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‘Helldivers 2’ Review: Discover The Fun and Thrills of This Must-Play Game

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If you’re a PC or PlayStation gamer, odds are, you’ve already either heard or seen your friends list deeply entrenched in Helldivers 2. I think I’m about to make one of the rarest statements I’ve ever said in regard to a review, and that is: I can’t find anything that I disliked about this video game. I genuinely went into it mostly blind, and now I’m trying to find rooftops to shout out how much fun I’m having. 

With the momentum of the game’s popularity not slowing down at all, you’ve likely heard the name at least once. Is it worth it, at $40? Absolutely, and I will tell you every reason why. So let’s jump into this hilariously addictive game that reminds me of Starship Troopers’ sentiment with Team America: World Police patriotism. Do you have the mettle to become a Helldiver? Let’s find out. Together.

What exactly is a “Helldiver”?

As the name mentions, you’re a diver, if you ever played Halo 3: ODST think of your relevance in that story. You’re nameless, who or what you are does not matter. What matters is that you live to defend Super-Earth with peace, liberty, and Managed Democracy. All this is accomplished with load-outs that would make the Pentagon jealous. Rather than being some imposing character, you’re instead as expendable as the bullets in your mag.

Now, with that huge weight off your shoulders, you can focus on the important things, spreading freedom and squashing enemies. There are two groups, the Terminids which are the bug faction, and the Automatons which remind me of Terminators and are the robot faction. These are your enemies, no other humans or humanoids. It’s man vs machine or nature, depending on the mission you select. 

Why are you doing this? Why not? There isn’t a storyline to complete, just work to do, but the opening cinematic will have you in stitches as science fiction satire bolts through in a recruitment video. After a wonderful tutorial (seriously, the Battle Injury Simulator was so out of left field and just brilliant) it’s pretty much time to roll. Pick a faction to fight (Terminid or Automaton), pick a planet, and then select the specific mission and dive in.

There’s a variety of missions that are all quite enjoyable, it can be simply eliminating a set number of enemies or retrieving research data and uploading it. Beyond these simple ones, you can be tasked with finding and defeating a huge enemy, one that towers over all the rest and takes a lot more firepower to destroy. See, here’s the thing, the variety of enemies will require you to play intelligently.

It’s not as easy as point-and-shoot every time. Imagine my horror when I saw bullets ricocheting off the armor of a creature named a Bile Titan, and then realized I had to use my best friend as bait to expose the Titan’s weak points. Multiply that fear by four times when its speed and long legs reached me in seconds and sent me flying to my death. So these simple objectives seem so easy, but then you’ve got an infestation that can instantly overwhelm you. Luckily, you’re outfitted with some really cool gear and back up, but I want to delve into that later. 

What happens after you “take a dive” in Helldivers 2?

Well, by now you’ve selected a mission and now have a short list of objectives to clear before you succeed and are granted the opportunity to be “extracted”. No sir, it’s not enough to destroy the base/get the data, you have to call in to get picked up which ramps up the difficulty that makes success feel earned. It’s no high-speed bullet train, there will be a two-minute wait and, of course, enemies are on their way to take you out and decline your successes. All in the name of freedom and liberty. 

So, you’ve landed, now what? Helldivers 2 gives you a sizable area to operate in once you’ve touched down. After making a glorious entrance, it’s up to you to consult your map and to devote your time strategically to whatever needs to be accomplished next. I truly loved this freedom, as the timer isn’t a countdown to failure, it just changes one massive dynamic in gameplay. Other optional objectives can be picked up and accomplished along the way, either before or after the main one. 

Helldivers 2 game image
Still from Helldivers 2 (Arrowhead Games Studio).

You see, it’s not just the rifle on your back and the pistol on your hip. You’re granted “Stratagems” which are selected before the mission and have an array of possibilities. So far, I’ve been heavily using airstrikes to carpet bomb waves of insects flailing towards me. It’s a B E A U-tiful sight to get the orbital lined up, and then ten seconds later have an explosion that levels the ground. Other Stratagems would resupply my ammunition reserves, stims (healing supplies), or provide me with an automatic machine gun turret, another gave me my own machine gun to use in combat. These are a core component of the gameplay, remember the timer I mentioned earlier? Well, if you pass the threshold, those Stratagems become ineffective and the field is tough out there. This element of difficulty gave me something that other games have failed to do: a sense of urgency. 

This game is really easy to jump into

I think what truly draws me is the simplicity and the quickness of matches, they’re timed at 40 minutes for the tougher ones. The Points of Interest are again, optional but provide resources that will give you credits to buy upgrades to your Stratagems and weapon loadouts. I have to give full credit to Arrowhead Game Studios for not throwing microtransactions in our faces when it’s the year 2024, they do exist, but you can still earn everything through gameplay. I personally don’t think the grind is too bad if you have good preparation and a squad.

There’s the catch, this game is best enjoyed with others, either through creating your party or match-making. As always, your results may vary. As of this writing, there is still a tiny bit of struggle to get into the game. The sudden popularity was much higher than what was initially anticipated, and hopefully with time will be alleviated whenever the studio can deploy a solution. 

My favorite things about Helldivers 2

Overall, this is the most fun I’ve unintentionally had, since there’s one crazy thing I haven’t quite shared yet. It’s the fact that friendly fire is always on, so yes there’s been more than one incident where I lit up my friends instead of the enemies. Fun fact about those orbital strikes…they take about 8 seconds to hit and have a pretty decent blast radius.

I’m no Tom Brady, so when I threw the Stratagem it hit the side of a building and bounced back at us, it felt like a Looney Toons moment where I stared at him, and he stared at me and we chuckled. I’ve laughed so much while playing that I had a knock on my door, checking to make sure I wasn’t going hysterical. 

Helldivers 2 game image
Still from Helldivers 2 (Arrowhead Game Studios).

I haven’t even mentioned the graphics, what drew me in were the customizable outfits and the fact that you look just a bit like The Mandalorian. The environments do feel alien, with heavy amounts of heat or toxic air that also affect your mobility! Within those environments are other factors that can slow you down, such as spores that I bumped into while diving into cover.

Explosives exist in two (unfortunate for me) forms, I stepped on a mine and these bumps on the alien planets sent you flying a good ten feet back if you’re not careful. Some of the sudden popularity of the game is because of these mechanics, I have already found many great memes about dropping in.

Don’t even get me started on the music, the soundtrack is not only ravishing to the ears, but it’s inspiring to the heart. I jokingly asked my buddy, when are the Avengers showing up because their musical cue was starting to lead up.

Lastly, the controls are pretty simple and there is one mission that requires you to realign a pipeline on a terminal that was a really fun mini-game puzzle for me. Of course, you’re racing the clock because it’s all in real-time, and you have to get someone to cover you as there is no pausing. I’m lucky I have a great crew and that we managed to pull off more than a few successful extractions, even if they were responsible for inflicting a couple thousand points of damage to me in the process. Crossplay IS a feature so couch players can link up with their PC brethren if needed to advance the mission. All is forgiven, in the name of Managed Democracy. 

Have you played Helldivers 2 or even the first Helldivers? Are you going to snag it and help me defend Super Earth? Helldivers 2 is now available for purchase on Steam for PC and on the PlayStation 5! If you’re already playing it, or plan to check it out now, let us know in the Discord or on any of our socials @MyCosmicCircus!

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Anthony Flagg

Howdy! I cover a variety of topics for The Cosmic Circus. My favorite topics to write about are video games, Pokemon and music. Drop me a line on Twitter! @redovah_

Anthony Flagg has 94 posts and counting. See all posts by Anthony Flagg