Helldivers 2 - Join the Fight, Spread Democracy
4.7Overall Score

Sony and Arrowhead Games Studio have teamed up to give us a long-awaited sequel to Helldivers, which they have imaginatively titled Helldivers 2. Has it been worth the long nine-year wait? The answer is a resounding “Hell Yeah!”

I’m Doing My Part!

Helldivers 2 is a third-person, team-based, co-op shooter that sees you, a proud patriot of Super Earth, fighting off hoards of alien insect creatures and mechanised killing machines of various shapes and sizes. Think Starship Troopers: The Game and you are pretty much 99% of the way there.

After a (hilarious) tutorial, you board your chosen spaceship, ready to dive down to an alien land to teach them a thing or two about Super Earth’s “managed democracy”. This will involve completing a primary objective, with optional side missions and looting. The missions are what you would come to expect from a game like this. Some are ‘eliminate X, some are ‘retrieve Y’ and some are a mix of both. Just remember to get to the extraction point before the timer runs out.

With such standard mission types and a complete lack of campaign mode to speak of, you would think that this game could get boring quite quickly. But Helldivers manages to avoid this by just being chaotically fun.

You Look Good as Hell

Presentation-wise, Helldivers puts most new releases to shame. The graphics are the right blend of schlocky splatterfest and realistic. The intro video is picture-perfect and the sound design is genuinely stunning. The bombastic, almost national anthemic, music as you perform a cinematic hell dive down to a planet full of “terrorists” is stirring.

There is a wonderfully visceral nature to the combat in the game too. The enemies are nicely varied, with different methods of attack. Limbs and various other body parts are easily shot off in a haze of bodily fluid. But you aren’t just at risk of the enemy creatures; friendly fire is a real and VERY present danger. A stray bullet from a teammate hurts just as much as an attack from an alien. Realistically there is rarely anything on screen at any given time that CAN’T and WON’T kill you. Be prepared to die. A lot.

Another thing to be aware of is the stratagems. Stratagems are special weapons which you can trigger by entering a code with your D-pad. Not exactly the most user-friendly way of deploying a weapon when you most need it, but it does add to the intensity.

These different super weapons can range from being a revive for fallen teammates, to an intercontinental ballistic missile and everything in between. These can be unlocked and upgraded by mission progression and are as varied as they are deadly.

Plan-et Out

For a brainless shooter, it can be as deep and as strategic as you want it to be.

Every gun seems to handle uniquely. Shooting a pistol feels nothing like firing a machine gun, which in turn feels nothing like blasting a shotgun. This is especially true if you are using the PS5’s DualSense. Helldivers II makes the most of the haptic feedback to really let you feel the carnage you are deploying.

The substantial variety of guns and stratagems gives the game a nice bit of depth. With every new deployment, you can change your loadout to change your play style. You could choose to pick weapons and stratagems that provide cover fire to allow someone to defend an objective. You could also choose to bring revive stratagems and a long-range weapon to be some sniper/medic hybrid. This is especially important if you are in a good team with good communication. Sure, you could all choose to be four heroic Jason Stathams, rushing headlong into the enemy hoard, but that won’t really get you far.

If You Ain’t First, You’re Last

It’s amazing how balls-to-the-wall fun this game can be. Even when played solo, the experience is different every time, but the true magic and the true longevity comes with the multiplayer aspect. Before you join a mission, you can see in real-time if the war is being won by humans or their enemies. There is a live scoreboard telling you the progression real-world players have made in collectively conquering, sorry, I mean, liberating a planet (and probably taking its oil).

This is a great mechanic and really adds to the game, knowing that if you fail or succeed, it has an actual impact on whether the whole gaming community succeeds. Even when in a lobby with strangers, there seems to be a shared enthusiasm you don’t see from other multiplayer games.

Underneath all of this is a very funny game. It is fully aware of the source material it is drawing from. It doesn’t shy away from making it obvious. Instead, it leans into it, and it is all the better for it.

If Sony and Arrowhead continue to support this game with regular updates, patches and little changes, just to keep it fresh, Helldivers II will go from strength to strength. Already a contender for GOTY in my book.

Helldivers 2 is heavy on satire, heavy on violence, heavy on humour and more importantly, heavy on fun.

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About The Author

Grumpy Old Man. Believes things were better when he was young.

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