video games

‘Helldivers 2’ review-in-progress: Best with friends, but fun enough alone

Victor Barreiro Jr.

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

‘Helldivers 2’ review-in-progress: Best with friends, but fun enough alone

Helldivers 2 website

'Helldivers 2' offers solid fun letting you mow down alien bugs and Terminator-like automatons with friends, and a LOL-inducing tongue-in-cheek tone

Disclosure: Steam review copy of the game provided by the publisher.

Helldivers 2 has a bit of a strange pedigree.

Its predecessor, Helldivers, was a cooperative, top-down, twin-stick shooter. The sequel is instead a cooperative third-person shooter set in the same chaotic universe as the first, and comes with the same basic storyline ideas as the first game.

Namely, you’re a soldier for Super Earth, tasked with spreading democracy across the cosmos by taking down alien bugs (think of the Starship Troopers movie) and malevolent machines (now, imagine Terminator but on a larger scale.)

Light on story, heavy on FREEDOM!

Helldivers 2 is light on story. The opening movie and tutorial point to the idea that the citizenry of Super Earth (yes, it’s really called Earth, but Super) have been conditioned into believing a state of constant war requires constant sacrifice – and possible, implied cloning – so that the Super Earth way of life continues and spreads.

After the tutorial, you’re given your own ship to travel the cosmos in search of a fight. Missions are done on a universal map denoting individual planets and zones requiring heavy applications of napalm and gunfire, and the gameplay consists of alternating between the ship and the action on a myriad of planets.

Take on missions to fight enemies to earn experience and ranks in an unending battlepass that doles out cosmetics and gear, and you have the makings of a rather simple concept that is lifted up by the cries of your soldier in battle, screaming, “For Democracy!” or “FREEDOM!” as they fire upon wave after wave of enemies.

But yes, after the basic concept is introduced, you’re free to take on missions of varying difficulty levels to your heart’s content.

Live, die, repeat

You can go into battles alone, call down random people to join your missions, or fight alongside friends. I’ve mostly played alone or with random players, including someone 20 levels higher than I was, but what I imagine makes this stand out as a cooperative shooter is the adrenaline rush of fighting and dying – and repeating the process – alongside your friends.

The game has friendly fire on, meaning you can accidentally (or intentionally) throw up a hail of satisfying gunfire and get a friendly caught in it in the heat of battle. That, or you could accidentally crush a fellow player when a drop pod (which brings you a fresh soldier to play as or new supplies and weapons) comes down from orbit.

Speaking of drop pods, the game emphasizes the use of stratagems – basically a set of directional codes, like up-up-down-down-right, that let you throw a beacon to summon a new soldier life or weapons and other goodies – to good effect. You have a set number of lives in a given mission, shared by the squad, and you also get a timer for when you can reuse a stratagem, so timing and coordination is important in higher difficulties if you want to succeed in a mission.

Some caveats

As a games-as-a-service title, you can expect there to be some monetization involved. You can buy Super Credits to purchase items in the in-game store, or earn specific items through the battlepass and a premium battlepass.

This battlepass system will likely be expanded upon in the future, but the rewards in the premium battlepass are mostly cosmetic or have minor advantages, but not enough to force people to be cranking out money for it. The developers have stated they want to earn the right to monetize by providing a good game first and making monetization optional rather than required.

Lastly, one caveat I’ve noticed is that armor may need a bugfix, as some heavier armor – which should be more resistant to damage – doesn’t actually let you take more damage before dying. For now, being able to run faster and farther using lighter armor is better, but here’s to hoping this gets adjusted in a patch.


Helldivers 2 is a solid game for those who want to add a little stress to their gameplay.

You can challenge yourself by doing higher difficulties solo, or just steamroll a bunch of bugs on easier difficulties with friends. You can hang out on the ship, turn voice communication on, and just discuss the state of affairs on Super Earth for a hoot.

But mostly? Mostly you’ll be having fun trying to complete objectives and then working with your team to extract from a mission safely without anyone dying, laughing about democracy as you gallivant across space with a rocket strapped to your back.

Good luck, have fun, and don’t forget to salute your fellow soldier! FOR DEMOCRACY! –

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!
Person, Human, Sleeve


Victor Barreiro Jr.

Victor Barreiro Jr is part of Rappler's Central Desk. An avid patron of role-playing games and science fiction and fantasy shows, he also yearns to do good in the world, and hopes his work with Rappler helps to increase the good that's out there.