I’ve owned Helldivers ever since it was given away for free with PS+ in February 2016 and for nearly five years, I’ve regularly went back to it but never stuck around for very long and it’s not because it’s a bad game. Far from it!
- Fantastic and chaotic gameplay
- Deep strategy
- Great cooperative fun with friends
- Repetitive gameplay
- Lacks narrative depth or purpose
Helldivers is one of the most enjoyable games I’ve ever played and much like other co-op indie gems like Overcooked, it’ll have you laughing, screaming, and possibly crying. It’s a cooperative sci-fi twin-stick shooter where you and your allies take on hordes of enemies while completing objectives across different battlefields.
As all players share the same screen, you have to work together. However, every bullet, grenade, and landing pod in this game will harm you. Friendly fire is on all the time and there’s nothing you can do about it. Your allies, reinforcements, and even strategic masterstrokes like airstrikes can kill you if you find yourself occupying the wrong pixel on the screen.
Did I mention that your strategems (as they’re called in-game) require you to correctly input a combination on the d-pad? Helldivers isn’t messing around and even a 4-button combination can be difficult to input in the heat of battle.
With this unforgiving challenge, you have to be organised and Helldivers forces you to play as wisely as you can. As the bullets are flying, you can call in mechs, tanks, bombardment, more ammo, and almost anything you can imagine given you’ve unlocked such perks. The perks and strategic options can be so important that you may have already decided the outcome of a difficult mission by choosing your loadout.
As for the story, Helldivers doesn’t have much of a campaign mode or any real narrative drive. You basically choose who to fight, how difficult you want the fight to be, and hope you make it to the end. When you finish a mission, your performance will be added to the overall war effort. It’s a really cool concept but it means that there’s no real narrative drive for the player to get invested in.
You’re in a war, the reason doesn’t really matter, and at the end of every mission, you see your effort equate to almost nothing in the grand scheme of things. Personally, I found that it became quite repetitive and while incredibly fun in shorter bursts, I wouldn’t play it for hours on end several days a week.
In many ways, it plays like an arcade game but thankfully, I don’t have to keep pumping money into it, because I’m constantly dying!
Helldivers blends a pick-up-and-play arcade mentality with more cerebral difficulty and strategy. It’s probably one of the best twin-stick shooters I’ve ever played and is at its best when playing with friends. You mightn’t hang around for a story but you’ll regularly find yourself coming back for the fun!