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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Rondina

Helldivers 2 Review

Helldivers 2 is a thrilling and hilarious third-person shooter that will make you feel like a space soldier pulled straight out of a sci-fi blockbuster movie, my full review.

Helldivers 2 is a game that I didn’t expect to love, but it does so much right, it’s hard to put down. I have to confess: I never played the first Helldivers when it launched in 2015, but I was always intrigued by the concept. The story premise sounded like one of my favourite over-the-top Sci-Fi films Starship Troopers. The games, like the movie, pit you against invading alien forces in a brutal intergalactic war. What sets both Helldivers and Starship Troopers apart is their satirical take on fascism, featuring parodies of propaganda and displays of machismo. Helldivers 2 really leans into this, with snippets of dialogue along with cutscenes all blended masterfully with incredibly satisfying combat. It’s a hard line to walk but developer Arrowhead Game Studios nails it, building an over-the-top universe that is easy to buy into.


Helldivers 2 delivers frenetic combat, hilarious moments, and a ton of replay value. It also has some flaws, like repetitive enemy types and early technical hiccups, but they are easily overshadowed by the sheer fun of the game. In this review, I’ll drop planet side to spread managed democracy and discuss why Helldivers 2 is one of the best co-op shooters in years. Time to join the fight to defend Super Earth!


Helldivers 2 Details

Platform: PlayStation 5 and PC

Developer(s): Arrowhead Game Studios

Publisher(s): Sony Interactive Entertainment

Genre: Third-person shooter

Modes: Single-player, multiplayer

ESRB Rating: M for Mature


A never ending intergalactic battle

Helldivers 2 is set in a dystopian future, where humanity is ruled by a totalitarian regime called The Federation. The organization claims to uphold democracy and freedom, but it is a militaristic and oppressive force that brainwashes its citizens into blind loyalty. Here is where your basic training begins, and you join the ranks to become a cog in the war machine that is The Federation. After getting your bearings in basic which acts as the game’s tutorial you move on up fast and gain control of your very own Super destroyer. You can name your ship from a pre-selected list of names, I went with the “Hammer of Dawn” as a nod to Gears of War. The destroyer acts as a hub where you upgrade your armour, weapons, and plot your next drop planet side to spread managed democracy.


The Federation is at war with alien races on multiple fronts: the Bugs, or Terminids, and the Automatons a.k.a killer robots. The bugs are a horde of insectoid creatures that swarm and devour anything in their path. The Automatons are robots bent on the destruction of Super Earth. As a Helldiver, you are sent to various planets to fight back these enemies and earn certain objectives. These missions span from eradicating enemy nests to powering-up ICBMs for the ultimate show of dominance. The game features plenty of well-timed dark humour borrowing from films like Starship Troopers, with propaganda messages, exaggerated patriotism, and loads of over-the-top violence. You’ll even catch your Helldivers exchanging some hilarious, corny one-liners like, “How 'bout a nice cup of Liber-TEA!?”

Helldiving feels great

Helldivers 2 has a third person over the shoulder view, foregoing the top-down perspective from the original. For many developers, this tectonic shift might already spell a massive change that would be hard to get right, but developer Arrowhead Studios handles this with incredible expertise. In fact, the third-person combat and surrounding mechanics are so good you’d think this was their specialty all along.  

The central gameplay loop has you depend on a primary and secondary weapon arsenal that can be expanded and upgraded with each tour of duty. You can choose from a variety of weapons as you unlock and expand your arsenal, adding assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, flamethrowers, and more to your armoury. Along with this, is an active hook: you can use Stratagems that let you call in precision strikes, restocks and more. In terms of the gameplay loop, I have to say if you are overwhelmed and being chased by a dozen enemies and can successfully wipe them out with a precise strike, it’s an immensely satisfying way to save your own skin.


Helldivers 2 Stratagem synergy

Stratagems are very powerful, but they also have a cooldown, so you must use them wisely and strategically. Using them sparingly and sharing with your teammates is key because they beholden to your use and cooldowns. For example, I was battling a massive heavy armour Charger with a group of 3 other players, and we simply ran out of ammo. One player on our team kept spamming in drops and it hurt us in the long run, so be aware that you need to be a team-player. Stratagems add a lot of depth and variety to the gameplay, and they can turn the tide of a battle in an instant, if managed in the right way.


Friendly fire is “always on” in Helldivers 2

Friendly fire can be as deadly as enemies on the field if your teammates don’t check their fire. Your weapons, turrets and orbital strikes wipes out everything in their path: friend or foe. Even friendly evac ship can land on and accidentally kill you at the end of a mission so be aware a swift (and sometimes hilarious) death is at every turn.


Helldive with a friend

Helldivers 2 is a game that is best played with friends, but it also fun solo. The game is designed to encourage teamwork and communication, as you must coordinate your actions, share your resources, and help each other out. The game is full of hilarious moments, I’ve accidentally dropped a supply pod on an ally more than once and vaporized my squad with a poorly timed turret drop.

"The game is full of hilarious moments, I’ve accidentally dropped a supply pod on an ally more than once and vaporized my squad with a poorly timed turret drop."

The best part of the game structure is that you can hop in for one quick mission or dozens in a row and find a ton of fun each time. In my time with the game, even with similar scenarios, I’ve found each outcome feels different every time. The dynamic campaign lets you choose from different planets, each with different difficulty levels, enemy types, and objectives. The game also has a global metagame, where you can contribute to the war effort by completing missions and earning influence points.


Helldivers 2 cross play grows your ranks

One of the best decisions Sony and Arrowhead made was shipping Helldivers 2 with cross-play support day 1. This means that you can play with your friends on PC or PS5. The matchmaking system is well-designed but due to the early popularity of the game, it has required a few tries to find a squad.

"The matchmaking system is well-designed but due to the early popularity of the game, it has required a few tries to find a squad."

I’m hoping this gets ironed out in the next few weeks because I can see myself playing a lot of this game in the very near future.


A never-ending war offers plenty of replayability

The game has a lot of replay value, as you can unlock new weapons, perks, Stratagems, and cosmetics as you successfully complete missions. Along with this, aliens on different fronts can appear offering new mission types. At the time of writing this review, an online event with Automatons was introduced offering new challenges to players on the front. I have no idea how long this style of support will evolve but so far it offers players plenty of reasons to keep playing.


Helldivers 2 graphics and Performance

Helldivers 2 looks and runs great on both PlayStation 5 and PC. It has detailed character models and diverse environments, such as lush jungles, snowy battlefields, fiery scorched maps and more. The game also has a lot of visceral visual effects, such as massive explosions, fire, blood, and entrails. I’ve found the game to be smooth and responsive, with a stable frame rate. I’ve noticed the odd glitches with some enemy types of geometry becoming deformed but nothing that has broken the game or experience for me.


"The game also has a lot of visceral visual effects, such as massive explosions, fire, blood, and entrails."

Helldivers 2 also supports 4K resolution with enhanced lighting and shadows on both platforms.

The sound design is realistic and immersive with audio effects, such as gunshots, screams, and explosions that add to the hellish war landscape. Helldivers 2 features an epic soundtrack, with orchestral and electronic music that matches the mood and intensity of the moment-to-moment gameplay. The music as I prepared to drop onto a planet really gets me fired up.


Final thoughts on Helldivers 2

Helldivers 2 is a game that I can highly recommend to anyone who loves co-op shooters and high intensity action. It’s an absolute blast to play, with a fast-paced and varied weapons, a challenging combat loop, and sometimes hilarious consequences for your actions. There is also plenty of content and replay value, with a ton of weapons, perks, Stratagems, and cosmetics to unlock and customize.

"There is also plenty of content and replay value, with a ton of weapons, perks, Stratagems, and cosmetics to unlock and customize."

The game is not perfect, as it has some flaws, such as repetitive enemy types and map designs, but they are minor and do not affect the overall enjoyment of the game. Helldivers 2 is easily one of the best co-op shooters I’ve played in years, and I highly recommend that you enlist today.


Helldivers 2 PROS

+Fun and varied gameplay

+PS5 and PC crossplay

+A ton of replay value

+Playing with friends is a blast

 

Helldivers 2 CONS

-Repetitive enemy types

-Server and matching making issues

-The odd graphical glitch

 

Overall Assessment of Helldivers 2

Gameplay: 9/10

Graphics: 9/10

Sound: 9/10

Replayability: 9.5/10


Overall Rating: 36.5/40 (91%)

A copy of the game was provided by PlayStation to conduct this review.

 

About the Author - Matthew "Dapper Tux" Rondina

Matthew has been involved in all things gaming since the 8-bit era. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry who has been passionate about technology and gaming for over 20 years. Along with being the Managing Editor of dappertux.com, he has bylines with Best Buy, Cineplex Entertainment, Mobile Syrup and Walmart. Follow Matthew’s gaming + tech adventures on multiple social platforms with the handle @dapper_tux via "X", Instagram, Threads, TikTok and join in on the fun!

 

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