A few days ago, we brought you details of the first major update to Supergiant’s rogue-like, Hades. The update, titled The Chaos Update, added both additional content and tweaked existing content.
After completing half a dozen runs with the Chaos Update, we wanted to bring you a more detailed look and provide you with our opinions of both the new content and some of the changes. Let’s get into it:
Primordial Chaos: the ancestor of the gods awaits within Blood Gates! Blessings from Chaos offer powerful benefits, with initial side effects…
The highlight of this update is the inclusion of the Primordial Chaos. Found within Blood Gates, the blessings that Zag receives from Chaos are unlike any other currently in the game. These blessings offer powerful new effects and skills but come with an initial side effect. These side effects aim to increase difficulty, with a kind of risk/reward mechanic – will you take the most powerful boon with the worst side effect, or opt for something less risky?
Before the update, Blood Gates were pretty pointless, offering nothing more than resources at the cost of HP; now, a genuine choice needs to be made when presented with the option to use one, especially in low HP situations (unless you’re running the new keepsake from Chaos that lets you enter Blood Gates without losing health). The blessings offered from Chaos are also pretty unique; normally, blessings become instant picks, but with Chaos I often found myself deliberating for quite some time before choosing. Chaos and the new risk/reward boons are a fantastic addition to Hades, and Blood Gates now have a purpose too, which was very much needed. The only frustration here would be on runs where I never found a Blood Gate, especially when running the previously mentioned Keepsake.
Pact of Punishment: for those skilled and determined enough to have cleared the game, now even greater trials await through this system
One criticism I had of Hades before this update was that it’s far too easy, especially for those players who have invested enough hours in the game to fully upgrade their mirror. Thankfully, Supergiant has addressed this issue with the inclusion of the Pact of Punishment. This pact acts like a second mirror in Zags bedroom, allowing players to add further difficulty to their runs in the form of modifiers. These modifiers can be used by obtaining a new resource called Heat (Red Skulls), and add seven different ways to make the game more challenging, ranging from less Darkness to spend at the mirror to health and damage buffs on enemies. All seven of these modifiers can also be updated, adding even further difficulty. It’s great new system for those hardcore players like myself who, in the past, had to find their own ways of making the game difficult (new save runs, for example).
Zag’s New & Improved Look: We’ve retouched thousands of frames of animation to bring our protagonist in line with the game’s visual style
A welcome addition more than a needed one, Zag’s new look and animation is obviously something that players of the previous build will enjoy. If I’m being honest though, I didn’t have an issues with Zag before the update, and when in the thick of battle I barely even noticed the changes.
New ‘Perfect Clear’ Encounter: Lord Hades sometimes challenges you to slay your foes without getting hit (and, if you fail…)
Hmm, I’m in two-minds about Perfect Encounters. On the one hand these can represent one of the most challenging rooms to complete in the whole game at the moment, with challenge obviously being much needed in a roguelike. On the other hand, however, certain enemy types can make these rooms rather frustrating to complete. Any long ranged enemy with armour—or even skull nests—have been enough to cause me to fail. It’s also worth noting that damage from lava is also enough for you to fail.
New Foes: the Skull-Crusher, the Gorgon, & the Megagorgon
New enemy types was something I had hoped to see in this update and I haven’t been disappointed. While not the most interesting of foes, all three do at least provide something different in terms of combat. The new mini-boss encounter can also present quite a challenge compared to other mini-bosses, especially when running modifiers or a weaker build. I hope to see new enemies in every major future update; as it stands, the game still feels a little short on variation.
New Resource: after unlocking the Pact, look for Heat to power it up
The new resource obviously goes hand-in-hand with the Pact of Punishment. My guess is that Supergiant wanted players who had stockpiled keys and darkness to have something else to grind, rather than instantly being able to fully upgrade the Pact. Repeating content will always be a core mechanic of any roguelike, so I have no issues with Heat.
Wretched Broker: exchange resources in the House of Hades
To rather contradict my previous paragraph, the Wretched Broker is another welcome addition that allows players to trade resources unfavourably. Geared more towards new or casual players (I have little use for trading anything), the Broker can help deal with the early frustration of not receiving enough gifts or keys on runs. I’m willing to guess that future resources will be added to Hades, so the Broker will no doubt continue to be useful throughout the games development.
Balance – Weapons & Powers
Dash: now briefly stuns most unarmored foes – Not a change that was particularly needed, but one that helps prevent damage being taken when losing track of Zag in a hectic battle. This acts as a buff to Dash, making the game slightly easier.
Eternal Spear: Special slightly faster; Spin Attack area slightly increased but no longer Backstabs (same as other area attacks) Shield of Chaos: Special returns sooner; slightly reduced Bull Rush recovery time – Nothing overly game changing here; the Backstab nerf would be the standout change, but AOE felt a little overpowered with it before the patch, so I quite like the change. The Shield returning quicker is also useful – there was previously nothing more frustrating than a Zag without a shield.
Balance – Boons & Upgrades
- Critical effects have a reduced chance, but deal more damage +Lightning Strike (Zeus): increased damage
- Lightning Flourish (Zeus): increased damage +Thunder Dash (Zeus): effect no longer targets invulnerable foes
- Divine Flourish (Athena): slightly increased damage; reduced Deflect duration on Special (Blade only)
- Tidal Strike (Poseidon): slightly increased damage; reduced knockback
- Tidal Flourish (Poseidon): increased damage
- Sunken Treasure (Poseidon): increased healing and other rewards
- Ocean’s Bounty (Poseidon): reduced money bonus
- Slicing Shot (Ares): increased base damage
- Super Nova (Daedalus – Blade): reduced damage and area of effect
- Sudden Sunder (Daedalus – Blade): fixed an issue where you could Blink repeatedly
- Triple Shot (Daedalus – Bow): widened attack arc
- Sudden Rush (Daedalus – Shield): charges even faster
- Minotaur Rush (Daedalus – Shield): increased damage
- Javelin Throw (Daedalus – Spear): increased damage
- Trick Toss (Daedalus – Spear): removed speed bonus (since the base throw now is faster)
Boons will no doubt be the most worthy of adjusting, which this vast list of changes proves. For me, the biggest change here is to Artemis Dash. Often used in overpowered builds, the 100% critical chance after dash is no more, having been replaced with percentage chance instead. This, combined with the removal of Quick Temper (get to this later), drastically reduces dash damage potential. There is an upside, however – critical damage is now applied to all damage and not just attacks. This, coupled with criticals now doing triple damage, and you’re left with some rather big numbers on casts and specials.
The damage buffs to Poseidon, meanwhile, were much needed; Poseidon often felt like the weakest blessing to take, not only because of the lack of damage, but also because of how useless the knockback effect can be. With these changes I’ve found myself at least trying out Poseidon builds.
Balance – Foes
- Bloodless: flank you more effectively; slightly delayed attack point
- Inferno-bombers: now drop one bomb when slain (instead of three)
- Skullomat: increased health
- Voidstone: increased shielding range; effect ceases once destroyed
- Bone Hydra: further tuning to aspects of this encounter
- Megaera: slightly reduced health; other misc. fixes and changes
- Re-tuned various Asphodel foes to make room for the new varieties
- Normalized ‘Backstab’ areas on various foes
The most notable change here is to the games final boss, Bone Hydra. The tuning sees the walls replaced with pillars, instantly giving players less cover from missile attacks. The missiles themselves can now be deflected, a change that makes sense and was requested by many players. The health items have also been moved to a far more dangerous location, but this actually turns out to be helpful; you should no longer accidently pick it up when it’s not needed. Mini-Hydras can now have armour, which means clearing them can take considerably longer, but it also adds a usefulness to damage-to-armour boons that were previously ignored. Fundamentally, however, this fight plays out exactly the same way, and whilst the difficulty has been ramped up a notch or two, it still doesn’t represent too much of a challenge for skill players or those with powerful builds.
Also worth mentioning are the Inferno-Bombers. These guys now only drop one bomb on death instead of three. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve screamed out in frustration at being hit by multiple death bombs. This might prove to be my favorite change of the update.
Balance – Mirror
- Infernal Soul: reduced max rank (invested Darkness will be refunded)
- Quick Temper: removed from the game (invested Darkness will be refunded); replaced with…
- Boiling Blood (NEW!): gives dmg. bonus after hitting foes with Cast
I was initially disappointed with the removal of Quick Temper. Most of my successful early runs were built around dash damage. After playing, however, I enjoyed the challenges that a new play style presents. Having to tag enemies with casts to receive the damage buff requires both choice (you only have 3 casts now, so who do you tag and who do you ignore?) and more difficulty. In the previous build, if you weren’t dashing and attacking you were playing the game wrong. By removing and adding Boiling Blood in its stead, I found myself tackling the game in more than one way, which can only be good, right?
Balance – Keepsakes & Items
- All Keepsakes re-scaled; they now rank up through repeated use
- You can now switch Keepsakes only once after clearing Tartarus
- Black Shawl (Nyx): now restores Health when you earn Darkness
- Cosmic Egg (Chaos): added to the game
- Daedalus Hammer (Charon): increased shop cost
- Boons (Charon): slightly reduced shop cost
- Centaur Heart (Charon): slightly reduced shop cost
- Eye of Lamia (Well): slightly increased cost
- Light of Ixion (Well): no longer sold during early escape attempts
The change to Keepsakes is another interesting choice. By playing the game more, you can rank up Keepsakes to improve the benefits that they grant. However, playing the game to the extent needed to upgrade them makes them feel less challenging, in-turn meaning Keepsakes become less important to being successful. I do agree with the rank-up option, however; roguelikes should make you feel that you’re becoming more powerful after every run – Keepsakes can now be included in this.
The rest of the update is less gameplay oriented, so I won’t go through them in detail here (Full patch Notes can be found here), except for mentioning how awesome the new victory screen is. Having feedback on how well you’ve performed and being able to track stats like winstreaks and time taken is very useful for speed runners and boasters alike.
Initial disappointment at the lack of a new level and weapon has quickly subsided with the enjoyment that The Chaos Update has offered. The changes made and the content added has made Hades a far more enjoyable experience for both new players and month-old veterans alike. If every patch is as enormous and refreshing as this then i cannot wait to find out what next months update has in store for us. And the month after that…and the month after that…