Helldivers is a top-down twin stick shooter that is challenging, rewarding, and deceptively deep. When first booting up the game, the tutorial gives some indication that this may not be another straight-laced co-op shooter. It’s only when you get through your first couple of the easiest planets and level up that the game reveals it’s devilish challenge and reward.
The entire premise of the game that you are a helldiver, a defender of Super Earth. You must take the fight to three different races of alien to stop them from invading and destroying the planet. You equip your loadout and drop onto the map, anywhere you want. Every map is rather small and will only take a few minutes, something like the length of a multiplayer match. There are only a small number of objectives to complete on each map like capturing an area, activating a SAM site or destroying an enemy nest. It’s not the objectives that make Helldivers so thrilling; It’s the gameplay.
Helldivers features incredibly satisfying gunplay. All of the guns you can eventually unlock by levelling up all feel unique and different. Some guns have a spread while others focus on range or fire rate. This is essential to know the best scenario to each weapon because of its friendly fire mechanic.
Everything in Helldivers can kill you. From the turret you drop to other players and ever the dropship which is always the last objective on the map, you have got to have a great sense of awareness and positioning at all times. If you see another player use a stratagem, be very vigilant on where the player throws it because in a few seconds it will come crashing to the ground and kill anything it may touch.
Stratagems are what gives Helldivers that final deep layer that can turn the tide in any battle. You start off with a set of stratagems but as you progress and complete planets, you unlock more. They can also be levelled up using research points you gain from either levelling up or finding enough hidden samples on the map.
They can be used as an attack, defence, or support depending on the role you want to be in the team. All team mates must be careful though as anyone can be killed by any drop from a stratagem. Some of the stratagems are air strikes meaning you must sure that it can go off without hurting your team members.
This hardcore shooting is incredibly satisfying when a team comes together, know their roles and things go off without too many accidental killings. An ever better team can take out the enemies without allowing them to alert backup. When this happens, you can stealthily move around the map, take out enemies and complete your objectives without too much of a fuss. However, it’s when all hell breaks loose is when Helldivers is at its best.
With others you know, Helldivers will always be fun; With strangers though can be just as fun but if you are teamed up with one player that doesn’t know what they’re doing or is reckless, a tough mission that almost seemed possible can be taken away without anything on your part.
Every battle you fight and small war you win acts as influence which every player contributes to pushing the aliens back. Areas can be lost if not enough players help to the greater fight an eventually Super Earth can be lost.
Helldivers is easily one of the most satisfying top-down shooters I’ve ever played. The gameplay and music alone is worth playing for. There’s a satirical take on how America take to wars thrown in that is rather on the nose and can be funny but it’s easy to just forget about it, get into the action, level up and kick ass.
What makes this game special is a combination of gameplay, the tactics of stratagems and friendly fire and the progression that gives you enough reason to jump back in again and again. The victory music is epic in the most ridiculous way possible and shooting bugs is just a blast.