Well I guess it’s just as well that I begin this series with a game that I quickly kicked from my installed games list again… As part of working through my backlog, I selected Helldivers as the first title to try out. After a little under 2 hours I have my personal verdict on it. Sadly the game has several design elements that just do not work for me, but it doesn’t necessarily make it a bad game.
The game itself is a twin-stick shooter in which you visit various planets and complete missions that raise your influence in the galactic sector of the planet in order to occupy more and more sectors in an ongoing war. There isn’t any big overarching story in the game, far as I could tell. Teams of up to 4 people can participate in the missions at the same time, but you have to watch out for friendly-fire (cannot be disabled). Before starting a mission, you can choose your loadout (weapons, perks and support options) from your unlocked list. As you level up by gaining XP through completing missions (though failing them can also net you a portion of the possible XP), you unlock more weapons, weapon upgrade options, perks and support options. (to not brush it under the carpet: ) The music and sounds seemed fine to me in the short playtime, but I didn’t get much time to focus on those parts either.
As a preface on my choice to not continue with the game: I am not big on multiplayer, vastly prefer single player games, but since the game does not prevent it, I wanted to try how going solo works out. To illustrate, I will recount what happened in the last mission I did in the game (I had done around 3 easy missions so far and was at level 3): There were 2 objectives in this one, first I had to reactivate a SAM site and then find and defuse 3 unexploded rockets. This second objective is rather annoying already if you are going it alone since you have to switch your weapon out with a metal detector to find the rockets, while enemies still spawn around you and attack. Without someone else there, you have to be completely alert to enemies, constantly dodge shots and / or switch back and forth to your weapon, defeat the enemies and then go back to the metal detector again. As if that wasn’t bad enough, suddenly a drop pod lands directly on my surprised head, killing me. To clarify: Last session I had set my game to “Private” and I had kind of expected for the game to remember that, but lo and behold, it switched back to the default: “Public”.
After a while, my new uninvited team-mate finally decided to revive me, we completed the objective and went to the shuttle call signal in order to evacuate. Here we both called in turrets to help fend of incoming enemies, but my team-mate decided it would be a wise idea to stand under his turret just as it lands. Due to friendly-fire, the turret being there and enemies being nearby, I had to go prone, but the enemies managed to get to me, which meant an instant mission failure. That was the point where it was completely clear to me that the game and I are not going to be friends. I bid my uninvited friend good bye (nah, actually I just quit the game) and uninstalled Helldivers.
If you are a fan of this type of game, have a few friends to play it with and don’t mind the chaos (the developer also made Magicka… and it shows), take a look, you’ll probably have fun with it. But for me, just as this post, my time with this game has ended.