A Stunning Recent Victory is the Scariest Possible Development for Helldivers 2 Players

It’s too quiet...

Arrowhead Game Studios
screenshot from Helldivers 2

Since it launched in February, Helldivers 2 has become one of 2024’s most fascinating games. While it may look like a typical sci-fi shooter on the surface, its Starship Troopers-inspired satire drew new players in and its captivating take on live-service storytelling has kept them there. Now, after months of fighting, players have completely exterminated one enemy faction and contained the other. With total victory complete, Helldivers 2 may be in for its most exciting twist yet. Players are terrified.

Rather than a persistent story, Helldivers 2 has a constantly evolving campaign that currently revolves around two enemies — the insectoid Terminids and the robotic Automatons. This weekend, players eliminated the feared Automatons while the Terminids’ spread was halted, which Helldivers 2 developer Arrowhead Game Studios celebrated with a social media post. Players are still free to do battle against the surviving Terminids, but as far as the game’s story is concerned, danger has passed. Of course, this is an ongoing shooter, so it can’t stay that way forever.

Arrowhead’s victory celebration has only convinced Helldivers 2 players something bad is on the way.

The question for players now is, what comes next? Obviously Arrowhead isn’t throwing out all the work it’s done so far, and both the Automatons and Terminids will be back with a vengeance at some point. But until then, players are holding their breath for something even worse.

The most likely development is that Helldivers 2 will see the return of an enemy from the previous game. For weeks, players have been spotting signs that the Illuminate — a faction of psychic aliens — are back. The most obvious signs are the blue lasers players are reportedly being shot with, which were an Illuminate weapon from the first game.

Further out, Arrowhead’s plans to keep Helldivers 2 interesting are harder to predict. In the original Helldivers, the galactic battle reset itself on a monthly basis, letting players relive the fight over and over. Since we’re heading into Helldivers 2’s third month with surprises still in store, it’s clear that the developer is playing a longer game this time. A look at the campaign’s galactic map shows space that could be filled with a fourth faction even assuming the Illuminate show up at some point, so any potential reset could easily still be months out.

There’s also the possibility that Arrowhead is trying something different this time around. Rather than resetting the campaign, it may just continue evolving to tell the story of Super Earth’s attempt to conquer the galaxy under the guise of “managed democracy.” For Helldivers 2, the studio is leaning on a developer, nicknamed Game Master Joel, to steer the direction of the intergalactic conflict in interesting new directions. That speaks to a more hands-on approach that could include more twists and turns than a simple reset.

Helldivers 2 is at a turning point in its galactic conflict that could decide the fate of the game.

Arrowhead Game Studios

Whatever happens to the not-so-secretly fascist forces of Super Earth, Arrowhead’s approach is one of the boldest takes on live service we’ve ever seen. Gamers aren’t known for being the most accommodating bunch, with portions of the audience for essentially any game being completely averse to anything unexpected or inconvenient. Helldivers 2 has ably managed to avoid stoking the ire of their fan base so far, even as they break some of the implied rules of running a modern live-service game.

For instance, achievement hunting has become a major preoccupation of many gamers, and at least for the moment, earning a Platinum trophy in Helldivers 2 is currently impossible for anyone starting from scratch, as TheGamer points out. Several achievements in Helldivers 2 rely on defeating certain Automaton enemies, who are no longer in the game. That means that to earn those trophies, players will need to wait until the bots’ inevitable return.

Rather than a typical live-service game, with every element of the campaign available at any point, Helldivers 2 is taking an approach more akin to television, with payoffs scattered across multiple weeks (or months in this case) of a season. Right now, players are coming off of an emotional high, after winning the biggest victory yet in the game’s lifetime. Of course, that probably means it’s all about to come crashing down, and what happens next could tell us if Helldivers 2’s inventive campaign has what it takes to keep players around for good.

Helldivers 2 is available now on PlayStation 5 and PC.

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