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Helldivers 2 review – the most fun I’ve had with a co-op shooter since Left 4 Dead
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Helldivers 2 review – the most fun I’ve had with a co-op shooter since Left 4 Dead


If you have ever dreamt of being the star of your own version of Paul Verhoeven’s intense science fiction satire, Starship Troopers, you can now relax: your wish has come true. Helldivers 2, the follow-up to the 2015 cooperative top-down shooter, is an online game where muscular space soldiers descend onto alien planets and, motivated by nationalistic slogans, obliterate anything in their path with advanced futuristic weapons. This can involve battling giant insect creatures or robots; however, the end result is always the same: gory, industrial-style slaughter. Similar to its source material, Helldivers 2 is an incredibly enjoyable journey full of excitement.

In the future, Earth, now called Super Earth, is being threatened by alien creatures on distant planets with valuable resources. Players start with a basic spaceship and a simple fighter, then choose a planet and mission to complete. Once landed, the goal is to spread the concept of militarized democracy to the inhabitants. While solo play is an option, the game is best experienced with a team of four players. Each player has access to primary and secondary weapons, such as shotguns and assault rifles, as well as grenades. Additionally, during battles, players can use Strategems, which are special weapons like orbital missile strikes and defensive shields.

Helldivers 2 screengrab

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Tasks range from displaying patriotic flags to repositioning communication equipment and rescuing civilian settlers. However, there are additional missions such as demolishing enemy bases and exploring deserted research facilities. Along the way, you may come across Samples, which can be acquired to upgrade your spacecraft, and Medals, which unlock new armor and customized items. The main form of currency is Requisition Slips, used to purchase various Strategems from a diverse and unique selection. While there is an option to buy Super Credits with real money, the developer, Arrowhead Game Studios, assures that these purchases (primarily body armor and helmets) are not necessary for progression and Super Credits can also be earned in-game. Personally, I have not felt the need to make any purchases while playing for many hours.

The game’s loop is extremely well-designed, and in the wrong hands, it would seem comically simplistic. You team up with others, travel to different planets, defeat enemies, gather resources, and then extract to tally your profits and upgrade your weapons. This cycle is repeated until you become exhausted. As you level up, you gain access to more powerful weapons, but the overall process remains the same until the planet is “liberated.” Once this happens, all players in the world move on to another planet. (Note: There is a real-time global battle map where every player contributes to the intergalactic peace effort.)

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How is this not exhausting? It’s because Arrowhead has put all their effort into making every aspect of the experience incredibly enjoyable. The guns have a solid feel and range of options, and each successful hit is accompanied by a satisfying explosion of bugs or twisted metal. The sound effects for missile strikes and napalm blasts add to the overall destructive thrill. This game truly grasps the importance of providing intense, exaggerated feedback.

The transition from top-down to third-person 3D visuals greatly enhances the visual experience of Helldivers 2. While the planets may seem desolate, they are actually filled with various structures and obstacles that provide strategic advantages. The chaotic and entertaining interactions between players make for an intense gameplay. Interestingly, the game allows team killing, so players must be careful not to accidentally harm their teammates with powerful weapons. While this feature would be detrimental in other games, it adds to the overall absurdity of the sci-fi violence in Helldivers 2. The fact that “sorry” is a frequently used phrase on the communication wheel speaks volumes about the game’s intense and accident-prone nature.

The top marksmen encourage players to participate in a manner that aligns with the game’s mood and world, and Helldivers 2 is definitely one of them. You engage in a frenzied state, freely using airstrikes and quickly depleting your ammo supply, resulting in carrying heavy backpacks full of ammunition everywhere you go. I’ve joined forces with many individuals who have taken on the role of characters from the Starship Troopers movie, enthusiastically shouting “That’s what I call democracy!” with each airstrike they call in. Sometimes I wonder how many are aware of the humor behind it all, and how many genuinely believe they are the heroes. But really, who cares when you’re covered in bug guts and the scent of gunpowder lingers in the air?

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Unfortunately, there were initial technical issues, particularly on PC, and finding a game with unfamiliar players can be challenging. Additionally, some players may question the longevity of a live service game centered around a repetitive loop. However, this cooperative shooter is the most enjoyable I’ve experienced since Left 4 Dead or the original horde mode in Gears of War. The gameplay is incredibly precise and exhilarating, with satisfying feedback and impressive effects. It’s worth noting that this game excels at achieving its goals, making it a truly absurd and outstanding experience.

Source: theguardian.com