Helldivers is all about the challenge and how far you are willing to push yourself against the various threats to Super Earth. Always outmanned a squad of up to 4 helldivers can take the plunge into enemy territory to fight bugs, cyborgs, and an ancient civilization known as the illuminate. Each of these enemies threatens the very existence of Super Earth and must be eradicated from existence. This is only if the entire force of helldivers across the globe can push the enemy back to their home planet and successfully defeat them. Helldivers has many interesting concepts and ideas that involve working together to be successful. These ideas are unique to Helldivers, but that doesn’t make the game good. Thankfully the war to save humanity provides endless missions and a solid unlock system that kept me liberating planet after planet.
Everything is a threat when fighting for Super Earth. Not only do you have to be aware of what’s actively trying to kill you, but nearly everything else on the battlefield as well. Friendly fire cannot be turned off, meaning teammates can pose a threat if communication is lacking. This creates constant tension while in a battle. Deciding when to shoot can often kill a teammate or save them by simply holding your fire, letting them deal with it. For those worried about players team killing and ruining the fun, rest assured that developer Arrowhead Studios has provided an in game kick mechanic and a option that lets you report bad seeds. Thankfully through my 10 hours with Helldivers I have yet to encounter anyone trying to cause grief.
Utter defeat will occur. I’ve been on missions that have lasted as long as 30 minutes and ones as short as 27 seconds. Failure can be come quick and effortless on higher difficulties. Each planet has a set difficulty from 1, a walk in the park, to 12, helldive. Lower levels can be completed solo and quick. These are great for learning the mechanics of the game. The mechanics truly separate Helldivers from the rest of the twin stick shooter genre. Manual reloading is required for each weapon, which adds an extra bit of tension to each shot fired. Also with every reload the remaining amount of ammunition is thrown away with the magazine. In a world where every shot counts it truly makes you get the most out of your weapons. Each weapon is unique and feels unique. Rifles are all-round guns with a good fire rate and decent damage. While shotguns provide a big spread and huge damage. There are also laser weapons and even a lighting gun that can cause serious damage.
Helldivers can customize their load out with more than just standard weapons. Stratagems are a huge part of a good helldivers arsenal and can often save you in a pinch. Stratagems are activated by holding in the “L1” button and punching in a specific code for each stratagem. These codes can be short or complicated depending on what is being called down for help. There are 3 types of main stratagems supply, defensive, and offensive. They can be as simple as ammo crates or as destructive as a mech. Each stratagem serves a purpose and can be useful in the right situation. It’s knowing which stratagems fit your play style and tailoring a load out for your role on the team.
The progression system is the real carrot on the stick for those wanting to try out each weapon and stratagem. Stratagems are unlocked after fully liberating a planet and the reward is shown before setting down on a planet. Weapons are unlocked as you level up. Experience is gained through completing missions. The harder the mission the more XP is gained. Each time you level up a research point is awarded. This can be put into a weapon or a stratagem to increase its effectiveness. Research points can also be gained by finding samples while in enemy territory. Collecting 10 results in a new point and the points can be racked in if a team is diligent about collecting samples.
The galactic war is a real time race to defeat each enemy race before they reach Super Earth. Players from all over the globe must push back each enemy type to their respective home world. Once the home world is reached a final front to take the enemy out is initiated. If democracy is spread to the home world then that race of enemy is no longer a threat for the remainder of the current war. This is a fun and interesting concept that I have yet to see. I hope that the final assault on a home planet will offer some unique missions.
Each enemy type also requires different strategies. Bugs are heavily armored close combat killing machines, while cyborgs will pepper rifle fire and grenades from a far. Each race has a variety of different enemy types. Some can be disposed of quickly with a well-placed sniper shot. Others will require heavy weapons and good maneuvering. Having 2 gigantic bugs on the screen is terrifying and adds an element of fear to the already hectic situation.
Missions are procedurally generated, however they often have the same objectives. Activate oil pumps, escort hostages, and capturing points are a few of the mission objectives. These are what you can expect out of each mission no matter what planet or what race. There are also only 3 different biomes. Each planet has a specific biome, such as ice. They offer different color pallets and land to traverse, but are generally similar. They look good and seeing each environment become a war torn land is entertaining. Choosing a drop zone is important to the mission. Players can choose to drop right on top of an objective if they choose. This puts them right in the action, but limits time to call down stratagems to prepare.
Helldivers sports a unique brand of humor. Super Earth is all about Democracy and the only ones that can spread that Democracy are the helldivers. Anyone who questions the ways of Super Earth can be punished and the game puts this out at the opening cinematic. It’s a fun treat to know that not all space shooters are serious and even makes you question the title itself being a bit over the top.
Those looking for a single player experience aren’t completely left out in cold, but know that this game should be played with a group. Helldivers is some of the most fun I’ve had playing co-op in quite some time. The sheer intensity and variety of ways you can tackle each mission makes it truly unique. Every mission I completed with friends had us talking about a certain moment we barley escaped. It’s that kind of feeling that Helldivers presents that makes it so much fun.
This review is based on a retail copy of the PlayStation 4 version of Helldivers developer by Arrowhead Studios
- Challenging combat
- Variety of weapons
- Endless missions
- Overused objectives