Hades 2 Already Feels Like the Sequel I Wanted

New, different, and even sexier.

Animated character with a mystical umbrella surrounded by magical symbols and green energy. She has ...
Supergiant Games

Hades is back. After multiple visits to the underworld Erebus, I started to wrap my head around what’s new about Hades 2, how Melinoe was more strategic and light compared to the berserker fury of the first game’s protagonist Zagreus. I had been slowly chipping away more of the boss’ health each time, until I stumbled upon the perfect skill setup that had Poseidon turning my ranged attacks into surging tidal waves of destruction. Suddenly, the boss was down in under 30 seconds.

I’ve sunk about 20 hours into the Hades 2 technical test, which is just a small snippet of the first area of the game that’ll be available when it launches in early access. Still, that time has shown me that Supergiant Games has learned all the right lessons with its first sequel: it’s not just more of the same.

While Hades 2 does use the formula and setup of the hit 2018 game, it’s layering in some fantastic changes that make it feel integrally different, from both a gameplay and storytelling perspective. Those hours I’ve spent are already enough to completely sell me on what Supergiant is cooking, and has me chomping at the bit for the full Early Access release.

While the story in the technical test is intentionally light, we do learn some key details about where the sequel is going, and how the stakes have been raised even higher. This time around, you play as Melinoe, daughter of Hades. The Titans have wrested control of the Underworld from the god, and done something, although we don’t know exactly what, to Hades, Persephone, and Zagreus. This has left Melinoe as the sole survivor, fighting to take back control of the Underworld with the assistance of Olympus, like Zagreus before her.

This story setup already creates some dramatic tension, along with a brand new cast of characters to assist Melinoe. Much like the first game you have a home base between runs where you can interact with these characters, unlock new weapons, power up Melinoe, etc.

It seems like the most important relationship will be between Melino and Hecate, witch of the crossroads, who acts as something of a mentor. But there are plenty of other fascinating additions: the devilishly charming Odysseus, the brusque and abrasive warrior Nemesis, and the quirky drill sergeant Schelemeus. These new characters and redesigns of past ones are already oozing with personality, with dazzling character portraits lavishly detailed with excruciating details and quirks. I’m more than happy to report that Hades 2 has only doubled down on sexiness, and I already can’t wait to learn more and fall in love with a half-dozen chiseled gods. But it’s clear that Melinoe is much more than just another Zagreus, she’s a confident almost cocksure hero, more than ready to take on the monumental task.

Hades 2’s character consistently look stunning lavishly animated and imaginatively realized.

Supergiant Games

That fact is then reflected through Hades 2’s gameplay, which makes some smart changes from the first game, and feels like an entirely different beast. Where Zagreus was about raw power and overwhelming enemies, Melinoe is much more about battlefield awareness and tactical positioning. While each weapon adds changes and differences, her general moveset follows the same pattern. The starting weapon, the Witch’s Staff, has a short thrusting move on the main attack, a ranged projectile on special, and an area-of-effect for an Omega attack that slows and lightly damages enemies.

Even the way you control Melinoe is subtly different from Zagreus. Where the previous hero was all about quick evasion and dashes, Melinoe is more about “flowing” across the battlefield. Her dash turns into a brisk dash that lets you weave in and out of enemies, while executing attacks and specials to take advantage of flanking and positioning.

There are even some added elements to help flesh out combat, like trees and other pieces of the environment that can break off and damage enemies. Having a general awareness of the area you’re fighting in is essential, and as you add boons from different gods it lets position yourself in fights in new and inventive ways. For example, one Aphrodite boon let my Omega attack draw in enemies in a large area, while one from Apollo altered my main attack to hit over a wider area while also briefly stunning enemies. The more I played the more I could start to see all the subtle ways Hades 2 is different from its predecessor, and just in that small snippet there were dozens of different builds I experienced, each one changing my approach to combat.

Past the core battling experience, the way you empower Melinoe has also been altered. There are now resources to collect throughout the world, and you can bring one tool with you at a time that lets you harvest a specific resource. These are used to unlock new weapons, add new areas and options to your base, and more.

Despite the same basic formula, Hades 2 feels drastically different to play than its predecessor.

Supergiant Games

The mirror you used to purchase upgrades for Zagreus has been changed to a Tarot Card system, where you add cards to a deck to empower Melinoe. Unlocking one card will unlock the adjacent options for purchase, and while the test only has nine available the full game will likely scale this up considerably. Still, each card costing a resource that's limited makes your choices vitally important, especially if you’re trying to lean into specific builds. It seems like you’ll need to put more thought into how you level up this time.

Despite everything I’ve already said, there’s so much more I could say about all of the new elements in Hades 2. New chambers and perks during runs, new enemy types, new setups for character storylines: it’s staggering how much is already set up from just the technical test.

Over the years I’ve played only one game, Baldur’s Gate 3, in early access as I prefer to simply wait for the full experience. Hades 2 makes me break that rule. If I had access to the full thing, I’d be obsessively playing 100 hours right now. The technical test hasn’t just reminded me of why I loved the first game so much but made me indescribably excited for what the sequel has in store. Supergiant could have just given us more of the same, but it’s already evidently clear Hades 2 is a different beast entirely, and I can’t wait to see what treats the underworld has in store.

Hades 2 is scheduled to release in Early Access in 2024.

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