Harddrive-by: Helldivers 2

Harddrive-by: Helldivers 2

I had pretty much given up on playing AAA games when this came along..  They have mostly been a series of rolling disasters for the past couple of years. Redfall, Gollum, Starfield, Skull Island, Overwatch 2, Diablo 4, Suicide Squad Kills the Justice League and of course The Last of Us 2. You’ve probably got a list of your own. 

It’s not just technical incompetence, although if you buy anything from Bethesda, damn kid what were you thinking?

No, politics have pushed their way into gaming big time. You can see that the geriatrics who run Vanguard and State Street have finally been convinced that this gaming thing the kids are into has legs after all. Consequently, behaviors will have to be “forced” as Larry Fink, CEO of Blackrock put it. The sad part is he clearly thought he was being subtle.

So the grift wagon was hitched to AAA gaming.  Want to be told how something completely innocuous is “problematic?” Just call Sweet Baby Inc.  They will be happy to tell you that Harley Quinn will need to be beaten with a mid-stick to avoid having purple-haired cancel pigs screaming Reeee at you. 

When there is big money to be had, the leeches will get their buddies like Liz Warren to force behaviors from those with money, because the leeches then donate that money to people like Liz Warren.

So, I gave up completely on AAA and just went Indie. And I have had no regrets at all about it. 

Nonetheless, a trailer managed to catch my attention last week.

Okay, it’s been a while since I saw a game with an actual sense of humor about itself.  However, I wasn’t interested in gambling $60 on another AAA game.  Although, $40 was another story. It has been a long time since I saw a top-shelf game with that low of a price tag.  Now if you wanted to throw an extra $20 on top of that you would get a premium warbond.  Meaning monetized DLC but I appreciate the fact that they did their level best to keep it immersive.  

Helldivers II is a third-person cooperative, non-competitive hoard shooter. The Helldivers are the elite soldiers of Super Earth and are now in a double-front war.  

The first war (Helldivers I) was started when the forces of Super Earth heroically liberated the secret of faster-than-light travel from the Illuminates. There was the problem of fuel but it turned out that the key ingredient is conveniently produced by the bodies of dead Terminads.  There was also the filthy socialist Cyborgs who were once human but had rejected the Super Earth way of life for revolting socialism.

The new war is being fought against the Terminids (Bugs) and the mysterious Automatons (who mysteriously wear the same sigil as the old Cyborgs) and they are making a big push for the carpet-liberated homeworld of the Cyborgs, Cyberstan.

So like Warhammer 40K, Super Earth has a serious “Are we the baddies?” energy surrounding it. And I love it!

Gameplay: With a team of four friends or four randos you pick a planet that needs liberating, select your armor, weapons, and “stratagems” (which are all tactical BTW) get fired down to the surface in your Hellpod Heinlein style.  You perform your mission, maybe some side missions, collect valuables, kill a fuck ton of enemies and then extract.  Rinse and repeat. 

Truthfully I’d say this game is more of double A than triple A. There is no real customization of your unisex character other than armor cosmetics, there is no face or body to customize.  Although some kinds of armor carry unique bonuses.  The AI is pretty easy too, just breaks line of sight and it goes into a search pattern. Most of the cover is completely indestructible.

And those are the closest things to downsides I can find.  

You probably heard it had a disastrous launch.  That isn’t quite accurate.  The launch went fine but then it blew up in its second week.  It was built with a peak load of about 50,000 players in mind, but it didn’t have anywhere near the server capacity to handle 800,000 thousand.  However, they managed to have things sorted by the end of the weekend or at least playably sorted. I’m willing to forgive a $40 game quite a lot.  Honestly though, buy the Super Citizen armor, 50% chance of surviving fatal damage and you don’t bleed out from a torso wound.

This game is a blast, pretty much literally. It is not at all like Fortnite.  There is NO battle royale mode and it doesn’t look like there will be one.  That said, friendly fire was a component of the first game it’s built into this one as well. Little kids so far haven’t been very interested in playing it, which is awesome.

This brings us to the community which is surprisingly non-toxic.  So far the vast majority of the players are having fun role-playing comedy space-nazis. 

Chubby_Wubby117: How come we only attack in four-man fire teams, Gunny?

Gunny_Zaxxon: That’s a good question. Stop asking good questions. That’s treason.

Chubby_Wubby117: Oh shit you’re right! Sorry Gunny.

Mind you the professional leeches have noticed that something is popular and they haven’t been able to ruin it yet. One player demanded a Pride cape and got kicked off the official forums. Another offering Red Pill interpretations of this and that also got kicked off the forums.  A few Twitter retards are trying to gain traction with a Don’t be Fascist meme drive, everyone is laughing at them.  So far Arrowhead Studio is trying to maintain a non-political environment in a hyper-politicized time. 

The closest thing to toxicity are the meta snobs kicking people off of their teams for not following the meta and general complaints about not supporting the war effort.  The war effort is the big galactic picture of this double (soon to be triple) front war.  As colonies come under attack the liberation meter starts ticking.  If it reaches zero percent liberation then that colony has fallen. I hadn’t realized that was a possibility until I was playing on Malvelion Creek and suddenly got a general retreat order.  The Creek Crawlers were heartbroken at having lost it and complained bitterly until Skymarshall Joel allowed them to start attacking there again. 

Since this is a live service game, monetization is a tragic necessity but I have to say they are managing a zero-pressure environment around that aspect. If you want the super cool stuff you buy a premium warbond that has gear, emotes and you know the rest.  However you still have to unlock those premiums by collecting various forms of currency in the game; Medals, Elements, Requisition Slips, you get the idea. You only get those in combat drops.

The part that has people complaining is that the higher-level gear will require higher-level play.  You won’t be able to get the top-shelf gear playing in Journalist Mode.  And that’s okay because you really don’t have to be a first-chair shooter, you just have to be able to perform under pressure. Start on Easy and by the time you’re at level 10, you’ll be ready for Challenging if not Hard or Suicide. 

The easiest way to tell if this game is for you is this: Did you like the trailer?  If you did and have $40 in your pocket, it’s worth the gamble.

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