Helldivers 2

Review: Helldivers 2

Helldivers 2 is an absolute gem. The latest game from Arrowhead Game Studios has done a lot to change my mind about multiplayer titles. After spending the last week fighting to save democracy from alien bugs and androids, I can confidently say I love Helldivers 2.

Half the fun I’ve had is clipping bits of my various runs with friends across the last week. You’ve likely seen many hilarious clips on social media, and it’s hard not to watch each one because they are all uniquely disastrous but wonderfully hilarious ragdoll moments.

Same Democracy In Helldivers 2

Suppose Arrowhead Game Studios hadn’t moved the perspective from a top-down game into a third-person experience. In that case, I don’t think I’d be writing my review like this or discussing Helldivers 2 with so much affection and engagement. Thankfully, the perspective shift is a welcome change that improves the entire experience. For starters, the shift allows for a broader view of your surroundings, and you have the mobility to get around in any direction. You can see further away where enemies are spawning from and where optional objectives lie so you can earn Medals and ammo to continue saying Super Earth from damnation.

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When starting the Helldivers 2, the player can choose to board their spaceship or the host’s spaceship in a cooperative gaming mode. All ships have identical interiors, but players can customize their soldiers’ armour, weaponry, bonuses, and special abilities called Stratagems.

The ship is a haven for players to relax, spend, and energize. In the cockpit, the player can select a mission from a roundtable that shows the Galactic War’s overview. The Galactic War Table has Super Earth at the centre, with  Automatons and massive bugs surrounding the planet from both sides. In short, you’ll need to work together to stop an all-encompassing onslaught of enemies. The player will choose a planet from either side, where missions are sorted by difficulty and the type of eradication required.

Missions in the game have a timer that counts down, ranging from 15 to 40 minutes, and the main objectives must be completed within the given time limit. The objectives may include destroying bug nests or other tasks before the final task of extracting safely. Some missions have optional objectives, resulting in bonus rewards upon safe extraction. If you fail to extract safely, you will still receive currency for upgrades at a reduced rate.

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Upon completing the main objectives, it is imperative that the player makes their way to the extraction point and promptly contacts the ship that will transport them back to their base of operations. During this crucial phase, the player must withstand relentless waves of enemies through any means necessary while maintaining composure as a two-minute timer counts down. This is an intense experience, but successfully reaching the extraction point in the allotted time will undoubtedly provide the most exhilarating moments of each mission.

Furthermore, leading up to the extraction, the objectives are equally intense. However, the player can revel in some of the most thrilling gameplay by working collaboratively with others to combat hordes of adversaries intent on inflicting harm. With a vast array of resources, the player will undoubtedly find this incredibly satisfying experience. It could also lead to hilarious moments like having the extraction ship drop and your mates decide to risk it all with a grenade that just so happens to cause you to lose your composure at the end and fail to extract.

Helldivers 2’s greatest strength is its gunplay, which is punchy and satisfying. With various weapons ranging from pistols to shotguns to rifles, you’ll have many choices regarding the guns you want to use to remove the invading bugs and Automatons. DualSense implementation is also appreciated, as each gun feels excellent and reacts differently. As a Helldiver, you must worry about hordes of enemies coming at you and weapon sway, as moving while aiming decreases your accuracy. You’ll have to remain in position and risk incoming damage or stay mobile and lose some accuracy. Reloading prematurely wastes ammo clips, too, so be mindful of when you decide to reload and make note of your position to enemies.

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Pick Your Stratagems

Stratagems serve a specific purpose. It is crucial to use them prudently and not waste them on cannon fodder. The problem is that it’s so much fun to call in an Orbital Strike on everything and anything. Calling them in requires skill and precision, which can be challenging when attacked. The player first must input the correct code on their wrist communicator and strategically place the target.

Failing to do so may result in missed or ineffective targets or, worse (yet hysterically cause damage to themselves and their team. Also, the orbs can bounce and stick to unintended targets, which can have catastrophic consequences (but it’s hilarious). So, it is imperative to be proficient in using Stratagems and exercise situational awareness to ensure their effectiveness. I promise no one will get mad if you make a mistake because there’s so much humour in these situations.

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Helldivers 2 provides a great challenge, too, across the board, but amps up in Challenging Mode and above. Completing missions solo is feasible, but don’t expect the best rewards if you intend to play for the long haul. You unlock additional difficulty levels when playing with an entire squad of you and three friends. The incursions ramp up and are far more difficult, but successfully extracting is much more satisfying.

Finding the right balance when playing on higher-difficulty modes is essential as it yields better results. Using the appropriate kit for specific enemies can make a significant difference. For instance, a shotgun and machine gun combination works well against bugs as they usually attack in large groups. On the other hand, rifles with more significant damage but a slower rate of fire can help break through machine armour.

As of late, Helldivers 2 faces significant challenges on multiple fronts. Players have reported issues with matchmaking, post-match rewards not being distributed, and Helldivers getting disconnected from games. Additionally, players have mentioned facing difficulties in joining up with friends. Although I have not faced these challenges as severely as some, I experienced a significant drop in framerate during several games, which led to my Helldiver’s movement appearing erratic. I played with face communication issues while others had similar issues in crossplay. A quick force quit and restart fixes this, but it is an ever-present issue that Arrowhead Games Studios is aware of and is working on fixing.

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In its third weekend, the studio has added support for upwards of 800,000 players to be online at once. As of this review, joining a session is much easier and faster than in the previous two weeks. It feels nearly as capable as when Helldivers 2 launched in early February. However, thanks to the nature of Helldivers 2, it is easily a game I’ve constantly wanted to return to each day with friends. The matchmaking issues exacerbated my desire to team up with friends because despite getting into the queue, the game would literally bug out, and some of us would freeze during a mission checkpoint. In contrast, others would lag and move at a snail’s pace. I haven’t had so much fun with a multiplayer game in a very long time, and Arrowhead Game Studios has a unique experience on their hands – one that more and more people are discovering each week as the concurrent count and sales continue to grow.

Verdict

Despite Helldivers 2 having some matchmaking issues, it can be a fun and comical co-op experience with unexpected and memorable events happening frequently. I can’t stress how much fun Helldivers 2 is with the right people, and it can potentially provide players with ludicrous stories to share. As players progress to higher difficulty levels, they can encounter more challenging enemies and hordes to add to their experiences. Live service titles are now a crowded genre, and with so many vying for your attention, you might struggle to find one worth investing time into. So here is me telling you to go out and sign up to save Democracy for Super Earth, and I’ll see you on the battlefield while stomping some bugs.

Recommended

[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]

Reviewed on: PlayStation 5

Helldivers 2
Review: Helldivers 2
Summary
Despite Helldivers 2 having some matchmaking issues, it can be a fun and comical co-op experience with unexpected and memorable events happening frequently.
Liked
Easy to drop in/out of matches
Excellent gameplay, punchy guns, and melee
Co-op is the best way to play with friends
Great soundtrack
Didn't Like
Launch issues including lag and glitches