8.6

Do Your Part and Fight For Super Earth in Helldivers 2

Games Reviews Helldivers 2
Do Your Part and Fight For Super Earth in Helldivers 2

If there was a single word to describe the experience of Helldivers 2, it would be “liberating.” Arrowhead Game Studios have done a fantastic job at creating a cinematic experience without an abundance of cutscenes or lore. Playing with friends creates some of the most memorable moments that can be experienced in a co-op setting and that elevates Helldivers 2 above most games we’ve played so far tihs year. And it all starts with one rather simple objective: kill everything that moves for the good name of democracy. 

It is important to note that Helldivers 2 is a live-service game, but it is a proper example of how to commit to that service while putting the players first unlike the recent Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League. With a small barrier of entry including a $40 price tag, a provided Battle Pass, and an optional microtransaction currency (which can be earned in game), anyone can hop in and join the fight should they so please. However, while Helldivers 2 has a very strong beginning, there are shortcomings that prevent it from being the most ideal version of itself. Even so, this is simply one of the best releases for 2024 so far, and the future we’re fighting for has never been brighter.

From the minute the game begins you will notice the charm that Helldivers 2 possesses. The opening cutscene explains why you’re here and what you’re fighting for: democracy. Helldivers sent from Super Earth are here to eradicate any and all evil across the galaxy to preserve our way of life. If that sounds like countless sci-fi plots from the past, you’d be right. You and I know that, but so does Helldivers 2. What sets Helldivers 2 apart isn’t its presentation but rather how it presents itself: with a healthy amount of self-awareness. There’s an undertone of self-aware bravado throughout all the dialogue, insinuating that death is the only result for either you or the enemy. Everything feels humorous and not meant to be taken too seriously. With lines of dialogue such as “How about a cup of liber-TEA?!” it’s a welcome breath of fresh air from how seriously other games can take themselves.

Helldivers 2 is intended to be a cooperative experience with up to four people per squad. Squads can be randomly matched online, composed of your friends, or a solo act. For my play time I was always with my friends so that’s the experience I will be speaking from. Once your squad is selected you must choose a mission from the War Table. Here you can see how many fellow Helldivers are fighting as well as where. At the War Table you can see how varied your options are, not just the missions themselves but the environments in which they take place. Every planet has their own set of threats, whether that’s from the planet itself or the beings that have inhabited it. With Helldivers 2 very focused on creating a sense of community, each planet will have markings for how “liberated” they are, with major orders coming from Arrowhead for what planet will need the most defending. The liberation rating will change in real time, meaning if a planet desperately needs help then you must be ready to deploy for the sake of democracy, even if it results in your death. Feeling like you are truly a part of something bigger and seeing that your efforts will make a difference is such a clever incentive to keep playing. There’s the chance that your squad will tip the scales in favor of Super Earth and the commendation for doing such a thing feels incredible simply because it feels earned. 

Once deployed, it is impossible not to be left in awe with the gorgeous landscapes of each planet. Everything visually is created with such grace. All animations from movement to weapon reloads just exclaims quality. The various enemies you fight have distinct looks to them as well, making even the simple act of mowing down cannon fodder feel much more grandiose than it really is. On top of the game looking great, it plays even better. All the weapons have such amazing impact and visual feedback making every landed shot feel gratifying. Seeing a red hitmarker on a bug and watching it burst never gets old.

 

Helldivers 2


Of course other games let the player shoot creatures and explore planets, but it’s not the satisfying gameplay that makes Helldivers 2 such an amazing experience. It is the antics involved within the game’s unique mechanics. All squad members can bring in equipment beacons called Stratagems that will bring down various supplies, heavy weapons, or mark locations for an artillery strike. Ideally, the team coordinates these beforehand so everyone has a unique role to play. However, Helldivers are not boy scouts. They do not play by the rules and do not care who they hurt so long as self-fulfilled needs are met, as spoken like a true Super Earth citizen.  Every tool your team uses to kill the enemy can and will kill you just as effectively. During my time in Helldivers 2 I have both given and received, mostly the latter. One of my squadmates has a total of 43 confirmed teammate kills, and 11 of those were me in the span of two hours.

 

Helldivers 2

 

That makes it sound like it would get annoying that your team can kill you at any time, but it’s actually the opposite. Whether you get shot by your friend’s turret aiming at the bug behind you, or you stand just a bit too close to a 380 MM Barrage that your friend didn’t warn you about calling in, knowing the tone of the galaxy you’re fighting for just enriches these otherwise frustrating moments with laughter. However, these are feelings that cannot be replicated when playing alone or with random teammates. Sure, you can still run around the planets without your proper team, but losing that connection removes such a large component of Helldivers 2’s enjoyment. Solo players have it the worst since it’s just running from point A to point B while shooting some things along the way. There’s no one to provide reinforcements or call in additional artillery, and it just loses too much magic and creates a rather dull experience.

Which leads into the game’s number one threat: its servers. It’s clear Arrowhead was not expecting such a large amount of people to spread the good word of democracy, as the servers are suffering from heavy loads. In hindsight, this is a terrific problem to have as it speaks to the game’s massive success. What that also means is that most new players aren’t actually playing the main game but stuck in the “servers at capacity” mini game with no indication of winning.

 

Helldivers 2

 

Helldivers 2 is the rare game that honestly benefits from being live-service. Just within a week we’ve already seen new missions being added with new objectives for the community to work towards that will allow all players to reap the benefits. Arrowhead’s dedication and constant communication to enhance the experience for players deserves to be commended. Alongside those rewards, there’s also compensation for players who didn’t get proper rewards for their missions and XP bonuses to make up for time lost under server maintenance. Under the right conditions (working servers and your misfit group of friends), Helldivers 2 is simply one of the greatest co-op games to come out in recent memory. The feeling of fighting for my life waiting for extraction while the orchestra is blaring away is the greatest movie I’ve ever had the pleasure of taking part in. Unfortunately, it’s not always going to be available due to factors outside the game. Yet when it all comes together, democracy has never felt so good.  

DISCLAIMER: This review has been approved by the Ministry of Truth.


Helldivers 2 was developed by Arrowhead Game Studios and published by Sony. Our review is based on the PC version. It is also available for PlayStation 5.

Matthew Reyes is an intern at Paste.

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