Helldivers 2 review - I helldived for liberty, prosperity, and freedom. This is my life for Super Earth


If you have been on social media for the past 3 weeks, you might have heard of a game called Helldivers 2. It's all the rave with the gaming community today. Gamers were singing praises of this game, saying that it reminded them of the good old days when online gaming just took place, the glory days of Cyber cafes and Co-op on both Xbox and PS3.

Naturally, when Sony enlisted us into the campaign for Super Earth, we wasted no time. You might call it propaganda, but we saw it as a golden opportunity to spread managed democracy. For the past two weeks, we have been at war (still at war) with the Automatons and Terminids.

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Sure, you can go solo, but Helldivers 2 is best enjoyed with your friends

So far, we have destroyed countless bug nests, defended our facilities against the Automatons, rescued scientists on Malevelon Creek, and so forth. That said, is the hype around Helldivers 2 real? This is our verdict.


Plot - Super Simple, but that's what makes Super Earth so good

When we first booted this game, we were greeted with a PSA on the threats of Terminids and why you should enlist as a Helldiver. If you are familiar with films such as Starship Troopers, you might be familiar with the tone and dark humour of the game. The plot is relatively simple - all countries and nations have united under one government called "Super Earth".

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Super Earth, the very reason we enlisted as Helldivers

Hence, the term "Managed Democracy" (You will run across this term a lot in-game). Not only is everyone united under a single ruling government, but your vote was also decided by the supercomputer to ensure a non-biased and error-free judgment. Anyway, enough talks about virtual politics. It's now time for the juicy part.

For your information, the setting takes place 100 years after the events of Helldivers 1. The Illuminates have been eliminated, but Super Earth is currently at war with two fronts. It includes the Automatons, terminator-like cyborgs and the Terminids, bug-like aliens, ala Starship Troopers and War Hammer.

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Underestimate these bugs at your own peril

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Meet the Automatons a.k.a Space Nazis

Your mission? It's self-explanatory. Just do your part and win. Win against the Automatons and Terminids during the 'Defend' and 'Liberate' campaigns to reclaim Super Earth's foothold. That's just about it. Pretty simple, right? You might wonder, why go to war when we can just stay away from them? After all, they are a million light-years away.

First, that's wrong. Bugs and Automaton apologists have no place on Super Earth. Secondly, the Terminids are quite integral to humankind's advancement. How? When their bodies decompose, they turn into precious fuel and energy sources that are important to power up your Super Destroyer (Spaceships) and other facilities. Therefore, some planets were turned into one big farm to accommodate these exotic life forms. As you can expect, that didn't turn out well.

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The bigger they are, the harder they fall

Thirdly, they are a menace to the citizens of Super Earth. They are dangerous and capable of ending mankind as we know it. On the other hand, the Automatons pose a similar, if not greater, threat. Think of them as Space Nazis. They are dangerous and genocidal. But most importantly, they oppose our way of life and the values of Super Earth, such as Freedom, Liberty and Prosperity.


Gameplay - It's refreshing but nostalgically addictive

Remember those good old days when you were gaming with your friends at a local Cyber Cafe? Where games like Counterstrike, Half-Life, and Left 4 Dead dominated the PC lineups? After 2 weeks of Helldiving between galaxies, we could safely say this game belongs in the same category as these GOATs.

The game is simple. You dive into planets, do your primary objectives, and then bail out via the Pelican 1 (Extraction). Do these successfully and Super Earth will reward you with War Bonds, Super Credits, Credits and Experience points. Except the game makes it its biggest priority to bombard you with hordes of enemies spawning left, right and centre.

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Farming samples and Exp points will help you unlock more useful stratagems

Sure, the game can get a bit repetitive and grindy. But, the variety in objectives, sceneries and enemies keeps the game fresh. Even after multiple dives into Malevelon Creek (One of the planets on the Automaton territory), we still found each mission unique and fun to play with. So, there's huge replay value right there.

In case you didn't know, these objectives vary from destroying Terminids structures and Automatons facilities, destroying nests and eggs, rescuing scientists, evacuating civilians, launching nukes, getting soil samples and so forth. Completing the optional objectives will also grant you more EXP and credits. The amount of content and variation in missions should be more than enough to keep you engaged.

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We were pleasantly surprised with the variety of objectives and optional missions

When we first got into the game, we found the game to be quite overwhelming for beginners. Even on 'Trivial' (The easiest difficulty), you will still be swarmed by enemies if you are not careful. Thankfully, you are given Stratagems. These tools will be important to help you complete your mission.

There are 4 types of Stratagems equipped with your Super Destroyer. These are Orbital, Eagle, Support and Defense. For newbies, the game will grant the Orbital Precision Strike (Orbital) and the Machine Gun (Support). As you progress through the game, more powerful and useful Stratagems will be available. You can also upgrade your destroyer with better buffs with the samples collected during missions.

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100 Super Credits for you if you can guess the Stratagem

Our advice? Get the Guard Dog Rover if you are below level 20. Once you reach level 20, get the Railgun and Shield Generator Pack. These two will be your primary lifesaver once you play on higher difficulties.

It took us around 3 full days of gameplay to reach Level 20. This is all thanks to the amazing Helldivers 2 Malaysia community. You should join them if you are having difficulties with your missions. Not only are they super fun and chill to play with, but they are also willing to offer you better advice on your builds. To put it simply, it's probably the least toxic gaming community we have ever joined.

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The Helldivers 2 Malaysia Discord group is a great way to experience Co-Op

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What better way to spread managed democracy than to do it with your brothers in arms?

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Ultimately, it's a PVE game. We still appreciate the stats though

Of course, you can choose to go solo. However, the game incentivises you to play Co-Op. Since the game is also available on Steam, you can cross-play with your friends or simply jump into any available session. Either way, all of them guarantee a chaotic session. That's because friendly fire is always switched on. So, you can expect random and funny deaths along the way.

As you can expect, Helldivers 2 is a live service game. However, it's refreshing to see micro-transactions kept as it is - micro. You can use your Super Credits to unlock various armours and helmets in the Super Store. As of now, these armours are purely cosmetics, and their buffs are no better than the normal armour included in the War Bonds.

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It's nice to see microtransactions being what it should be - micro

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This is your War Bonds a.k.a Battle Pass

Speaking of War Bonds, think of it as a Battle Pass, but better. Unlike normal Battle Pass, the War Bond is not time-gated. So, you can grind for the medals and unlock your preferred weapons, armour, booster, and so forth anytime. As of now, there are only two War Bonds - Helldivers Mobilize and Steeled Veterans (Premium).

The only thing that's time-gated is the Super Store. So, it will be interesting to see if Arrowhead will follow the mainstream business model or if they are bold enough to keep the game F2P-friendly. The best part? Since this is a live service game, we could expect more content in the future. The progression of Super Earth depends on the real-time progression of other players all over the world. So, we could either be closer to the enemy's home planet, or they could ambush us on planets closer to our system.

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Our battle might have ended, but we still have a war to win

Remember the Illuminates? The race that went extinct 100 years ago? Arrowhead Studios confirmed the faction is coming back on Helldivers 2 soon. The game developers also teased the potential return of the EXO "Stomper" Mk3, a mech vehicle from the original game. So, we could expect more exciting missions, vehicles and even bigger enemies soon. Who knows? We might be up against a planet-sized bug.

All in all, it's super refreshing and exciting to relive our teenage days of gaming. The game did an amazing job of making you feel like you're in a Michael Bay movie.


Performance - Stable and beautiful, but could get jaggy sometimes

Perhaps the biggest surprise about Helldivers 2 is how beautiful it is. Be it on cold or hot planets, the shrubs, lakes and even spores make the planet a lot livelier. More often than not, we found ourselves staring at the scenery during the brief moment of peace.

But it does not end there, even on Automaton-dominated planets such as Malevelon Creek, the scenery feels surreal. Bombardments of grenades, missiles, lasers, bullets and even chainsaws provide an immersive gaming experience for us.

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Every battle feels epic

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We are a huge fans of the details in this game

Couple that with the excellent sound designs in the BGM and SFX, the Helldiving experience has never been more (wait for it) hellish. Fun fact: Spiderman's VA (Yuri Lowenthal) is also heavily involved in this game. So, it's pretty hilarious to hear Spidey scream "Freedom!" and cringey one-liners in the game.

It's also quite addictive. The satisfying sounds of your gun emptying its magazine, the loud boom of your Eagle 500KG bomb and the hilariously graphic violence are what kept us on the edge of our seats.

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Ahh... The sweet sound of liberty

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Upgrading your Super Destroyer will trigger these visual changes, you can literally see the upgrades

Plus, the details on your armour, weapons and even capes are captured well in this game. To quote Homelander, "Down to every minute detail". The fact that you can watch your shells being replaced while reloading in FPS mode is a testament to the sheer commitment of the game developers. That's how beautiful this game is.

We played the game on PS5. The result? The game ran smoothly on default graphic settings. Even when we were swarmed with enemies everywhere, there was no stuttering or crashes at all. If you want a smoother gaming experience, you can opt for the "Quality" option on the visual tab for Option. However, this will cause the game to run at a lower FPS. So, pick your poison.

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Sweet liberty, that's a lot to play with

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Every planet felt unique and alive

Performance-wise, we didn't face significant issues. The servers, on the other hand, are a different story altogether. The game crashes at times, but it was never a hardware issue. Currently, the Helldivers 2 servers are operating at a maximum capacity (450K players at once). So, you might have to wait for a while before logging in.

Moreover, there are glitches and bugs that cause you to disconnect abruptly sometimes. It can be a bit frustrating, but the game is only 3-weeks old. So, these circumstances are to be expected. Arrowhead Studios is working on this issue as we speak. Hopefully, things will get better for the game because we truly enjoy playing it.



Conclusion - It's an instant classic

Now, for the question you have been waiting for. Can you play Helldivers 2 if you have never played Helldivers 1? The answer is a resounding yes. After all, Helldivers 2 has been the entry game to the Helldivers franchise for most of us.

The game is an instant classic. Given how great the gameplay is now and how casual the community is, there is no better time to play than now. It's fun, challenging, and best enjoyed with your friends and loved ones. If you disagree, you are most probably a dissident who opposes our way of life. Let's be honest, we know what happens to them:

"↑ → ↓ ↓ ↓"

What are your thoughts about this review? Stay tuned for more reviews like this at TechNave!