Helldivers 2

Helldivers 2- Review: Spreading Much-Needed Democracy

Not for you if:

  • You want character development
  • A rich soundscape is a must

Have you ever had the feeling that someone is messing with you? From annoying situations like someone stealing your parking spot or not holding the elevator that you desperately are running to catch to even more minor things, like losing only one of your socks, misplacing your keys, or even your alarm suspiciously not ringing when you’re sure you had set it the previous night.

What if I tell you that you’re right to be paranoid? What if I tell you that not only do I know who the perpetrator is but also that your current way of life is already under threat, and you don’t even know it? What if I tell you that everything you ever wanted in life could be achieved by finding that perpetrator and dispersing some good old high-caliber “democracy” their way? What if I told you that it’s time to do your part?

It’s all the bug’s fault!!! It was they who made me lose the train for my vacation! They stole that promotion I was working so hard for! THEY CONVINCED THAT CUTE GIRL AT THE BAR TO IGNORE MY TEXT MESSAGES! And now? Now it’s time for me to show them what a red-blooded “American” does to those who threaten his freedom!

Helldivers 2 enemy bug variant

Get ready, citizen! These monsters dared to exist on planets we have deemed humanity’s domain even though we’ve never been there. They dare to breathe, or whatever these bugs do, instead of breathing our democratic air! Pick up whatever has the highest caliber of firepower we have and get out there because it’s time to dispense some much-needed democracy! Welcome to Helldivers 2.

Helldivers 2- Review TL;DR

Helldivers 2 is a game that can also work as psychological therapy for the average male. Equip as much firepower as you can carry, as well as all your frustrations in life, and teach these aliens how many war crimes the average emotionally suppressed man can speedrun. The Helldivers 2 gameplay is on point with guns that add weight behind each bullet and orbital bombardments, so glorious that I start singing the USA national anthem every time I see them. Visually, the game looks incredible, with diverse landscapes and highly detailed environments. Unfortunately, although adequate, the soundscape is nothing to write home about. If you want to bathe in bug blood and enjoy alien genocide on a galactic level, then this game is for you.

Visuals: Not Even Magma Can Stop Democracy

Let’s talk about the visuals first. Helldivers 2 has distinct scenic environments. It looks absolutely incredible as it tries to portray that these planets are, in their own right, multifaceted natural biomes. No matter where you go, every mission looks unique and gives you the feeling of traversing an environment where humans are simply visitors. Ice, magma, desert, jungle, and even swamps are some of the few examples that make the world of this game refreshing to look at through every assignment.

One of the game’s incredible notes is that these environments also have different weather conditions. Weather conditions also affect the gameplay as difficulty modifiers. From dust storms lowering visibility and making your stratagems take longer with deployment to even fog obstructing your spatial awareness, the weather in Helldivers 2 is a living, breathing gameplay modifier.

All images are taken in-game or from the game’s Steam page

Helldivers 2 sunset

Unfortunately, those existing in these wonderful sceneries do not share the same level of artistic care. The enemy visual design of the game can be described with only one word: generic. The design of the bugs is nothing to write home about. One sharp mandible here and an acid pouch there can give the insect menace that threatens your way of life a bit of flavour, but that is as far as it goes for enemy unique characteristics.

The same can also be said for the automatons. The soul robots feel like Skynet knock-offs but with a few more skulls attached here and there. They don’t portray an unending machine horde hellbent on eradicating humanity, but more of a discount for expanding gameplay options since people could get bored of shooting only bugs eventually. Both enemies in Helldivers 2 require a bit of a visual update, a slight touch of uniqueness that would make anyone looking at their design know precisely what IP it comes from.

Helldiver running from an automaton

Gameplay: Spreading Democracy, One Orbital Strike at a Time

This is where the game gets things right. Your Helldiver has two main tools for interacting with his environment. Number one is patriotic and traditional firepower, and number two is stratagems.

Guns, powder weapons, internal combustion projectile launchers, or just beautifully simple boom sticks. These are your instruments of freedom and what you will be using to turn the filthy bugs and soulless machines into unrecognizable chunks of fragmented matter. Helldivers 2 offers a wide variety of weapons. Every Helldiver has three weapons slots available for every mission: your primary weapon, sidearm, and “support” weapon.

The primary and secondary weapons are self-explanatory, including the usual variety of guns that we are all familiar with, such as pistols, revolvers, submachineguns, dragons breath shotguns, and other goodies that can be your bread and butter in highly volatile situations.

Now, you may have noticed that I put the word support in quotations, and there is a good reason for that. Your support weapons can only be called with an airdrop when you’re already on the mission. They are, by far, the most fun to play with and are considered a power spike resource since they can literally be considered portable war crime instruments if used correctly. Ballistic fragmentation grande launchers, anti-tank javelin-guided missiles, and even high-intensity flame throwers are some of the many democracy-spreading tools available to you throughout the game.

Stratagems are the other part of the equation. Your helldiver has access to an orbital delivery system called stratagems. The word delivery here is used very literally since, with stratagems, you can receive tools to help you suit almost every situation on the planet’s surface. There is also the fact that since you use stratagems to call in various air or orbital strikes, you are technically “delivering” death from above.

All of your required equipment and vital gameplay functions are tied to the stratagem system. Mastering its use and preparing your loadout to suit every mission and enemy type will be the difference between a mission feeling like shooting fish in a barrel or being pinned down in the trenches of WW1.

If you enjoy big guns, check out this Payday review from Stijn Ginneberge

Helldiver running from a orbital strike

One of the things that also needs to be said is communication. Helldivers 2 is, by default, a cooperative game. Sure, having fun in random pubs can be fun sometimes, but playing with friends is a must if you really want to do some hard-level content. When the enemy insectoid horde is unending, the only way to survive is to keep a delicate balance of objective completion and hostile repulsion at the same time. Having actual communication and general trust for your teammates to have your back is the only key to success in Helldivers 2.

Sound: It Sounds to Me Like Bug Propaganda!

Here is where Helldivers 2 drops the ball, in my opinion. The music feels like a generic Marine Corps enlistment ad, and I understand that this is, smartly, by design. My problem is that it doesn’t feel passionate enough for my tastes. It needs to be more bombastic and proud of itself as a melody for it to serve its intended purpose.

Another is the voice acting. Helldivers 2 doesn’t have much of it, but from what I’ve heard, it is adequate… and that is the problem. We are playing as a character whose god-given right is to spread death with no moral repercussions. Having grown up playing games like WH40K Dawn of War, I have a pretty good experience about how a brainwashed fanatical killing machine would sound like, and in that regard, Helldivers 2 doesn’t offer a lot of character to its player’s character.

Helldivers killing a bug in a jungle

The same goes for the enemy soundscape variety in Helldivers 2. When fighting a twenty-meter-tall titan insectoid, I want its roar to send sound waves visible in the air. The bugs sound like the most generic alien monsters you’ve played against in any video game ever. Their notes of emotion have no distinct characteristics, be it anger or pain. The same could be said about the automatons.

The machines in Helldivers 2 sound like Star Wars droids if they were in their emo phase. When I’m fighting soulless metal terminators, the soundscape I expect can only be one of two: either complete silence to exaggerate and reinforce their lifeless nature or the sounds of scraping metal against metal so I know that their every waking moment is suffering and killing me is the only way they can escape it.

So, unfortunately, Helldivers 2 lacks distinct character when it comes to its soundscape.

Helldivers 2 Loading screen

Conclusion: Effortlessly Democratic

Helldivers 2 is a game that gets almost everything right. It looks beautiful and plays intuitively but still lacks when it comes to the sound department. As a successor to a cult class, it had really big shoes to fill, and it has done that wonderfully while keeping the core of the predecessor intact.

While it’s fun to join randoms and have fun in squads, if you really want to experience the full range of mayhem this game provides, I would recommend playing it with friends. For its price range, Hellldivers 2 offers extreme value. Buy it, play it, and lament why you weren’t born in a world of Democracy spreading intergalactic conquest.

I would like to thank Playstation Greece for this copy of the game. Give them some love.

Jason Dimitratos

Posts published: 26

Teacher and a videogame masochist. Will probably be found dead after playing Monster Hunter for 21 consecutive days. Has realized that for creative output, in the absence of passion, vitriol is an entirely viable replacement.