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Helldivers 2’s Harder Mechanics Won’t Bully The Loner Out Of Me

Highlights

  • Cinematic visuals and poetic battles drew me to explore Helldivers 2’s apocalyptic world, offering a unique single-player experience.
  • Increased enemy spawns made solo missions more challenging, but the allure of being a lone survivor added a special thrill.
  • While co-op play offers fun and respawning laughs, there’s peace in the solitude of surviving alone in a world of chaos.

Helldivers 2, the sequel to Arrowhead Game Studio’s 2015 top-down shooter, was a breath of fresh air when it hit shelves back in February of this year. Vibrant terrain, merciless alien hordes, and comical satire gave this third-person shoot-em-up the edge over addictive games/”>battle royales. Geared toward co-op play (because Terminid scum creates sticky situations), I challenged myself to play solo. Why should I miss out just because I have no friends? Now, recent patches have made it harder for solo players to survive, but that won’t bully the loner out of me.


The initial hook that reeled me into the shooter – despite being a gamer who usually avoids games of this ilk at all costs – was its cinematic visuals, which placed a romanticized lens over campaigns and made the heat of battle rather poetic as a single-player. While it was already difficult for solo Helldivers to complete extractions successfully without being crept up on by mammoth Bile Titans, Arrowhead recently introduced increased patrol spawns to make gameplay even more hellish for lone wolves. Regardless, I’ll persevere solo.

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A Solo Helldiver’s Life For Me

Helldivers 2 common sample in Helldivers 2


When Helldivers 2 first released, TikTok and X were flooded with clips of comrades fleeing Automaton hordes in slow motion, set to a dramatic track from Avatar. It framed the struggle for democracy’s funny but poignant style and the sense of hopelessness captured within each cooperative campaign made me want to try it for myself despite having no allies to call upon.

The first few missions were relatively easy, but the extraction points were often swarmed by enemies and I began to see the difficulties of being a rogue. I let panic set in during my warm-up campaigns and shot anything that moved, letting technique and composure fall by the wayside in the hopes of being able to brag that I survived myself and prove, once again, that you don’t need an army to fight for democracy.


…the thrill of surviving a post-apocalyptic scenario was somehow muted when other Helldivers were about, instead of thriving off of the fear of isolation and certain death from being surrounded by lethal foes.

I must admit, I tried online co-op a few times to see how a collaborative battle felt, but disappointment set in rather fast. It was quickly an every-man-for-themselves endeavor and not one of them could aim if their lives (digital or not) depended on it – not that I’m a much better shot. Additionally, the thrill of surviving a post-apocalyptic scenario was somehow muted when other Helldivers were about, instead of thriving off the fear of isolation and certain death being surrounded by lethal bugs and robots.

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Being A Lone Wanderer, I Should Stick To Fallout

Pulling enemies away from extraction shuttle in Helldivers 2

Being a Fallout fan, perhaps the nature of being a lone wanderer is ingrained into my psyche, and this was a stance I was keen to retain in Helldivers 2. Exploring the dystopian biomes while using a combination of stealth, heavy-duty weaponry, and a whole load of sheer badassery to defeat armies of critters and machines was somehow more gratifying to complete alone. Additionally, witnessing countless adversaries charging toward your one Helldiver is exciting to brave, channeling your inner Jon Snow during the Battle of the Bastards.


Even knowing you have the safety of stratagems to deploy when you need to top up on resources takes something away from the survivor’s experience. It’s almost too easy. Understandably though, if it were even more difficult for solo players, or if co-op groups had a limited arsenal to dip into, no one would return to play, and they’d be instantly put off like so many players were when they dipped into a Dark Souls game for the first time. I’m also a bit of a loot llama, therefore, deploying with nothing on my back and being able to scout the planet for weaponry and items would have added to my personal, me-against-the-world vision. Ultimately, I know I’m trying to carry over my beloved RPG mechanics into a genre I have little affinity for, but Helldivers 2 got me to sit down with a shooter at the very least.


…watching countless adversaries charging toward your one Helldiver is exciting to brave, channeling your inner Jon Snow during the Battle of the Bastards.

In summary, I can 100% see the appeal of raining bullets on hungry hordes with your mates and laughing about how many respawns can occur in one campaign. There are also inventive ways to deploy grenades, often completed by one Helldiver sacrificing themselves in the name of, you guessed it, democracy. However, despite what The Walking Dead and even The Last of Us’ twosome taught us about safety in numbers, there’s a heightened, internal reward in being able to survive yourself and a certain peacefulness to solo missions when you don’t hear the screams of your mangled comrades bellowing in your ear.

Helldivers 2

Released
February 8, 2024

Developer(s)
Arrowhead Game Studios

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