Helldivers is a surprising game. If you had told me a year ago that one of my favourite games of early 2015 would be a twinstick shooter, I would’ve laughed in your face. But boy would I have been wrong. Featuring some of the most fun co-operative gameplay in recent memory, Helldivers is so much more than it was ever advertised to be. From its witty one-liners, that never seem to get old, to its intense tactical matches, Helldivers is always surprising me.
From the minute you launch the game, Helldivers’ influences are hugely apparent. One of the opening lines is ‘Spread Managed Democracy Throughout The Galaxy!’ with the ironic backdrop of heavy gunfire. Its humour is extremely tongue in cheek, with obvious nods to Starship Troopers extreme Nationalism. One of my favourite lines features during one of Helldivers short loading screens: ‘Does your neighbour lift? He or she may be a Cyborg, report all suspicious activity to the Ministry Of Safety.’ Helldivers is full of humour like this.
Helldivers was developed by ‘Arrow Head Studios‘, who also created the hilarious Magicka. The themes carry across both games, with intelligent teams often leading to victory, but all it takes is one wrong move and everything can end in the blink of an eye. This leads me to one of my favourite parts of Helldivers: friendly-fire.
Now, I know most people hear ‘friendly-fire’ and recall being trolled in Call Of Duty hardcore, but this is different. Just like in Magicka, your most powerful weapons against your enemies can also be your greatest opponent. Aside from your basic weapons and grenades, you also have access to special weapons called ‘Stratagems‘ which are called in from orbit. Need a rocket launcher, more ammo or even a fully automated sentry turret? Instantly call one in from your orbiting cruiser. Performed by holding L1 and pressing the correct directional command, these deliver some much needed assitance in both defensive and offensive forms. Of course, having a 4 tonne tank drop from orbit isn’t exactly ‘safe’ so there will be plenty of times where you accidentally crush your friends into a bloody pulp. It gets no less hilarious the tenth time it happens, I promise you. Missions do go horribly wrong though, for example when 3 of us were sitting in a tank, carefully dropped without a single casualty I might add, only to be annihilated by our fourth member calling in an extra few ammo clips on top of us.
The enemies you face in Helldivers are equally as dangerous as you are, each requiring a different set of tactics to annihilate. The enlightened enemies, ‘The Illuminate‘, specialise in covert warfare, employing stealth tactics and mind control. The robotic guerillas, ‘The Cyborgs‘, are ruthless messes of steel, requiring heavy duty gunfire to take down. The swarming bug race called ….. ‘The Bugs‘ (thanks Starship Troopers) are the third enemy you face, requiring quick reactions and a handy shotgun close by as they love to get right in your face. Helldivers employs an over-arching meta game, where your progress contributes towards the ‘Galactic Front’ against all 3 enemies. Only by working alongside every other Helldiver in existence will be be able to win the war for freedom. When the battle reaches the enemy homeworld, and they are dispatched accordingly, that enemy is eliminated from the Galactic War. When all 3 enemies are beaten, the War ends. Don’t worry though, another war is declared almost instantaneously after the previous one ends. ‘War Never Changes’ right?
Everything about Helldivers is satisfying, the audio is rich and interesting, the graphics are impressive considering it’s not a AAA title, and the combat often surpasses the level of action that you can only find in games like Diablo. When you successfully defend against swarms of Bugs, and board that extraction shuttle off that planet nothing feels better. Helldivers can be a huge amount of stress, but the good kind. The level of difficulty is very customisable, with missions ranging from 1 – Dive In The Park to 12 – Suicide Mission. The hardest mission I have been able to complete solo is level 6, which pretty much forces players to play with teams if they want to complete the highest missions. The rewards for the highest difficulty are often the best weapons and outfits.
Even 20 hours into Helldivers, I haven’t reached top level or unlocked all of the weapons available to me. Considering this game costs less than £20, it is one Hell of a game.