush.
  • Brave the Trials of the Gods (chambers with two god icons)! Getting two Boons for the price of one will significantly help the chances of you getting a run going, and most of the gods' wrath effects aren't actually that difficult to deal with anyway. Master them early and these are effectively free Boons in a lot of instances.
  • No, you're not going crazy — the first two bosses do change things up once you've beaten them a few times. Learning to recognise and handle these variants is crucial in consistently getting closer to the surface, as is recognising the favourable and unfavourable matchups each weapon type has against them.
  • Unless you're willing to gamble for a specific weapon upgrade to cap off a build, Daedalus Hammer chambers often aren't worth it unless there's nothing better available. The pool of options contains a fair amount of underwhelming or situational upgrades (some of which can actually become downgrades, depending on your build), so new Boons or Poms can be a more reliable option.
  • Conversely, Chaos pacts are almost always worth considering. Special damage boosts and additional Cast charges can make a run on their own, and while some of the conditions needed to clear the curses can be brutal, those aforementioned buffs alone are worth whatever hardship you may have to endure to get them.

Builds

Zeus' Murder Frisbee

Weapon: Aegis, the Shield of Chaos
Aspect: Zeus
Key Boon(s): Thunder Flourish (Zeus)
The beauty of this house favourite is its simplicity — you literally only need that one Boon and the build is up and running, so by equipping Zeus' Thunder Signet at the start of a run, you'll often find you're good to go before you leave the very first room. This Aspect of the shield is unique and will take some getting used to, as it replaces your standard shield throw with a discus that spins in place for a while, quickly and repeatedly dealing damage before returning a short while later. Best of all, you can still guard while the Special is out, making this build incredibly safe, and it only gets stronger as you learn to play it more aggressively, using the basic attack's knockback to control the battlefield and outrunning returning throws to kite the disc and keep it out indefinitely.

The base Special damage of the weapon itself is more or less insignificant here, so don't worry about upgrading this Aspect in any great rush, especially when Titan Blood is in short supply in the early game. Instead, you'll be using the speedy Special to rapidly proc Boon effects, specifically in this case Zeus' Thunder Flourish ability to rain down lightning every time your Special hits. This will serve as your primary source of damage, so you'll want to invest heavily in it with Poms and other synergic Boons — Zeus' Double Strike (chance for each bolt to occur twice) and Static Discharge (lightning strikes inflict Jolted, damaging foes when they attack) are both huge with this build, while Artemis' Pressure Points (slight chance for any damage to be critical) can also be devastating even with a low base crit rate. The simplicity of this build means Boon slots on your attack and Cast are free to do with as you like, although we really like the combo of Ares' Curse of Agony (add Doom status to attack) for helping to chunk bosses who are immune to the shield's knockback, and Poseidon's Flood Shot (strong knockback Cast) for superior crowd control.

Punch Drunk

Weapon: Twin Fists of Malphon
Aspect: Talos
Key Boon(s): Drunken Strike (Dionysus)
Dionysus' Hangover status effect can be extremely potent when combined with weapons that can stack it quickly, so naturally the twin fists are a great fit. The basic attack flurry hits five times — enough to get up to the default stack cap for the poison-like effect — and this Aspect helps you get around the usually limited range by using the Special uppercut to drag foes in from crazy distances, get them drunk, then put some distance between yourself and the target while they bleed out. There aren't a huge amount of Boons that add a great deal to this setup, although the twin fists always benefit greatly from additional mobility. Adding a useful effect to your dash (Poseidon's Tidal Dash gives you the option of shoving enemies away rather than retreating after stacking Hangover, or you can never go wrong with Athena's Divine Dash) works well, as can just racking up additional dash usages with Hermes' Greatest Reflex or even just using Hermes' basic buffs to grant additional attack speed.

Hangover builds typically start out very strong, but can struggle to keep the damage output up by the end of a run. The main way to offset this, frustratingly, is to cross your fingers for one of two of Dionysus' rare Duo Boons — pairing with Ares for Curse of Nausea ups your Hangover ticks from two to three per second, while hooking up with Aphrodite increases the Hangover stack cap to eight against foes also suffering from Weak. One way to fish for these is to try and stick Ares' Curse of Pain on your Special and Aphrodite's Crush Shot on your Cast. This opens up both options (as well as the Ares/Aphrodite Duo, which introduces another damage-over-time effect for even more prolonged agony), and if you can find room for any Artemis Boons, her Duo with Dionyus can significantly boost crit chance versus afflicted enemies, too. Builds like this always benefit from the Mirror of Night's Privileged Status perk (bonus damage to enemies with two or more status conditions) which, while expensive to max out, can replace the need to luck into a Duo Boon to take this setup from solid to unstoppable.

Nuke the Underworld

Weapon: Exagryph, the Adamant Rail
Aspect: Eris
Key Boon(s): Deadly Flourish (Artemis)
This one kinda lacks consistency as you really want to see a Daedalus Hammer with a specific upgrade early in the run, but if you can get it going, it's so much fun, and crazy strong. The two weapon upgrades you're looking for are Cluster Bomb (fire a spread of five slightly weaker missiles) or Hazard Bomb (a larger, much more powerful Special that can also damage Zagreus), although Triple Bomb is an alternative if that comes up instead. The goal here should be pretty obvious: blow everything to bits with missiles. Any Special Boon that offers a significant base damage bonus will work well, but if you really want to see some numbers, Artemis' Deadly Flourish is where it's at. A Hazard Bomb crit does absurd damage — it does conflict with the Aspect of Eris, although we only take this as none of the options help this build otherwise, and injuring yourself for the boost can sometimes be worth it, especially if you're running the Skull Earring and want to be at low health. The blanket coverage of Cluster and Triple Bomb, meanwhile, make crits more likely (and Eris procs easier/safer) and are more effective against armoured enemies, since they can break armour and hit health in a single salvo.

While it can be tempting to fall back on Dionysus' Drunken Strike on the Rail, you're actually better off going with Aphrodite's Heartbreak Strike if you can get the rest of the combo going early — this can potentially lead you into Sweet Surrender (bonus damage versus Weak foes) and ideally her Artemis Duo Boon, Heart Rend, which boosts crit damage by a further 150% when foes are Weak. It's a pretty elaborate combo, but you won't see higher damage numbers. If you don't see those bomb upgrades early, it's worth changing tack and resorting to something more 'traditional,' so Drunken Strike and a different debuff on your special, similar to the twin fists build above but with the benefit of piling on the damage-over-time effects from a safe distance. The Rail can definitely feel like one of the weaker weapons when a run doesn't come together, but when it does, laying waste to Hell with ridiculous missile crits is just oh-so-satisfying.

Endless Quiver

Weapon: Coronacht, the Heart-Seeking Bow
Aspect: Chiron
Key Boon(s): Support Fire (Artemis)
While the Aspect of Hera offers better burst damage with the bow, there's just nothing quite like filling the entire screen with arrows. One slight downside is that you'll need to invest a decent amount of Titan Blood in Chiron in order to minimise the reduction to your Special volley for maximum effectiveness. That said, a lucky Relentless Volley from Daedalus can offset this downside without investment, or just add to the chaos with up to 12 seeking shots per Special — if it comes up, it's an auto-take either way with this build. This is actually a pretty flexible build in terms of what you want your attack, Special, and Cast to actually do, and there are a ton of good options. Unless you're planning on fishing for crits with your flurry using Deadly Flourish, consider taking Pressure Points as your base tier Artemis perk if possible. You'll need one of these starters to reach Support Fire (launch a seeking arrow on attack or Special hit, and on Cast activation) in her second tier of Boons anyway, and you'll be doing so many instances of damage once set up that it will be raining crits, even with a low rarity version of Pressure Points.

The beauty of Support Fire is that while the base damage of each seeking mini-arrow is low, you end up putting out so many that the numbers quickly add up. Better yet, it's versatile. For basic room clears, the wild tracking means you'll actually be chipping away at every enemy at once as you focus down a key target, while having all seekers target a boss also delivers solid and sustained single-target damage. If you're going for a crit Special variant of this build, Daedalus' Concentrated Volley (+3 base damage for each hit from your Special) can lead to some much more explosive critical hits. Otherwise, consider investing in Ares — taking both Curse of Pain and Dire Misfortune (each application of Doom status before it detonates boosts the blast damage) with this build is one of the most effective ways to use that combo, and while rare, a Pressure Points crit on a huge Doom stack is going to do revolting damage. It's also worth noting that the Artemis/Ares Duo Boon, Hunting Blades, is one of the strongest in the game, and while you'll also need to pick up Ares' Slicing Shot (turns your Cast into a whirling blade) for it to come up, it's more than worth the extra dip.

Hopefully one of these combos will get you out of Hell! Any that you like the look of, or maybe you've got your own killer build to share? Get involved down below!

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