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NetherRealm Studios has been on a role with their line-up of guest characters for Mortal Kombat 11. To put it simply, it’s nostalgic badassery with every guest fighter that’s added to the roster. Characters like Mileena and Shang Tsung (with Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa’s likeness to boot!) were awesome already, but guests like Spawn, The Terminator, and Robocop transcend games as they’re pop-cultural icons in their own rights that can spark so much nostalgia for their long time fans, especially if those same fans also like Mortal Kombat.

The nostalgia remains strong as John Rambo, voiced by the one and only Sylvester Stallone himself, was recently revealed to join Mileena and Rain in the upcoming Kombat Pack 2. And a few days after, we finally get a Gameplay trailer revealing what the man, who can kill as easily as breathing, can do.

Bringing his brand of warfare into the Mortal Kombat arena, Rambo wipes the floor with his opponents using an array of weapons from his iconic survival knife, and bow and arrows, to landmines and booby traps. Rambo strikes fast and brutal with precision and ferocity that only the man who survived war by becoming war can do. A total badass that throws a grenade at you and will look away because cool guys don’t look at explosions.

He can even get around with a pretty long slide attack and can crawl towards you ala Solid Snake, avoiding projectiles and getting in a sneaky knife swipe to the foot. Of course we didn’t forget about the machine guns. They’re as much a part of Rambo as his signature sweatband. And that iconic winning pose just has to be seen.

Become the hunter as Rambo is included with Kombat Pack 2, along with returning MK veterans Mileena and Rain. Or if you haven’t gotten Mortal Kombat 11 yet, there’s also Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate which includes both Kombat Packs 1 and 2, as well as the Aftermath Expansion for that full MK11 experience.

Ever since I picked up the game at the end of September, I’ve been hooked. At first, I jumped into the game thinking I’d try it out and then quit it after a couple of hours. The first few runs, I had that feeling. Go through the dungeon and as a roguelike, I would die. It was daunting, I wondered how I could actually beat the game if I’m gonna restart every time I keep dying? Eventually, I unlocked weapons and I enjoyed some of the gameplay. After a dozen or so attempts on this save file, I realized that I’ve wasted my rare drops for instant gratification and wasn’t feeling God Mode at all. I started a new file and progressed quite quickly after that. 

It’s ironic that when I run into a problem, I go through a cycle of saying this game is impossible, I’ll probably quit followed by uncovering something else that reignites my passion to conquer the game. Playing it on Nintendo Switch, the game has no achievements making my desire to beat the game its sole motivator. The last time I played without the motivation of achievements would be Persona 3 Portable.

At the time of writing, I completed one hundred escape attempts throughout three separate adventures. Considering the fact that I average about 45 minutes per run, because some runs require more precision and some require a lot of speed. That’s 75 hours alone excluding the time I spent in the House of Hades and the twelve hours I spent on my primary run and my exploration of Hell Mode, so I’ve spent about a good hundred hours on this game at this point. I’ve only escaped the prescribed ten times to see the credits roll, and mostly because I was grinding sub-quests and keepsakes. I also attempted the Heat Gauges as the rewards at this point not only made my skill better as a player, but the rare bounties made me unlock different aspects of the story or make my existing weapons strong.

The First Fifteen Runs – Temptation of God Mode

I didn’t exactly enjoy my starting few runs of the game. Mostly because of that daunting experience where you accidentally die on Asphodel on your sixth run, only to start from the very beginning to face the same difficult mini-boss and boss fight at the end of Tartarus. God Mode is an option you can switch on from the menu and on my tenth run, I flipped the switch. Sure I made it to Elysium after that, but I felt I didn’t earn the rewards from that run. Combined with the fact that I messed up my Nectar allocation and traded my Titan’s Blood for cheap gemstones, after my fifteenth run, I started a new game. This time I’m doing it right.

Runs Sixteen to Forty – Tasting Freedom

When I started a new game, I knew what to do in my first few runs and what to set up. Gift the Nectar to the right confidant, grind some beginner Keepsakes, make sure I have the right build on the Mirror of Night, and make it as far as I can. On my 38th run, I was able to finally make it out. It was my second fight with Hades and I had a shield. It also took me a full hour to complete said run. With a beginner build and playing as safe and precise as possible, I was able to edge out the big man with a few lucky breaks in between. Patroclus is a lifesaver granting extra Death Defiance when you’ve used them up thwarting the Furies and Lernie, The Bone Hydra. I thought I was done, but my journey was just beginning…

Runs Forty-One to Fifty-Five – Fail, Fail, and Fail Some More

This is when it started to get frustrating. With the exception of my ultra cheese run that involved carpet bombing the place with my Adamant Rail, every fight with Hades ended in defeat. I tried every trick in the book to stop the guy, but without hiding behind the shield and skipping the fully upgraded Broken Spearhead to grind all my other keepsakes. The damage output of Hades and his cohorts whittled me down to a mangled rag doll. Sometimes it’s not even Hades, but Theseus and the Minotaur always seemed to have their way. By run fifty, I was consistently making it to Hades with little life left in me, all he had to do was hit me with one spin attack to send me flying back to The House of Hades.

Runs Fifty-Six to Seventy – Small Victories and Continued Defeats

My favorite part of this Sisyphean quest are the times when I pulled through and secured the rest of my wins with the other weapons in my arsenal. After that, it was a few great runs with the Twin Fists of Malphon and learning how to time my dash-strikes and combos. I went from two successful escapes to eight in a few small streaks. It also helped that many of my skills are maxed out and my response to game was in my muscle memory. While the game is mostly about trying to escape, I did mention about the Relationship Sub-quests that litter this game that give you insight with the Olympian Gods and also the Chthonic Gods. Coupled with the Pacts of Punishment and grinding keepsakes, my frustration is balanced out with curiosity.

Runs Seventy-One to Eighty-Five – The Painful Stretch To The End Credits

I continued to increase my Heat Gauge to reset my bounties and at the same time, grind my keepsakes and improve my relationships. Plus tried to complete every sub-quest. It resulted in uneven and unfocused load-outs that made Hades do easy work on me after being weakened on the stretch to reach him. This resulted in short runs due to playing around with new skill sets and new weapon aspects. This eventually concluded when I finished my keepsake grind after the eighty-third run leading to a back-to-back escape that got me to the End Credits. I still have ways to go for a completionist ending, but I’ve seen an ending and at this point, I was getting exhausted playing with a small screen with a Switch Mini. Next time, I’ll play using a larger screen.

Runs Eight-Six to One Hundred – Exploring Erebus and A Brush With Hell Mode

I started to mess around with the game a bit more, cranking up the Heat Gauge to as high as I could in order to enter Erebus where you wager your current run for a double or triple helping of a reward. You either engage in a no damage encounter or a timed encounter, where you have to defeat all the enemies while fulfilling the parameters. Also, you can challenge The Boatman, Charon, to a fight after you try to steal his stash. It’s a tougher fight during the early stages of the game, and it is best to challenge him around Asphodel where you’re powered up enough. I recommend using the final keepsake you receive as it powers up your Boons after six encounters. If you manage to beat him, you get a discount card. Woohoo.

As I grew tired of playing around, I tried Hell Mode that was offered when starting a new game. You start out with a mandatory Pact of Punishment on Heat Gauge Five. With nothing to start with, you are thrown into Tartarus with only your blade and your wits. After nearly a dozen tries, I put the game down and realized that I’ve had my fill of Hades. With a hundred runs, they said it takes 10,000 hours to be proficient in a skill, and barely scraping a hundred hours of game time, I could say I learned a thing or two that I would probably forget once I start diving into Cyberpunk 2077 later next month.

Lessons In Futility – Speed With Precision

“Do it well and then do it fast,” is something I’ve heard from work supervisors  a lot more times than “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”. It is tempting to go for a speed run every time because the more you take your time, the more the hours add up. I would make a revision on that adage by saying, learn to be precise and when you’ve mastered that, go fast. 

A great way to train this skill is to stop using Greater Reflex on your Mirror of Night and switch to Ruthless Reflex. That way, you will learn how to dodge properly because it requires precise timing. Plus dashing all over the place does not teach you anything besides being reckless. Although that strategy works really well with the Stygian Blade and the Twin Fists

There are massive benefits to learning to be precise, however. You can memorize enemy movements until they become muscle memory. You can weave into highly populated areas with enemies and projectiles while aggressively getting close for a power combo. This way you can take advantage of the near miss bonuses. When you switch back to Greater Reflex, you can make the most of your two dashes, and now you can really make a dent with your damage output.

Lessons In Futility – Long Range versus Close Quarters Battle

Out of my successful escapes, I’ve used the Twin Fists the most. Now you ask, why do you want to get close? The truth is, the game is designed to make you comfortable with long range battle. Four out of the six weapons are designed with long range in mind. Then you get comfortable with the range and you end up looking for ways to push back. This is what will hamper your future success. You want to escape? Don’t be afraid to get close

The magic of getting close with the fists is how much of the damage builds up at close range. Aspect of Talos is my aspect of choice because the vacuum component is great for board clearing. You can easily defeat weaker enemies and you can dance with the bigger and armored creeps for last. Ensured that you’ve learned controlled dashing from my statement above, if you combine the vacuum punch aspect and add Poseidon’s Flood Shot as your cast, you can control the board with the push and pull aspect. The enemy starts getting aggressive, Cast to push back and stun, then Special to pull back in. Then you lay on the Pacman punches. If you’re feeling really fancy, then you add a dash behind the enemy for backstab damage and then keep them guessing.

Lessons In Futility – Edging Out Hades

You don’t rush Hades. Out of the forty or so times that I’ve lost to Hades, it’s because I came unprepared or I came too prepared and rushed him. As a boss, he’s straightforward enough, it’s frustrating to lose to him especially if you came prepared for a fight. His real strength is heightened damage, heightened vitality, and his goddamned spin attack. When he fills up the screen with enough of his Skull Cast and Wretches, it’s easy to lose sight of him and he will hit you with everything he’s got. So when the screen fills up with enemies, focus on a single target while watching out for Hades.

As I said in the past guides, Broken Spearpoint is your friend. This way if you miss a dash or if you forget to hide, it gives you a second to catch your breath without taking too much punishment. After a while the damage adds up and if you get caught in a bad way with Hades, he will put on the hurt. Also make sure your Cast and Call are skills you can setup and leave alone. Crystal Beam, Flood Shot, or Artemis Cast work well in that regard and Zeus, Ares, Poseidon and Artemis Aid are your friends. That way, you can concentrate on building your DPS with your attack and special. You do not need to overwhelm your micro with Cast and Call. Concentrate on three buttons (Attack, Special, and Dash), the target in front of you, and dodging Hades, anything more will overwhelm and that’s when you’ve already lost.

Lessons In Futility – Temporary Godliness

Concentrate on Three Gods, a single Daedlus Hammer, probably two Chaos deals and a Hermes for good measure. Everything else either invest in your health or to improve your skills. For your Mirror of Night setup, use Family Favorite, Dark Foresight, Gods’ Pride, and Fated Persuasion

All of your later runs are dependent on the RNG you receive. While Privileged Status allows you much damage when you have two status effects set up. However, Ares, Zeus, Poseidon and Artemis aren’t known for the status effects, splashing a bit of Aphrodite, Demeter, Dionysus, and Athena takes away from your total damage output. Family Favorite gives bonuses on your Boons regardless of its type. So whether you’re spamming lightning, doom blades, or critical arrows, it gives you the extra edge. Dark Foresight increases your chances for Daedalus Hammers, Centaur Hearts, and Pomegranates to strengthen what you currently have rather than relying on Boon RNG. While Duos and Legendaries are amazing to have, I’d rather go for an Epic skill with Gods’ Pride and to use your Fated Persuasion to cycle through the skill choices.

This way, matched with your already skillful dodge, high damage CQB, powerful cast and call setup, once you have enough support boons to supplement your DPS, maybe you don’t need that much Death Defiance to make it through the game. The main key now is to make sure you only die once with Hades.

Just as an aside, a maxed out relationship with Dusa gives you a kitted out Companion Fidi. I usually use this to deal a good amount of damage to Theseus and Asterius at the end of Elysium. Out of the three bosses that’s not Hades, they still can catch you off-guard. By chipping away a good chunk of the champions’ health then you can divide and conquer between the two and get rid of them according to your setup strength and weakness.

Thank you for joining me in this prolonged love affair with Hades, a game that I thought I would shelve for a good year before picking it up some time in 2021. As with all things cool, I keep my obsession for it intermittently brief. It’s been a blast and I hope you enjoyed reading these articles and best of luck making your own 100 escapes!

Disco Elysium was never on my radar until I saw the results for best narrative in the Game Awards last year. It beat out The Outer Worlds and Control for best story and the last time I wondered about that was back in 2016 when Oxenfree was one of the nominees for the award. I bought Oxenfree when it went on sale (alongside co-nominee Firewatch) on PSN and I was floored. It was a brilliant exercise in interactive storytelling clearly illustrating what a time loop can feel like. The story elements weaved seamlessly with the gameplay and invited me for seconds. The game was easily completed within 5-7 hours and I’ve scoured every nook and cranny by the 20th hour, taking home the platinum to boot. Thus, when Disco Elysium took home the narrative award, ZA/UM’s indie darling shot from obscurity to the top of my gaming radar.

Lacking a workable gaming laptop, I had to wait with the rest of the console plebeians as the PC Master Race lavished in its spoils. It would be late 2020 at best as I remembered it took forever for Darkest Dungeon to drop on PSN. To my surprise, they released it on the Mac late April. All the stars aligned: The Working Class update allowed the game to run on 2012 Macbooks, the game was 25% off on Steam, and I was looking for a new game to sink my teeth into—I didn’t even think twice.

It’s been three years since I last navigated Steam, and the interface on the Mac didn’t change much. Besides not being able to play most of my early access games (now on Beta stages three years later), Steam empowers Mac gamers to be able to access some of the games the PC Master Race have monopolized for years. After purchase, the 11 gig game was quick to download and I was ready to have my mind blown.

Unique Character Creation

disco elysium character creation

The generated character archetypes already drew me in. It reminded me of World of Darkness archetypes and it was a refreshing break from the mute warriors taking on the same quest of saving the world from their androgynous BL pairing on JRPGs. Of course, I had to choose the “Sensitive” archetype because my characters in Fallout, Mass Effect and Dragon Age usually talk their way out of things. If I was a scrappy DPS with the “Mentalist” archetype that cuts their way to the top, I think I already had my fill with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Bravely Default for that.

Upon checking out the skill sets, I was instantly in love. I hated David Lynch’s Inland Empire, but this skill with the same name I’m in love with. I like a skill that allows me to see the fabric of reality in-game. It’s great that ZA/UM thinks of neurotic gamers like us. What drew me to Persona and even the Shin Megami Tensei games in general is this unspoken existential dread that lurks in the underbelly of its normcore world. While Persona 4 onwards touches on it, it drops the Jungian psychobabble and maxes out the waifu BS to the wazoo.

The game opens to an internalized dialogue between the layers of your brain. At this point, if this is not your cup of tea, I warned you. The dialogue is sardonic, existential, and really creates a strong first impression on what we’re about to expect. Of course, being deliciously Kafkaesque (or dare I say Lovecraftian?), I kept digging, descending into the proverbial rabbit hole of madness. Or what I’d love to call Mondays before my weekly Zoom meeting. The game starts off simply enough. It really reminds me of days where I go on an uncontrollable bender and I can’t seem to get a grasp of reality. This existential discombobulation really is relatable to a good part of us almost 40-somethings. A good 30 minutes of game time is spent trying to get dressed and a good deal of gameplay really delves into how the character thinks. Hell, even finding a shoe is a side quest on its own!

Adventure Time!

disco elysium quests

As I explore the hostel I woke up in with no recollection of the past, I run across its denizens and make conversation. Social skill checks start to happen, so what do I do? Save and Reload to get the best possible outcome. The irony is that failing actually gets better results, narrative-wise. Another awesome feature is how your own brain launches you into caving into your physiological urges like smoking and impulsively singing karaoke, turning them into quests. It’s a trap for pseudo-completionists like myself because I would do it for the experience points.

Not getting deep into the story, but trying to remember your actual home address causes another feature to unlock allowing you to delve into your psyche as a “internalization project” where game time is spent unlocking it. Speculating into the future, I feel that the game has a time limit of sorts, kind of like in Persona where you move in a linear fashion and days that went past cannot be returned to. So pick your overthinking projects carefully.

Mac Gaming 101

disco elysium quests 2

I was enjoying the dialogue and the atmosphere until I went outside. And the game crashed. I tried it again, and the game crashed again. I restarted the Mac and it continued to crash. After a few fruitless quests to the message boards and Google, I decided to lower the graphic performance so I can actually progress through the game. The last time this happened to me was when I was trying to run Police Quest 4 on my dilapidated Power Mac back in 1995! Ironically, this entire ordeal to get my game to work became a side quest IRL. Minimizing my specs and going back and forth through full screen and windowed gameplay is a chore in itself. I don’t even want to think about how this will affect combat as the game continues to crash as I explore outside.

What makes the game so frustrating is that lower graphics actually take away from the experience! The game is telling me that it is winter now, but when I go outside, it seems like a fine day. Then when I maxed out the settings again, snow started to fall! In the end, I’m applying a workaround to my system issues while trying to enjoy a game and this would definitely take away from the experience. I might even buy this on the console…

Yet with my misadventures in Divinity 2 for PS4, I realized that isometric games are best played on the PC. There’s just this organic way how you can hover your mouse on assets and it expands your world. The controls on PS4 take away from the experience and the loading times delays momentum. I feel that if there’s a console I’ll probably enjoy this, it would be on the Nintendo Switch as it has touchscreen functions that would take the place of the mouse.

disco elysium quests 3

Disco Elysium is quite the treat and is one that really spoke to me. It isn’t for everyone, but it is for someone who loves a good story behind the games they play. If you love isometric adventures with hard RPG elements and witty dialogue, Buy it, it’ll be worth your time. Wait For It if you don’t quite have the time right now and still want to see what the hype is all about. Avoid It if you like your games with less reading and more fast paced action.

The latest game in the Kingdom Hearts franchise is not one you would expect, but one that fans of the series may want to check out. Entitled Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory, the game is tagged as a theater rhythm type game, where you play through over 140 Kingdom Hearts tracks, tapping to the beat while taking on the Heartless.

Rhythm games are certainly reserved for a niche group, but when you pair it along with a storied franchise like Kingdom Hearts and include well loved songs from the whole breadth of the KH universe, you’re bound to get some looks from a wider audience.

Ahead of the launch on November 13, we’ve been given a chance to play an early demo of the title (which should have launched in some areas by the time this is published) and see how Kingdom Hearts fares as a rhythm game.

In the demo, gameplay is limited to a short tutorial session that takes you through the paces of the game with limited tracks. Controls are fairly straightforward, where you have to time your button press to the beat or else you lose HP. Losing all your HP means you’ve got to repeat the whole track again.

The rules and mechanics are pretty standard for a rhythm game, but it gets quite complicated when you factor in your 2 other party members along with casting spells or abilities. It was mentioned in an interview with Producer Ichiro Hazama and Co-Director Masanobu Suzui that touch controls won’t be implemented for the Switch, and we can definitely see why.

Each song in the list can be played in one of three difficulty settings and on top of that, there are various modes of play available to the player. Rookie players who just want to enjoy the tunes should go for One Button mode, where all actions are simplified into one button, allowing you to concentrate on enjoying the song. The Basic mode is your default setting, which assigns actions to different buttons like Triangle to cast a spell and X to jump. Lastly, Performer mode utilizes all buttons in the controller, making for some pretty challenging tracks that will need intense concentration and dexterity.

As you start a song, you’ll be controlling all 3 characters at once. For purposes of the demo, you’re locked to Sora, Goofy, and Donald but more will be available in the final retail version of the game. Normal attacks can be activated by Circle, L1, or R1 and how many of these buttons to be pressed will depend on how many enemies there are. 1 enemy to defeat = 1 button. 3 enemies = all 3 buttons at the same time. There will be sequences where enemies are airborne, so you’ll have to jump and attack to beat them. You can also glide through certain sections of the stage where you’ll need to move around while following the tune, think of it as the “hold button” sequence in other rhythm games.

It all sounds pretty easy and simple (and clean), but it takes a bit of getting used to during the game itself. The most common mistakes we’ve encountered were forgetting to press multiple attack buttons for when your party members attack at the same time and attacking airborne enemies, wherein we simply jump instead of jump and then attack. It’ll take a few runs to get used to mechanics of the game, especially during the more hectic stages where your eye and hand coordination will be put to the test.

A nice addition is the Demo feature, where the AI will run through the stage for you and you can simply watch and observe how it is done. Whether you’re figuring out how to hit all the notes in the stage or just want to listen to good music, we figure you’ll be using this mode quite a lot.

The demo features 4 tracks that will be familiar to fans of the series. Even if you’re new to Kingdom Hearts, the tunes are pleasant enough and are actually quite good listening material. Kingdom Hearts, as a whole, has conceived many memorable tracks throughout the years and since it is deeply tied to Disney properties, you can expect songs like “Let it go”, “Under the sea”, “Arabian Nights”, and much more.

The final version of the game will also include a story mode called World Tour (locked for the demo) and numerous unlockables that can be uncovered by the player, so there’s actually a full game filled with a lot of content to go through.

I’m personally not a huge fan of rhythm games myself, although I do fancy some nice tunes and Melody of Memory does have enough to hold you in for a bit. Things tend to get too hectic too quickly for my own good, and I’m left to stay away from Performer mode due to its difficulty spike. I realize that others may find this inviting, so it would definitely appeal to fans of the genre who want a challenge.

Melody of Memory should be a great entry point for newcomers to the Kingdom Hearts franchise, and we wish that a few missions of the World Tour mode was made available during the demo since the game acts as a story refresher from Kairi’s point of view. Nonetheless, the demo serves as a good look at what to expect for the game.

Overall, Melody of Memory has its moment and fans of the genre could find something special here. In between its vibrant stages and catchy tunes is a rhythm game with a semblance of depth that will challenge even seasoned veterans. While fans of more action oriented titles may look past this release, rhythm game fans will surely have a good time playing through the whole song list. While we’re here, can we also get Final Fantasy Theatrhythm on the big screened consoles, please?

Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory is scheduled for a November 13 release for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch.

Disclaimer: This guide is meant for players who have completed their first successful run of Hades. That means you’ve successfully escaped, not reached the surface only to be kicked to the curb by the eponymous big daddy himself. I can’t stop you from reading any further, but know the risks of spoiling yourself from an enriching experience. If you need help actually beating the big man, read our Newbie’s Guide to Schooling Hades. If you’re brand new to the experience, play a few rounds then read Newbie’s Guide to Exploring Hades.

Got it? Good.


The game had you going didn’t it? All will be well when you get out. So why bother decorating the damn house, making friends, or petting Cerberus when you’re gonna fly off to see Yanni at the Acropolis anyway? (For those too young to get the reference, Google is your friend) Turns out, your dead ass is tied to the Underworld and you only have fifteen minutes to have a conversation with your mother or you can order a pizza from Sam Porter Bridges to get to you by then. If you’re gonna get something delivered, might as well ask for the best.

Can You Feel The Heat?

One thing that has changed is that Hades, being a disgruntled section chief that he is, has to make things extra difficult for you. He’s that tough supervisor that gives you useless tasks and his way of encouragement is that Boomer sentiment of all that work is good for you. As a former boss kept telling me at my first job, “It’s good for the soul”. So welcome to the Pact of Punishment, where you can take on extra challenges and reset your bounty so you can get more of the good stuff. The good stuff being Titan’s Blood, Diamonds, and Ambrosia.

hades pact of punishment

Just to be clear, you don’t need to take on these challenges, but you really want to max out all those weapons with the extra Titan’s Blood. However, it’s not going to be the same rodeo as let me warn you… it will be hard. Meaning, maybe you probably had an easy time using the Coronacht with the lock-on or you took your sweet time with the Aegis. Like a frog in a pot, it starts you off small, one point on the heat gauge. It adds up real fast. Imagine the Chaos challenges, but instead of a few encounters, try the whole run. Enemies could have more health, grow in number, or have an extra layer of armor. Bosses have additional moves in their arsenal. Traps can hit you harder, each area has to be cleared in nine minutes or less, your Mirror Skills can be locked, and so much more fun stuff to keep it fresh!

You can also crank up the heat gauge if you’re a bit of a masochist, but you really don’t need to do that to earn more bounties. You have to go up slowly. However, you can actually increase the heat level for weapons you haven’t escaped with at the moment. It’s a great way of acquiring more Titan’s Blood and Diamonds as they are definitely useful. At this point, I think you can take on the Furies and Lernie (The Bone Hydra) with no problem at all. In this world of instant gratification, it’s the one thing you can be sure to withdraw.

Also if you’ve collected about five diamonds, you can have access to another layer of hell Erebus for a crazier challenge and deeper rewards. It also has a heat gauge requirement to enter, the lowest I’ve seen being five. It’s something to think about later.

I used to love Persona before it got too mainstream. In fact, Hades really reminds me of Persona 3, my favorite one of the bunch reimagining the Greek Pantheon closer to Neil Gaiman’s vision rather than how everybody else keeps turning it cheesy. Also it’s deliciously existential, but that’s my thing. In my last guide, I advised to give out only one Nectar to a new face to receive their Keepsake and stop giving it in order to maximize your nectar to keepsake ratio. Apparently, if you keep gifting them, your relationship with each character grows.

Social Links Hades Style!

hades social links

Unlike in Persona where you go eat takoyaki together and engage in some Jungian psychobabble, it’s pretty much the same in Hades but with limited hangout spots, you’re bound to just drink with them in the lounge. With that in mind, you can raise everybody’s relationship level to six before you have to go further with your relationship. Each confidant has particular needs so it can be as simple as listening to them or do tasks like maxing out the Stygian Blade and kill them with it. Whatever it is, if you like them that much, feel free to fulfill it and once you’re ready to take it to the next level, seal the deal with a bottle of Ambrosia.

Just like in Persona, when you max out a relationship with a character, it depends if the character in question is an intimate ally related to the main story or an NPC that you happened to come across . Say if you compare Ann to Kawakami-sensei from Persona 5, their benefits will be different max them out. In my case, I’ve maxed out Charon and Thanatos. Charon was easy to master was all I had to do was keep buying from his shop but Thanatos, I had to keep winning in his kill chamber subquest. While Charon couldn’t even give me a staff discount in his store, Thanatos was able to grant me a new Keepsake – Companion Mort, which is akin to a Final Fantasy summon where I could call them to do massive damage. Unlike the base keepsakes that I could grind to level up, these new keepsakes require Ambrosia. So if you’ve been trading those for Titan’s Blood or Diamonds, I got some bad news for you…

Make The Most Of Your Stay At Chateau Hades

Now that you’re back, you really gotta make the most of your stay. It will be a long journey, so why not shake things up and make it fun? Unlock a compendium of subquests by activated the Fated List of Minor Prophecies from the Contractor to manage all your extras. All your collectathons and relationship quests are listed with rewards from Gemstones, to Keys, and Nectar. Of course the rarer commodities like Titan’s Blood, Diamond, and Ambrosia require more challenging and grindtastic demands.

hades mirror of night

If you’ve maxed out the Mirror of Night, I recommend unlocking all the way until the end. Retool your skill set one more time and customize it to your needs. One thing you have to be wary of is how the skills on the Mirror reflect your play style. You have your basic set that suits my needs just fine and you have the alternate set that works for some weapon aspects. While difficult to master, the spear’s Aspect of Guan Yu has a great synergy for this alternate set, but requires a complete new set of skills I don’t have. One thing to consider, God’s Legacy is a great skill to max out as it increases the chances you’ll unlock Duos and Legendary Boons. They really save your skin out there and the extra benefit really adds that extra 100 damage to make the big man yield.

Testing the skills out in my later runs, I find that I could be down with most of the alternate skill sets, save for two: Death Defiance and Greater Reflex. I’ve yet to master the art of well-timed dodging and well-timed dying. My current strategy is basically saving all my death defiance until I reach Hades, which for the most part works because I seem to attract the RNG number that generates Patroclus on Elysium. So whatever Death Defiance I lose getting there, I regenerate at Patroclus’ chamber, especially for weapons I’m not too proficient with. As for spamming the dash button, it’s great when you have a kitted out Lightning Dash or Blade Dash, I can just weave across enemies and drop extra damage on them. The alternate skills: Stubborn Defiance and Ruthless Reflex are based on precision. With Stubborn Defiance, you’re allowed to die once per Chamber and will regenerate 30% life. With Ruthless Reflexes, you’re granted attack bonuses after dodging a near-miss. Master both and then combine with Aspect of Guan Yu, theoretically you’ll have a regenerating glass cannon of a build. Whatever health you lose, you can heal with the spin attack and you have a safety net of one death per chamber. Problem is, you gotta dodge every hit with style.

That being said, what do you do with all the extra Cththonic Keys after unlocking all the weapons and the mirror skills? Trade them for Nectar from the Wretched Broker. Also, if you have Fated Authority or Fated Persuasion, you have the capacity to earn tokens for them by collecting keys after commissioning a work order from your Contractor thus creating a steady supply of Nectar. While we’re on the topic of work orders, use your Diamonds to commission ways to extend your resources. That way for every Darkness you collect, you gain +5 Health, Gemstones gives you an extra 20 gold, and Nectars will randomly upgrade a Boon. For the price of twelve diamonds, it’s a good use of resources that will reward you in spades. If you have an extra diamond, get a Fishing Rod. Caught fish could be traded for items from the Chef.

Escape Planning 101

You’ve probably escaped more than me by now, because I’m an old man and my reaction time isn’t what it’s used to be. I mostly rely on cheesing the opponents and it takes quite a bit of time for me to learn how to block and punish properly. In my successful attempts to escape, I’ve learned better ways of using dash, better ways to dealing damage, and ultimately stopped button mashing altogether. Here are six different builds I’ve put together in my attempts to escape with a particular weapon class.

hades aegis shield build

Aegis Shield Build

  • Infernal Arms: Darker Thirst, Aspect of Chaos Level 1
  • Keepsake: Broken Spearpoint
  • Daedalus Hammer: Breaching Rush and Explosive Return
  • Chaos: Soul and Strike
  • Primary Boon: Aphrodite (Heartbreak Strike, Heartbreak Flourish, Empty Inside, Broken Resolve, Wave of Despair, Sweet Surrender)
  • Secondary Boon: Dionysus (Trippy Shot, High Tolerance, Premium Vintage, Positive Outlook)
  • Support Boons: Artemis (Hunter Dash, Artemis Aid level 2), Hermes (Swift Flourish, Hyper Sprint), Demeter (Snow Burst).

My first win against Hades has been won with the shield. Out of all the weapons, this is the only one that can block and you can combo with it quite easily. What I don’t like about this build has a lot of splash dash boons built into it and I could’ve chosen to add other benefits. As mentioned in my other guide, I was working with a block-bull rush-special, trippy shot, and call combo. It’s a boring combo as it takes a while to kill any boss. It was completed on my 24th escape attempt, so as a beginner build, I think it’s a safe bet.

  • The Good: Controlled block and punish strategy.
  • The Bad: Need to cut down on the slap-dash boons.
  • The Ugly: Boring AF, not recommended for speed runs.
hades adamant rail build

Adamant Rail Build

  • Infernal Arms: Aspect of Eris Level 1, Darker Thirst
  • Keepsake: Broken Spearpoint
  • Daedalus Hammer: Hazard Bomb and Spread Fire
  • Charon Store: Cyclops Jerky
  • Primary Boon: Poseidon (Tempest Flourish level 3, Tidal Dash level 2, Tempest Strike)
  • Secondary Boon: Aphrodite (Blown Kiss and Crush Shot)
  • Support Boons: Artemis (Artemis Aid), Dionysus (Premium Vintage)

This is another “beginner build” using the cheap tactics of the Adamant Rail special combined with Poseidon’s pushback abilities. The entire build rests on Hazard Bomb and supported by Cyclops Jerky to increase my attack along with Poseidon’s knockback damage. All I had to do was dash away from Hades and drop the bomb doing about 600 damage at a time. Even my Artemis Aid does 500 damage with critical. It’s textbook cheese.

  • The Good: Easy way to kill Hades.
  • The Bad: Relies too much on Hazard Bomb, you have to get it a Daedalus Hammer chamber, which rarely spawns.
  • The Ugly: Cheesy AF, not exactly something to be proud of, but a win’s a win.
hades Coronacht Bow Build

Coronacht Bow Build

  • Infernal Arms: Aspect of Chiron Level 1, Darker Thirst
  • Keepsake: Lucky Tooth
  • Daedalus Hammer: Twin Shot, Point-Blank Shot
  • Chaos: Grasp, Favor
  • Duo: Mirage Shot (Poseidon and Artemis)
  • Primary Boon: Poseidon (Flood Shot level 3, Tidal Dash level 2, Razor Shoals)
  • Secondary Boon: Artemis (Clean Kill Level 2, Artemis Aid Level 2, Deadly Flourish)
  • Support Boons: Hermes (Greatest Reflex), Demeter (Blizzard Shot, Frost Strike), Zeus (Billowing Strength, Lightning Reflexes, Static Discharge), Athena (Clouded Judgment)

I’m surprised by this one as I really don’t like CQB with Hades, but ended up using a close range bow because I wanted to complete some side quests. However, thanks to picking up some support Boons in the later half of the game, I was able to convert all my close-range skills to long range ones with my Cast and Special. Mirage Shot is a life saver as it added an extra projectile when using cast doing double damage. Since I used Ruthless Reflex on this run, I was able to max out Zeus’ lightning and add extra damage to Poseidon’s and Artemis’ knockback and critical combo.

  • The Good: The extra DPS gives you the extra edge.
  • The Bad: Please don’t copy me, using the Daedlus Hammer to turn my weapons close-range. I did the same thing with the Adamant Rail Build above.
  • The Ugly: I guess because I’m playing against my regular type, I’m extra careful and it won me the last two runs.
hades Twin Fists Build

Twin Fists Build

  • Infernal Arms: Aspect of Talos Level 1, Darker Thirst
  • Keepsake: Cosmic Egg
  • Daedalus Hammer: Breaching Cross and Long Knuckle
  • Chaos: Grasp
  • Duo: Curse of Longing (Ares and Aphrodite)
  • Primary Boon: Ares (Blade Dash Level 3, Curse of Agony Level 3, Dire Misfortune, Ares’ Aid)
  • Secondary Boon: Aphrodite (Heartbreak Flourish Level 3, Life Affirmation)
  • Support Boons: Athena (Phalanx Shot, Sure Footing), Hermes (Swift Flourish, Hyper Sprint)

I’m a little proud of this build because the moment Ares showed up, I made sure he was my primary. The RNG number was really working in my favor as when I used Fated Authority to change the choices, Ares kept popping up. In a way, Aphrodite is fast becoming my favorite support goddess as Weak is probably an underrated status effect. She’s involved in some way activating the Privileged Status skill to combine Doom (Ares) and Weak (Aphrodite) to beat Hades. This is one of the few times I only used one Death Defiance on Hades giving me complete control of the situation. Not bad for CQB.

  • The Good: Doesn’t need a high skill level to produce results. Special and Attack combo to trigger a high DPS without relying too much on your cast.
  • The Bad: Requires a lot of setup, Fated Authority is an expensive skill and I had five at the time.
  • The Ugly: I take back my low opinion on close range weapons.
hades Eternal Spear Build

Eternal Spear Build

  • Aspect of Hades Level 1
  • Keepsake: Black Shawl
  • Daedalus Hammer: Extended Jab, Quick Spin
  • Chaos: Soul, Strike, Flourish
  • Duo: Vengeful Mood (Zeus and Ares)
  • Legendary: Fully Loaded (Artemis) and Splitting Bolt (Zeus)
  • Primary Boon: Artemis (True Shot Level 3, Artemis Aid, Support Fire, Deadly Strike, Pressure Points, Hunter’s Mark)
  • Secondary Boon: Zeus (Heaven’s Vengeance, Thunder Flourish, Static Discharge, High Voltage)
  • Support Boons: Ares (Engulfing Vortex, Blade Dash, Urge to Kill), Hermes (Side Hustle), Dionysus (Strong Drink, Premium Vintage)

The spear next to the blade has been the last two weapons I’ve cleared a run with. The blade run was a little easier because of a maxed out aspect versus that of the spear. The spear is a tricky weapon that seems to be almost a no-brainer “beginner” weapon with its range and seemingly high CQB damage. However, it’s a cross between a sword and a bow without the benefits of either. The sword allows you more leeway when it comes to using dash, enabling you to weave past enemies and chip them. The sword’s special has a knock back feature that has a small AoE effect. The bow allows you to stay in a safe spot as you snipe away with its special a way to deflect projectiles and keep rushing enemies back with its knock back. The spear, it lacks the defensive and offensive capabilities of the two, but when mastered, it allows you to switch your strategies on the fly. This build compliments it with Artemis’ critical, Zeus’ splash damage, and Ares’ aggressive DPS.

  • The Good: High offensive power that can change if you want to go close or stay ranged.
  • The Bad: When you get hit, you get hit hard.
  • The Ugly: I still can’t incorporate spin attacks with my spear setup, it just doesn’t seem to fit.
hades Stygian Blade Build

Stygian Blade Build

  • Aspect of Zagreus Level 5
  • Keepsake: Chthonic Coin Purse
  • Daedalus Hammer: Shadow Slash, Breaching Slash
  • Chaos: Affluence
  • Duo: Smoldering Air (Zeus and Athena), Heart Rend (Artemis and Aphrodite)
  • Legendary: Unhealthy Fixation (Aphrodite), Divine Protection (Athena), Splitting Bolt (Zeus)
  • Primary Boon: Zeus (Zeus Aid Level 4, Billowing Strength Level 2, High Voltage, Thunder Flourish)
  • Secondary Boon: Athena (Holy Shield Level 2, Brilliant Riposte, Proud Bearing)
  • Support Boons: Artemis (True Shot), Aphrodite (Heartbreak Strike Level 2, Passion Dash)

I’d like to thank the RNG Deity for showering me with all the skills that I needed for this run. Maybe it helped that I made an Ambrosia offering to Zeus and he became my BFF, at least for the next thirty minutes. You can’t get a better build than this with three legendaries and two duos, all I had to do was count to three and spam lightning at Hades. By the end, I wasn’t even using my sword, but when I do, I charm weakened enemies with it and they go to town on each other.

  • The Good: Legendary Build that will guarantee a win, provided you play it smart.
  • The Bad: The setup for this is crazy involving a few maxed out passives on the Mirror of Night and a maxed Aspect of Zagreus for the sword, the 15% movement and attack speed is worth it.
  • The Ugly: How can I even top this build?

That’s it for this guide. Will I be writing an advanced one to explore the hidden reaches of Hades? What lies beyond Erebus? When will I actually see the end credits to this game? When will this game introduce time savers? I’d love to just pay for the damn Titan’s Blood to get it over with. All these cliffhanger questions seem inappropriate at this point. Also share some of your builds on our Facebook Page! It’ll be cool to see what you’ve come up with.

If you’ve been playing Genshin Impact (and you should), you’ll know that while the English dub is serviceable, the Japanese dub is where it’s at. The amount of talent included in the Japanese voice acting cast is off the charts. In particular, Rie Tanaka, who plays as Lisa in the game, has been quite the source of intellectual discussion among peers due to her constant… how do you even say it, “moaning” while climbing the many walls and mountains around the world of Genshin Impact.

Futsuika’s YouTube channel posted a short clip of Rie Tanaka herself playing the game while controlling her character, and the results are hilarious. Tanaka is embarrassed at the amount of lewd sounds while climbing and she even goes on to imitate her in-game lines during the stream.

Tanaka has her own YouTube channel where she has been streaming a lot of games like Fall Guys, Fate Grand Order, and most recently, Genshin Impact. As of this writing, the most recent video was actually a live stream of her playing Genshin Impact, and it is amusing to watch even if you don’t understand a word she is saying just because she sounds so animated using the character that she herself voiced.

Tanaka is a veteran voice actress that started her career way back in 1992 and has since made a name for herself with iconic roles such as Mitsuki from Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure, Chii from Chobits, Lacus Clyne from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, and most recently Rosetta from Granblue Fantasy: The Animation.

Genshin Impact has been a big success for MiHoYo, who have expressed next-gen plans for the game. In its first 4 days alone, Genshin Impact had garnered over 17 million mobile downloads, which does not include PC and PS4 players.

By now, most of you may have already heard of or have been spending a lot of hours playing Genshin Impact, the new free-to-play open world Action RPG by MiHoYo. Yes, the same developers of the hit mobile game Honkai Impact 3rd. In fact, this latest foray by MiHoYo has been extremely popular and successful, becoming the biggest globally launched Chinese game ever.

Genshin Impact does have that anime-ish flair to it that can appeal to the anime watching fans out there, and of course to the video game fans as well. Now if you’re part of those demographics and have been playing the game on its default English voice setting, you may want to consider switching it to Japanese because Genshin Impact has an all star cast of Japanese voice actors and actresses that you may have heard from other games and anime. Some of them have even worked on projects together!

Here are the notable stars that you will hear in Genshin Impact and for sure when you see their credentials, you’ll be both surprised and excited having heard them before in something you have watched or played:

Aoi Koga as Paimon

Notable Roles:

  • Kaguya-Sama: Love is War – Kaguya Shinomiya
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – Rokuta Kamado
  • A Certain Scientific Accelerator/A Certain Scientific Railgun – Naru
  • Honkai Impact 3rd – Rozaliya Olenyeva

Aoi Yuuki as Lumine (Female Traveler)

Notable Roles:

  • Persona 4 The Animation – Aika Nakamura
  • Blazblue – Platinum the Trinity
  • One Punch Man – Tatsumaki
  • Overlord – Clementine
  • My Hero Academia – Tsuyu Asui
  • Persona 5 – Futaba Sakura
  • Saga of Tanya the Evil – Tanya von Degurechaff

Shun Horie as Aether (Male Traveler)

Notable Roles:

  • The iDOLM@STER SideM – Pierre
  • Black Clover – Asta
  • Rent-A-Girlfriend – Kazuya Kinoshita

Manaka Iwami as Amber

Notable Roles:

  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – Chuntaro
  • Fruits Basket (2019) – Tohru Honda
  • Granblue Fantasy – Satyr
  • Arknights – Exusiai / Warfarin
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses – Ingrid

Chiwa Saito as Jean

Notable Roles:

  • Sgt. Keroro – Natsumi Hinata
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 – Louise Halevy
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS – Subaru Nakajima
  • Bakemonogatari – Hitagi Senjougahara
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica – Akemi Homura
  • Sword Art Online – Alicia Rue
  • Danganronpa – Aoi Asahina
  • Blazblue – Taokaka
  • Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei! – Chloe Von Einzbern
  • Persona 3 FES – Metis
  • League of Legends – Orianna
  • Overwatch – Sombra
  • Arknights – Mayer

Rie Tanaka as Lisa

Notable Roles:

  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED – Lacus Clyne
  • Rozen Maiden – Suigintou
  • Katekyo Hitman Reborn! – Bianchi
  • Hayate the Combat Butler – Maria
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia – Neptune/Purple Heart
  • Persona 3 – Mitsuru Kirijo
  • Marvel vs. Capcom 3 – Morrigan
  • Granblue Fantasy – Rosetta
  • Honkai Impact 3rd – Murata Himeko

Kousuke Toriumi as Kaeya

Notable Roles:

  • Naruto – Kiba Inuzuka
  • Bleach – Szayel Aporro Grantz
  • Fairy Tail – Acnologia
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – Naze Turbine
  • JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind – Guido Mista
  • Haikyū!! To The Top – Kiyoomi Sakusa
  • Thunderbolt Fantasy – Rin Setsu A
  • Arknights – Broca
  • Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle – Gordeau
  • Granblue Fantasy – Mikazuki Munechika
  • Hakuouki – Hajime Saitou
  • Persona 3 – Junpei Iori
  • Soul Calibur II – Hong Yung-Seong
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – Little Mac
  • Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 – Phoenix Wright
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon – Masato Arakawa

Akari Kitou as Barbara

Notable Roles:

  • Blend S – Kaho Hinata
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – Nezuko Kamado
  • The Demon Girl Next Door – Momo Chiyoda
  • Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club – Kanata Konoe
  • Fate/Grand Order – Erice Utsumi
  • Granblue Fantasy – Illnott

Kensho Ono as Diluc

Notable Roles:

  • Kuroko’s Basketball – Kuroko Tetsuya
  • Bungo Stray Dogs – Ryūnosuke Akutagawa
  • Boruto: Naruto Next Generations – Shikadai Nara
  • JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind – Giorno Giovanna
  • Fairy Tail – Larcade Dragneel
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy NT (2015) – Vaan

Kouki Uchiyama as Razor

Notable Roles:

  • Soul Eater – Soul Eater Evans
  • The World Ends With You – Neku Sakuraba
  • Amagi Brilliant Park – Seiya Kanie
  • Haikyū!! – Kei Tsukishima
  • Nisekoi – Raku Ichijou
  • My Hero Academia – Tomura Shigaraki
  • Yuri!!! on Ice – Yuri Plisetsky
  • The God of High School – Park Il-Pyo
  • Kingdom Hearts II – Roxas
  • Devil May Cry 5 – V
  • Disney: Twisted-Wonderland – Idia Shroud

Ayumu Murase as Venti

Notable Roles:

  • Haikyū!! – Shōyō Hinata
  • Assassination Classroom – Yūji Norita
  • Black Clover – Luck Voltia
  • Dr. Stone – Ginro
  • Ensemble Stars! – Tori Himemiya
  • Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun – Iruma Suzuki
  • Onmyoji – Ungaikyou

Misaki Kuno as Klee

Notable Roles:

  • The Seven Deadly Sins – Hawk
  • Carole & Tuesday – GGK
  • Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World – Typhon
  • Granblue Fantasy – Camieux
  • Fate/Grand Order – Benienma
  • Persona 5 Scramble – Sophia
  • Fire Emblem Heroes – Mirabilis

Ryouta Osaka as Bennett

Notable Roles:

  • Attack on Titan – Marco Bodt
  • The Devil Is a Part-Timer! – Sadao Maō
  • Assassination Classroom – Yūma Isogai
  • Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress – Sukari
  • Black Clover – Sekke Bronzazza
  • We Never Learn – Nariyuki Yuiga
  • Haikyū!! To The Top – Keiji Akaashi
  • The Misfit of Demon King Academy – Kanon
  • Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars – Ryu
  • Granblue Fantasy – Percival

Kanon Takao as Noelle

Notable Roles:

  • The Irresponsible Captain Tylor – Azalyn Goza the 168th
  • If It’s for My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord – Latina
  • Kantai Collection – Gotland, Hachijo, Ishigaki, Shin’yō

Maaya Uchida as Fischl

Notable Roles:

  • Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! – Rikka Takanashi
  • Is the Order a Rabbit? – Sharo Kirima
  • Hunter × Hunter (2011) – Alluka Zoldyck
  • Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress – Ayame
  • Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma – Yūki Yoshino
  • Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai – Nodoka Toyohama
  • A Certain Magical Index III – Frenda Seivelun
  • The Rising of the Shield Hero – Melty Q. Melromarc
  • The Promised Neverland – Norman
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! – Katarina Claes
  • Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn – Iceheart/Saint Shiva
  • The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls – Ranko Kanzaki
  • Fire Emblem Heroes – Sharena
  • Dragon Quest XI – Veronica
  • Fate/Grand Order – Pollux

Akane Fujita as Sucrose

Notable Roles:

  • The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls – Yukari Mizumoto
  • Eromanga Sensei – Sagiri Izumi
  • Iwa-Kakeru! Sport Climbing Girls – Akane Uchimura
  • Granblue Fantasy – Renie
  • Arknights – Bibeak, Shamare
  • Azur Lane – USS Shangri-La

Konomi Kohara as Mona

Notable Roles:

  • School Babysitters – Kirin Kumatsuka
  • Teasing Master Takagi-san – Mina Hibino
  • Azur Lane – HMS Sheffield
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – Hanako Kamado
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War – Chika Fujiwara
  • Sword Art Online: Alicization – Fizel
  • The Demon Girl Next Door – Yūko Yoshida

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Xiao

Notable Roles:

  • Sword Art Online – Kirito
  • The Pet Girl of Sakurasou – Sorata Kanda
  • Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma – Souma Yukihira
  • Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? – Bell Cranel
  • Eromanga Sensei – Masamune Izumi
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – Inosuke Hashibira
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! – Nicol Ascart
  • Granblue Fantasy – Chat Noir
  • Under Night In-Birth – Chaos
  • Fire Emblem Heroes – Hrid
  • Arknights – Arene

Ami Koshimizu as Beidou

Notable Roles:

  • School Rumble – Tenma Tsukamoto
  • Code Geass – Kallen Stadtfeld
  • Spice and Wolf – Holo
  • Persona 4 – Yukiko Amagi
  • Kill la Kill – Ryuko Matoi
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – Spider Demon
  • The King of Fighters All Star – Mai Shiranui
  • Granblue Fantasy – Zooey
  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night – Miriam
  • Arknights – Zima

Sayaka Ohara as Ninnguang

Notable Roles:

  • xxxHolic – Yuko Ichihara
  • Code Geass – Milly Ashford
  • Fairy Tail – Erza Scarlet
  • Persona 4 – Margaret
  • Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya – Irisviel von Einzbern
  • God Eater – Sakuya Tachibana
  • Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes – Saika Magoichi
  • Final Fantasy X-2 – Lucil
  • Overwatch – Mercy
  • Valkyria Chronicles – Selvaria Bles
  • Arknights – Tsukinogi
  • Azur Lane – IJN Mikasa
  • The King of Fighters All Star – Chizuru Kagura

Ari Ozawa as Xiangling

Notable Roles:

  • Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun – Chiyo Sakura
  • Kaguya-sama: Love is War – Moeha Fujiwara
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – Nichika Ubuyashiki
  • The Promised Neverland – Conny
  • Azur Lane – USS Denver
  • Granblue Fantasy – Sarya

Junko Minagawa as Xingqiu

Notable Roles:

  • The Prince of Tennis – Ryoma Echizen
  • Code Geass – Cornelia Li Britannia
  • Dead or Alive – Eliot
  • Resident Evil – Ada Wong
  • Catherine – Erica Anderson

Soma Saito as Chongyun

Notable Roles:

  • Akame ga Kill! – Tatsumi
  • Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? – Hermes
  • Banana Fish – Lao Yen-Thai
  • JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind – Vinegar Doppio
  • Haikyū!!: To the Top – Tadashi Yamaguchi
  • Appare-Ranman! – Al Leon
  • Hypnosis Mic: Division Rap Battle – Gentaro Yumeno
  • Moriarty the Patriot – William James Moriarty

Yukari Tamura as Qiqi

Notable Roles:

  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha – Nanoha Takamachi
  • Galaxy Angel – Ranpha Franboise
  • Naruto – Tenten
  • Black Butler – Elizabeth Midford
  • Kill la Kill – Nui Harime
  • No Game No Life – Jibril
  • Granblue Fantasy – Io Euclase
  • Soul Calibur II – Talim
  • Honkai Impact 3rd – Theresa Apocalypse

Rie Kugimiya as Unknown God

Notable Roles:

  • Shakugan no Shana – Shana
  • Bleach – Nemu Kurotsuchi
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 – Nena Trinity
  • Familiar of Zero – Louise
  • Persona 4 – Rise Kujikawa
  • Fullmetal Alchemist – Alphonse Elric
  • Fairy Tail – Happy
  • Granblue Fantasy – Vyrn
  • Gintama – Kagura
  • Yakuza – Haruka Sawamura
  • The iDOLM@STER – Iori Minase

Saori Hayami as Ayaka

Notable Roles:

  • Star Driver – Wako Agemaki
  • The World God Only Knows – Haqua du Lot Herminium
  • Sword Art Online – Sachi
  • Fairy Tail – Kagura Mikazuchi
  • Nisemonogatari – Yotsugi Ononoki
  • Gundam Build Fighters – Aila Jyrkiainen
  • Is the Order a Rabbit? – Aoyama Blue Mountain
  • One-Punch Man – Fubuki
  • Fate/Apocrypha – Archer of Red
  • Cells at Work! – Regulatory T Cell
  • Kakegurui – Yumeko Jabami
  • The Rising of the Shield Hero – Therese Alexanderite
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – Shinobu Kochō
  • The Irregular at Magic High School – Miyuki Shiba
  • Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 – Lei-Lei/Hsien-Ko
  • Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition – Kyrie
  • Bloodborne: The Old Hunters – Doll, Lady Maria of the Astral Clocktower
  • Fire Emblem Heroes – Caeda
  • BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle – Ruby Rose, Orie, Mai Natsume
  • The King of Fighters All Star – Ein
  • Arknights – Pramanix
  • Tekken 7 – Kunimitsu

Reina Ueda as Ganyu

Notable Roles:

  • SSSS.Gridman – Akane Shinjō
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – Kanao Tsuyuri
  • Dr. Stone – Ruri
  • Fruits Basket (2019) – Kisa Soma
  • THE iDOLM@STER: Million Live! – Umi Kosaka
  • Granblue Fantasy – Pengy
  • SINoALICE – Snow White
  • Arknights – Rosa
  • Onmyoji – Sasori

Kouji Yusa as Baizhu

Notable Roles:

  • After War Gundam X – Demar Griffe
  • Baki the Grappler – Gaia Nomura
  • Bleach – Gin Ichimaru
  • Black Butler – Lau
  • Fate/Apocrypha – Lancer of Red
  • Nier Replicant – Nier
  • Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle – Kakyoin Noriaki

That’s a great lineup if we ever saw one! Got any favorites from the cast? Let us know your thoughts!

This probably happened to you on your way to git gud: You just beat the first two areas of Hades and then you passed through Elysium, which was not a cake walk. You dodge projectiles short of being an arcade shooter, stubbed your thumbs raw chipping away at all the bullet sponge mini-bosses with your rail gun, and made some pretty risky choices trying to stay alive by resisting permanent bonuses to just heal 30 more hit points to survive the next wave. Then when you took on that Minotaur mid-boss for a rematch, the cheater brought Theseus with him! You’re down to 35 HP, you’ve used up your last Death Defiance five chambers ago, and lasted a mere five seconds.

Do we quit? Do we throw our Switch against the wall? Do we take up some Free-To-Play game like Genshin Impact? Or do we stick to Hades because we’re broke and we only have enough money left on our budget for Cyberpunk 2077? If you picked the last choice, this guide is right for you!

In our previous guide, we gave some beginner’s tips on how to make your way through the game but this time around, we’re taking you through the ringer and making sure you’ve got what it takes to actually finish the game!

Stuck In A Rut

I get it, you get to a part where there’s no more bonuses left to unlock save for some pretty steep unlockables hidden behind rare commodities. Titan’s Blood, Diamonds, and Ambrosia are of extremely limited supply. Do we just grind it out until we get enough bonuses to come our way because no matter what we do, we really can’t git gud? Well get over yourself and take a break, get some sleep, something to eat, or talk to a friend about something else. When you’re good and relaxed, come back to the game.

At this point in time, I would assume you’ve unlocked most of the bonuses and you probably have 2,000 Darkness stored away and have unlocked the Mirror to the 10 Key Price Point. First thing you could do is retool your skill set. It costs 1 Chthonic Key and the first thing you do is to put 1,530 points on Death Defiance. Then put 50 points on Dash and whatever is left your Infernal Soul and Thick Skin (HP gain) then work down from there.

Next, if you’ve finished the A Simple Job sub-quest on the The Fated List and have upgraded most of the necessary Tartarus projects for the contractor (I recommend at least setting up all the Fountains and the Tartarus Keepsake Cabinet), cash out all your gemstones for at least 20 Chthonic keys for the next skill set of the Mirror. When you’ve completed that, make sure you put about 20% on the Olympian Favor. You’ll need that for later.

Make sure you secure all available keepsakes by gifting the Olympus gods and your housemates Nectar (except for Hades at this point). The most important being Broken Spearpoint from Patroclus on Elysium. It makes you impervious after taking damage for a second. You ask, only for a second? Trust me, it prevents enemies from turning you into a pin cushion with projectiles and chain damage. Then complete your Olympian Set by gifting every god you meet, they seem like throwaway keepsakes increasing the rarity of the boons, trust me you’ll need it later. Finally, the Cosmic Egg from Primordial Chaos is a great investment. Besides increasing the rarity on his boons, you don’t have to pay the blood price to enter their domain. At this point, you’ve probably gotten gud enough to outgrow the Lucky Tooth and Worn Out Collar. By the time you max out your HP skill in the Mirror and your Death Defiance, I’d say you must have some confidence with your skills at this point to cover the rest, right?

Finally, you’ve probably defeated Megara and her sisters with all Infernal Arms to get six (6) Titan’s Blood. Use those to unlock your second ability for each weapon. The changes are really subtle for some, but noticeable in others. Some of the noticeable changes: The Coronacht Bow getting a lock on special after landing an attack to increase your DPS; The Aegis Shield that launches an extra shield on the special throw after a successful Bull Rush; and the vacuum uppercut ability for Malphon’s Twin Fists, cutting the frame rate to get your attacks in quickly. As for the subtle changes: The Stygian Blade increases critical on a regular attack after using a special, The Varathos Spear adds a Rage Rush effect on the special, and Adamant Rail gets a power up once you enter the blast radius of your special. It feels subtle because it evolves your play style with the three latter weapons. It can get confusing at first, but it does add options. 

Let’s Play Gacha With Boons!

There’s a lot of RNG involved when you rely on the gods to help turn the tide, unless you’re praying for Poseidon. The one thing I enjoy about switching my weapons up to something I’m not comfortable with such as the blade or the fists is how certain combinations will let you elevate your game. Every one of them has their particular weaknesses, which you would compensate with the bonuses you receive. The Aegis can block projectiles from one direction, leaving you open for backstab damage. The Coronacht has high DPS but once you get hit by a jumping tank like that gods damned Minotaur, you’ll bleed out after three direct hits.

One of your keys to victory is make sure you’ve slotted your Attack, Special, Cast, Dash, and Call Boons. Make sure it compliments your weapon. If you have a melee specialty like your sword and fists, probably bind deflection (Athena) on your Special as it has a wide area of effect enabling it to get rid of pesky projectiles. A variation of that deflect strategy is to bind on Dash when you have a projectile weapon like the bow or the rail gun as you want to keep the Attack and Special to chip away at enemies. Your dash now becomes your shield. Mix it up with other strategies. 

Support Boons are a must as every Olympian God has a specialty skill and you have nine to choose from. Lightning, Knockback, Deflect, Critical, Weakness, Poison, Doom, Speed, and Frost. A favorite of mine is when Zeus shows you favor is to maximize his area of effect lightning dash. Splash some speed from Hermes, and you’re literally riding the lightning. Combined with a solid lineup of your slotted abilities, and you’re ready to do some damage. Another note is to take advantage when you’re given a choice of a Daedalus Hammer and Chaos. Chaos especially is advantageous when you take the risk early in the game. You can have a “permanent” increase in some of your passives by taking on a penalty challenge. While it is easier to get through them early on in Tartarus, keep taking advantage and get ahead of the game.

In one of my recent successful runs, it’s mostly consisted of boons from Aphrodite, Hermes, and Artemis, with some splash passives from Dionysus and Demeter. To be honest, I was just trying to complete the sub-quests by trying out new skills. For some reason it just worked out by maximizing my natural defense and learning to block, rush, shield throw, and cast Trippy Shot (Dionysus) as a combo. I used that technique with the Adamant Rail with a weird combo of boons from Zeus, Athena, and Hermes with a more run-and-gun setup. My dash has deflect (Athena) for projectiles, dash-attack for rush, cast chain lightning and use its special which has the same effect as the Trippy Shot but with the Adamant Rail’s special ability to power up my next attack, this tactic was perfect to chip away at Theseus. Finally with Coronacht, I had a setup made up of boons from Zeus, Hermes, and Ares where every time I dash, my area of effect with Zeus’ lightning dash takes up a considerable portion of the screen. Ares’ cast allows me to have a more direct attack versus that of the Trippy Shot, which compliments the DPS play style of the bow versus that of the shield and rail gun. Note that in all three, Hermes makes things go smooth. 

Your successful run depends on the combination of the boons you receive. Plus with all the bonuses you’ve prepared for earlier with the keepsakes and Olympian Favor, you can acquire them on a Rare or Epic quality that you don’t need to waste a chamber for a pomegranate upgrade, allowing you to splash more skills from other gods, collect Centaur Hearts, make a deal with Chaos or unlock your weapon’s potential with Daedalus Hammers. The key to success is a diversified skill set instead of rigid specialization. This way, you could adjust your play style to what you get.

Hell Hath Some Furies

  • Level One: Tartarus
  • Recommended Keepsake: Cosmic Egg

The key to a solid run will be to save all your Death Defiance when it matters the most, as long as you can hold out. So when fighting against the first two bosses, make sure you don’t die, and if you have to die, at least keep 200 gold for a Kiss of Styx from the shop or pray to all that’s holy that you reach Patroclus on Elysium. 

Tartarus is straightforward. No real big bad enemies save for the Doomstone that could deplete your life quickly depending on your positioning. The enemies are easy to kill and even their armored versions are manageable. Save your gold for quick Olympian bonuses and Centaur Hearts. Focus on building up your Boon set on whatever god grants you favor. Take advantage of Trial of the Gods for a double boon (try to go for a Duo). I recommended a Cosmic Egg this run because this is the time to take on any deals from Chaos. Take the hardest challenge, the rewards are sweet.

When you get to Megara and her sisters, their patterns are quite predictable. Cast is your friend here as you can cheese them quite easily. Whatever your projectile defense, whether it’s to block or to deflect, use it when they try to turn this game into Panzer Dragoon. It’s a roguelike dungeon crawler, not a rail shooter, kindly teach them to follow the rules. Out of the three sisters, Tisiphone is the easiest, then Megara, and finally Alecto. Alecto is especially difficult because her rage meter makes her deal more damage and running into her spiked mines causes a world of hurt. With Tisiphone, as long as you have a way to deal with projectiles, she’s a sitting duck. Megara uses more direct attacks so as long as you keep your distance, you’ll be fine. 

Nine Heads Are Better Than One

  • Level Two: Asphodel
  • Recommended Keepsake: Any Olympian God’s Keepsake You’re Attracting The Most

What you have to watch out for this level is the lava and again, annoying projectiles. The mid-bosses aren’t too crazy as long as you watch your footing and deflect or block against projectiles as necessary. Continue to build on that collection of boons from the god that chooses you as their champion. You can build up Zeus’ lightning, increase weakness damage from Aphrodite, or just keep you speedy like Hermes. In fact, Hermes shows up a lot more often than necessary in this level. Watch out for those Bone-Rakers and Wave-Makers who hit you with a one-two punch and sonic boom combo. They swarm you and seem to have a penchant for dealing massive damage. Gorgons can be annoying, but they’re easy to kill.

The Bone Hydra seems like a pushover at first because their pattern is basic. Cast at the main head and chip away while keeping your distance as his body slams are heavy on the damage side. Then the main head will turn impervious and you have to vanquish their extra heads before returning to attacking the main head. The problem is when it becomes Panzer Dragoon again and they basically turn the place into a lava water park complete with sonic booms, body slams, and a swarm of Bone-Rakers for good measure. Controlled dash-strikes and projectile repellent is a must when the Hydra is taking on this form, chip away slowly and make sure you don’t use any Death Defiance (you’ll need them all later).

Cow And Chicken

  • Level Three: Elysium
  • Recommended Keepsake: Lucky Tooth, Broken Spearpoint, or Your Second Favorite Olympian God’s Keepsake. 

I hate Elysium. I really hate Elysium. Every level is like a Panzer Dragoon map from hell replacing the Bone-Rakers and Wave-Makers with a boy band quartet made up of Brightswords, Longspears, Strongbows, and Greatshields who pretty much have almost the same skill set as you and there’s a possibilty they reincarnate after death. Though the most annoying are Soul Catchers, those pink balls who spray butterfly turds that fill the screen while you dodge a screen’s worth of enemies. Oh yeah, the whole place is booby trapped worse than Kevin’s Home Alone Deathtrap. I swear I have a feeling that damn kid changed his name to John Kramer and became Jigsaw. Anyway, with that in mind, keep to the same strategy with powering up your boons and by this time you probably have acclimatized to a working strategy. Also turn the tables on the swarms by using the traps against them, making sure of your position. I’d prefer fighting Asterius (the cow formerly known as Minotaur) over the Dire Soul Crusher. It’s an evolved pink pokemon turd that farts butterfly grenades as a mid-boss while dodging swarms of regenerating enemies, because with the Minotaur at least I only have one target instead of playing a rail shooter. Pray that you encounter Patroclus because he’ll regenerate your Death Defiance for free if you’ve expended them one way or another. If you’ve made it this far without expending a Death Defiance, either choose to be of good health or increase your damage for the main event.

So when Cow brings his friend Chicken (the cheap ass formerly known as Theseus) to a sword and axe fight, this becomes probably the hardest fight you’ve come across for a while. For good measure, at the time of writing, I’ve only defeated them with three of the six Infernal Arms. Out of the three weapons, I was only able to keep all of my Death Defiances intact with the Aegis. The Adamant Rail and Coronacht left me with one or none. My favorite win was when I killed them with the Adamant Rail with no Death Defiances left. Worth it.

Focus on all your attacks on the Minotaur. The reason being is if Theseus reaches half his life bar, he starts bringing his own Boons out to play. At the time of writing, I’ve only come across Ares and Dionysus AoE attacks, though I’d prefer Dionysus as it’s easier to dodge. My best strategy for them is to use the Aegis’ block (hold attack), bull rush (release attack), shield throw (special), and trippy shot (cast). This way, you can defend against Theseus’ cheap ranged attacks. When the Minotaur gets stuck in the corner, drop as many casts as you can on him to quick damage. Make sure you use your Call every time it charges. Every single damage point counts. Once the Minotaur is vanquished, focus on Theseus and pray that he’s praying to Dionysus. If it’s Ares, just memorize the patterns of attacks coming from the ground. That actually opens him up to a block-rush-special-cast combo. Keep doing this until you skewer the motherlover (It’s not Oedipus, get your Greek Mythology right, Vince).

Schooling Hades

  • Final Level: Styx
  • Recommended Keepsake: Broken Spearpoint or Lucky Tooth

If you get this far, I salute you. You’re almost there, just a few more steps. First you have to get past the goodest boy Cerberus. All you need to do is look for Scooby Snacks stuck in the dungeons. You usually will get them on the second try out of the five choices. This is also a great place to farm rare loot like Diamonds, Titan’s Blood, and Ambrosia. At this point, either choose to succeed the run or get better loot. It can’t be both unless you’re an accomplished, which if you’re still reading, thanks for the views!

The dungeons are no laughing matter. You have rodents, crystals, and those mine traps that deal serious damage and adds poison to boot. I mean real poison, not alcohol poisoning the way Dionysus does it. Heal yourself when you can and try to preserve as much HP. You’ll need it. Take the Scooby Snacks to Cereberus and now you’re ready for the main event: Hades.

Full disclosure, I’ve only beaten Hades once and I’ve only faced him twice. I defeated him with the Aegis because I had three whole Death Defiances and a boring combo that worked. With the Coronacht I was aiming for the cheap win and I only had one Death Defiance. In terms of damage load out, I think I did better with the Coronacht but Hades dealt the same level of damage with me.

Hades hits hard and takes damage like the boss that he is. In terms of pattern, he’s basically the Minotaur with Theseus’ Spear and summons creeps like the Furies. You have to watch out for his Infernal Soul because that’s basically like getting hit with your cast, tripling his already beefed up damage. If you dodge the gods damned things, they also have an AoE explosion when left unchecked.

Once you get through that round, the battle truly begins. Besides hitting harder and becoming an even more annoying bullet sponge, he adds a ray attack that takes up the whole screen and if you’re caught in its trajectory, that’s 20 damage per hit (60 if you got hit with his Infernal Soul). The good news is that you can block it with the Aegis. If using a different weapon, there are boulders left standing that can handle the heat rays. Hide behind them. His cool down period after is about two seconds, so use that precious window of opportunity to punish. Continue the combo until he’s defeated. Enjoy what’s next because you’ve finally escaped!

Or did you? That’s it for this round and good luck to your next newbie steps in the wonderful world of Hades! Hopefully those tips and tricks help and make sure you take breaks in between dungeon runs, eye strain is a thing.

Now excuse us as we get some shut eye. Damn this game is addicting.

One of the most anticipated titles that will accompany the launch of the next-generation consoles is arguably Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Following a blockbuster 2018 showing from Peter Parker, Miles is set to take the spotlight and fans should be excited about another hit in the making.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a PlayStation 5 launch title, but will also come to the PlayStation 4 and is scheduled for November 12. In case you missed it, Miles Morales will come in a more expensive $70 package called “Ultimate Edition”, which features the Miles Morales base game along with the recently uncovered Spider-Man Remastered.

Miles Morales will feature and showcase the power of the PS5 hardware, giving it near zero loading time, a performance mode that allows for 60fps, and even raytracing. While confirmed to be a standalone game with its own full story arc, it was also confirmed to be similar in scope to Uncharted Lost Legacy, meaning it is a slightly smaller and shorter game, give or take around 10 or so hours, maybe 15, depending on how you play.

On its own, Miles Morales may not be worth the $70 price tag, but when you consider Spider-Man Remastered tagging along for the ride, the deal gets even sweeter.

Spider-Man Remastered is not just your run-of-the-mill remaster. Insomniac have updated every model in the game, making it “the definitive version of the game with new assets, technology, and updates”. If by any chance you have not played it yet and are planning to get a PlayStation 5 on launch day, this is a must play.

The 2018 version was impressive enough on its own, but with the new technology of the PS5, you’ll be able to relive the game the way it was meant to be played, in 60fps as well as loading times that are faster than that subway ride. And the cost of it all? a $20 upgrade from the base Miles Morales price of $50. Considering that games are looking to be $70 moving forward, like Demon’s Souls, 2 Spider-Man games for the price of 1 is not a bad deal at all.

Even if you have played the game, this Remastered version is a different beast altogether. Heck, even just the 60fps upgrade should ideally be enough to make you want to swing through the city streets again. Can you imagine how pretty the photo mode is going to be? And whether or not you like Peter Parker’s new look, he’ll be in a mask most of the time anyways throughout your 20 or so hours of gameplay.

All things considered, Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition should be an automatic pickup for fans of the superhero. Of course, we won’t deny the fact that a free PS4 to PS5 Spider-Man upgrade would have been sweet, but whatever the case, adding both of these games to your collection should be almost automatic.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales will be available on November 12 as a launch title, exclusively on the PlayStation 5.

I resisted using the verb “surviving” because you don’t really survive in this game. You will die, and you will die plenty. The question is, how do you die smart? Roguelike and Soulsborne games are daunting to tackle because nobody really likes to see “Game Over” or “You’re Dead” over and over again. We play video games to relax and to escape. Yet sometimes, a great title comes along and you want to conquer it.

Hades, available on both PC and Switch, was a game that got me hooked on the roguelike experience as it balances out the dungeon crawling aspect while giving you enough power-ups to aid you in your quest to get out of hell. Unlike Celeste, the game doesn’t keep making you do the same jump over and over until you get better at it, it lets you play around and when you’re ready to keep doing the same jump over and over, it’ll be there for you. In short, it’s like riding a bicycle with your training wheels while the game lobs grenades at you.

As a roguelike newbie, here is my take on starting out in an unfamiliar genre. After about ten tries, I realized the rookie mistakes I’ve made and I rectified it by starting a new game. Unlike Moonlighter or XCOM 2 where the game punishes you with more randomized challenges because the game knows you’ve started “fresh”. Hades gives you an option of starting out with Hell Mode or starting out with a clean slate. If you’re still reading, here are some of the lessons I learned when I restarted.

You Can’t Take It With You

After a brief prologue, the game throws you into Tartarus where you’ll encounter four post-millennial teenagers shooting themselves in the head to summon their Personas. Still with me? Let’s start again. You enter Tartarus with the Stygian Blade in hand and you encounter simple enough enemies and the game introduces you to their bonuses. The first lesson you need to pick up on is which of the bonuses carry over after your death and which bonuses you lose when you die (and you will die) on this run.

Darkness (or Night Shards) is the currency used to learn skills from the Mirror of Night. In your first run, aim to get 30. Another bonus to aim to get are the Cththonic Keys, which unlocks weapons and slots from the Mirror of Night. You will immediately receive one in this run, aim to get three more. Though, the priority in this run is to earn 30 Darkness

One thing you’ll notice is at the end of each dungeon, you’ll come across passage choices with their unique icons. Learn the meaning behind those icons as they dictate what kind of reward you will receive after completing the encounter. For now, aim to get Darkness and Chthonic Keys. If it’s something else, try to get other permanent rewards like Gemstones and Nectar. If not, try to get Charon’s Obol (gold) or Centaur Heart (adds 25 HP), while you will lose them when you die, you can buy more health or extend your health as you try to get more keys and darkness. 

Don’t Stand So Close To Me

If you’re skilled enough to get pretty far or go deep, you probably don’t need this guide. However, if you’re a regular gamer just like the rest of us, your sword probably won’t get you far. If you haven’t noticed yet, the enemies start to build in number and they hit significantly hard. With 50 HP, you’ll probably last 5-8 dungeons if you’re lucky. You’ll return to the House of Hades and try to get comfortable, because you’ll be spending a lot of time here. Get familiar with your housemates, make sure you pet Cerberus and once you’re done getting acclimatized, you will enter your bedchambers where you’ll come across the Mirror of Night as I’ve described. Invest in Death Defiance, which resurrects you upon death with half your hit points. It gives you another chance in exploring Tartarus.

Once you exit your bedchambers, you’ll come across Skelly in the armory where you’ll be introduced to your arsenal: The Infernal Arms. Use a Cththonic Key to unlock Coronacht: The Heart-Seeking Bow. If you’ve collected three more keys, unlock Aegis: Shield of Chaos. Depending on your style, these two weapons are great for keeping far away from enemies while whittling down their numbers. 

The bow is great for long range power attacks and its special allows you to allot spread damage when enemies start to get closer. The shield gives you the chance to live your dreams as Chris Evans without keeping your calorie count to 1,000, eating too much protein, and doing too many burpees. You can block enemy attacks while your shield throw can keep your enemies at bay. The bull rush is a nice touch, but use it sparingly as it gets you closer to the enemy when your goal is to keep your distance. 

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

Your next goal is to collect enough Darkness, about 500-700 to be exact and 9 more Cththonic Keys. That way you can earn another Death Defiance extending your health further. Use five keys to unlock Infernal Soul and Boiling Blood. Infernal Soul allows you to use the cast command more frequently. This boosts your DPS against bosses. Boiling Blood further extends this boost; it’s a great long term investment. At this point in the game, you can choose to add more dash, increase backstab damage, or regeneration at a later time. The faster you build those skills, your mid-game to late-game strategy will be a lot more manageable.

The fastest way to earn Darkness is to equip weapons that have a bonus modifier to earn 20% more Darkness in them. Having unlocked the bow and the shield, you can also use the remaining four keys to unlock Varatha: The Eternal Spear. The spear is a combination weapon of the Stygian Blade and the Heart Seeking Bow. Great long range capability but you can also get close. It’s a great training weapon to learn CQB.

Another way to earn Darkness is to seek out Sisyphus, who randomly shows up in Tartarus. He will give you three choices for the bonus: Healing, Darkness, and Gold. Choose Darkness every time. With the 20% bonus, you can earn 60-70 Darkness at once. If you can’t collect Darkness, try to find Nectar and Gemstones. Once your Contractor is made available, use the Gemstones to build an Infernal Trove to earn about 24-38 Darkness by taking its challenge (provided you have enough HP). Vanquishing old bosses gives you about 60-70 Darkness when you repeatedly kill them again.

How To Win Friends and Influence Deities

Nectar is a helluva drug. Learn to give it to the right people and at this point, it’s better to give it to a variety of NPCs than to the same NPC. In my first run, I was just chucking it at Charon thinking it was a temporary bonus, but it turns out it is permanent. The great thing about gifting Nectar is that the first time you give it to an NPC, they give you a Keepsake, a piece of equipment you can use to take it to Hell and back with you. You can also power them up. The catch is you can only equip one at a time. If you have an extra ten Gemstones, build a Keepsake Case in Tartarus so you are able to switch between Keepsakes in the later game. In fact, prioritize building the keepsake case over the infernal trove. Your future runs will thank you later.

Which Keepsakes are great in your early run, you ask?

Give one to the goodest boy Cerberus as his Old Spike Chain will give you an HP boost and a fully maxed out keepsake will give you double your HP. That is equivalent to getting two Centaur Hearts from the get go. Having high health to start is a good buffer while learning the fundamentals. With a Death Defiance on reserve, you’ll probably get to second boss without breaking too much of a sweat. Actually, you probably won’t, but I’m being supportive.

Skelly is a good second choice as the Lucky Tooth gives you a second Death Defiance giving you two chances to traverse the landscape. I would switch between the Old Spike Chain and the lucky tooth when you cross over to the second area as by this time, you probably chanced a few Centaur Hearts to maintain a high health in the next half. At this point, you would probably expend a Death Defiance easily, it doesn’t hurt to have a backup.

For a third keepsake, I would go with Sisyphus’ Shattered Shackle. It gives you 40% extra damage on attack, cast, and special that has no Boon. As your current setup is to grind as much as possible by maximizing permanent bonuses, you’re probably avoiding the meddling of your Olympian relatives. So with this keepsake, it’s a great newbie equipment to keep yourself dealing damage and maximizing your earning potential.

Taking It To The Next Level

Once you’ve collected the 500-700 Darkness, unlocked the Eternal Spear and probably the next two weapons: Twin Fists of Malphon and Exagryph: The Adamant Rail, you’re ready to take on more challenges. By this time, you probably have enough backstab damage, extra infernal souls, enough keepsakes, and are on your way to building 1,000 Darkness to earn your third Death Defiance.

Boss Bonuses such as Titan’s Blood and Diamonds are rare drops and could only be acquired by defeating one of the bosses with a brand new weapon. When the Wretched Broker is available, resist trading these rarities for more Nectar, Keys, and Gemstones as you can acquire more of those in your journey and also by unlocking Fated List of Minor Prophecies from your Contractor. Titan’s Blood evolves your existing weapons and Diamonds give you more building options. 

Learn to time your Boons and Daedlus Hammers. Different Olympian Gods allow you to Summon their power or power up your weapons. Daedalus Hammer unlocks your Infernal Arms’ true potential. Experiment on what makes it work for you. Zeus gives you splash damage bonus, Ares gives you extra damage when killing enemies, Aphrodite slows enemies, Poseidon gives you knockback damage, Dionysus has poison (amusingly known as a Hangover), Hermes gives speed and movement bonus, Artemis boosts your critical, Athena has the power to deflect, and Kratos is coming soon on God of War Ragnarok. Each Boon ranges in Common, Rare, Epic, and Heroic rarities which increases the power-ups of said boost and with the right combination, you can do quite a bit of damage. Furthermore, watch out for the rare case where deities randomly give you a Duo bonus giving two for the price of one. Dionysus and Ares work wonders for DPS.

Finally, watch out for the denizens of Hell that give you some defining bonuses. Charon sells you wares for your gold that gives temporary passive skills. Early in the game, I’d use the gold to buy the permanent bonuses, but later on feel free to upgrade boons or earn extra boons to vanquish randomized bosses. Sisyphus can come in handy for a quick health recovery or gold to buy more bonuses. Eurydice increases the rarity or levels up your current boons. Then there’s Chaos who presents challenges where you can take a penalty like receiving damage if you use certain skills for a significant bonus later on. In the early game, I’d avoid entering Chaos because with your weakened state, it’s more of a detriment than an advantage. Later on, a well-timed choice can change the course of your exploration.

That’s it for me and those are the lessons I’ll impart to my fellow newbie adventurers. Take care and when unsure, you can always die and start again and again and again and again…

If Alfheim Online from Sword Art Online had an actual story for their world, I’m betting it’s Genshin Impact. While attempting to thwart an evil god, the fated twins are caught in a decisive battle, which trapped one of the siblings in another world. This prompts you as a player to select which of the twins you get to control. As you progress into the new world with your fairy guide, you befriend a local knight, which leads you to a quest to rescue a kingdom from a rampaging dragon. Will you find your sibling? Will you become the new hero of this world? How much money will you be spending on microtransactions?

MiHoYo’s new Free-to-Play title had an interesting journey leading to launch and when it dropped on September 28th, I downloaded the 11 gig app and tried it out. As of writing, I got as far as after the Dragon’s Flight quest, about the same time MiHoYo revealed the evil head of the monetizing system of the game.

I’m partial to the MMO genre having caught the Ragnarok craze back in the early 2000s and even picked up its spiritual sequel Tree of Savior in 2016. I held off with the mobile Ragnarok sequel, but didn’t get into the more popular titles namely World of Warcraft. I did play the demo of Final Fantasy XIV in recent years and even tried out The Elder Scrolls Online, I’m usually a solitary player to begin with and MMOs thrive on their community. As for Free-to-Play games on the mobile, I was partial to them and even played my fair share of Final Fantasy franchises like Record Keeper, Brave Exvius, and even the Dissidia title. Testing out Genshin Impact was mostly for curiosity’s sake as it is touted as a Breath of the Wild clone and even had similar graphics. I refused to purchase a four year old game at full price, however I could compromise with Genshin Impact.

A Solid Free-to-Play Game

First I had to get used to the English dubbing of the game. I’m glad their character pitch wasn’t grating to the ears as poorly dubbed anime or games do. Ultimately, it reminded me of RWBY’s voice acting so I accepted it as such.

The story is cookie cutter, but for a game that’s only 11 gigs, I was impressed with the design and the server stability as I went through the tutorial. It worked like a typical MMO, with simple attacks and activation of elemental attacks. Exploration is generous, allowing you to travel along your self-imposed bubble without any interference of other players. All the monster loot is yours, along with world map chests, and there’s no pressure to hoard the goodies for yourself.

The story progressed the way it does for any classic JRPG: explore a verdant world, get introduced other characters who joins your party, throw in a fetch quest or two, and engage in simple crafting mechanics. I thought I could really get into the world even if without paying for a pre-registration setup. The game did give me some loot to start off with, helping my character progress quite quickly near to their level 20 cap. They even threw in some 4-star equipment for good measure. I was starting to enjoy the initial stages of the experience, receiving artifacts to equip, beating down some easy monsters, and getting a taste of the world.

While I haven’t really joined a guild or formed a party or alliance with other players, how the party system works in the game is you can have up to four characters in your party. They can all be playable with their different play styles (sword, two-handed sword, bow) sporting their own unique element. There were dungeons where there’s a level recommendation to take on said challenges, I continued to progress with my story quest as I avoided the inevitable encounter with the Pay-to-Win mechanic (more on this later).

The Alfheim Online Mechanic

At the start of the game, it showed some FMV animation of your character flying towards the enemy. Once you complete the simple mission of entering the world’s main kingdom, you receive your wing gliders. It makes for an easy descent when you reach the apex of said kingdom, flying has been a staple of quite a few MMOs in recent memory.

In a strange way, they allow you to encounter said rampaging dragon, by turning it from an action-RPG to a full on rail shooter Panzer Dragoon style. That was neat, it was something new to explore and I was actually entertained. You think I’ve seen it all with the genre, the rail shooter aspect was a nice touch. Completing said quest allowed me to customize my character’s costume as well. I didn’t really care much about the cosmetic appearance of my character, it is important for many players to be able to personalize their avatar.

One thing I was avoiding was the daily quests and the achievements that kept blinking in my main menu. To sate my curiosity, I clicked on such and started to receive the game’s Pay-to-win currency, not the gold you use to level up your characters or buy equipment, but the gatcha aspect of the game. I also received a player survey from MiHoYo, which pretty much led me to their proposition.

If It’s Free-To-Play, Where’s the Pay-to-Win?

While MiHoYo is saying that the gacha aspect of the game won’t affect the progression of the character, it’s hard to believe that they’re not wanting their return on investment. The production values are pretty well made for a Free-To-Play game, with an actual working story and an end quest (find your twin sibling). The moment I completed the survey, they then started to advertise the gacha components of the game. So for the sake of science, I clicked on the “Wish” aspect to pull for a chance to get the guaranteed 4-star banner character. And I got her on my first try, along with some pretty good weapons.

At this point, that was my way of saying that I may have to quit with this game. I do know that many a gamer enjoy this type of game and to be fair, this has been one of the better Free-To-Play worlds that are fully realized. However, to get me to literally chase the dragon and investing real money to maintain the meta gets quite costly. It may work well for you, but for myself, it’s not a road I wish to take. I’ve journeyed down this road before and after a couple of hundred dollars spent on some game about mice, I promised myself never again, no matter how good the rest of the game seemed to be.

For those who plan to continue the journey, I wish you well, it seems like a good world to explore. Send me a postcard.

Hades has just been released to a nice 20% discount on the Nintendo Store. Nearly four years ago Pyre was released to the same 20% discount. Back in 2015, Transistor was given away for free at the PSN store. Subsequently, it also went on sale for $5.99 on the Nintendo Store recently. I own all three games (twice for Transistor), but I’ve only beaten one Supergiant game, and that was Bastion when it dropped in Xbox Live Arcade back in 2011.

Bastion was probably the first Indie game I purchased at full price, mainly because it cost a measly 600 Xbox Live Points. At the time when I purchased Xbox Live Points, it was to secure DLC for the latest AAA game, that being Mass Effect 2. When Bastion released at 600 points as a fully playable game, I jumped at the chance of owning it. Three hours later of nonstop playing and a soothing Nick Cave soundtrack, I completed the game with the full achievement list completed. At that point, I realized the joy of indie games, mainly because they were inexpensive, can be completed in a few hours or less, and they’re easy trophy/achievement bait.

Fast forward almost ten years and I’ve found myself with a habit of acquiring Indie Games, but not exactly playing them. In a way, I feel that I’m mostly donating to these studios, but not really fully realizing their vision by previewing the first fifteen minutes, eagerly awaiting a safe place to save and returning to my AAA comfort zone.

The same case could be made for Night School Studio, where I was completely enamored by Oxenfree back in 2016 that I spent the next 12 hours completing every iteration of the game. When Afterparty released last year, I bought the game again at 20% off to only play about a good 40 minutes of it and then parking it to my to play list but it’s nearing a year and inertia has caused me to not pick it up again. The same can be said for Fullbright’s Tacoma, a game I’ve purchased with 10% off at launch, but I’ve never downloaded it at all. Gone Home was an excellent three hour experience I picked up when I first got my PS4 and enjoyed the journey.

The last Indie game I’ve completed through and through is This War of Mine, which I’ve purchased through several mediums. First on PC when it dropped back in 2014, then on Google Store when it was introduced for $4.99 and finally this year when they gave it for the same price on PS4. I’ve been meaning to sit through a full playthrough and finally found the time and the mental energy to do so. Another indie game I’ve completed recently was YIIK: The Postmdoern RPG, but unlike This War of Mine, I have mixed feelings about that game.

So why is it that I compile such a library of these critically acclaimed games but rarely play them?

They’re Short AF

These days, if you wait about eight months, you could chance upon a AAA title that goes between $10 to $30, depending on the popularity of the game. I recently purchased the full set of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey packaged with a remastered Assassin’s Creed 3 for $40. That’s a good 100+ hours of gaming right there. A full priced indie title can be completed in about at an average three hours and you could extend that to twelve. There goes $20 of your hard earned cash.

By force of habit, I try to delay finishing said game because maybe if I own it long enough, I could get over the fact that I dropped a lot of money on a really well made experience, but at worst I could literally finish it in 30 minutes. I want to get my money’s worth. That being said, as they are indie titles…

They Take A Lot of Patience

There’s this comfort with AAA titles where with the exception of a few games, you basically get your money’s worth. You want to shoot stuff, Call of Duty will give you enough things to shoot. You want to save the world and get everyone in that world to love you because you’re the chosen one? Final Fantasy will fulfill that need. You need to get lost in a twenty hour immersive world with rich detail and enough sandbox to distract you? Then look no further than any of Sony’s first party games.

However, an indie title is a mixed bag of good things and things you did not expect. For something like Oxenfree and Firewatch, it gave me a storytelling experience I find lacking in AAA games. Plus it’s great once in a while to experience walking simulators without killing anything in the next five minutes. In fact, in the case of This War of Mine, you could literally mentally incapacitate your character because you killed someone. Maybe that day, you need to take out some steam and waste some noobs in a deathmatch, exploring your inner traumas would probably not be in your priority right now.

It’s a World That Loses its Novelty Quickly

In the case of Transistor, it’s a beautiful RPG with a mysterious cyberpunk vibe. Yet it follows a more visual novel approach to its action, meaning it’s so damn linear. It took me a while to realize that it doesn’t follow the same save point route as most RPGs, and unlike Bastion, I lost interest in the world about twenty minutes in.

Pyre and Afterparty worked the same way, but I felt that not only did the novelty die down after fifteen minutes in, I also felt that I could finish this one sitting. There’s nothing more demotivating than a title that you feel you could finish, but at the same time you’ve lost interest in the world. It could be partly because of the graphics, I mean the artwork is fantastic, but enough time spent looking at a good thing could wear itself thin.

AAA titles have several techniques they use to maintain your interest, like dropping a few side quests to get you going. Sandbox games like The Witcher 3 and most Ubisoft games do these in bursts, hitting that dopamine receptor with some loot and some manageable enemies to get you going for the next quest. Unfortunately, indie titles only have enough budget to tell their main campaign and then move on. Putting the game down is really an interest killer sometimes. It takes a few more three-hour sessions to turn it into a mini-habit. However, by the time you hit that three hour mark, the game is probably over and you either replay it or move on.

What About Hades?

Hades came out on the Switch and I downloaded it on my Switch Lite. It’s about 5.5 gigs and it boasts a dark RPG world that reminds me of Bastion meets Transistor. Maybe the story and the soundtrack is good, maybe it falls under the same tried and tested route by Supergiant in the past. It’s probably something I would play in between waiting for Cyberpunk 2077 or on a non-busy day.

Ok who am I kidding, it looks freaking amazing and I’ll have a review on it soon.

Anyways…

We can also flip the switch with the critical items I mentioned about Indie games. Given that we have a busy schedule, we can complete more games given their shorter length. We can take breaks from the cookie cutter AAA storylines with a more unique approach to storytelling told in an interactive format. Finally, maybe it’s an art choice or a style that we would probably like but if we didn’t take a chance with the game, we probably would miss out on a new experience.

At least one thing I can say about this “bad habit” is that it continually adds to the coffers of these indie companies so that one day, maybe they can be a full AAA studio giving us the tried and tested AAA formula. We could remember their humble beginnings when we play their high profile titles in the future and pat ourselves in the back for keeping them going when they needed us the most.

Ever wondered what’s inside a Fall Guy? A whole jellybean or maybe thousands of little jellybeans perhaps, or maybe some of that pink slime surrounding the arena. Wonder no more! Or rather, maybe you shouldn’t have even wondered at all.

The devs politely asked at the very least, and it seems that a staggering number of people want the truth, so…

Mediatonic have given us what we wanted and well, it got me thinking if I even wanted it in the first place, but here we are. Official lore, they call it.

Excuse me, but wtf.

So these guys are 6ft tall, have a hunched over skeleton, with a neck and eyes that probably came from the devil himself. Satan must be smiling.

Mediatonic gave us another choice again but I’m guessing you already know the answer to this one…

Let the horrific fan art begin.

You’ve saved up for it and in 2 months time, you’re ready to throw money at your nearest retailer for that brand new console fix. But have you asked yourself – which next-gen console is for you?

For a moment when September began, we were not sure whether or not the next generation would get delayed or continue as planned. Just like an exciting TV saga, in much awaited fashion, leaks of the Xbox Series X and Series S forced Microsoft to reveal their cards showing aggressive pricing options for both the Xbox Series X and Series S at $499 and $299 respectively. Like a poorly kept secret, everyone even knew of the existence of the Series S even before it was forcibly revealed.

Sony, firing back, has announced their pricing details as well at $499 USD for the Standard Edition and $399 USD for the Digital Edition.

With four consoles and two companies to choose from, we’re here to lay out the groundwork and hopefully provide an answer to the question of which next-gen console is for you. Of course if you had the budget for it, why not buy both! Not everybody can, and if you have to choose only one, this will help you out.

Xbox Series X: The Powerhouse

The most powerful next-gen console, the Xbox Series X pulls no punches with their tech. They’re boasting teraflops, RAM, ray tracing, and all other tech mumbo jumbo that go past non-tech savvy gamers’ heads. The bottom line is if you want a console that screams power without breaking a sweat, the Series X is the right console for you.

With a competitive price of $499 USD, you’d be hard pressed to find a PC that can perform at this level and price point. It is just not possible at this point in time. Compared against the entry level cost of a gaming PC or laptop which would be around $700 and extends to as high as $4,000, the Xbox Series X is a convenient way to secure a powerful plug-and-play box without the high prices and tech know how to set up a definitive gaming experience.

At this point, however, with only a handful of games at launch and even losing Halo Infinite as a launch title, securing a Series X is basically saving it up for the future barrage of Microsoft exclusives. Remember all those studios that Microsoft acquired through the years? They’re prepping up and in a year or two, we’ll finally see the fruits of their labor and even Sony must be shuddering at the though.

The Series X will also get you the best graphical performance for multiplatform games starting day one. It would also be the next best place to play AAA titles such as Cyberpunk 2077 versus that of a full spec gaming PC or laptop at launch.

If you are a longtime Xbox gamer and have kept all your games from the original Xbox to the most current Xbox One, its backwards compatibility would benefit you greatly as almost all your games will be playable on launch. Some backwards compatible games would receive a graphical enhancements, sweetening the deal. Furthermore, Game Pass is a really great service. How great? How about free Bethesda games?

Personally, this console will reach full potential very soon, not just at launch. All the benefits listed outweigh the cost, but for now, unless you really feel the need to make your current gen games look fantastic while waiting for future titles, the Series X can wait a bit, especially if you have an Xbox One. It can “wait”, but the need to purchase eventually is almost assured.

PS5 Disc Edition: The Classic

The brand strength of the Playstation really carries its weight throughout this debate. For every benefit I would list for the Xbox Series X, just the first party pedigree alone of Playstation is enough to counteract any spec showcase. The power isn’t up to par, but what you’ll get is the continued promise of high quality first party games from Sony’s studios like God of War, The Last of Us, Ghost of Tsushima, Uncharted… Hell, Horizon Forbidden West is even part of the first wave of exclusives about to come into play. 

Call me cynical, but the quality of games is really what pushes console sales and the service/benefits of said console is mostly secondary. Personally, I can count how many consoles I’ve purchased due to the exclusivity of games alone and it started with PS1 for Final Fantasy 7 even if I had more games I could’ve picked up for the Nintendo 64 back in the day. The trend continued from there: PS2 for Metal Gear Solid 2 and Final Fantasy X, PSP for Crisis Core, Xbox 360 for Lost Odyssey, PS Vita for Persona 4 Golden, Nintendo Switch for Octopath Traveller, and a PS4 for Persona 5. After acquiring said console, we can just hope that the console would have enough new pedigrees for it and the behavior just carries over. Right now, from all the showcases from both parties, PS5 has the most exclusive games I could see myself playing in the future (with the future possibility of Final Fantasy 7 Remake 2 coming out with timed exclusivity on the PS5).

Historically, the best and the brightest aren’t usually the most popular when it comes to gaming. Sega’s hardware was far superior to Nintendo during the Master System and Genesis days, but Nintendo was the market leader in the late 80s up the mid-90s. Sega lost again to Sony Playstation with both their Sega Saturn and Dreamcast being outperformed even with better specs. Playstation, with the exception of the PS3 who boasted its tech more than its library, continued to perform well in the latter generations. It’s always been about the quality of the games and which console secures exclusivity. The name of the game mostly hasn’t changed, although Microsoft disagrees with this strategy.

Will sticking to traditional techniques bite Sony years down the line? Maybe, maybe not, but one thing is for certain, there’s almost no way you can go wrong with a PS5 purchase and that’s a fact.

PS5 Digital Edition: The Digital

Unlike the Xbox, there is only one difference between both PlayStation 5 models. For $100 more, the savings you would incur from purchasing a digital console would push you to miss out on not just the physical copy of the game, but also from the freedom of picking up a PS5 game outside of PSN. That’s a big consideration for some, for some not so.

I’m primarily a digital gamer from 2012 onwards with the advent of full AAA games coming out on Xbox Live and with the improvement of the PSN platform in 2013 thereafter. The only physical games I’ve picked up recently were for the Nintendo Switch Lite as storage is an issue. The PS4 discs are merely glorified installer discs at that point and the biggest benefit is that you save on internet data versus that of digital use.

For some savings, I don’t see the benefit of going fully digital when it severely limits my options in where to acquire games. While the PSN has been beneficial for me as a gamer, I would pay the extra cash to widen my options even if I seldom pick up physical copies. Plus the fact that both editions come equipped with the same 825 GB SSD, spend the dough and save on physical copies of the games down the line if they’re readily available for you.

Also, if PSN somehow goes down for extended periods, well, good luck downloading that 50GB game.

Xbox Series S: The Impulse Buy

The biggest draw of the Series S is the fact that you can pick up a next-gen console for chump change. At $299, you cannot beat this value. If you’re strapped for cash, and you really need to have a console on day one, the Series S is the way to go.

However, it is digital only and doesn’t have the same power as the full fat Xbox Series X, unlike both PlayStation 5 models. As argued in the PS5 digital, the console locks you into having Microsoft as your only distributor. Having no disc drive, it limits your backwards compatibility to your digital purchases. Plus with its price point, it will definitely work as the next-gen version of Xbox One S, limiting its capabilities to that of an entry level console. If you want more options and graphical improvements, your only option would be to upgrade, forcing you to shell out more money in the long run.

Though that being said, due to these difficult times, there’s still a benefit of the Series S in terms of its price point. If you haven’t upgraded your TV from 1080p to 4K, it’s a definite plus. It’s a perfect entry level console as well if you’ve missed out on the last two generations and would like to get back on the console train. By this point, you probably don’t have physical copies of the games in the last two generations and unless you’re willing to scour stores for copies of old games, the digital library is there for you to catch up. It’s also a great second console if you plan on buying both without breaking the bank.

And so with all this talk, we ask again, which next-gen console is for you?

Buy an Xbox Series X because…

  • You want to get max specs and performance without taking out a second mortgage for a decked out PC.
  • Disc drive gives easy access to the biggest gaming collection out of all the consoles due to its backwards compatibility.
  • Game Pass opens up to a large quantity of games including future first party and third party games on day one.
  • You don’t mind those tried and tested AAA exclusives that Sony parades around and instead may want something different and something “western”.

Buy a PS5 disc edition because…

  • High quality of first party games at launch: Spiderman: Miles Morales, Godfall, and Demons Souls.
  • First wave of first party titles promising: Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7, and Ratchet and Clank. Even God of War.
  • You can rely on the promise of great games year in and year out, some with PlayStation exclusive deals and content. It is Sony, after all, and almost every year they have legitimate Game of the Year candidates.
  • More options with second hand game purchases through physical copies from local retailers and groups.

Buy a PS5 digital edition because…

  • You want the same PS5 for $100 less.
  • You’re primarily a digital gamer and have no need for physical copies.
  • You’ve got a great internet connection.
  • It’s a much better console spec-wise to a Xbox Series S.

Buy a Xbox Series S because…

  • It has the perfect price point for an entry level console.
  • You have no plans on upgrading your 1080P HD TV.
  • You game casually but still want a taste of the future.
  • You’re planning to buy a PS5 but also want an Xbox as a second console on a limited budget, so as not to miss out on all these games.

At the end of the day, purchasing a console at launch is no easy feat. They’re usually way over the price point you’ve paid for on your last console and the titles usually lack in quality at launch. Given that the battle for this next generation is being drawn out at its endgame, Microsoft pulled a fast one with its aggressive pricing. Sony, backed by its pedigree, is relying on its fan base to push its sales.

In the end, it’s all about your needs and what would be the best possible buy. If you want the specs then get the Series X, but if you want the games, PS5 has the library, and if you want the cheapest console there’s the Series S.

There’s a market for everyone these days and at the end of the day… Why not both?

It may not seem like it, but we are on the cusp of the new console generation. While Sony has not yet revealed the juiciest of details for the PlayStation 5 (we hope it will, soon!), Microsoft has pulled the trigger and unloaded everything the customers will need to know about both the Xbox Series X and Series S.

You’ve decided that, going into the next generation, you want to go with team green and give them your money. The big question is, which Xbox do you get?

Both the Series X and S will release to the general public on November 10, that’s around 2 months away from now. Pre-orders will start on September 22, with the Series X retailing for $499 and the Series S going for $299. These are very aggressive prices by Microsoft and although they probably won’t confirm it, they’re sure to be selling both at a loss. Whatever the case, for the technology you’re getting, these are highly competitive prices.

Apart from price, one factor potential buyers usually look at are the specs – which is more powerful, does it have this, can it do that. For the sake of discussion, let’s check out what both next-gen consoles from Microsoft have to offer.

There’s a lot of technical mumbo jumbo in there but the main differences boil down to the following points:

  • The Xbox Series X will perform at 4K 60fps (up to 120fps) while the Series S will perform at 1440p 60fps (up to 120fps)
  • The Xbox Series X will ship with a 1TB SSD while the Series S will ship with a 512GB SSD
  • The Xbox Series X will have an optical drive while the Xbox Series S won’t have one

It’s not exactly a surprise, but the Xbox Series X simply dwarfs the Xbox Series S in terms of power and capability. This is by design. While the spec sheet alone can give some potential buyers an informed choice, more discerning customers have a lot of other questions that they want answered other than “Which is more powerful?”

We’ll dive a bit deeper and actually look into those “other” questions and hopefully, by the end of this, you’ll know which Xbox is the right one for you.

eXtra or Small?

Do you have an existing physical library of games from previous Xbox generations (OG, 360, One)?

One of the easier questions to answer. If you do AND you want to play them again at some point in time (because why not), the Series S is NOT for you, for obvious reasons.

The Series S is an all-digital machine, meaning it won’t have a disc drive installed on it. If you’re hoping to play something from your collection like Lost Odyssey or some of your other physical format games, that’s just not possible with the Series S unless you have it on your digital library.

Not having a disc drive installed also greatly limits your options in the long run. If you suddenly want that physical game for whatever reason, you can just kiss that thought goodbye.

Do you watch your movies via Blu-Ray discs because you’re “old-school” like that or do you just stream away?

See answer above.

Do you have a ‘good’ internet connection?

Apart from the obvious benefits, having a good connection is somewhat a necessity nowadays. A lot of games churn out patches and updates left and right, with some games even requiring a connection before you can even play it.

Being an all-digital console, you’ll obviously need a connection that can allow you to download full sized games at any given point in time. The biggest culprits of large install sizes like Red Dead Redemption 2 or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare are hundreds of gigs worth. Imagine downloading that on a 1 or 5Mbps connection.

If your connection is less than ideal, the Series S will be a tough option to consider unless you’re cool with leaving your machine downloading the game for the next 2 or 3 days. Also, in the off chance that the Xbox Servers go down and you’re currently downloading that game you’ve been wanting to try, well… try again in a couple of hours. Or tomorrow.

Do you really, REALLY care about Native 4K that much?

You do? Good for you. News flash, not everyone does. Chances are, a majority of players actually prefer 1080p or 1440p games but at 60fps or more.

If 4K resolution is a deal breaker for you, then you’ll need 2 things – a 4K capable TV and an additional $200 for the Series X. Based on the spec sheet, the Series S won’t do that for you.

If you game on a monitor, there’s a chance that your monitor is also not 4K capable, just because of how absurd capable and “good” 4K monitors cost. Monitor gaming is indeed a thing and if it is your thing as well, the Series S should be perfect for you.

The Xbox Series S will UPSCALE to 4K, but it won’t pump out Native 4K. In short, your 4K sets won’t be wasted with the Series S, but will obviously just look better when paired with the Series X. Some people actually notice these small differences, no matter how small or negligible it is.

Microsoft has also confirmed that the Series S will not run the Xbox One X backwards compatibility enhancements but will instead use the Xbox One S version.

The Series S will also support Raytracing, so there’s that.

Do you plan on subscribing to Game Pass?

Of course you do. Game Pass is one of the most important aspects of going green. In fact, we’d like to think of it as the “Real” Series X for Microsoft.

Game Pass is the best deal in gaming right now and with the addition of EA Play, it just got better. Game Pass not only lets you arm yourself with a huge catalog of games at your disposal, it also lets you enjoy Microsoft’s first party games for free. On day one.

Whichever box you choose to go with, Game Pass shouldn’t even be a question.

Do you care about storage space?

Alright, maybe the better question is – Do you hate deleting and downloading your games over and over again?

If you don’t care about playing just a couple of games at a time, deleting one after you’re done, then you’re probably cool with the 512GB SSD of the Series S.

If you’re a pack rat and want to keep everything at your beck and call, the Series X is the clear choice.

Both Xbox variants will support expandable memory, but take note that these are proprietary expansions we’re talking about, so they’re not going to be cheap. For a 1TB SSD that’s compatible with the system, you’re looking at an average price of close to $200 give or take, so unless you’re swimming in cash, you’ll be stuck with the out of the box storage options for a bit.

Do you care about actual physical storage space?

As you can see, the Xbox Series X is a chunky boi. Compared to a PS4 Pro, the Series X looks to be maybe 2-3 times as thicc. We can only assume that the PS5 will be bigger than the Series X based on estimates.

The Series S, on the other hand, is surprisingly compact. Its about half the size of the a normal PS4 in terms of height and with the technology inside, that is indeed an impressive machine right there.

Not everybody will have the space to get the more powerful machine even if they wanted to, so this is an actual consideration for a lot of people. Even if you have space, these machines are pumping out ridiculous amounts of power, meaning it’ll not only have to be a “space” per se, but a properly ventilated space at that.

In this case, there’s no question that the Series S will be a good choice for a lot of people. It can also serve as a DJ turntable if you’re into that sort of stuff.

At the end of it all, while the Series S is a tempting choice (and it really is!), there are also quite a number of considerations that go along with dropping $299 for some next-gen action. Obviously, if cash isn’t a factor, there’s no better choice than the Series X, future-proofing yourself for the next generation with a highly capable machine.

Whichever box you decide on getting, Microsoft has nowhere to go but up coming from the current generation and it’s looking to be a fun ride which we, as gamers, should all enjoy.

The Xbox Series X and Series S will be releasing on November 10 for $499 (around PHP25,000) and $299 (around PHP15,000) respectively.