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It’s blatantly obvious Magicka developers Arrowhead Games was inspired by Paul Verhoeven’s film, Starship Troopers when they created Helldivers. Opening with propaganda style infomercials and scrolling text with words such as ‘Freedom!’ and ‘Democracy!’ plus the alien bug enemies hell bent on destroying human life – it wasn’t hard to make the connection. While it does somewhat feel too familiar, Helldiver’s over the top military satire is a welcoming change in the market full of serious drama.
Helldivers are patriotic soldiers dropped into the thick of the warzone from the skies. The twin stick shooter pits you (or with three other Helldivers) against an army of alien bugs spanned across multiple planets within the surrounding universe. Featuring a live war map that changes based on real world achievements, players must gradually defeat the enemy in each sector towards their home planet. The design is somewhat set out similar to Destiny, where each player has their own ship and is able to customise their appearance and also purchase/unlock new weaponary.
You can drop on a planet solo or with three other players. While playing the game by yourself is manageable, my playthrough as a single army Helldiver was well… completely hell. The game is at times ridiculous when attempted solo as it’s mostly designed to be played with others. Helldivers also requires you to utilise the available assets sparingly like dropping in ammo and heavy weaponary. You’ll run out of ammo fast and the only way to get more is by calling in an ammo airdrop. Need bigger guns? Call in a airdrop. What about an evacuation? Gotta call it in. The hardest part about these assets is that they take time to drop and you’ll have to press a combination on the D-pad to initiate it, with all the commotion happening around you with near death imminent. Time and patience to the initiate the drop is something you don’t have.
While playing Helldivers can be hell without others to help you and cover your ass, playing co-op can be equally crazy because of friendly fire. Yes, not only can the enemies hurt you in Helldivers, your air drops and even friendly Helldivers can. This makes the game quite frantic with co-op as you must watch what you shoot as well as try and avoid your allies line of sight. I lost count of how many times people drop their carpet bombs on me. Playing with others just welcomes havoc, frustrating at times but this is what really Helldivers is about – walking the fine line between life and death.
It’s not surprising to see Arrowhead create another stellar co-op title with Helldivers. It’s purely over the top fun with lots of comedic deaths when played with other players. I’ve always found Helldivers intentionally difficult but never unfair and it’s what makes the title incredibly addictive because of the challenges you face against hordes of enemies and… friendlies (sometimes yourself). Grab it on crossbuy, find some random Helldivers online – liberate some planets in your spare time.
Often ridiculous and over-the-top, Helldivers provides some of the most challenging and insanely fun twin stick shooter with frenemies.
Developer: Arrowhead Game Studios
Platforms: PS3, PS4, PS Vita (Reviewed)
A review code for the game was provided by the publisher.