All games today possess varying levels of difficulty, but some titles make it a point to be more difficult than others by providing a challenge for loyal players. Hades offers a unique take on this concept, as it offers a “pick your poison” sort of challenge mode with parameters that players themselves can select.
The critically acclaimed roguelike game has a built-in difficulty setting, available for players to utilize right after they have completed their first successful run. The most skilled (or brave) can continue to add more difficult conditions, adding them together to make one super challenging run. This guide will give players tips and insight on preparing to take down this challenge.
Spoiler alert: This guide contains story and post-game spoilers for Hades!
What Is Heat? And Why 32?
Heat is the unit of measurement of the Pact of Punishment, which is unlocked after escaping from Hell for the first time. It represents the difficulty a player can take on. Contrary to most games that offer multiple levels of difficulty like the classic Easy, Normal, and Hard settings, Hades gives players the option to choose which elements of their next run become more challenging.
The general rule of thumb is the higher the Heat, the higher the difficulty. The challenge to escape Hell at 32 Heat is provided by the chattering punching bag, Skelly, when he reveals some mysteriously concealed objects after your first escape. These objects will only be unveiled when Zagreus can escape Hell again at 8, 16, and 32 Heat, respectively.
Choosing — And Avoiding — Conditions From The Pact of Punishment
Adding a little Heat to a run isn’t too harmful, but compounding several conditions at a time can make runs nearly unbeatable. Here are some recommendations on which parameters to apply and which to avoid.
Although this is the first parameter offered, increasing enemy damage output should be one of the last conditions you incorporate. It is easy to get swarmed by several enemies at a time, and getting hit by attacks at high Heat will quickly put you in the grave. This condition should only be added after others have been applied and you’re more practiced.
Compared to Hard Labor, Lasting Consequences is a much safer condition to add points into. Try to keep it at 50% healing reduction, as adding more becomes tougher to manage.
This is by far one of the most straightforward conditions to max out. It’s better to save your obols for when it truly matters and not spend it at shops frequently.
This is a condition that is typically best avoided altogether if possible. Since the run will most likely be timed, fighting more enemies means clearing encounters will take longer. Inevitably, also, the longer you’re in a fight, the more opportunities enemies get to land a hit.
You will want to invest three levels of Heat and only three levels. It is tempting to apply that extra four heat to remove heat modifiers elsewhere, but fighting three phases of Hades is difficult enough, especially at 32 heat. Extreme Measures should be maxed out only by the truly confident.
Similarly to Jury Summons, this should be avoided when possible as it can add thousands of points of health for enemies. Indirectly, this increases the time it takes to clear a room. Adding a time limit tends to be one of the least punishing ways to add Heat, so Calisthenics Program may be harmful.
Benefits Package and Middle Management
Both Conditions should be maxed out at all times. Benefits Package will make beefy enemies even beefier, while Middle Management adds another enemy to mini-boss rooms. These conditions ultimately become manageable the more familiar you get with them, and so will be helpful for your first and successive 32 Heat runs.
This is a peculiar condition to apply, but one worth taking. Many times during a run, you will have to take “junk” boons that don’t provide many synergies, and these are the boons worth selling at the end of an area. Just make sure you save some re-rolls, just in case one of your better synergy boons is on the chopping block.
This condition takes some practice to get used to, but you will always want to have one or two levels of Heat applied here. Increasing enemy movement and attack speed makes it more challenging to dodge hits, but it will make you a better player the longer you have it on, as it will increase your overall reactions and awareness.
This is a very deceiving condition to utilize, as it is generally not worth the risk. Magma and traps are easy to fall for in Hades, so making them more deadly can be fatal. One slip can end an otherwise-successful run with this condition equipped, so be very wary of it.
The Mirror of Night provides some nice buffs that help increase your survivability in the run, so anything that disrupts these effects can be costly. Applying one Heat level isn’t the end of the world, but there are generally better conditions to consider.
Whether this condition is recommended depends entirely on the weapon you are using. If you’re using a weapon that relies on speedy, low-damage hits, like Aspect of Chiron or Lucifer, adding one or two levels of Heat is a safe option. However, you should avoid this condition altogether if you’re using weapons that rely on big hits or casts like the Aspect of Arthur and Beowulf, as even a single level of Damage Control can cancel out huge amounts of damage dealt to foes.
This is another condition that should be avoided at all costs. RNG is a unavoidable feature of this game and sometimes does not work in your favor. Cutting your already limited options can (and probably will) be incredibly detrimental to a run.
Although it may seem impossible to clear Tartarus in under five minutes, this can be achieved with enough practice. You can shave seconds by fighting closer to the exit when you enter a room, and pausing the game when choosing which rooms to take after a fight helps too. Maxing this out with save you from applying extra Heat elsewhere. Even though you’re on a strict timeline, you can still savor that phenomenal voice acting, as cutscenes will pause the timer.
It will take plenty of trial and error to figure out which parameters will work best for you to hit 32 Heat, and these are only recommendatoins. Nonetheless, the more you practice at high Heat, the easier it will become to make your way out of Hell.
Choosing The Best Boosts From The Mirror of Night
Hades is considered a roguelike (and a fantastic one) since players can change certain aspects and parameters before enduring a run, and one of those aspects is called the Mirror of Night. The Mirror provides dynamic boosts and effects for Zagreus during a run, and can significantly increase your survivability and damage output. As with the Pact of Punishment, there is no perfect setup that works every time, but here are some things to consider when investing darkness into the Mirror of Night.
Death Defiance or Stubborn Defiance?
Having three extra Death Defiance uses when facing Hades adds plenty of insurance to the fight, in case you take massive hits. Arriving with zero Death Defiance, on the other hand, doesn’t inspire confidence. Playing around with Stubborn Defiance may be worth your time, especially if you keep using up all your additional lives before reaching Hades (or if you don’t meet Patroclus in Elysium and select his run-saving ability to refill them). Having a replenishing Death Defiance at the start of every chamber can be very rewarding.
Infernal Soul or Stygian Soul?
This entirely depends on what you plan on bringing with you for a run. Stick with Stygian Soul if you use a Cast-specific build with weapons like Aspect of Beowulf, Poseidon, Achilles, or Hera, as they will give you maximum damage output. If you’re not focused on casts for a run, consider using Stygian Soul, as you won’t have to waste time looking for your Casts.
God’s Pride Or God’s Legacy?
God’s Legacy should be your pick if your build depends on attaining a particular Legendary or Duo Boon. If you do not have a specific build in mind, use God’s Pride, as it will increase the likelihood of getting an Epic-level boon by 20%, which is nothing to scoff at. The difference between a Common level Tippy Shot and an Epic level Trippy Shot, for example, is significant.
Fated Persuasion Or Fated Authority?
Fated Persuasion tends to be the clear winner here, and it’s not even close. While altering the reward for a chamber sounds appealing, the power to change the outcome of certain boons and offerings from the Wells of Charon is far more valuable. It’s recommended to always have Fated Persuasion on at all times.
Recommended Keepsakes And Companions
Some Keepsakes can help curve some RNG of boons offered, while others can provide some life-saving bonuses. And we cannot forget that Companion Keepsakes provide some hefty damage to bosses. Here are some Keepsakes worth looking into while making your escape.
Each Olympian God has a Keepsake that increases the chance of getting a rarer blessing and, more importantly, will guarantee an encounter with that God. If you are working toward a specific build during a run, like Merciful End with the fists of Malphon, then it’s best to start with either Ares’ or Athena’s Keepsakes rather than leaving it up to chance. Just know that once you’ve equipped a Keepsake and have found that God for the first time during your run, you will want to switch out between areas, as the effects of that Keepsake have diminishing returns.
If you’re not going after a specific build, consider equipping the Shattered Shackle, as it will double the damage of your attacks, specials, and Casts until you find a corresponding Boon. This is a great way to clear Tartarus quickly.
An MVP for the last couple of areas during the run. Being able to miss five hits from bosses is enormous, but be careful not to get caught in a bosses’ combo: those free dodges can evaporate quickly.
This may seem underwhelming initially, but make no mistake that increasing the duration of items from the Well of Charon is especially powerful. It is best to equip Bone Hourglass between areas when there are already good items worth buying at Charon’s Well.
An excellent alternative to the Evergreen Acorn, in case you don’t have any Death Defiance uses. The Lucky Tooth will always provide 100 HP, regardless of how much your total HP is.
Companion Battie and Antos
Battie and Antos are considered the best Companions among the options, as they deal terrific damage and lack any start-up time to launch. Battie deals 2500 damage in a broad line, hitting multiple enemies at once, while Antos deals 1500 to two foes (or two hits if there’s only one target) one after the other. Shady can provide healing and obols, but free damage is usually more reliable. Mort is good, but because of the long delay at the start, some foes have enough time to escape before the area damage is dealt.
Noteworthy Weapon Aspects
A good player can escape Hell with any weapon Aspect, but that doesn’t mean they are all equal. Here are some of the best weapon Aspect recommendations for attempts at a 32 Heat run.
Heart-Seeking Bow: Aspect of Chiron
Having auto-aim is a game changer, and that’s precisely what Chiron does. Attack an enemy, launch two specials, then repeat. This allows you to attack enemies from a distance while landing your hits. Pairing Artemis’ Deadly Flourish Boon with Aphrodite’s Heartbreak Strike to build up to their Duo, Heart Rend, is a winning combo.
Adamant Rail: Aspect of Eris
If you like cheesing your way to victory, look no further. Aspect of Eris provides a 75% increase of damage globally, meaning that all damage dished out by Zagreus gains this benefit. This Aspect pairs exceptionally well with Shattered Shackle, as you can do tremendous damage right out of the gate.
Twin Fists: Aspect of Demeter
Aspect of Demeter deals reliable amounts of damage, but coupled with the Duo boon Merciful End, it can bring boss fights to their end in seconds. Start with Ares’ Boon on attack or Athena’s on special and try to get their Duo Boon as quickly as possible.
Shield of Chaos: Aspect of Beowulf
The shield is excellent as it provides a block that can negate all incoming damage. This, paired with a strong Cast, can get you very far, even at high Heats. Start with Poseidon or Aphrodite to (hopefully) get their Casts, and you’ll be amazed at how much damage you can dish out with a single Bull Rush, especially if you can track down Artemis and get her Duo Boon, Mirage Shot.
General Hints And Tricks
Prioritize rooms that are going to help synergize with your build. If you’re looking for the Duo Boon Sea Storm, only take rooms with Zeus and Poseidon when possible. You should almost always choose event rooms (Sisyphus, Eurydice, or Patroclus), even if it’s between a God Boon or Hammer. Event room rewards are uniquely powerful. Hammers may come back later in a run, but Eurydice will not.
Have a Game Plan
Planning things ahead can only go so far with a game like Hades, which is heavily dependent on RNG. Nevertheless, having a specific build in mind can help you make choices with regards to Boons, chambers and so on. It’s valuable build-making experience, too, which will prove invaluable when playing at the highest difficulty.
Be a Lover, Not a Fighter
Incorporating Aphrodite into a build is almost always a good idea. Her curse effect can reduce incoming damage by 40%, hands down one of the best curses in the game. Not only that, but her Legendary Boon, Unhealthy Fixation, can Charm foes into fighting for you, including bosses. You can use this to your advantage by stopping a potentially fatal onslaught by Hades and saving hundreds of points of damage.
A Good Defense is a Great Offense
One way to avoid getting hit is by killing an enemy as quickly as possible. This might seem obvious, but sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in increasing health and picking defensive Boons when it’s better to prioritize increasing overall damage output first.
Learn Attack Patterns
The best way to avoid death is to avoid getting hit. Take the time to learn the attack patterns of enemies and bosses, as it will benefit you no matter which weapons or Boons you use. At the end of the day, nothing beats skill. This is particularly important if you have given the bosses extra tricks through the Pact of Punishment.
Hades rewards those who play well and punishes others who try to rush headfirst into battle. Beating the game at 32 Heat can seem like an impossible endeavor, but after you have done it once, you will hopefully be able to do it again and again.
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