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Helldivers 2 review: Worth the hype

Helldivers 2 review: Worth the hype


Helldivers 2 is the first game I’ve bought on PlayStation in over a year. After a week of being inundated with memes and TikToks about the new third-person shooter from Arrowhead Games, I finally decided to take the plunge and try the smash hit. I’ve played it for about 16 hours so far, and the biggest takeaway is it’s the most fun I’ve had playing a game on a bigger screen in a long time.


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I had a big decision to make: whether to play Helldivers 2 on my PS5 or on my Asus ROG Ally, the latter of which has been my go-to console since last year. After some quick research online, however, the PS5 won.

Helldivers 2

Join the Galactic War as one of Super Earth’s Helldivers and take on the Automaton and Terminid scorn threatening democracy, peace, and the human way of life throughout the galaxy.

Developer
Arrowhead Games

Platform(s)
PlayStation 5 , Steam

Release
February 8, 2024

Multiplayer
Online Co-Op

Genre
Third-person shooter

Prequel(s)
Helldivers

Terminator meets Starship Troopers

Full disclosure: I was a kid in the 90s obsessed with Terminator 2 and Starship Troopers, so I honestly think this game might have been made for me. You play as a Helldiver, which is an elite class of soldiers from Super Earth (a fascistic, future version of Earth).

“You may be asking, ‘Why am I fighting bugs and robots with guns?’ To spread freedom and democracy, of course.”


After some quick training, you gain control of your own Destroyer spaceship and head out to take on robots and bugs in different sectors of space – hence the Terminator and Starship Troopers reference. Along with your regular lineup of alien-killing weaponry, you have access to all the firepower and equipment your spaceship can hold when you’re on a mission. You can drop huge orbital bombardments on armies of alien bugs and call in extra equipment, reinforcements, and goodies like sentry guns.

Now, you may be asking, “Why am I fighting bugs and robots with guns?” To spread freedom and democracy, of course.

The game looks fantastic and took full advantage of the power of my PS5. I think the gameplay is honestly at its best when mowing down a huge horde of enemies. In those moments, it really feels like I’ve been teleported into a sequel to one of my favorite 90s films.


Play solo or with a team of four

In Helldivers 2, you take on the hordes of bugs and robots with a team of up to four other Helldivers, or you can play by yourself. This is important to me, because I hate playing games with folks I don’t know, but I also have three brothers who I like to play with online. I convinced them to jump on the Helldivers bandwagon with me, and it’s been a lot of fun. Missions are a little easier with more Helldivers, and for me, half of the online appeal of this game is repeating lines from Starship Troopers with my brothers.

There is friendly fire, though, so be careful where you’re dropping those bombs from orbit.

Helldivers 2 is an online-only game, so you can’t play offline. The main reason is the unique level-opening system the game employs.


Your mission: Win the Galactic War

Helldivers who have been playing since the game opened on Feb. 8 will know how new worlds open in the game. You choose missions by selecting worlds that Super Earth is at war with in the Terminid (bugs) or Automaton (robots) sectors. Each world has a liberation percentage that’s based on how every Helldiver is does at completing primary and secondary missions on that planet.

If you successfully accomplish your goals, you will push the liberation percentage up for every Helldiver planet in the world, but dying or running out of time on missions will hurt the liberation goal.


Once a planet reaches 100% liberated, a new planet or group of planets will open — continuing the process of bringing peace and democracy to the galaxy. Of course, there are mysterious empty parts of the galactic map, which might mean new enemies to fight in the future. The first Helldivers game featured factions known as the Illuminate and cyborgs, so we may see them return.

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PS5Why I chose PS5 over ROG Ally to play

I picked up a ROG Ally in 2023, and since then, I have almost completely abandoned my PS5. Helldivers 2 changed that for me. I’ve fired the system back up to join the Galactic War. Still, it was a big decision to make — to get it on Steam or on PlayStation.

“The ROG Ally could handle Helldivers 2, but playing on a larger screen with a console like the PS5 is great for online-based games.”

I’m certain the ROG Ally could handle Helldivers 2, but playing on a larger screen with a console like the PS5 is great for online-based games. Helldivers HUD system isn’t huge, but it could feel that way on the ROG Ally’s smaller screen. The real deciding factor for me was the anti-cheat software the game uses, nProtect Gameguard, which has had issues with user data in the past. While that normally wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for me necessarily, it just made the decision to go with the the PS5 version of Helldivers 2 all that easier.


About those microtransactions…

You can bet there are microtransactions. Still, I can’t complain about them too much. So far, I’ve earned plenty of the in-game currency from completing missions to get the gear I want. The type of currency you need to buy clothing for your Helldiver is the slowest to come by, so it will probably be the most common microtransaction made in the game, but it’s cosmetic.

I wouldn’t say the microtransactions in Helldivers 2 make the game worthy of a pay-to-win label.

Server issues are a thing

One issue that’s affecting Helldivers 2 is its popularity. Arrowhead Games wasn’t quite prepared for the game to be such a success, and because of that, it didn’t have servers prepared for a large player base. It’s currently capped its servers at 450,000 players, which isn’t great, considering the game hovers above 400,000 concurrent players on Steam some nights.

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The verdict

I’ve been pretty down on the current state of gaming. It seems like outside Hideo Kojima, there are very few new original AAA titles being released for gaming consoles. The industry seems focused on remaking every successful game of the last 30 years. This is partially what’s led to me barely turning on my PlayStation. (That, and my wife and I had our first child a couple of years ago, which means there has been little time for me to sit in front of the TV to play games.) I’ll be making time for Helldivers 2 now, however.

I’m blown away by the feel of the game and just how much fun it is to play online by myself and with my brothers. The leveling up system, replayability, variety of the missions, and the story have made it worth dusting off my DualSense controller.



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Written by bourbiza mohamed

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