Helldivers 2 Review

Written by Gaming Route

Helldivers 2 is very different from its predecessor. The original was a fantastic cooperative top-down game you could play locally or online. It was one of the first games I ever got on my PS4, so my personal anticipation for the sequel was high. The shift to a third-person perspective is welcome, with fun levels, maps, and enemy encounters. While the fun factor is very high, especially when playing with friends or even randoms, the game’s disappointing technical problems on launch, decreased enemy variety and smaller issues bring down the overall product, though there is potential for it to improve.

Join the Helldivers!

The game settles you in with a very light and slightly comedic cutscene to set the B-movie tone to the proceedings, and the game consistently follows through on this tone. It has big, bombastic explosions all over the place, your corpse has ragdoll physics and can go flying if caught in said explosion, and dialogue is patriotic to the point of parody. There’s no deeply gripping narrative within the game, but there is a self-awareness that is very much welcome. There are two big factions that you can fight, which can be basically summarized as being bugs and robots. Bugs are more natural in their manners of attacking, while robots fight using weapons, and both play differently enough to be very visually and mechanically distinct from one another.


Patriotism is the primary target of this game’s light satire, with both actual mechanics and character voice lines only further enhancing this uber-patriotism. Soldiers are disposable, with the deceased immediately being replaced by reinforcements that use The exact same equipment. Characters will shout about freedom, liberty, and democracy, adding to the pulpy, campy feeling of the action. The tutorial teaches players about most of the mechanics (though omitting that you can edit tiny bits of your weapon), and is accompanied by an overly patriotic voiceover.

Teamwork Makes the Creeps Burst

Despite the game’s massive perspective shift, it still retains the core feel of the original. Fighting alien forces using stratagems inputted through crisp, killer weapons and deliberate button combinations that provide upgrades, jet packs and explosions feels just as good as ever. While it is unfortunate that the game has foregone any split-screen mutiplayer options, the online capabilities allow for that same chaos. That being said, there are some major issues faced by the game.

Matchmaking on launch was plagued with issues, with the worst being that the quickplay feature was failing to work, thus forcing solo matches, or having to play with friends. Though this review was done on a PS5, issues on PC platforms were also reported. Teammates have somehow gotten stuck on some places within the ship, which only got fixed through the team leader and other members starting a mission. Otherwise, the quality mode looks nice, but the frame rate isn’t as smooth as one would need in a game like this, so the performance mode is perfect. From the hours I’ve sunk into the game, I haven’t experienced any big frame rate dips, and the technical qualities like the beautiful lighting in the environments, terrific enemy design and solid animations are quite astounding.

On the harder difficulties especially, things can get chaotic, with more of the extremely dangerous and threatening enemies popping up, and explosions likely all around. There’s only the slightest stuttering, which happens when there’s about a dozen explosions going on, so it seems like there’s not much to worry about in the base technical performance department. However, I did experience one crash in the midst of a big firefight, so I unfortunately abandoned the team of randoms I had joined. The game allows for different ways to let teammates communicate. Being able to select from a wheel of simple commands has helped my squad talk about things without needing to have a microphone, and thankfully, there are numerous microphone options for those who do or do not want to chat with randoms.

“Boom!” Go the Bots and Bugs

There are two enemy types as mentioned, and fighting them is as satisfying as they should feel. Though it is one less enemy type than the previous game’s three, they still have a certain amount of depth that makes up for the change. The bugs, called the Terminids, can deal poison damage and spit out painful, often deadly toxins, with some like the Chargers being extreme threats that have completely wiped my team. They host some truly nasty creatures that don’t need any special weapons to prove how deadly they are. The robots, known as the Automatons, are fewer in number, but require a lot more coordination and precision. Some robots have armor that makes it so the best way to eliminate them is by aiming at their head.

Thankfully, the weapons available all allow you to aim down their sights, and a laser sight also helps you to make sure you know just where your shot is going to land. Some weak points are more obvious than others, but you’ll always know whether or not you’re hitting the right marks through the hit markers that change depending on whether or not you’re striking a vital point, or just pointlessly shooting armor.

The game provides you with tools of different kinds, from carpet bombs to sentry turrets. Placing in the inputs for these “stratagems” will call in one of them from above to provide support on the ground, but even then, since friendly fire thankfully still exists, you can not only blow yourself up, but blow up your entire team by accident. I’ve been the recipient of this, largely by way of being the one to misplace some bombs. Never has it been so fun to accidentally sabotage your entire team in one move. Playing alone is fine, and incredibly tense too on challenging difficulties, and even when you play with a full squad, things are rarely so easy. Even when you play alone, you can use an SOS beacon to have people drop in from the sky and assist you. Quite a number of objectives are very clearly based around having teammates supporting you through them as well, so while having a sentry or robot drone accompanying you is nice, playing with others helps ensure that you optimize your time.

Having access to so many weapons is made better when they all individually feel good. The guns sound great, and they feel different to shoot as well, allowing for a good amount of variety, even just a few pages into the game’s progression system. Some weapons feel better suited to different encounters, like the marksman rifle being more suited to the robot enemies so that you could more easily land the critical hits needed. Assault rifles work well anywhere, but using them on the less tanky bugs that are also bigger in number helps when you need to manage your ammo consumption. There’s a lot to tinker with in this game, and having so many viable weapons at your disposal allows you to have fun with all the weapons, as none of them are broken, yet none are outright terrible.

Your choice of gear also helps, even if it is a little simple. There’s light, medium, and heavy armor, and while they function as you’d expect, there are little differences that can significantly impact your playthrough. One set of armor I collected increased the amount of times I could heal, while selecting another impacted how many grenades I could have. Its also great that the armor looks great, with the physics for your signature cape being great, and animations for characters being rather smooth like when recovering from getting tossed into a ragdoll animation. The very few NPCs you interact with have rather stilted and wooden facial animations, but you thankfully won’t be seeing much of them.

Save the World(s)

One of the game’s most important elements is its supposed longevity. Much like the first game, Helldivers 2 has players participate in a galactic war that consists of the entire playerbase. Completing a set of missions will further progress the “liberation” of a planet, and liberating a planet will unlock more even planets to liberate. This unlocks new environments, as the completion of the liberation efforts of a snowy planet unlocked a new liberation campaign for a planet that’s more like what you’d expect out of a desert.

Each planet has different effects, like the aforementioned snowy planet affecting your weapons’ rate of fire and reducing visibility thanks to snowstorms. Having new planets with new environmental conditions in each of them helps flesh out the universe of Helldivers as much as it possibly can. Jungles, deserts, and straight up alien (no pun intended) environments make sure the game has a solid amount of variety. That “amount of variety” can’t quite be said for the missions.

A lot of the missions are quite basic in their structure and objectives, with a lot of them boiling down to simply destroying buildings, killing enemies, or defending your position at an objective. Granted, they never quite play out the same, but the mission structure gets predictable. What truly makes these levels replayable is the encounters you face. Unlocking a new difficulty comes with completing the hardest one you have available, and it really is a test of your skills and coordination when you increase the difficulty. The increased number of powerful enemies tests both your precision and your quick thinking, as resource management is a shockingly big part of the experience.

You only have 4-8 magazines per gun, and your options to resupply are either to scour the randomized levels for resources like healing, grenades, and ammunition, or call in a resupply strategem that has a cooldown, so you need to make sure that you only use what you have when absolutely necessary. Reloading a magazine with bullets still left also tosses away whatever bullets were left, so that’s another important thing to keep in mind amidst all the action. There is also a stamina bar, which really comes into play when you have dozens of enemies chasing you and you’re on your way to the extraction point. You need to make sure you both have enough to run away when needed, and are using just enough to get to cover. Keeping in mind the different environments’ effects on your weapons, you have to ensure you are packing the right gear while keeping in mind how often you use said gear. What this creates is a satisfying tension that persists in spite of the mission structure, though time will tell if the repetitive mission structure turns out to play in the game’s favor.

The game’s levels aren’t perfect, but they’re very pretty and distinct, with distinct color palettes accompanying each one, and while you do get familiar with the missions really quickly, this familiarity can get turned on its head with the aforementioned difficulty levels, and some missions only unlocking on the harder difficulties. A personal favorite involves taking down two massive titan bugs, and this forces you to come up with strategies using the strategems and special weapons to ensure survival and completion. The missions could sometimes have more interesting objectives, but the ones that are interesting truly stand out as taking full advantage of the concept.

Unfortunately, sometimes, the map won’t show shallow waters perfectly. I had a moment with a squadmate where we had to spend precious minutes walking across an island because the shallow water we could traverse through was too dark on the game’s map for us to see clearly. Traversal can be slow and tedious if you’re not encountering enemies, and something missing from the original that is sorely missed in these large, new environments is the ability to call in vehicles to make movement less one note other than the jump pack.


Helldivers 2 is successful in most of its endeavors, and its fantastic action combined with replayable encounters keep things fresh long after you’ve liberated your first planet. Its gorgeous environments and threatening enemies provide a solid amount of variety, and its unique stratagems mix very well with the necessary teamwork and coordination expected in firefights. The game is still facing maintenance and network issues, with quite a number of technical problems popping up, even on a PS5 system. That said, Helldivers 2 is a game that’s easy to recommend, and easy to beg others to hop on, and any worries I had about its longevity have been quelled by the pride I take in destroying bugs and robots in the name of freedom and liberty with my friends. Just don’t blow everyone up as you do so.

Score: 8/10

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