Helldivers II Review — For Liberty!

Helldivers II is exciting and explosive, but I have some fears about its future—when I'm able to log in and play.
Helldivers 2 Feautred

Are you ready to drop? Armed with advanced and deadly technology alongside an unhealthy obsession with so-called democracy, you join the ranks of the prestigious Helldivers as you fight the Galactic War against giant bugs and bad-intentioned killbots, all in the name of the glorious Super Earth. Helldivers II is a multiplayer action game set across a myriad of landscapes, where the goal is usually one thing: Destroy overwhelming hordes of foes with unspeakable levels of government-issue firepower.

After selecting your mission, you and any squadmates joining you will select your loadout and fire down to the planet on board one of your ship’s hellpods. After breaching the surface, you’re in a race to complete a mission objective and extract before your frigate leaves orbit, using an impressive collection of weapons and ordinance to make up for how frail and mortal you are compared to the vicious aliens or robots you find yourself against.

Helldivers 2 Bugsplat
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

I almost… struggle to describe Helldivers II’s gameplay, but a few descriptors come to mind: Explosive, exciting, and sometimes chaotic. It is impossible for me to say that Helldivers II’s core combat isn’t fun because each weapon feels good to use, and the amount of freedom you’re given to reign death upon your enemies is outstanding.

One thing you will quickly notice in Helldivers II is that when you fire on your enemies, there are no floating damage numbers or indicators other than maybe something having too much armor on the spot you’re shooting. As you progress, the weapons become different, not necessarily “better,” because there’s no damage scaling. The most you’ll pick up is something that’s maybe armor piercing or has better range than your starting equipment. There is no grind or experience barrier keeping you from the fun in Helldivers 2, and a rookie can join up with a pro and be just as effective on the field of battle.

The game’s excellent amount of mission variety keeps things from getting too repetitive too quickly. While most missions will require you to kill a bunch of enemies or interact with a terminal, they vary in theme, which keeps things fresh, like launching an ICBM into a bug nest or holding the fort from a robot invasion. Plus, each session combines two of these missions into one, reading you once you complete both.

The way the game looks is the cherry on top of the gameplay. It’s just wow. Each planet has its own biome and, thus, its own set of lighting and effects to awe at… assuming there are no enemy hordes on the screen to pull your attention away. Command does recommend you spend at least 2.5 seconds each mission enjoying the scenery!

Helldivers 2 Desrt
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

The game’s difficulty is something I struggle to comment on. Things can feel overwhelming and even frustrating at times, especially if you make the mistake of dropping into the Automaton workspace too early on in your career. I will say that chances are you will probably have fun in Helldivers 2 if you queue up with friends or open your squad up to matchmaking. That being said, there will still be moments when even a full, well-armed squad feels overwhelmed, and that’s part of the fun.

Every rose has its thorns, and it would seem the biggest prickly patch in Helldivers II gatekeeps you from playing the game.

At the time of writing, Helldivers II has a server issue, or more specifically, a server capacity issue. Players looking to play the game will likely hit a wall with the error message “servers at capacity, please try again later.” I personally saw this issue each time I started the game and was met with a login queue that could take upwards of ten minutes to resolve.

Helldivers 2 Helldrop
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

Look, I get it. Server space is expensive, and lots of people want to get into the game. It could easily be that the developers were not anticipating such a huge player base so early into launch. However, for a $40 game, there should never be a time when I’m flat-out prevented from accessing the game I paid for. Knowing that the issue lies in the game’s popularity sort of just embitters me to wait even more, knowing how many people must be out there enjoying the game while I sit twiddling my thumbs.

Even more frustrating would be the rare occasion on which Helldivers II would crash to the desktop, subjecting me to the login queue again. One especially egregious example happened in the first lobby I entered after getting through the queue. Rather than sit through all that waiting again, I decided to just call it a night at that point.

Hopefully, this is an issue the devs are aware of and are working on fixing. With any luck, by the time this article is published, this issue will be a thing of the past, and players will have adequate server space to enjoy Helldivers II.

One decision the Helldivers II team made concerns me regarding the game’s track for unlocking new armor and weapons. While support modules such as airstrikes and bombing runs are purchased with your standard, mission-to-mission-earned currency, new weapons, and armor are locked behind a battle pass system that requires its own currency to unlock.

To the game’s credit, the main battle pass is free and awards plenty of bonuses, such as emote and premium currency, alongside its weapons and armor. You can even purchase the much shorter premium battle pass with the currency earned in the free battle pass or get anything in the game’s premium shop using the same currency earned there for free or discovered in matches. However, as far as I’ve been able to tell, new primary weapons, such as marksman rifles and shotguns, are earned exclusively through this free battle pass.

Helldivers 2 Reload
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

My concern is that these goods are tied to, presumably, limited-time battle passes. Since these weapons change how you play the game, and the armor sets are both cosmetic and come with unique buffs, I worry that Helldivers II will be operated on a sort of FOMO. However, the developer has already stated that won’t be the case, so I should have no need to worry.

The Final Word

Helldivers II provides an exciting, explosive, and tension-filled experience unlike anything else on the market right now. While the game skews any arbitrary grind or level scaling, allowing you to take the game on at any experience level and have the same enjoyable experience. Some questionable progression systems and server issues hold the experience back, but I hope to see the developers address these soon.

9

Try Hard Guides reviewed the PC version of this game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website! Helldivers II is available on Steam and PlayStation.

Erik Hodges

Erik Hodges

Erik Hodges is a hobby writer and a professional gamer, at least if you asked him. He has been writing fiction for over 12 years and gaming practically since birth, so he knows exactly what to nitpick when dissecting a game's story. When he isn't reviewing games, he's probably playing them.

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