I’ve never played a game that has captured the non-stop madness of a sci-fi action movie as efficiently as Helldivers 2. Believe me, this is one of the most entertaining and thrilling shooters that I have ever played, and having three friends join in to deal with the onslaught of enemies (as well as each other’s mishaps) together? It’s simply sublime.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Helldivers 2 puts players in the role of a member of the Helldivers, the sworn protectors of Super Earth that look to rid the galaxy of anything that would dare threaten their freedom, peace, and democracy. This includes savage alien-like bugs (the Terminids) that will maul you with their vicious claws and venomous bile, and Terminator-like robots (the Automatons) that are more methodical thanks to their reliance on heavy weaponry. Each have set up their homes on a host of planets surrounding Super Earth, so it’s up to you to liberate those planets and take down the evil threats within them. If it wasn’t obvious, Helldivers 2 is VERY on the nose with its narrative, but it makes for a highly entertaining premise that adds a comical touch to the brutality of the battles you face.

And believe me, there’s a LOT of battling in Helldivers 2. Taking a squad-based approach that sees groups of up to four players take on each threat whilst clearing a variety of objectives, the game embraces a fast-paced, action-orientated approach that also has plenty of room for strategy. You could all-guns blazing against enemy encampments if you want, but it’ll rarely be successful – instead, you have to plan out your actions, scout out each area ahead of you, and use every tool at your disposal in order to survive. It’s absolutely thrilling and full of spectacularly unpredictable moments that ensure each mission you play is ALWAYS a ton of fun.

The gunplay feels fantastic, with a real sense of oomph felt in your weaponry as you deal with the hordes of enemies coming your way. You’ll notice that some weapons are more effective depending on the situation you’re facing too, with shotguns proving effective against the weaker Terminids that overwhelm you and assault rifles letting you keep your distance from Automatons armed with rocket launchers. Of course, with each race bringing with them multiple types of units with varied weaknesses and strengths, you have to be practical and ready to improvise with your approach, but you’ll always feel well-armed and capable of survival. Just be warned: it’s one of those games that sees you losing all remaining ammo in a clip if you re-load before it’s empty, and with PLENTY of bullets expended in a showdown, you have to time your re-loads carefully.

“I’ve played PLENTY of multiplayer co-op shooters in the past, but none have captured these action movie-like moments of madness as effectively as Helldivers 2 does.”

Your greatest strength on the battlefield come with your Stratagems, which are varied assists which can be called down from the skies by holding the L1 button and pressing the varied inputs associated with each one (these are listed on the side of the screen, so you don’t have to worry about remembering them). Whilst there are basic Stratagems such as calling in reinforcements when a player dies (this effectively respawns them), calling in a re-supply of ammo, or calling in an objective-based assist, players are also able to unlock and equip specialised Stratagem that offer something more… interesting. Air strikes, specialised weaponry, turrets, drone assistants, laser beams… I’m barely scratching the surface of what’s on offer there, but it’ll probably give you an idea of JUST how destructive and effective these Stratagems can be. It’s ALWAYS satisfying to call them in, but with different cooldown periods associated with each one, you have strategic and creative with their use – whether that’s when calling in a turret to protect you when trying to extract at the end of a mission, calling in an air strike to wipe out an enemy base in one calculated hit, or when calling in a laser cannon to use against a particularly tricky foe.

Their effectiveness can vary on a mission-by-mission basis, with varied objectives to take on that’ll challenge players in different ways. With tasks such as destroying bug eggs, destroying bases, hunting down a particularly savage enemy, arming and launching a missile, or intercepting radio signals to complete, there are plenty of different tasks to deal with that help ensure missions don’t grow too repetitive. There are an abundance of side objectives and discoveries to make across planets too, with their randomly generated design offering some worthwhile rewards for players who take the time to explore their surroundings and clear it of all threats. What’s particularly effective about the mission design is the way that new objectives are offered in the higher difficulties – rather than just increasing the damage dealt or received, the game instead gives more complex objectives where you’ll face off against stronger types of opposition. It actively encourages players to push through and tackle the more challenging tasks offered in the game, and believe me, Helldivers 2 is at its best when it’s pushing your skills to the limit.

Of course, the increased rewards offered on higher difficulties are a nice incentive too. There are four main currencies in Helldivers 2, with Medals spent to unlock new gear, Requisition Slips used to purchase new Stratagems, Samples used to unlock upgrades to boost the effectiveness of your Stratagems, and Super Credits used to purchase premium items. You’ll earn Medals and Requisition slips by completing missions, but they can also be found when exploring your surroundings on missions alongside Samples and Super Credits. The higher the difficulty of mission you’re playing, the better rewards there are to earn or find… simple. What’s particularly pleasing about the currencies is that they’re earned at a steady enough pace that you’ll always be unlocking something new, and whilst some of the currencies are rarer than others, you won’t have to wait long before unlocking your next piece of gear or Stratagem to play around with.

Also, I’ve seen some complaints online that the game is pay-to-win? It’s REALLY not, with the only purchasable currency being Super Credits. Whilst these are used to unlock the game’s equivalent of a ‘premium battle pass’, it is in no way a pay-to-win experience. In fact, you won’t have to spend a penny to feel like a kick ass Helldiver who’s capable of untold destruction – it’s just part of the experience.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Based on its core mechanics alone, Helldivers 2 is a fantastic third person shooting experience. However, it’s the unpredictability of each showdown that makes it stand out the most, whether that’s when getting humorously launched across the map by a camouflaged enemy that has seemingly come from nowhere, when your whole team accidentally gets caught in the explosion of an aptly named Hell Bomb and blown to smithereens, when you’re in the midst of a battle where the odds are against you but you manage to survive thanks to a perfectly placed air strike, when you manage to escape by the skin of your teeth during an exfil that sees your extraction point surrounded by enemies, or when a misplaced grenade accidentally kills an ally (it pops up on their screen that it was your fault, there can be no excuses). EVERY mission I’ve played has brought with it an unbelievably thrilling moment that either keeps you on the edge of your seat, feeling like a badass, or angry at an ally, with the intuitive nature of the game’s design and weaponry it arms you with ensuring these jaw-dropping scenarios are almost endless. I’ve played PLENTY of multiplayer co-op shooters in the past, but none have captured these action movie-like moments of madness as effectively as Helldivers 2 does.

The fact that you get to experience it all in multiplayer is the cherry on top, with Helldivers 2 at its best when played with three other friends. It’s more strategic, it’s more thrilling, and, of course, it’s more comical when things go wrong, but most importantly, it’s so damn fun. The only caveat? Public multiplayer is a bit broken at launch, so don’t expect to be able to join the games of random players if you don’t have any friends to play with. I’ve had no issues in private games where I’ve invited friends in, but I’ve had ZERO success when trying to join public games. Whilst I have no doubt it will be fixed, it’s a big problem that has soured the launch of the game.

There is loads more I want to say about Helldivers 2, whether that’s with the stunningly atmospheric landscapes you battle across, the sheer satisfaction of beating a Bile Titan by having a well-placed support turret land on it, or how wonderful it is to see a missile explode in the distance for the first time, but you know what? It’s best to discover that yourself. Just know this: Helldivers 2 is a phenomenal multiplayer experience. Given its early success, I’m sure it’ll be well-supported in the future, and I simply cannot wait to see what else the developers introduce in the coming months.

Helldivers 2 Review

Helldivers 2 is absolutely brilliant, with the strategic yet action-packed gameplay complemented by the unpredictable madness that can unfold at any minute. Between the powerful weaponry and Stratagems at your disposal, the co-op focus that sees you working with three other players, and the sheer ferocity and overwhelming nature of your opponents, the game is packed with thrilling moments that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat as you barely scrape through each encounter. I’m completely hooked in, and with the developer promising free additions to the game in the future, I think I will be for a long, long time.

There is one big caveat at the moment though: public multiplayer is broken. Whilst you can play with friends in private games, I haven’t had any success joining a public game. I’ve been lucky enough to have friends to play with so it hasn’t affected me so far, but it is definitely worth bearing in mind if you don’t have others to play with. It is due to be fixed soon though, and when it is? You can bump my score up a notch.

Developer: Arrowhead Game Studios
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PC
Website: https://www.playstation.com/en-gb/games/helldivers-2/