Drop Rate
Episode
15

HELLDIVERS 2 is hilarious and best in class when it comes to team multiplayer shooters

Find out why everyone is playing this PlayStation 5 and PC game, so much so the servers are struggling to keep up it's that good.

The first time is an accident, one of your fellow soldiers stands just a little bit too close to the blast zone as you call down artillery from outer space. HELLDIVERS 2 actually makes it a little bit too fun to explode your allies. Whoops.

It's all part of the shtick which really amps up the forever war jingoistic world of Super Earth as you blast across planets in the name of 'Managed Democracy'. There has to be sacrifice in the name of freedom right? Good, well jump in this pod soldier.

Drop Rate host Chris Button is joined by SIFTER's Adam Christou as they dig it just why everyone is playing this game.

A copy of HELLDIVERS 2 on PlayStation 5 and PC was provided to SIFTER for the purposes of this review.

You can support SIFTER's independent gaming journalism by

☕ Tipping us on KoFi https://www.ko-fi.com/sifterHQ

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SIFTER is produced by Kyle Pauletto, Fiona Bartholomaeus, Courtney Borrett, Daniel Ang, Adam Christou and Chris Button. Mitch Loh is Senior Producer and Gianni Di Giovanni is our Executive Producer. Thanks to Audio Technica Australia for their support of SIFTER.

TRANSCRIPT

CHRIS: G'day, I'm Chris Button and this is Drop Rate, SIFTER's video game review podcast.

Spreading managed democracy throughout the galaxy with me today is Adam Christo.

We examine the satirical warscape of Helldivers 2, the hot new third-person shooter.

First, let's check out the latest headlines from Walkthrough, Sifter's weekly news podcast.

PROMO: Articles to read, podcasts to listen.

CHRIS: So Adam, to kick things off, can you explain the overall concept of Helldivers 2 and how the actual gameplay works?

ADAM: Well, I mean, where to begin? in you know it's  i so it's a PvE extraction shooter which i feel like is a is a soup of words  those of us in the games world kind of know what those all mean but essentially PvE you're working together with other players  it's player versus environment so this is not a PvP game where you're going to be shooting people it's not like an ESCAPE FROM TARKOV type game and extraction shooter means you're going to be busing into an area completing a mission and then trying to get get out and survive as fast as you can.

You play as a hell diver. So you're a freshly thawed out recruit blasted in from super earth to bring democracy to the rest of the galaxy and spread liberty and freedom everywhere.

So there is like a distinct satirical tone in this game, which is very funny, very good.

It reminds me a lot of the Paul Verhoeven camp classic Starship Troopers from 1997.

Not so much the books, but definitely like the film adaptations idea of pompous camp fascism  the military industrial complex and war  but HELLDIVERS 2 is also reflecting on the last 25 years of what we've seen globally so it does feel like a critique of the war on terror the bush administration,  the last 20 plus years of forever wars that we've sort of experienced with middle east conflicts the idea of like a mission accomplished banner just being unfurled  like on a ship for example is very much the tone of this game even though like thousands of people might be dying every second.

It's an always online live service game as well.

So note that that is a part of this game. And there are minor microtransactions, which feel not too terrible in this context.

So that is a part of this genre, I suppose, now that we have to endure for the foreseeable future until something changes.

But those are sort of like the key elements of this game.

And you as a Helldiver are fighting against aliens.

So there are two main alien races at the moment, the Socialist Automatons.

Aliens are they actually socialist what's going on there we'll never know super earth's not going to tell us and the terminid threat which is sort of like weird crab bug aliens sort of that's your classic zerg or starship troopers type alien you know xenomorph type that like burrows under the ground and explodes out and attacks you in swarms and so games gameplay changes quite dramatically between those two factions as well but that in a nutshell is sort of what you're looking at  

CHRIS: Yeah and it certainly leads right out of the gate with a lot of those influences and  tonally especially with that lampooning of as you say the  you know the industrial military complex a lot of themes of nationalism and arguably one of my favourite phrases to come out of video games in recent recent years the phrase of managed democracy  you're not just spreading democracy throughout the galaxy it's managed democracy so as for what that means specifically I'm not.

Entirely sure but it's  very over the top very very silly that it's played so straight that it's very clear that it's you know it's taking the absolute piss it's taking the absolute mickey out of the you know the superpowers of the world with these great big you know military sort of budgets and armies that use force to achieve whatever goals they set out to achieve but it's really interesting and the the way that you sort of engage with with this game you start out on on your own ship which you can name from a bunch of presets and you know name it something silly over the top mine was you know the the Sentinel of Democracy something that on the surface sounds very cool but it's actually very very stupid because of  

ADAM: Yeah I named mine the pride Pride of Justice, because I was like, we're going to make this a gay hell diving ship, but like a really problematic one.  

CHRIS: Excellent, excellent. Because, you know, once you've got this ship and sort of you manage your armory, your sort of loadout, you know, a lot of different things, but then you've got this war table where you can choose different missions to sort of set out to land and accomplish.

But as Adam, as you mentioned, it is this sort of always online game where everyone playing is sort of contributing towards spreading managed democracy throughout the galaxy.

So you'll notice on this war table, there's various planets where you're, quote unquote, liberating from these bug aliens or these robot sort of type enemies.

And over time, these planets, with a lot of people finishing these missions, they sort of the percentage goes up in terms of how much have been liberated and you sort of push them back and do more and more missions go to different planets do different missions but then the interesting thing is when you choose a particular mission that you're going to do you pick it on the map you set out you launch you know get launched by this this pod that that jets you out onto the surface of whatever planet you're going to visit And then you've got sort of this area, which is not fully open world or anything like that, but it's a relatively open setting where you've got this objective, whether, say, for the bug aliens, it's, okay, we're going to eliminate X amount of bugs, we're going to destroy their hives, destroy their eggs, and then we'll extract.

But then there's a whole bunch of other sub-objectives you can do, which include foraging for resources to then upgrade your loadout and you know the salvos that can be you know shot from afar from sort of the mothership so to speak so there's a few things where you can either mainline the missions or you can explore a little bit generally with a time frame of about 30 minutes before you need to extract but it's just a lot of fun because almost the minute you launch onto whatever surface it is you choose, you're bombarded with enemies.

And collaborating with your teammates is such an important part of survival here.

You can play it solo if perhaps you play in one of the easier difficulties.

But HELLDIVERS 2 is absolutely a game that shines when you play with other people from both a strategic viewpoint in terms of how you're going to get through some of these hellish encounters versus the sheer chaos and chaos and Unintended perhaps intended slapstick moments that can occur when someone decides to drop a bombing run on a patch of land that you happen to be inhabiting at that moment in time which can  yeah can involve rather hilarious circumstances where your own teammate and ends up being the cause of your own demise it's totally wild and I'd love to hear what you think of the moment to moment gameplay adam  

ADAM: Oh it's so good and i think this is like where like arrowhead studios the developers of this game their history of previous games really starts to show through so they created the MAGICKA series which was i want to say like late 2000s early 2010s cult hit on steam one of the first games I actually bought on my steam account where you and up to four.

Friends could play a wizard in a top-down sort of like twin stick shooter game and you would use button combinations to like craft spells so like the y button would be fire and the b button would be ice and you'd press those in a bunch of different ways to try and get like an ice fireball or something but the thing was that it had friendly fire and things could go wrong very quickly so not only did you have to master a whole bunch of keyboard combinations or button presses really quickly you then also needed to be really careful and strategic with how you and your friends were playing to ensure that you wouldn't obliterate each other and just like wipe yourself out with everything else and HELLDIVERS 2 is very much a game about friendly fire and about like navigating the challenges of more people helping you doesn't always make things easier as you've kind of alluded to with like bomb strikes and various other things that happen everything in this game can hurt you from your friendly fire of guns and bullets to big giant stratagems that you can deploy from your ship in space, which will blast down onto the battlefield for you.  

So the moment-to-moment friction and fun of that sort of stuff is incredible, and they've come up with a lot of different ways that work with the third dimension here that make it a lot of fun.

So there is the ability to go prone, which is really important if you're using heavy gatling guns and machine guns, but also great because it means you can sort of go prone in front of one of your comrades and not get shot by them, or go prone under one of their missile turrets that they may drop to support you and not be obliterated very quickly.

you know there's also the really amazing dive move which you double tap the prone button or the crouch button and your character just does this hail mary sort of like superman dive to just desperately get out of the way of whatever is about to murder them  with limited success that's i think where a lot of the slapstick comedy comes from is just like diving into the worst situations possible or just diving badly into things or having it flop on you  know there's a really fun physics system in this game that plays into all of this as well with a very kind of destructible landscape too that's sort of like you know smoke and things are clashing and flying around everywhere and so  it really captured that sort of chaos and intensity that like you know you see in war films that you see in sort of really grim uncomfortable violent encounters in cinema when we talk about violence on such a grand scale like this which is kind of remarkable for a satire game to do but they've nailed the sort of horror of that element in in the moment and i think a lot of that is also reflected with the sort of live service element of this game  one when your hell diver dies it's dead you're not like just magically respawning  you're calling on a new recruit from the top of the ship to come down on a drop ship and you're taking over that recruit and the default system setting for this game will change up and randomize the voice of that character as well to really like hone in that your character is not an immortal that's just magically reappearing you're just working through an endless stream of recruits in a forever war that are dying off it's a real subtle thing but it really kind of plays into sort of the horror of this sort of like war type violence the other thing that i find really fascinating is the way that this game uses its war systems and its galactic maps so when you finish a mission a giant bar pops up telling you how much you contributed to the battle on this planet and your 45 minutes of struggling and heroic efforts might mean as 0.001% tiny little tick on this bar that means absolutely nothing.

And it further reinforces that feeling of like limited contribution at the cost of so much life and human life is just being wasted and poured into whatever this military effort is and likewise when you see those big numbers and stats on the galactic war screen of like you know 40 000 hell divers currently fighting in this area 50 000 over there and that's active players it further reinforces that sort of icky horrible feeling of just like how much churn is going on with super earth how much people they are running themselves through even though you're on a ship called the spear of hope or whatever with like a democracy officer standing next to you being like soldier do you want to join the valor board of heroes  it really captures wonderfully i think just like the uncomfortable ickiness of war and then the moment to moment gameplay really hones in on that while it's very fun and very silly.

I think that if you are aware of the satire that it's doing, it's also quite unflinching and wanting you to stare directly into just how uncomfortable some of the themes of this game is at the same time as the fun in the camp of it.

And I think that's a really hard thing to do. And I think that they've achieved it quite well with some just really subtle ways that their user interface works and the way that it sort of reinforces, I guess The futility and finality of each hell diver on their mission and it almost feels kind of special when you finish a mission without dying because you're like this poor hell diver got through but it's definitely dead on the next mission  so no one has a long lifespan in this game which is sort of grim to think about as well  

CHRIS: Yeah it really emphasizes how disposable each unit is with how you know how many people you throw at each mission and the fact that as you say if someone dies they just send another one in in their place you know without even thinking about it it's also you're made very apparent in the opening cinematic for HELLDIVERS 2 which takes on the form of your classic  propaganda enlistment recruitment video which is very much about you know preserving our way of life you know othering the enemy and you know again emphasizing these themes of quote-unquote liberation and managed democracy throughout the galaxy so it plays on a lot of the themes that we see you know play it on a global scale you know now and you know for the many years that you know people have been going to war for so it's something that it plays with.

As you say sort of in a satirical manner while obviously being very critical of it as well.

ADAM: And also, just really funny, when you go into menus in this game, it'll be like, democratically loading your menu, which I find very funny.

All the vole options and the sound settings go up to 11 instead of 10, which I just think is a real beautiful little moment that they thought of there.

They really put the cherry on top there.

And a big element of this game is that exploration cycle that you do while on the way through a mission on ground.

And I love that you're picking up samples and various other things but the character box for that stuff is so funny like there is nothing funnier than my character being like my satchel is full for democracy or like another sample for liberty and it's just it's so dumb and wonderful and just so joyous in how silly it is  it I think it's i think it's like a hallmark of a game that's managed to like thread the needle perfectly  in terms of tone and theme and idea  and you know that then leads into just what is a really fun gameplay experience as well  

CHRIS: Yeah undoubtedly and as we mentioned before it's something that's only further enhanced when you play with others and I you know can think of various moments where I've been on the receiving end of an ultimately well-intentioned salvo from a teammate that i need to see my character a ragdoll out of existence and again you know another unit just sent from above like it was nothing so you know again reinforcing that hilarity of the moment-to-moment gameplay while you know when you think about it for more than a microsecond beyond a surface level it's sort of like this is not good  this is not good you know how disposable human life is it's treated in this game which well you think well it's depicted like this in a game what's the game based on and it's yeah.

ADAM: Speaking of disposable, though, how great is it to throw things in this game and specifically the stratagems, which I like to think of as like a violent pokeball

Because it's like so to put it in context you press a button down on your controller or you know I can't remember what you press i think it's control on your keyboard and then you have to use  your d-pad or if you're on keyboard and mouse it's you're actually it's your WASD buttons that you would normally move with to input a series of button commands which then allow you to throw this ball and eventually you'll organize something to drop down from the ship so that might be an extra weapon that you want to have on hand like a machine gun or a special like gunner or a rocket launcher it might be a turret that lands where you want it to it might be a supply cache and it might be an orbital bombardment from space but the act of like going into a little like ball and then piffing it is just very fun to me there is just a silliness about it but the movement of it, the fact that you have to use the D-pad, and that makes you do all sorts of weird crab claw things where you're trying to run away from enemies while trying to successfully type out commands is very fun.

The fact that it is a drop ship, so there is a delay, and you can shorten that delay over time, but it's also helpful because you don't want to be standing anywhere near these things when they land because you might smoosh yourself. Also great.

It's just a really fun mechanic that lends itself to almost every other element of the game systems you can use a supply drop to murder something by perfectly luring it to where it's about to land and crushing it that's a thing you can do I've seen videos it's very funny  you can use turrets to set up successful engagement points it's like all of these ideas have been thought out so carefully that they just apply for every moment in the game that you might want to use it it's just very smart it's a it's a game of many simple systems that come together like really carefully and then all complement each other  

CHRIS: The describing of the inputting a stratagem command you know as a claw grip is so apt because yeah on the PlayStation 5 the Dual Sense controller you have to hold down the L1 button and then try and use the on the same hand to use the d-pad and it's tough i find it really difficult well I don't know perhaps I have small hands and really struggle to reach and press those buttons while holding the shoulder button at the same time but I think mechanically while it's tricky it also does play into that horror that panic in the warlike setting in terms of you're being chased by a bunch of bugs or murderous robots and you're panicking in that moment trying to Input the correct command to get the support you need from above but while you're trying to dodge and sprint out of the way or avoid fire while trying to stay alive or trying to put in this really fiddly little input again it is it is objectively funny but it's also very stressful when plays into the experience so so cleverly and even when you've finished your mission on the particular drop point that you've gone to, then you've got to get to the extraction point and input another code to call in the extraction vehicle, which you see your very oorah military boy or girl or whatever just punch in these numbers on this screen in a very comical fashion, like an old person using an iPad really jabbing at the touch controls.

ADAM: It's so funny it's like this flail on the screen it's so good and i love that when if you press a button wrong in that combination there's a two second delay before you can try again which really ups the ante of i really can't screw this up if we have to get that thing rolling now I have to perfectly press these buttons and of course in the moment in the tension of everything blowing up around you always screw up  

CHRIS: Yes yes and this this is a game built so heavily on moments that There are so many moments that you encounter yourself or you create with your fellow players. Sometimes you have a very you know by the skin of your teeth escape from what was previously insurmountable odds or there are times where you get absolutely set up by one of your supposed teammates  which you know has hilarious consequences so Adam I'd love to know if there's a moment from your time with HELLDIVERS 2 that stands out so far  

ADAM: Okay i totally have one  so it was like 10 o'clock at night earlier in the week I was like I'll just do one quick mission and then I'm gonna go to bed and so I use quick play because i want to play with a bunch of people and i don't really want to start off solo and i get thrown into the very beginning of a mission on like a very sort of foggy jungle planet with  the automaton enemies in the background so they have this sort of very intense red colour profile that they have on a lot of their stuff and they have lots of flags and stuff that feel very much like it evokes the motif of like something from star wars it's got an imperial sort of element to it they feel quite threatening and they have these huge bases off in the distance and they shoot red lasers at you so we land quite quickly into what becomes an incredible series of just firefights and then very quickly people start dying like a lot and then it takes a little bit of time to realize that some of the people on the team are really bad with aiming their orbital strategies and they're just unintentionally taking people out in panics as they try to fight.

And so 15 minutes of this happens, we're down to half our reinforcements already.

We've barely started anything in the mission and we're kind of creeping our way across the map when all of a sudden all our stratagems go blank.

And this was the first time I came across a radar station that the automatons can use.

Essentially, they can set up a radar dish, which blocks you in a large area of the map from using any of your stratagems. You can't reinforce other players.

You can't bring down your orbital strikes or do anything.

So my immediate response was pinging that area. We got to go take care of it right now before we do anything else. .

And so the two players that were sort of really loose and terrible went off in one direction.

I went off by myself to just get rid of the radar dish. And I don't know what the third person was doing.

And while I was sneaking my way into this base to take out the radar dish, they all died like a billion times over.

We were down to three reinforcements. And the two that really were terrible left.

Straight up left. At this point, I was like in the middle of fighting a bunch of robots on this radar dish.

And I couldn't reinforce because I can't use any of my stratagems so I had to like run out of the radar dish area really far away so that I could bring back the one dude who stayed in the game then the two of us worked out a plan on chat very quickly to sneak back to the radar dish take it out and then we spent the next 30 minutes slowly crouch stealthing through the map to get to the main objective which was this this multi-tiered mission to launch a rocket, which required lots of annoying fiddly swipe buttons and lots of running around while we're being bombed over and over.

At one point a grenade was thrown on me while I was trying to use a console and I nearly died.

And we ended up evac'ing with one minute left and one reinforcement left.

And it just felt like an epic turnaround of what was a total, just like shit show basically to use nice words. But for me, like a tense 45 minutes, a lot longer than I was expecting to play.

But one of those moments where you and a complete random stranger come together and are forged in fire from the experience and trauma of just like everything going wrong at once.

And I thought for me, that was the moment where I was like, oh, this game is really special.

There's something really good about what's happening here that I can't quite put into words. Yeah.

CHRIS: It's so apt because the moment that comes to mind for me is similar, except there's less sort of anonymity involved because I was playing with a few people that I know, and it was the automatons again. So there's something about these robots that evokes very stressful situations.

Where when you choose a mission, whoever is leading the squad gets to choose a drop point.

So you're given you're shown a little map area which i think is colored in blue or gray for the most part and you can see where the main objectives are and you can also see where hot zones are which are highlighted in red sort of these this red glow around a section of the map where there might be a nest or a factory or some you know point of you know sort of, contested point where there's definitely going to be some conflict but the, not going to name names but a certain executive producer of SIFTER decided that they would land right on top of the main objective and I thought okay this is going to be a little bit of a hot landing but let's go with it and so lo and behold the mission starts we slam into the turf or the dirt, whatever, with our pods, and immediately we are surrounded and just inundated with automatons just raining hellfire upon us, and we're just overwhelmed, flanked by all sides, just dropping like flies left, right, and center, and we're, Like, we're not going to get through. We've resigned to the fact we're not going to get through.

We're not going to make it. We're not going to be able to do this mission because we are just so in over our heads and we've already lost so many reinforcements.

And it's like one of our first times playing on the medium, and I quote, the medium difficulty, which is a step up from the level before.

And somehow with one of us surviving, surviving, managed to, as you described before, do this Superman dive repeatedly, you know, the dive, get up out of prone, dive again, just at this glacial pace, getting behind cover and somehow managed to call reinforcements for the rest of us.

So we were back in the game and somehow against all odds, we managed to push back this wave of robots and we're like, okay, we're going to have to try do an early extraction because we've got no hope here but we thought well we'll stuff it we're here we might may as well have a crack and we managed to bit by bit fight and claim one objective followed by the next and it wasn't easy doing so considered that we were on the back foot from the get-go but we managed to do it we managed to extract you know with barely any time left but it was just how hot that drop was and the stress and the anxiety and the panic that all of us felt in that moment, that sort of shared moment, that shared experience, that we were just, we were stressed, but we're laughing and giggling all the way through and afterwards, the palpable relief and the release of tension that we all felt, thinking "Yeah, that was a little bit stressful" and, you know, all we could do was laugh due to how ridiculous the situation was.

But Helldivers 2 is just filled with those moments where it manufactures these, you know, they're not set pieces in terms of, you know, there is a set thing that will happen at a particular moment and then another thing will happen.

But it manages to manufacture these  i suppose unset pieces that you know feel unique to each time you drop and for us being so totally overwhelmed on this difficulty that we hadn't tried before on a planet we hadn't visited before against an enemy we hadn't yet faced and it's something that we all remember very fondly and you know it's something that goodness this game just filled with those moments  

ADAM: Yeah I want to give mad props one  because i find it fantastic and incredible that  the executive producer of this podcast failed to notice the big user interface that flashes and tells you not to land in threatened area when you're gonna pick your drop ship location so you know kudos.

GIANNI, absolute hero and Executive Producer of SIFTER: Ahem, excuse me, I'm just going to jump right in here.

It wasn't me who did the drop, but I was the one who saved everyone.

I dive to freedom, and it's easy to forget in the heat of war, isn't it?

As you cast aspersions. It was actually the editor of a site that reminds me of ShmoShmaku Shmostralia, so, Thank you, Chris. Thank you, Adam.

ADAM: But I think, you know, the other thing that I really like about, you know, that story is just the way the difficulty system works in this game is so great.

So as you complete missions, you unlock new difficulty thresholds and new difficulty thresholds are not just like the monsters are slightly tougher, there's slightly more.

It's like, here is a whole new type of monster here is a whole new type of threat a different enemy base is now in the mix and it really forces that progression system of leveling up and getting new equipment and getting new stratagems  to kind of counter things so as you start getting to higher difficulty suddenly the aliens have these spitter bugs that are like these horrible big boys that come up to you and just go and like can instantly melt you from full health to death unless you dive straight away or are really aware that they're on their way to spit on you.

Eventually you get these towering multi-story kind of crab creatures that are crawling across the landscape at you.

And like at that point, you better have unlocked rocket launchers.

And there's just something really fun about how each difficulty up is not just incremental number increases, but a whole variety of new ways to express yourself and to be challenged by this game.

It's really remarkable and it feels really fun whenever you graduate to a new difficulty tier because it's almost like a whole new world of things to learn.

Like there are tank enemies that the automatons start dropping at you and a whole bunch of other stuff.

And there's lots of great little like cottage secrets going around the internet right now of like, hey, you can use this to shoot this thing in this particular way.

And you'll stop a drop ship of reinforcements from the robots from actually landing if you just rocket launcher it in the sky and people are like sharing infographics of the right place to shoot enemies with each other so that as you get to the higher difficulties you know that you can actually break the legs of a charger  terminated to stop it from chasing everyone around like a wild horse  it's just very fun i feel like the difficulty system here is an awesome way to approach like a difficulty curve and one that like rewards you for going into those higher difficulties by giving you entirely new gameplay experiences  

CHRIS: and i think that there's a couple of things I'd like to touch on before we before we wrap up well one of which is the server situation in terms of at the time of recording there are hundreds of thousands of people playing this game concurrently at any given moment in time and the servers they do be struggling but I want to reinforce that that is just a totally normal thing to happen, especially for a developer that is smaller in size compared to some of the others out there.

I would implore those who are disappointed now that there are server struggles and sort of aren't able to get into the game, stay the course because this will sort out over time.

And yes, it is disappointing to not be able to play a game that you paid for because of server issues.

But this is very much a temporary thing and it will be fixed sooner rather than later.

And I think, Adam, you mentioned this before we started recording, the devs have been open and transparent and saying, hey, we've got to sleep, we've got to eat, we can't do this all at once.

ADAM: We're very happy, but we're also overwhelmed. And we've just been on crisis meeting calls for an entire week. We do understand. Is sort of the tone.

CHRIS: So, yeah, do be aware that there may be some struggles getting on at the moment, but it will sort out over time.

And is absolutely worth it and the other thing is Adam you briefly mentioned this earlier in terms of the microtransactions which typically when you think of a game that you pay you know an amount of money for like a premium game as opposed to a free-to-play structure and model you think microtransactions are a little bit on the nose but they seem to have actually done a very old-school approach to microtransactions that actually lives up to the micro in microtransactions in terms of you can buy various cosmetic things that don't really have much of a discernible impact, or I don't think they have any discernible gameplay impact, but it is literally a few dollars to get a cool-looking armour set or something like that.

When you go to purchase sort of money for then acquiring your in-game goods that sort of thing a lot of games you'll see oh yeah for 12 bucks you'll get so over money however many video game you know currency whatever 30 50 100 whatever dollars but the increments here are so much smaller and seem to be very respectful of hey if you like playing this game or if you want that thing you can have it for just a few bucks we're not going to fleece you for it so I think it's actually quite refreshing to see.

A developer take the approach of yeah this this is a premium game you have to pay an upfront cost to play and there are micro transactions to support ongoing development but they're very reasonably priced and i think very ethically positioned as well  

ADAM: I think I'm more a bit in the middle with it like i i do definitely think this is a better model than say like a DIABLO IV for example with a cash shop where there's a 25 skin  but i think the overall so there is a progression system here and a cash system that are sort of intertwined so for equipment and for gear you need to collect medals are then earned at the end of missions and sometimes you can find them in missions there's also a secondary credit because with every currency system in games there's more than one to combobulate you that's called super bucks or super credits or whatever from super earth and those are used for the kind of cash shop side and for buying the premium battle pass so there's two battle passes at launch one is a free tier that's a lot easier to unlock requires a lot less medals and i think that's sort of like the beginner track unlock everything there first but there are important items on that battle pass like a shotgun a better grenade  you know all those helmets and stuff have stats there's three different tiers of  like types of heaviness of armor that you can wear and then some of those armors have like passive effects to them, which are tied into unlocking them on this free battle pass.

The premium battle pass has a bunch of those as well. And the stats seem to be standardized in some ways.

So heavy armor suit for the most part has similar stats to every other heavy armor suit, but some of them have different passive effects that might only appear on those specific sets of armor.

And so I think that's where we get into this sort of weird gray area.

I think the reason why I'm a bit more friendly to it, to it is that the free battle pass gives you about 700 super credits.

The battle, the premium battle pass costs a thousand and it's quite easy through exploration to make the extra 200 or 300 yourself in a week or two of playing.

So the ability to unlock that premium battle pass for free is actually achievable and manageable with this system. And then the.

The sort of rotating scarcity cash shop that we see in a lot of these games where you'll have like three or four items and then it refreshes every 24 hours.

The most I've seen something to be purchased there has been about 150 or 200 of those super credits, which is something achievable that you can find by searching in the game through some regular gameplay and doesn't feel like something that I would have to spend two months of hoarding my microtransaction cash to like eventually purchase.

So at least it feels like stuff that I might be able to actually acquire without spending additional money on.

But I do find myself with a little bit of like, I just don't know how I feel about like the metal system being tied into tangible weapons and equipment that you actually need.

I kind of wish it was just purely cosmetic skins and things and that those sort of more tangible items that you really need, like a shotgun or whatever, or a submachine gun, etc which are actually have quite important gameplay like elements to them we're inside the stratagem sort of menu where you purchase those with your resources that you collect during missions and have nothing to do with like the paid side of the game but that's just me being a bit picky  

CHRIS: And i think it's a totally variant a fair and valid point to make as well in in terms of you know acquiring weapons and armor is separate to how you would upgrade grade those other systems which serve an equally important part to the gameplay loop.

But that being considered, do you drop or rate HELLDIVERS 2?

ADAM: I mean, I want to say I drop because like, that's what you do in this game. You stop, drop and roll.

You drop from the sky, you drop things on things. But I guess I rate it. I rate it very highly. This is like, even though I haven't been able to play all weekend because the servers have crashed, I still am glowing about my experience with the game so far.

And I think there is a really exciting future for this game.

I can't wait to see what they have planned for it.

The developers already have come out in the last 24 hours saying our original plan for support for this game is shifting now and we are going to be a bit more ambitious hopefully with what we want to actually bring into the game in the future which is really awesome i think they've created something really special here and it's a PvE like extraction shooter that feels really fun that has a great sense of tone about it looks gorgeous and doesn't feel like it's going to just be this i don't know you know what i mean with these PvE extraction shooters it feels like one comes out every 14 months by Ubisoft. And we're like, oh yeah, it's one of those.

And then we sort of throw it away. And I feel like this one actually has its teeth in me and is doing so much creative stuff with its systems and ideas that it's going to influence a lot of games.

I think there will be a lot of games with like smashing button keypad combinations in a rush coming into the future near you in multiplayer.

CHRIS: Excellent. I agree. I rate HELLDIVERS 2 as well and I keep thinking about the times that I've played it so far And I can't wait for the next time I play and generate more hilarious, stressful, fun times as well in this very satirical war landscape that they've set.

PROMO: Sit down for a chat with your pals in video games. You're listening to SIFTER.

CHRIS: This has been Drop Rate by SIFTER, a video game review podcast.

So Adam, if people want to see more of your work or hear more from you, where should they find you?

ADAM: They can find me at sifter.com.au.

And sometimes I appear on Triple R in Melbourne, so rrr.org.au. I'm occasionally hosting radio shows there.

And I do the Breakfast Video Games review segment.

CHRIS: And SIFTER is produced by Chris Button, Courtney Borrett, Kyle Pauletto, Fiona Bartholomeus, Daniel Ang, and Adam Christou.

Mitch Loh is Senior Producer, and Gianni Di Giovanni is Executive Producer.

Thanks to Brian Fairbanks from Salty Dog Sounds for composing the theme music.

And that's all for this week. You can check out what SIFTER is up to on our socials. You can chat with us on Discord and visit our website, sifter.com.au, for written coverage.

And if you enjoyed this episode of Drop Rate, please consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or your platform of choice.

Plus, you can check out our other podcast, Lightmap, where we talk to game developers, creatives, and people who are doing cool things in interactive media on your favorite podcast app of choice. See you next time.

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Helldivers 2

PlayStation 5
PC
Developer:
Arrowhead Game Studios
Publisher:
PlayStation Studios
Release Date:
February 8, 2024
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