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Helldivers II

Helldivers II

Do you perchance like any of the following concepts: liberty, democracy, or Earth?

Have you ever wanted to fight bugs that were harvested for their resources on government plants that broke o—I mean bugs that have no elections and must be liberated of their resources, robot sla—I mean protesting unionized automaton workers, or an alien race that at this time is not recognized by the government? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then come with me and enlist in the Helldivers. 

Helldivers 2 is a video game that was released in February 2024. It is a PvE third person shooter taking place in the world of Helldivers. In this world, the entirety of humanity has banded together after a new Great War that has left large parts of the earth uninhabitable. These uninhabitable lands consist of much of Ukraine and the Caucasus, Greenland, and the UK/Ireland, although that last one may have been for the greater good anyway; it’s the UK, a desolate wasteland filled with pubs, chippies, and the great street fight that is Birmingham. If anything, we were putting them out of their misery. This Earth has called itself Super Earth and continued to spread out into the stars while conquering and colonizing planets, which culminated in the First Galactic War between Super Earth and Bugs called the Terminids, Cyborg, and an alien race called the Illuminate. Super Earth won this war in the first game, but now the menaces are back. The Automatons and Bugs launched an attack and hit the outer parts of Super Earth’s control, which sets the stage for the game.


If you wish elections were more predictable, congratulations: you’d love Super Earth.

The game is based around a Galactic Map, which shows the different sectors the factions control. In each of these sectors are three to four planets that the forces battle over. To play, you pick a planet that is being fought over, pick your loadout and dive into the battle in a pod dropped from a ship in orbit. Where this gets interesting is in the tools you use and the enemies you face.

The enemy factions both have different types of units with many nuances so I will take some time to explain the main ones. The Automatons have basic infantry with laser rifles and swords, jumpers with jetpacks and swords (and an ability to explode on death that makes them the leading cause of brain aneurysms), bruisers which are larger and have two chainsaw hands, three types of devastators (shield, rocket launcher or cannon),  two hulks (rocket launcher or flamethrower), tanks, and gunships. The Bugs have crawling bug, small crawling bug, acid artillery bug, commanders that spawn more bugs, chargers who run at the player like a bull seeing red, and the Bile Titan [Ed. Note—getting that put on our business cards], who is a massive bug with long legs that spits acid, flyers who dive at you like a magpie out for blood, and also acid-spitting versions of all the other crawlers.

You may be asking, though: how is any of this fun? Well . . .


it’s the tools you use that make this very interesting. When you pick your loadout, you get to pick a few things. Some of these are basic, like main gun, pistol, armor, and grenade, but it gets interesting with stratagems.

Stratagems are things that you can call in from outside the battle to help you and your squad. These start off tame, with things like resupply backpacks that give you ammo or a turret that provides supporting fire, but quickly progress to things like orbital lasers, incendiary minefields, 380 mm artillery barrages, exosuits, handheld autocannons, and even the famed 500 kg bomb. You can bring four of these per mission, and you call them in by pressing arrows in a sequence like a rhythm game. For example, for the 500 kg bomb, you press up, right, down, down, down and then you are given a little ball to throw to show where it will land. With these, you and three friends drop in and complete missions. These missions are anything from scanning soil data to launching an ICBM and much more.


All this stuff is also made less redundant by the different planets. Most have different aesthetics: some are like the moon, some are barren deserts, and there’s all sorts of other biomes, but even better, they have weather. Depending on the planet, different weather happens. There is a massive variety, from things like blizzards, fog, and sandstorms blocking your vision to electric storms stopping the use of stratagems and fire tornados and meteor showers outright damaging the player. After facing the weather, enemies, and completing your objectives, you must get to a specific location and hold out against waves of enemies for 2-3 minutes until a ship arrives to extract you. After you successfully extract, you get your rewards. You get XP and R which are used to buy new stratagems, Medals which buy guns and armor, samples which upgrade stratagems, and Liberation Points—for example, if you got 3 points, it would liberate that planet by 0.0003%.

All of this combined makes a good experience—but wait, there’s more! The soundtrack to the game fits perfectly, with epic music as the mission starts with the pods dropping, but growing tense and stress-inducing when hulks or titans spawn. To add on to this, the characters’ voice acting is great as well. They yell one-liners at the start of missions, seeming so confident, but as they take fire and start seeing their team die, they become audibly frightened and scream. The sound design really makes the battles feel real.


The game is also very good due to something rare in games: it has a culture around it. That may be confusing, so allow me to give an example.

Early on, when the game was released, a battle ensued on the planet of Malevalon Creek, which became infamous due to vegetation causing it to essentially become space Vietnam—but, oh boy, the trees were speaking binary. That became a famous in-joke in the Helldivers II community, as did many other things: for example, they began to come up with words to call enemies. Most prevalent among these are “clankers” for the Automatons and “crawlers” for the Bugs. The developers have played into these aspects, which only increases their popularity. To do this, they post fake news reports and alerts about the current status of the war. In the past, the reports have even included messages in binary code midsentence, as if they had been hacked by the bots. This really allows people to get into the game and feel like this is almost a real war, allowing the community to bond and feel connected. The aforementioned Liberation Points mechanic further reinforces this, since everyone, regardless of how good they are, are helping to win when they complete a mission. All of this allows for a community that is friendly and fun to be in. Since everyone helps each other win, people are often nice to each other, which in this day and age is quite rare. The community behind the game are also nothing if not committed: they have even come up with a new plan to in some way “get rid” of a man named Joel, a developer who runs the war, in any way necessary.

The game is fun and enjoyable, but it also has an underlying message. The story and world is a satire about militarism and authoritarianism. It is much like the movie Starship Troopers with some developers saying that they took inspiration from it while making the designs for the bugs and the story. [Ed. Note—to be fair, if they didn’t say that, they’d be staggeringly brazen liars.]

In the story of Helldivers, one of the Earth’s core principles is democracy. In fact, they are so democratic that they have a system that automatically casts your vote for you and the same person has won re-election 14 times in a row. Another example of this is how it is revealed that there is a state mandate that requires that every person own a gun, yet they have still lost to sentient toasters and oversized cockroaches. There is also a part of the government called the Ministry of Truth that “ensures the correction and destruction of enemy propaganda.”

There is, of course, also the fact that the war started because the government farmed the bugs for an element called E-710, and the robots were originally slave labo—knock, knock.

Wait, who is at the door at this hour? Knock, knock.

“Hello sir, we are from the Ministry of Truth and we would like a word with a Mr. Hay.”

Oh no, well, I’d better wrap this one up here.

This game is absolutely amazing and I cannot recommend it enough. It has a good community, great gameplay, and is only $40 in a time when people are trying to normalize $70 games. I personally have had a lot of fun with this game, and around 500,000 other democracy-loving players may just agree with me. There is also more content to come, as in writing this, two new stratagems, the aforementioned flying enemies, Star-Wars-esque walker enemies, eight new guns, and six new armor sets have been added so far. This game really is showing how to do a live service game, and just a game in general. Thank you for reading an-

Pound. Pound.

Oh, no, they are breaking down the door. I have to leave n—

This broadcast has been interrupted by the Ministry of Truth. Do not listen to the lies said about Super Earth before this interruption. These were the words of a socialist Bug sympathizer that has now been sent to a re-education facility. Remember, flying bugs aren’t real. It’s just propaganda. The blue lights in the sky aren’t real. They can’t hurt you.

Defend our galaxy by joining the Helldivers today! 

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  • M

    Miss KoulourisMay 2, 2024 at 1:41 pm

    Great review!! You do a great job of both discussing the details and giving an overall picture that’s relatable.