It’s just the second month of the year and we got another banger in our hands. I’m not going to sugarcoat it and go straight to the point. Helldivers 2 is an absolute blast. If you’re a fan of all things cool in sci-fi, shooters, and uber fun coop experiences, this is the title to pick up. You don’t even have to finish reading this Helldivers 2 review. I’m already telling you right now, I highly recommend it.
The first Helldivers was a top-down twin-stick shooter that was released all the way back in 2015. It was a game that had you take control of elite soldiers called the Helldivers in which you are tasked to fight against hordes of enemies for the benefit of Super Earth. Sounds cheesy? Yes, and it was an absolutely amazing time with friends. The sequel, Helldivers 2, comes 8 years later with the same concept but this time around, pulls the camera closer to a third person-shooter perspective. A simple but game-changing pivot in design that makes this release all the more appealing and one of the best coop experiences I’ve had in recent memory.
A delightful cup of Liber-tea
Helldivers 2 is essentially an extraction shooter where players are deployed in an area, complete objectives, collect some loot, and survive long enough to safely get back. What this game does it take all the good things that made that subgenre of games so successful and adds in a couple of refinements learned from the first title. The thrills and the challenges are there for hardcore players but there’s also a decent amount of accessibility for those who have yet to experience this type of game.
The story of the game is incredibly simple. It’s the same as the first one. There’s a bunch of aliens in a planet. Go there and shoot them all while doing stuff for the glory of Super Earth. That’s it. It’s all the premise you need to have endless hours of fun with friends or by yourself. Either way, it’s a great time to be had because the gameplay systems are so tightly designed to be intuitive and satisfying in both its mechanics and visual feedback.
A huge reason as to why Helldivers 2 is so great is how much it leans towards its absurdity. The game’s tone relishes in being patriotic and corny and parodying all things military. As soon as I heard my character scream out lines such as “GET SUM!”, ” Have a nice cup of Liber-tea!”, and “My life is for Super Earth!” it didn’t take me long to fall in love with all the hours I was spending. The game itself knows it’s ridiculous and the performances amplifies it to new heights. It’s hilarious.
How the game works is that everyone in the community contributes to liberating a planet. You do this by accomplishing various missions in different areas. These can include fighting off hordes, acquiring intel, activating certain locations, surveying the terrain, etc. There’s a decent amount of mission variety that helps remove the monotonous feeling. A very simple requirement for live service games such as this but one that is unfortunately not so common.
While the game is undeniably infinitely more fun if played with friends, as communication will help a lot and the different chaotic outcomes that can happen (because friendly fire is on) is second-to-none, public matchmaking does work well enough to find you a squad to play with. It is worth noting that I did play on the PS5. I’ve only encountered one or two disconnects, which unfortunately led me to lose all progress in the mission I was in. And sometimes, it does take a while to find players to be with. But for the most part, it’s been a near flawless experience. It’s the PC version that contains a number of technical issues, as of the writing of this Helldivers 2 review.
I also did spend a good chunk of time playing solo. It is more difficult at times, but not once did I feel like the game wasn’t built for it. While multiplayer is the way to go, you can definitely get away with being a lone ranger yourself.
Where we dropping?
After setting up what equipment and support items you’ll bring, you’ll choose a spot as to where you want to drop in and this is where the fun begins. Locations are randomly generated but they never feel too empty or incoherent. There’s always something interesting to do such as a minor location that may contain supplies, enemies to fight, or the main objectives themselves.
Helldivers 2 does a lot to immerse the player in the action that’s happening. A very simple example would be interacting with objectives themselves. In any other game, you usually just press and hold one button on your controller to activate something. In Helldivers 2, a prompt with a pattern of arrows will show up and you have to accomplish them perfectly. The same system is also applied when calling in for Stratagems which are basically reinforcements and equipment. It’s such a simple feature that does a lot to add to the intensity of the moment-t0-moment gameplay.
Combat itself is the real star of the show. Aside from a very weak melee, the guns themselves all feel distinct and incredibly satisfying to use. That’s because it has a unique recoil system that favors more intentional shooting rather than holding down the button. Reloading is also connected to the number of magazines you have left and not the individual bullets themselves. If you reload a clip that has a certain number of bullets left inside, all of that is gone.
The visual feedback when shooting enemies is phenomenal. You see and feel the bullets connect because of the crunchy sound design and the bursting of alien body parts. Couple it all in with the subtle haptic feedback the DualSense controller provides. It never gets old. The same compliments can also be said for the rest of the game. It’s by no means a champion is texture fidelity but the SFX, lighting, and art direction all blend well with one another to create something that can look gorgeous at times.
The only very minor complaint I have involves mobility. The Helldivers are very heavy and slow. At times, it does feel great and makes every move you make more deliberate, but when you are being swarmed with dozens of enemies and the only thing you can do is jump to prone (which will also leave you as a headless chicken eventually), it is pretty easy to be overwhelmed and killed. There is no jump button or a dedicated dodge mechanic. This can easily be fixed by a well-coordinated team who looks at your back when you need it, but this issue becomes increasingly evident when playing solo.
Progression comes in the form of acquiring currency after every successful mission for you to buy more Stratagem types. A battlepass of sorts is here, one that is completely free and one that is paid. Here, you can purchase more armor, guns, emotes, capes, etc. The best thing about it is that the free one has way more items more than the paid battlepass. Unfortunately, there are guns locked away in the premium one that I wish could’ve been made available for everyone. Hopefully, a change will be made to make this so. There is an in-game store where you can buy more cosmetics, all of which are priced fairly since you can easily acquire the premium currency by just playing the game itself. This system is much less predatory than other games’ MTX and I hope that in the future, more titles adopt it.
Helldivers 2 Review Final Verdict – 9/10
Helldivers 2 is one brand collaboration away from being an official Starship Troopers video game and it’s all the more fantastic because of it. It’s cheesy, hilarious, engaging, and extremely fun to play. This is a multiplayer experience that doesn’t concern itself with artificially expanding the progression for player retention. It lays it all out, all for the players to enjoy.
Aside from the PC port issues, the overall performance and content offerings at launch is impressive, given how we’re so used to lackluster live-service game launches have been. All Arrowhead has to do is add more unique cosmetics, mission types, and probably a challenging community raid? The possibilities are endless and I’m all the more excited for it.
This review was made using a game code for the PS5 provided by the publisher.