Helldivers 2: Softonic’s review

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Helldivers 2: Softonic’s review
Jesús Bosque

Jesús Bosque

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Lately, Sony has been characterized by something that quite amazes me: they give us sequels with huge budgets, but clearly they’re conservative, repeating concepts; then they provide us with games that are true gems in gameplay, with original and innovative approaches that in a way revolutionize already established genres. That happened with Returnal, and now it’s happening with Helldivers 2.

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What seemed like a minor release has turned into a phenomenon that, in fact, has been giving developers headaches as they struggle to fully meet the enormous demand the game requires in terms of servers.

And how did they achieve such magic? With a simple storyline, a sense of humor very characteristic of the company, and gameplay so good that it’s impossible not to want to keep playing. And all this with hardly any microtransactions, but which do slightly influence the way of playing.

It’s not the first installment, but it’s practically a new game

Arrowhead the company behind Helldivers 2, and it must be said that the game has all the ingredients of the company’s previous installments/games: lots of action, cooperative multiplayer components, and above all, a rather dark sense of humor.

What other games has Arrowhead made? The Magicka series and the first installment of Helldivers. Interestingly, all three games offer plenty of action, gameplay with many innovations that make each game different, and a top-down perspective reminiscent of Diablo. Not to mention their peculiar sense of humor that doesn’t make you laugh out loud, but where you recognize the references that make you smile.

With Helldivers 2, we’re already going to see the first difference compared to previous games: we’ll be able to choose between third-person or first-person perspective when aiming. This change of perspective allows us to experience the action up close and personal, immersing us fully in the massive battles we’ll face in the game. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

We can’t help but talk about a storyline that unabashedly criticizes all messages of the American lifestyle, in a way that reminds us entirely of Paul Verhoeven’s movie, Starship Troopers. A movie that, in fact, has become fashionable again thanks to the game and is perfectly reflected in this sequel, albeit with a much darker and more direct sense of humor.

Gameplay: the important thing

That Helldivers 2 has a unique storyline and sense of humor is something to consider, but what about the gameplay? Exceptionally good. We’re dealing with a game that falls within the “shooter” genre, meaning shoot everything you can. In this case – and for now – these can be “bugs” or “robots” that, judging by their designs, clearly correspond to what we’ve seen in two very specific series: Starship Troopers and Terminator. These two are currently our main threats.

The game itself has 7 different difficulty levels, and I can already tell you that while the first two levels you’ll be able to pass solo without any problems, from level 3 onwards you’ll need to play cooperatively, and that’s where the real fun begins: playing with friends or strangers to get the most out of the game.

And this is what has led to several delays with the game because we wanted to test advanced difficulties (we’ve reached difficulty 5) to see how the game scales, and this is easy to say: it’s absolute madness. Bigger bugs, Terminators reminiscent of the movies but also of the great armor of Warhammer 40,000.

Because it’s true that the game offers greater challenges, but they’re impossible to pass without a squad, and they’re impossible to pass if you don’t upgrade your ship and arsenal to have more powerful weapons, special attacks to perform, and access to some advantages (like bringing a drone to help us finish off the enemy).

Although the basic goal of the game is to eliminate all enemies we can, this doesn’t imply that it’s the only thing to do in each mission. We have a great variety of secondary missions within each map. And not only that, you also have the pressure of time because many of these objectives have to be completed within 40 minutes, both the main objective and the secondary ones.

When we’re inside each of the missions, we’ll have a pretty clear idea of the main objectives, but not so much the secondary ones, which are small sub-missions we’ll encounter on each map, ranging from destroying bases to firing a ballistic missile to eliminating enemy nests.

Why are secondary missions and additional difficulties important? Because that way, we’ll earn the game’s official currency, and this official currency allows us to buy new armor, gestures, weapons, and premium credits, enabling us to advance in our missions and face higher difficulty missions, which will allow us to simultaneously increase our arsenal while having fun fighting non-stop.

Not everything is perfect: two points that haven’t convinced me

I can’t deny that I’ve enjoyed the game tremendously and that it constantly invites you to continue thanks to the gameplay and the technical aspects, which I’ll talk about next. However, I can’t help but mention two points that, at least for me, have seemed controversial. The first one is practically solved, but the second one is a bit more tricky.

The first issue is with the matchmaking, which until a few days ago (literally) caused a lot of problems. This has caused me quite a bit of frustration. Not only because of the fact that I couldn’t enter the game on multiple occasions, but also because finding a group was practically impossible until last weekend when a series of patches finally solved most of the issues, although we still occasionally have problems accessing the game. And as I mentioned, from certain difficulties, it’s not possible to progress in the game. Or at least, not at an adequate speed.

The second controversy for me is more contentious, and it’s the way we acquire weapons. This is done through a variation of the battle pass, something more than common in almost all games nowadays. However, usually in console games, this tends to be more aesthetic, but not in Helldivers 2, as the premium battle pass includes a series of weapons that are not just variations but we have found that they offer better performance for many missions.

However, we’ll need quite a few coins to unlock these weapons. Nevertheless, as soon as we use them, we’ll see that eliminating enemies is not as complex as with the normal weapons.

An outstanding technical section

It’s not difficult to come across games nowadays with outstanding technical aspects. Today’s consoles offer extraordinary performance, making almost all games look spectacular. Helldivers 2 has something more than most games.

Apart from having magnificent map design, multiple technical effects that make the missions believable, as well as enemies that constantly surprise you with their size, ferocity, and especially their aggressiveness. With each battle, you truly feel like you’re in the midst of a fray where survival depends on your ability to have the right weapons and skills. But all this couldn’t survive without a technical aspect that, for me, stands out above all others: the sound.

Because the sound in Helldivers 2 is practically the glue that makes everything work like clockwork. From the melodies (although TikTok montages should have their own category) that can only be considered an integral part of motivation, to the random comments of the soldiers at the moment of “defending democracy” or when, after firing a weapon relentlessly, we can hear a soldier’s psychotic laugh.

Helldivers 2 is pure fun

Helldivers 2 is much more of a game than we thought. A title that, once again, seemed minor if we compare it with today’s big-budget productions, but it proves that gameplay and fun are always the most important in this sector.

Gameplay, graphics, story, and above all, sound come together in such a way that you can spend hours defending “managed democracy” just to reach the next level of difficulty where you know you’re going to get crushed.

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In these conclusions, we can’t ignore what was mentioned earlier about the premium pass that opts to give us some advantage in combat. Hopefully, this will change with future premium passes, and we’ll simply find purely aesthetic aspects.

But even with this small blemish, we have to recommend this title because it manages to keep us hooked on every mission. We can’t stop playing.

Jesús Bosque

Jesús Bosque

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