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3 months later, is the magic of Helldivers 2 still going strong?

Helldivers 2 is still fairly young, yet Arrowhead’s hit PS5 space shooter has gone on quite the ride so far, but is the fun fading fast?

Helldivers 2: An image of a Helldiver looking into the distance, and an Automaton robot.

No one could have predicted the trajectory that Helldivers 2 would embark on over the last three months. The game’s grip on social media and pop culture is fascinating – it even got NASA to join in on the fun. However, skyrocketing to success hasn’t been an entirely smooth journey for the Helldivers sequel. After three months of Terminid squashing, Automaton defeats, and unparalleled dedication to Super Earth, where do we go from here?

Like many players diving into the PS5 exclusive, I’m not afraid to admit I hadn’t played the first entry from Arrowhead beforehand. My first hit of Super Earth’s fight for democracy was at the May 2023 PlayStation Showcase. While a lot of the hype was focused on Spider-Man 2 at the time, there was something about Helldivers 2 that lingered in my brain. I’ll be the first one to tell you that I’m a sucker for a good multiplayer game experience, or anything where I can sink hours into a grind with my friends. One look at my playtime for co-op games like the highly maligned Suicide Squad Kill the Justice League or Embark’s superb FPS game The Finals will affirm this for you.

It kept manifesting itself into my mind, with each new detail about the game’s ridiculous yet compelling lore or rip-roaring combat keeping me drip fed with something to be excited about. Fast-forward to February of this year, and the explosive debut of Helldivers 2 ushers in a wave of popularity that even the best games around can only dream of. The world of Helldivers 2 is a crushing, acidic environment where humans are just fodder for grizzly deaths, yet Arrowhead sells the fantasy of being the ultimate hero so well. It makes all of that sinister lore fall away into the background, where it operates best, as we all set our sights on one goal: spreading democracy.

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Somehow, Helldivers 2 managed to get people who have never dipped their toes into the role-playing or cosplaying realm fully onboard with their commitment to galactic duties. Head over to the often hilarious Helldivers subreddit, and you’ll find thousands of players ready to lay their digital life on the line. And I wholeheartedly believe that. The creativity found within the Helldivers community will undoubtedly put a smile on your face, whether it is seeing Twitch streamers map their Stream Deck inputs to Stratagems, or NASA giving a nod to the game’s lore.

It didn’t take long for social media to cotton on to Helldivers 2’s universal appeal, leading to the creation of some of the greatest TikTok accounts I’ve ever laid my eyes on – like the ‘Super Earth Broadcast’ account. Earlier this year, I spoke to the lone Helldiver behind the viral sensation.

@superearthupdates Helldivers, viper commanodos will be here soon! #helldivers2 #helldivers #gaming #playstation ♬ original sound – SuperEarth Updates

The motivation for starting the Super Earth Broadcast was simple: “I just thought it would be a cool way to portray the always changing galactic war. I hadn’t seen anyone else doing it, so I took that opportunity.” On the subject of fan engagement, he says that “almost everyone gets into character. There’s very intricate and dedicated groups where people role-play their divers and fight for specific planets. I think that’s pretty cool.”

At the time of writing, the TikTok account has amassed over one million likes, and upwards of 100,000 followers, but they never expected it to take off like it has. “I only expected around 1000 or so followers. I love that I can actually have a large impact on the community overall,” he tells me, adding that these amusing updates could possibly “influence the direction of the war.”

@sarahebaus And whatever you do do NOT mention the creek 🫶 #helldivers #gamerhusband #helldivers #gamer #gamerwife #gamergirlfriend ♬ original sound – Sarah Baus

That might seem like an ambitious notion, but if Helldivers 2 players are one thing, it is persistent. Major Orders to acquire new Stratagems like badass mechs have been completed in less than 48 hours, despite Arrowhead demanding huge amounts of Automaton or Terminid limbs to be shattered. This is a community that feeds off collaboration, and that’s really god-damn wholesome.

In an age where toxicity can often populate the airwaves of gaming, seeing players band together for a widespread community goal is refreshing. It makes Helldivers 2 sessions feel welcoming, but it also reinforces Arrowhead’s ethos of being an army of one. If the Super Earth Broadcast didn’t give me the motivation to press on with my fellow divers, then surely TikTok movements like the ‘WAGS of Helldiver Soldiers bootcamp’ would reinforce what I’m fighting for out there amongst the stars. Surely my girlfriend, peacefully playing Animal Crossing New Horizons in the next room, would understand the adversity that us divers were facing?

I can’t recall another new PS5 game or previous generation title that has had this level of immersion beyond playing the actual game like this. Sure, online juggernauts like Destiny 2 or recent successes like Baldur’s Gate 3 have an astounding fan base behind them, but Helldivers 2’s commitment is built differently. It all cascades over Arrowhead’s impeccable touch when it comes to cultivating memorable events, managing to find the perfect blend between player agency and pulling the strings to create historical moments in Helldivers 2 lore.

Helldivers 2 3 month anniversary: An image of NASA talking about Super Earth from helldivers 2 on instagram.

The battalions of Super Earth are woefully unprepared for the threats scattered around the engrossing space game, but with a little from my friends, I feel like I could have prevented the fall of Malevelon Creek myself (spoilers, I didn’t). Yet, Arrowhead made it seem possible that a victory could be achieved, despite how brutally difficult the Automaton forces are to defeat. I think I’d rather be forced into battling the toughest of Souls like bosses again before another Malevelon Creek situation began. But we all ‘Remember The Creek’, a mantra that bore life in itself within the Helldivers 2 community.

For a while, it seemed like Helldivers 2’s formula for live-service success would ride along without a hitch. That’s until the now-infamous PlayStation Account debacle last month. Facing delisting in over 100 countries, a new mandate from Sony meant that areas where PSN wasn’t available could see Helldivers on PC stare down immediate bans. Naturally, the game’s community wasn’t happy about it. In any other case, most conglomerates like Sony would grin and bear the torrents of negativity, but Helldivers 2 has done major business for Sony. Outselling Spider-Man 2 in just a few weeks isn’t something it could ignore, let alone God of War Ragnarök too. Incredibly, this issue was resolved days later after the initial uproar.

That’s how strong the Helldivers 2 community can be when it unites for a common objective. You’d think that an obstacle this concerning would damage Helldivers 2’s reputation to damning degrees, but, well, it didn’t. It was quickly swept under the rug, a mere hiccup in the grand scheme of things. So this brings me back to my initial question, where do we go from here?

Right now, I’m worried that Helldivers 2 is becoming stagnant. Don’t get me wrong, Arrowhead’s consistent release of new Warbonds is commendable, but I’m ready for the fight to embrace fresh reaches of the galaxy.

Waiting for the Illuminate to return, a threat that was vanquished in Helldivers 2’s predecessor, continues to feel like an eternity. Clues keep mounting, and Major Orders are still alluding to a catastrophic Super Earth blunder in the future, especially now that “second galactic war” is underway. I appreciate that Arrowhead, along with the iconic game master ‘Joel’, are biding their time and waiting for the right moment to shock players. But at what point will the studio miss the window to make an impact?

The lack of appearances for Helldivers 2 in the recent State of Play and Summer Game Fest showcases is notable. Shadow dropping a massive event during a presentation of that magnitude would have been the ultimate way to drive players back into the fight. Maybe, just maybe, Arrowhead could be waiting until a possible Xbox iteration is revealed?

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With the Xbox Showcase looming overhead, and Phil Spencer’s own interest in getting Helldivers 2 on Microsoft’s flagship console, unleashing a fresh enemy to fight with the biggest potential band of PS5, PC, and Xbox divers on the frontline would be a glorious sight to see.

Yearning for bigger developments in the galactic war is made harder by leaks, too. Behemoth sized Stratagems like Star Wars-style vehicles and a battle against terrifying aliens worms make me long for spectacle that doesn’t exist yet. Don’t even get me started on resurrecting the Sabre Sword I’ve come to appreciate from the first Helldivers game.

Helldivers 2’s debut is a moment in gaming history that will be talked about for years to come, settling alongside the nostalgia we all have for time periods where classic Modern Warfare 2 or Halo 3 multiplayer brought us all together. Whether it can sustain its astronomical levels of popularity is yet to be determined, but what a ride it has been up to now. Just remember what it is all for: Super Earth.

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