Helldivers 2 review: This fight for democracy is chaotic and fun

helldivers 2

Helldivers 2 is a refreshing live-service third-person shooter focusing on combat and slapstick humor. The intent here is to keep the game’s combat fresh and provide enough fun moments to keep players coming back for more, and in both ways, it’s a success. Helldivers 2 is also a co-op shooter, and our review showed upfront that playing with friends will be exponentially more fun than tackling the missions solo.

Players in Helldivers 2 are guardians of democracy and freedom, and use explosives, ballistics, and laser-based “tools” to ensure that democracy reigns supreme. Giant insects and vicious robots are just dying to destroy Super Earth, and it’s up to players to defend their homes and spread democracy across the galaxy.

While the premise sounds a bit goofy, the game’s seriousness is reserved for the actual act of battle and extermination. Taking on hoards of unsightly insects and murderous robots requires intense focus and coordination with one’s teammates. It’s a real challenge, and an enjoyable one.

The Good:

  • Addictive gameplay loop that keeps players coming back for more.
  • Slapstick humor permeates the game and helps maintain the fun vibe.

The Bad:

  • Some performance issues.

Review Details:

Platforms available: PlayStation 5, PC

Reviewed on: PlayStation 5

Official release date: February 8, 2024

Helldivers 2 brings a satisfying gameplay loop with no loot boxes

A live service co-op shooter with no loot boxes is an anomaly. Making a satisfying gameplay loop that feels rewarding without needing colored loot drops is a rare occurrence. Developer Arrowhead Games have achieved both with Helldivers 2 thanks to its weapons all feeling and performing differently. For instance, a newly unlocked shotgun could change how a player tackles missions entirely. A new stratagem, the game’s special attack, can open new ways to defeat enemies.

To start, players gather in a spaceship. Every spaceship has an identical interior, so there’s little chance of getting lost on a friend’s ship. Players can customize their weapons, bonuses, stratagems, and armor while on the ship. After getting ready for battle, the next move is to select a mission from the cockpit. The round table shows the ongoing Galactic War between humans, insects, and robots. On one side are planets rife with insects, and on the other are robot-infested worlds. Select a mission and start eradicating the enemies of democracy. It’s that simple.

Missions come in a wide variety of flavors. One reason why repeating missions felt fine during the course of our Helldivers 2 review is the sheer variety in mission objectives and enemy types. This diversity in mission objectives and enemy types keeps the player guessing and invested in what will come next. Completing bonus objectives is also key to reaping greater rewards. Missions come with a 30- or 15-minute time limit, so players must complete their runs quickly.

The gameplay loop goes like this: Destroy robots or bugs, extract back home, get more weapons and goodies, and return to reap further destruction. It may sound repetitive, but the gameplay is so refreshing and fun that players will want to dive in repeatedly. The game is not carried by the potential of loot or rewards. It’s the frantic gameplay that makes it addictive. Playing with a group of friends is even more exciting, as is blowing those friends up by “accident” and watching their corpses fly across the map.

Touches of realism round out the fun

Helldivers 2 may sound like chaos, but there is a strategy behind the action in the game. For example, reloading before emptying the magazine wastes all remaining bullets, so ammo awareness in the heat of battle is key. Enjoy running and gunning? Gun accuracy takes a severe hit when doing that. Standing still or crouching increases the chance of hitting an enemy, but also leaves you more vulnerable.

Third-person movement is responsive and fun. Diving around and jumping is fast, and the player never feels out of control when doing either.

The game wouldn’t be as fun without its many weapons and stratagems. There is a healthy collection of weapons to choose from, and all of them feel very different in practice. The shotgun is ideal for close-quarters combat, while an LMG is great for suppressive fire. Taking an anti-tank weapon is recommended when going up against armored enemies. Stratagems include cannons, lasers, delivery pods, and even explosive artillery shells.

Players can take up to four stratagems with them into combat. In our review, we particularly noted that Helldivers 2 doesn’t limit their usage, so players can technically activate stratagems however many times they like. However, there is a cooldown period between uses. The cooldown time depends on the stratagem, but is generally pretty fast. Activating them isn’t as simple as a button press, either; players must input a correct button combo to launch them. The real joy here lies in watching an orbital strike take down multiple enemies in one go. Coordinating stratagems with friends results in a grand spectacle.

Dying isn’t so bad, either. The game gives the whole team a pool of lives, so there are multiple chances at making a comeback.

Helldivers 2 is a breath of fresh air in a generally stale genre. It brings intensive combat to the forefront instead of random rewards and just feels great to play, especially with friends.’s bottom line: Helldivers 2 is fast, frantic, and fun, delivering exciting co-op action without invasive microtransactions.

Score: 9/10

Author image

Written by Bilawal Bashir

Bilawal is a software engineer who loves video games, comic books, and anime. But he will never love pineapple on pizza. In over two decades of gaming, he has only broken two controllers. His work has also been featured by TheGamer and WhatIfGaming.

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