A Brief Hades II Spoiler-Free Starter Guide

Hades II has started Steam Early Access, and that too Game Informer’s next cover story (which begins on May 14). Whether you’re a returning fan or a newcomer, Hades II will take a few runs to get your bearings as it features new progression systems, resources, and new layers to existing mechanics. While this can be a lot to dig into, the game more or less throws you into the deep end without context on how things work, at least in the beginning. Instead of spending several runs trying to figure things out, here’s a short, spoiler-free primer that explains some of the key new features to get you going on the right foot.

What is Ashes?

Ashes are the currency used to unlock Arcana cards. They serve a similar purpose as Darkness from the first game. They are usually seen as a reward for completing a room, but you can buy more from the Wretched Broker shop.

What are Arcana Cards, Grasp and Psyche?

These are unlockable character perks found at the Altar of Ashes in The Crossroads. Fans may draw comparisons to the Mirror of Night from Hades 1. Examples of Arcana card effects include gaining two health points each time you exit a location or starting each race with 200 gold. Arcana cards require a certain amount of Ashes to be spent (and require some additional resources). The cards use parts of your perception.

Grasp of the Arcana (or just Grasp for short) is a meter of how many Arcana cards a player can have active at one time. Each Arcana card uses a specific number of grasp bars. If the grasp meter has 10 bars, then equipping cards that consume 5, 3, and 2 bars will max it out. If you’re a Transistor fan, this system is similar to the way tasks are performed in that game.

By spending large amounts of Psyche, another currency obtained by completing rooms, you can increase your Perception Limit. For example, instead of having only 10 bars, it might have 12 or 16. This way, you can keep more cards active or use more powerful cards that consume more of the grasp.

What is Purple Bones?

This is another resource/currency called Ancient Bones. It is a reward for completing encounters and is primarily used to purchase resources from the Wretched Broker’s shop.

How do I mine ore, fish and shades?

During runs, you’ll see metal ores that inspire you to mine. In the first area, Erebus, you’ll find silvery crescent moons, for example. In addition, some shades will prompt you to “force” them and you will also encounter fishing holes.

These scenarios require the gathering tools of Hades II. Mining ore requires a pickaxe, fishing holes requires a rod, and strong shadows require a magical tablet. You get gathering tools in the Cauldron, but you still need to trade specific resources to fully unlock them.

How does the Cauldron work?

Crossroads has a giant cauldron in front of Hekate. Here you bring resources/currencies collected during runs to perform “spells” which are permanent upgrades for crossroads and general standard perks.

For example, one spell summons a Wretched Broker, allowing him to permanently set up shop at the Crossroads. The other unlocks the gathering tools mentioned above. A spell also allows you to view recipes for other spells in the menu (before unlocking it, you could only view these recipes in the Cauldron). One particular spell is called Fated Intervention; Make it a priority to unlock it, without spoiling. It won’t take effect immediately, so be patient.

One divination that is available early (and you must unlock it immediately) is called Elements Divination. This allows Melino to perceive the elemental affinities of the Olympian bosoms.

What are elemental affinities?

Olympian boons now have one of four elemental attributes: fire, water, air, and earth. After unlocking the Divination of the Elements, you will see small icons representing each element on each boon you encounter. Demeter’s frost-based boons are usually (but not always) water types, while Hestia’s are fire.

Elemental affinity is important because there are now boons that can only be used if you have enough boons of a particular element. You might need to have three wind-based boons instead of a powerful ability, for example. This adds another layer of strategy to choosing boons, as you’re torn between chasing long-term investment or short-term energy gains.

Hades II is now available in Early Access on Steam and the Epic Games Store. Be sure to check out our cover story hub below for exclusive Hades II stories and videos throughout the month.

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