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Review: ‘Helldivers 2’ accomplishes what bigger-name games couldn’t

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Published in Science & Technology News

In the first two months of the new year, one thing has become clear. Gamers want titles that offer fresh experiences but with a familiar hook. “Palworld” became an unexpected hit because it pushed forward a genre that “Pokemon” pioneered, combining monster taming and collecting and weaving it in a “Minecraft”-ish environment.

In the second month, “Helldivers 2” has taken fans by storm because it has accomplished what many high-profile publishers have tried and failed to do: Arrowhead Game Studios has crafted a compelling four-player co-op franchise. That wasn’t a process that happened overnight. The team had a solid foundation, building the game from elements of the original top-down shooter.

A REIMAGINED PROJECT

For the sequel, Arrowhead fleshed out that vision and reimagined the project as a squad-based third-person shooter. Players take on the role of a Helldiver in command of a starship defending “managed Democracy” and Super Earth against the insectoid Terminids and the mysterious Automaton robots.

Fans of the 1997 film “Starship Troopers” should feel at home with the satiric vibe thrumming through every bit of dialogue. It’s all tongue in cheek as Helldivers fire bullets and shout “How’d you like the taste of freedom” or call in a bombing run while saying “Freedom delivery.” The bravado keeps the mood light because “Helldivers 2” is chaotic, violent and intense.

A session begins with players picking a sector to defend and they head over to a star system with friends or warp in with random strangers. The leader picks a landing spot for the group, and from there, they choose a loadout of four Stratagems, which are tools needed to deal with enemy hordes. Players can call their ship to drop a Shield Generator Pack or a Grenade Launcher but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to firepower.

 

PICK THE RIGHT STRATAGEMS FOR THE MISSION

Other Stratagems allows players to call in an Eagle Airstrike or an Orbital Precision Strike. This requires players to toss a marker so that the planes or ship know where to cause mass destruction. If players are on the defensive job, they can call in turrets to help protect an area. Lastly, players can add on a booster that applies a passive perk for the squad

With only four slots and a booster, players and their team have to pick the right Stratagems for the job. That often requires them to understand the mission. Some tasks require players to destroy Terminid nests while others are about escorting scientists to safety. Most Stratagems can be useful depending on the situation.

Once players have their loadout, they’re fired into the planet in a Hellpod, which looks like a giant bullet. From there, players have to complete the task but Arrowhead adds twists. First off, friendly fire is always on. That requires players to be extra careful. They can’t blast enemies willy-nilly because they might kill a teammate. That’s important because squads have a finite number of lives called Reinforcements. Once it hits zero, players have to wait and stay alive to bring back their buddies.

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