Helldivers 2 Review: A CO-OP Shooter Masterpiece [PS5/PC]

3 Helldivers 2 soldiers posing with words, Old Cynic Review

I’ve been searching for a great game to play in 2024 and it’s been an arduous process. Dud after dud after dud, with few worth the time to talk about. But Helldivers 2… Well, this is something else.

I’ve been playing Helldivers 2 on the PlayStation 5 (although it’s also available on the PC).

It’s rare for me to pay full price for a new game, but fond memories of the original and all the positivity coming out of the gaming community were enough for me to pry open my wallet and hand over some coinage.

Helldivers 2 took a few hours to download, and in that time I did a little more research, only to discover that there was no longer a couch co-op option and that there had been some murmurs about the graphics.

As the bits and bytes converged on my PS5, I began to wonder if this was just gonna be another disappointment.

But it wasn’t!

Quite the opposite. I had finally hit the gaming jackpot.

This post may contain speculation, personal opinion, and adult comedy. It is not advice and is solely for entertainment and informational purposes.


Helldivers 2 Review: Gameplay Loop Overview

Helldivers 2 is a third-person PvE co-op shooter built around a well-constructed and hilariously infectious narrative concerning the spreading of freedom and “managed democracy”.

You begin life as a Cadet Helldiver who after basic training (the tutorial) travels from planet to planet propagating glorious democracy and fighting in a galactic war.

Your efforts also act to counter an invasion force supposedly destined for Super Earth, your home planet.

-Well, at least according to the news reports, which tend to feel a little like full-on propaganda:

Helldivers 2 - Alien Giant Bugs during Super Earth Invasion

Once on the planet’s surface, your goal is to locate targets, complete tasks, and stay alive among the hordes of hostile alien bugs (Terminids) and robots (Automatons) out to kill you.

There are also optional objectives to complete.

But don’t linger for too long because you’re on a schedule. A time limit for each mission is punctuated by the fact that you’ll be left behind if you fail to reach the extraction zone on time.

Altogether, Helldivers 2 can be incredibly challenging, but it’s also extremely rewarding. And in the middle there somewhere, is where you’ll find all the fun.

Helldivers 2 Review  - Third-Person Shooter Screenshot Example

Helldivers 2 can be played solo, but I found it far too challenging without teaming up with other online players (PlayStation Plus required).

Up to 4 players (friends or randoms) can deliver democracy together, although you’ll have to be mindful of where you aim your weapons because friendly fire is always on.

While on the ground, you’ll have access to Helldiver’s unique mission support system called, Stratagems, which amounts to special weapons, gear, and airstrikes.

Helldivers II PS5 Graphics and Settings (Full PS5/PC Review)

Helldivers 2 looks fantastic on the PlayStation 5, but there are some blocky graphics about the place, like the grey orbiting ships seen outside the window below:

Helldivers 2 Graphics - Blocky Ships Example Screenshot
I stand here often, considering the plight of humanity

And the blockiness seems to carry over to some alien bugs, too.

However, just look at the Helldiver model detail and the ship’s interior here:

Helldivers 2 Graphics - Character Model Detail Screenshot

And the planet’s surface here:

Helldivers 2 Graphics - Planet Surface and Bugs Screenshot

Overall, I love the look and feel of Helldivers 2, it’s potently atmospheric.

It delivers some breathtaking views along with some awesome jump-out-of-your-seat scares.

My PS5 Graphic Settings:

[From Main Menu select Options and then Visuals]
Depth of Field (OFF)
Quality Profile (QUALITY)
Anti-aliasing (ON)
Sharpness (0.85)

If you’ve got a better setup for the PlayStation 5, please let me know in the comments below.

Helldivers 2 Offers and Microtransactions: Pay-to-Win?

I get pretty cranky when a company tries to get at my wallet after I’ve already purchased a product or service.

And in 2024, it’s prevalent.

Thankfully, I’m happy to report, that doesn’t appear to be the case with Helldivers 2.

As expected, there are some optional purchases available, but they’re not required to progress.

Equipment and upgrades can be routinely purchased with currencies that have been collected/rewarded from completing missions, as seen below:

Shop Currency and Warbonds (Medals)
Helldivers 2 – Screenshot of the standard Warbond / Battle pass

A list of all Helldiver 2 Currencies:

  1. Medals – Used to purchase Warbond items (Armour, Helmets, Weapons)
  2. Super Credits – Used to purchase unique items from the Superstore (Armour, Helmets)
  3. Research Points/Requisition Slips – Used to purchase Strategems from Ship Management
  4. Samples (Green) – Used to make ship upgrades via Ship Management
  5. Rare Samples (Orange)- Used to make ship upgrades via Ship Management
  6. Rarer Samples (Pink) – Used to make ship upgrades via Ship Management

It’s the luxury items from the Superstore that you might run out of credits for, but if you choose, you could purchase some more from the in-game store.

Review Of Helldivers 2: Early Server Problems / Failed to Join Lobby and Rewards

There have been many reports of server issues with Helldivers 2, which have affected both versions of the game (PS5 and PC).

One big problem has been the inability to join games with other players (matchmaking), often resulting in an error stating, “Failed to join game lobby”.

And as mentioned above, you really do need help from other Helldivers because the game is simply too challenging to go it alone.

Another issue has been not receiving rewards for completing missions.

Since then, however, the game’s developer has released an update and statement [Arrowhead Game Studios] explaining that the unexpected success of the game has been overloading the servers.

What a great problem to have!

But it’s still annoying.

Hopefully, these server issues are now firmly behind us so we can get on with the business at hand; seeding new democracies across the galaxy.

Helldivers 2 planting Flag for Managed Democracy into Dead Bug

Helldivers 2 PlayStation 5 Review

My final thoughts:

The Helldivers 2 universe is a satire of our own and the developers have done a fantastic job in telling that story, saturating it with slapstick humour and leaving no gaps to escape the facade.

There aren’t too many faults to be found with this game, though if I were picky, I might highlight the repetitive key locations design, the limited shop, and the missing Mechs (from Helldivers 1).

But they can all be added later.

The fact is, Helldivers 2 is epically fun to play. Fun in a way that I haven’t had with a computer game in a long time.

The multiplayer experience is exceptional.

Helldivers 2 is a special game that makes you feel special for taking part.

Sure, the news pumping out of Super Earth is a little suspect.

And sure, we may not have the moral high ground.

But boy oh boy, we’ve got guns, bombs, and that sweet, sweet, libertea.

Old Cynic’s Grade:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Time played before review: 14+ hours
Top tip: Running away from giant bugs is sometimes the best strategy

Related: All my gaming stuff in one place…

Copyright: oldcynic.com
Images are screenshots used by way of review/tutorial
Helldivers is owned and was created by Arrowhead Game Studios

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