Sony’s consoles have had their fair share of great twin stick shooters. Dead Nation, Resogun, and the Super Stardust series are all excellent twin stick shooters that have raised the bar for the genre in one way or another. The newest game in the genre, Helldivers, seeks to be included into the aforementioned list, but does it hold its own against the aforementioned games?
Helldivers is a new sci-fi twin stick shooter brought to you by Arrowhead Game Studios. The game takes place in a far off universe following the demise of old earth. Luckily, humanity found Super Earth where they now live. Unfortunately, Super Earth is constantly pestered by surrounding enemies that need to be vanquished. You play as a Helldiver and, as a member of Super Earth’s military, it’s your job to do the vanquishing. There are three enemy races, each spread out on numerous different planets. It’s rather fun discovering what they are so I won’t spoil that, but just know that they are pretty varied.
You begin with a short tutorial that will get you back into the swing of playing a twin stick shooter. Following this, you’ll literally be left you your own devices. The freedom allowed when choosing which missions and planets to explore at the beginning of the game is actually rather refreshing, especially considering the linearity of other games in the genre. You do begin in a space ship which acts as the hub world. In said hub you can change your weapons, customize your appearance, connect with other players, and choose missions.
Once you choose to undertake a mission, you will find yourself within a pretty open area that resembles the planet the mission takes place on. Like the numerous planets, these locations are pretty diverse. Some planets are similar to Mars while others resemble frozen Tundra. Upon arriving to these locations, you’ll be equipped with one main weapon, a sidearm, stratagems, and grenades. Strategems is this cool feature that allows calling for airdrops. In order to do so, you’ll need to use the directional buttons to input the air drop that do want. For example, an ammunition airdrop requires you to hold the stratagem button and press down, down, up, right. It sounds like a huge inconvenience, and can be, but it makes heavy firefights that much more intense. As far as the general gameplay of Helldivers goes, I find it very similar the PlayStation Portable’s Killzone Liberation, minus the cover system. This is a pretty good thing, especially when up to 4 people can tackle missions together. When playing cooperatively, missions are identical to single player missions with the exception of the difficulty and friendly fire. You are unable to turn off friendly fire which is a huge bummer considering that most of my deaths have come from my teammates. Few things are worse than failing a mission at the last second because a teammate killed everyone then died himself. Even worse is that in order for your team to respawn, you’ll need to use a strategem which is extremely hard in heavy fighting.
Helldivers is a game that is heavily impacted by the game’s community. This means that it is primarily online and is played cooperatively with others. The wars waged in Helldivers are large and expansive and require every player to contribute to the war effort. Helldivers shows this by making everything you do count toward the common good. This is pretty cool and makes your victories feel more important. In addition, each region of planets has a leaderboard that shows who the “war front heroes” are. These are the players who have contributed most to the war efforts.
While not quite reaching the heights of games like Resogun or Super Stardust, Helldivers is a great game. The freedom to choose what to do is cool, the varied locations keep everything fresh, playing cooperatively is fun, and strategems are extremely cool. Sadly, Helldivers’ ridiculous friendly fire, strategem respawns, and online only play hold it back from being truly exceptional.
Final Score: 8.0/10