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HELLDIVERS 2 is a co-op shooter developed by Arrowhead Game Studios and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Shifting away from the first game’s top-down perspective to third-person, it’s a near-constant boots-to-the-ground experience as you conq— ahem, I mean, to spread Democracy and defend Super Earth from enemy control from those horrible, undemocratic bugs and robots. Everyone needs to do their part, so let’s see if it’s worth diving into Hell for.

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Join the Helldivers: The last line of offence.

The setting of the game takes place in the future where everyone is happy, living a great life full of Liberty and Managed Democracy. However, there are those who want to disrupt this way of life. You are a Helldiver, a soldier trained for thirty whole minutes to leap feet-first into the most dangerous locations across the galaxy to liberate planets and spread Democracy and Liberty in the name of Super Earth. What do you mean it’s all pointless? It’s our fault they’re attacking? 20% survival rate!? Dash those cowardly thoughts — this is for Super Earth! And you get a sweet cape!

Yeah, so if you’ve read this far, you’ll know that it’s a biting satire of American neoconservatism and the War on Terror, sort of like how Starship Troopers goes about its themes. Like, seriously, I think most of the NPCs don’t even know what Liberty and Democracy are. Even as they’re dying horribly, missing chunks of their arms, legs, and torso, they all yell about it enthusiastically. Still, you can’t help but get into it, screaming it like a battle cry before you are inevitably shot down/exploded. It’s just really damn funny, too, and made me laugh a few times; even some landing screen tips managed to get me. The writing and voice acting really sell the setting of the game, and it's damn charismatic, which is necessary for Democracy.

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This is just one of many places you'll fight and die in.

As for the planets you fight on, they are rather diverse despite being mostly lifeless hellscapes. Every planet has a different biome and feeling. You can be fighting in a frozen wasteland one mission and then go get PTSD in what many players called “Space Vietnam”: Maevelon Creek. It’s one of the most difficult but fun planets to fight in, even if we are horribly losing in it currently. It’s all great, and you don’t really get tired of seeing the same structures. And let me tell you, it will feel like you’re fighting in a war.

There are two factions currently causing trouble for Super Earth (which is totally not karma for abusing their species and kidnapping their creators): the terrible Terminids (bugs) and the auspicious Automatons (robots). They are actively trying to take over various sectors around Super Earth, but with every mission completed, you push them back little by little with various objectives, like escorting civilians to safety, eliminating enemy forces, and firing nukes. You’ll need to work with players all over the world if you want to stop them from getting to Super Earth. It’s going to be very difficult even with a full squad of four players, as Helldivers aren’t exactly very durable, and ammo is limited, but luckily, you can call in anything you might need in the form of Stratagems. Just input the sequence, throw the beacon, and wait for your destroyer to drop in whatever you need, such as bigger guns, turrets, orbital bombardment, or reinforcements to replace the buddies you’ve killed with bigger guns, turrets, and orbital bombardment.

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Aim in third-person or first-person.

Friendly fire is on at all times, so you have to check your fire, especially when calling down orbital strikes. I cannot tell you how many times I've shot my squadmates in the face or have gotten blown up by someone’s bombing run. You can't even trust your own stuff to keep you 100% safe, as bullets are indiscriminate in dealing justice. The game can make you feel like either the greatest badass in the galaxy with effective use of weapons and Stratagems… or the most pathetic buffoon to grace the stars as you accidentally crush your teammates with supply drops and fail to make it to the escape ship because you tripped. The realism with your weapons also helps the feeling.

However, you can’t take all the time in the world. You’re on the clock, and if you don’t make it to extraction before your escape ship leaves… well, actually, as long as you finish your main objectives first, you’ll still get the completion even if you all die. Plus, once the clock hits zero, Stratagems are disabled, and extraction is sent automatically. If you want to leave with samples, which are needed to upgrade your ship and your life, I suggest you start running as soon as you’re done or you’re out of reinforcements. Ah, capitalism.

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Please ignore that purple "?" thing.

Onto progression, I think it's done well enough. Upgrading your ship to make your Stratagems better only takes different types of samples and some in-game money, but if you want different weapons and armour, you’re gonna have to go through a battle pass and spend medals, which are earned with campaign missions. I don’t like battle passes, but at least here, it isn’t trying to make you spend more money than you should, and the premium battle pass doesn’t have much to give you an advantage over cheaper players, just cooler stuff. The free pass will give you all you need to become a real Helldiver.

Now for how it runs and what issues you may encounter on your warpath. Now, I don’t have the best computer, rocking a whole 8GBs of RAM with an AMD Ryzen 7 3800X 8-Core Processor and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER. Suffice to say, I was playing on Medium graphics, and even then, my performance was between 30-60 FPS in rather intense moments, so anyone with a better PC can run it easily.

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Setting off nukes? Just another day for the Helldivers.

The server issues (due to selling way more than anticipated; good job, team) do put a damper on things. While it's not as bad as it was at launch, and I didn't suffer major issues logging in, I still ran into some problems. Several times, I would end up getting dropped in the middle of a mission or trapped in a loading screen, forcing a restart. I also encountered quite a few visual bugs, such as when your character doesn’t stay inside their pod when entering someone else’s ship or having nothing but your gun and helmet load in for the first few minutes of a mission. I also managed to somehow get stuck inside the pod bay with someone, trapping us until we were teleported to the Hellpods to start a mission. Finally, my game occasionally crashes when changing my character’s armour, which is not great considering the importance of preparing for every mission with the right weapons alongside your Stratagems.

And let me take this moment to talk about the Automatons because we are horribly losing against these guys. They are a serious jump in difficulty compared to the Terminids, as they have equal or better weapons than we currently have. Unlike the bugs, they can shoot back, and they shoot a lot, so the battlefield will have hundreds of lasers flying around as you desperately fight back against them while completing objectives. Not only that, their weak points are very difficult to shoot at by yourself, and they are armoured to hell and back, especially those Hulks. Most of our weapons can’t deal with them. Please help.

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Super Earth needs heroes. Will you join the fight?

What was I talking about? Oh right.

HELLDIVERS 2 is really fun… when it works. It’s intense, and every victory can feel well-earned, especially when you play with friends and face harder and harder challenges. It’s worth diving into to experience everything it has and the moments that make you scream in joy, but be prepared to go through some Hell to get to those points. But hey, it’s a big hit right now, so these issues will get resolved soon enough.

HELLDIVERS 2 is available on PlayStation 5 and Steam. And hey, there’s crossplay!

8.50/10 8½

HELLDIVERS 2 (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

HELLDIVERS 2 is worth going through hell to experience its gameplay and world, but server issues and glitches will rain on that campaign. Still, there’s nothing quite like diving in, feet first.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Dylan Pamintuan

Dylan Pamintuan

Staff Writer

An Australian-born guy whose trying to show everyone why games are awesome.

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