Helldivers 2 ~200 Hours Later

I got a lot of backlash following my Helldivers 2 review from many fanboys. Undeniably, this game took over the cultural zeitgeist for a while and is still one of the best sellers on Steam. In my review, I pointed out many of the game’s problems, such as the server issues, the incredibly awful balancing, and the glitches and bugs it has. I capped things off by giving the game a 6/10, a score that I gave to another lacking live service of the same caliber: Payday 3.

Ever since the review came out, the game has been patched to address some of these issues while also introducing new ones. Additionally, I have been thoroughly playing the game to the point where I completed all three of the currently available warbonds, acquired and tried every stratagem, fully upgraded my Super Destroyer, and capped my resources (it’s 250 medals, 500 Samples, 250 Rares, and 100 Supers by the way) while helping new players within my circle grow within the game and getting every achievement.

So, what kept me returning if I had as many gripes with the game as I had? Like Genshin Impact, something about Helldivers 2 kept me and my comrades reeled. However, I noticed that my sessions became much shorter the more I played the game and engaged in the galactic war. At one point, I only wanted to play the game whenever my friends wanted to play it, and if I were offered to play anything else, I would do so rather than insist on playing Helldivers 2.

This is where I began to notice that the community was beginning to catch on to the issue I pointed out long ago in my review. The game has remained as broken as I have initially suspected. Maybe the server issues have been fixed… Maybe not, but the game is still severely broken in many ways. There was a time when players couldn’t queue with other players through Quickplay and another time when the game would crash while using Arc weapons. Other such cases are plentiful and just as painful to mention.

This isn’t just a meta issue. Players have discovered how the game has dished out its more unfair factors. For example, how Patrols become more frequent based on how many fabricators/nests, primary objectives, and separated players are in the match; how Incendiary damage is actually useless for anyone that isn’t the host of the game; how about the glitch where players weren’t even able to be respawned? or better yet, the time when they couldn’t die while drowning because they dared to use the Vitality booster? There is even a case where a disabled player couldn’t use their only means to play video games because it was blocked by the game’s anti-cheat. To be fair, the CEO of Arrowhead has also responded swiftly, mentioning that they’ll look into the issue.

I could keep pointing out the issues that Helldivers 2 has had throughout its short history out, and I’m pretty sure they’re all going to be dismissed by some dudebros with no brain matter inside their heads roleplaying as the incompetent soldiers who are thrown into the galactic war. So, rather than doing so, I’m just going to point out the other issues found within Helldivers 2 related to the game’s difficulty and progression.

Now, I mentioned before that the difficulty of Helldivers 2 feels somewhat archaic rather than relying on the player’s actual skills. Instead of having a test of the player’s reflexes and talents like, say, Cuphead or Dark Souls, you have a game that has you fight the numbers game and figure out ways to survive near-impossible odds. Don’t get me wrong, it IS possible and it looks awesome. But the majority of the time, it fails spectacularly even at lower difficulties.

At the very least, a good and coordinated effort can get your team through most situations unscathed. Whether it’s Automatons or Terminids, my group of friends and I have gone entire Helldive difficulty missions with no casualties. Unfortunately, we felt less inclined to deal with the “Challenge” offered by those stages when we got the Super Samples we needed to fully upgrade our Super Destroyers. There just wasn’t any incentive to do them outside of the increased number of medals at the end of each mission. So, in the end, we just dropped to Difficulty 4-7 afterward.

Not like it really mattered anyway because the spawn times might as well be the same across all difficulties. Some people have pointed this out on other places like Reddit, but apparently, doing objectives or performing actions inside the objective (like engaging with a Terminal Sequence) will summon a Hive/Dropship, so that means you’ll very likely have the chance to be swarmed with enemies big and small in no time whatsoever. Your team is likely to die if you’re not prepared. By “prepared”, I mean having the meta stuff or any weapon with high armor penetration because mid to low is basically irrelevant in the higher difficulty sets where elite enemies are plentiful.

Man, I really must hate Helldivers 2 if I find this many issues with it, huh? Well, not really. As I said, something about this game keeps me reeled in and returning to it. Even if I play it in short bursts, it still means that I play it at the end of the day, right? Despite having no reason to do so, I still welcome and help new players and randos in their mission to spread peace and democracy.

So, what’s the reason? Well, for one, the weapons themselves are interesting and fun to play with. My favorite weapons are the Sickle and the newly introduced Heavy Machine Gun. The latter brought the Supply Pack stratagem back into the meta, something many people in the community thought wouldn’t happen since the Supply Pack was just seen as a backpack you would only need until you got the Shield Backpack of the Guard Dog Rover.

Additionally, nothing beats the feeling of discovery that this game has when it comes to finding landmarks and points of interest. Traveling across the map with your buddies, finding resources or loot, and then fighting against the biggest odds to survive to keep said loot is incredibly fulfilling, especially when you know that said loot helps someone else progress through their game even further. There’s no better help than the help you provide to others.

What’s more, I am also heavily interested in the plot that Helldivers 2 has to offer. Not only because of the mimicry of Starship Troopers and its satirical messaging but also because Game master Joel has managed to add some spicy twists and turns to keep the Galactic war engaging without having us completely win by a landslide or get swiped around the floor. Victories feel earned while defeats encourage us to keep fighting further, and that’s an accomplishment I can’t look away from.

Another thing that also kept my interest in Helldivers 2 going has been the influx of new content we’ve been receiving. I just mentioned the new stratagems, but I could also point out the exosuits, which have been a godsend in a lot of missions, especially against Terminid forces. It felt so empowering to use a mech to single-handedly defeat hordes of enemies who can’t even remotely approach me… Only to be blown up by a stray enemy I didn’t notice sneaking up from behind me.

Well, I guess that leads to the last reason why this game has kept me hooked. The hilarity of it all is just undeniable. Sometimes, all I need is a good laugh, and seeing myself getting blown up six days from Sunday because of a stray explosion or seeing me receive some well-deserved karma after laughing at my friend who recently died is just the right amount of stupidity I need. It’s brought some good fun and lighthearted moments to my friends, and I appreciate that.

At the end of the day, many of the impressions I had on Helldivers 2 haven’t changed. The game is still hopelessly broken, and there are still a lot of balancing issues. While some of them have been fixed, others have been introduced, and some have arguably made everything worse. So… Once again, where does this leave us when it comes to my impressions of Helldivers 2? Again, I don’t know.

The highs I get from this game are still too big to ignore. In that regard, I could say that this game is like Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, where I know how absurdly broken it is, and I can at least look past that to have some degree of fun. However, I still can’t ignore the fact that this game has also been the cause of a lot of rage for some of my friends. Not only that, but the game has also had many issues that the player base has noticed over time.

The issues I pointed out with the game aren’t brought to be like, “Haha, bad game,” or something like that. Arrowhead Studios definitely needs to look into these issues and take them into account. It’s a bit outrageous that some players are being left out of the Helldivers 2 experience entirely, especially when they can experience what could be a great time with other players. Not helping things would be the instability issues that the game infamously has had over the last few months.

At the time of writing, a new update for Helldivers 2 has rolled out. While the resource/medal cap wasn’t increased, the level cap has. Additionally, several weapons have been buffed as well. More importantly, however, the game has also gotten some fixes to the issues it had. Unfortunately, it also introduced a new way of crashing that apparently can happen whenever Helldivers pick up snowballs. So, it seems like we’re bound to keep running into stability issues no matter what.

I could talk about the newly introduced climate changes, the new primary mission types, or the leaked content that will supposedly come soon. But all of it seems a bit inconsequential when compared to the big picture. So, I guess I will have to leave things with the same cautious recommendation I left things with last time. As for my rating, I’m sorry, Arrowhead fans, but that 6/10 will stay. The issues this game has are too big to ignore. Let’s hope that things get better by the time we reconvene.


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