When the original Helldivers released way back in 2015 on PS Plus, I decided to give it a go on a whim. While I enjoyed my time with it, it didn’t quite hook me as much as I hoped it would. In fact, just the reveal trailer for Helldivers 2, which confirmed a radically different direction for its long-awaited sequel, got me more excited than its predecessor ever managed. Switching from a top-down twin-stick shooter to an immersive third-person shooter, while retaining what made the original a co-op hit, Helldivers 2 is the PS5 exclusive for me in 2024.
There’s certainly no shortage of PS5 exclusives and new PS5 games on the horizon – it’s certainly been the main strength of the PS5 over its Xbox competition so far – and yet Helldivers 2 is the one I can’t stop thinking about.
In a radical departure from its predecessor, Helldivers 2 adopts a third-person perspective. Right away, this is much more up my alley. I enjoyed Helldivers 1 despite not being much of a twin-stick shooter fan, but the shift in perspective is certainly what it needs in the current climate. From towering beasties to danger-close orbital bombardments kicking up a storm, fighting off hordes of bugs has never looked so immersive and intense – echoing the thrills of Starship Troopers. With stunning and remarkably diverse alien environments to wage war in, it’s hard not to be enthralled by Helldivers 2’s more cinematic action.
More importantly than that though, Helldivers 2 understands what it means to be a co-op game just as much as its predecessors did. The shift to a third-person perspective from its more niche roots hasn’t resulted in a more simple, streamlined experience – though it has led to the removal of local co-op, which is disappointing. Like its predecessor, some weapons require two people to use effectively. During the trailer, we see two Helldivers firing a rocket launcher; one aiming and firing while the other reloads. While we’re yet to see it in action, it’s likely a handful of vehicles will also require strong teamwork to make the most of them, as was the case in Helldivers 1.
Furthermore, friendly fire is also an important feature. With waves of aliens rampaging towards you, a rogue gunshot or orbital bombardment is unavoidable – at least, that’s the excuse your friends will use when they send you to the respawn screen. Excitingly though, Helldivers 2 also introduces an enemy armor system, with shots being reflected back towards you if they hit an armored creature at a bad angle. That sounds like a new way to friendly fire to me, so stay in formation and watch your fire.
These mechanics stand out as it’s frustratingly rare for co-op games to actually involve such inventive teamwork – it’s one of the many reasons why the bug-slaying, rock-breaking co-op game Deep Rock Galactic has excelled. When you’re in the thick of it and all odds seem stacked against you, having to band together like a well-oiled machine is a highlight of the best co-op games.
The zany humor of Helldivers is also nonetheless present in its sequel. As Helldivers, you’re on a mission to spread a message of peace and democracy by… wiping out killer bugs. Each time you die, you’ll respawn as a different character, equally unwavering in their dedication to Super Earth. When you’re being torn apart by a creepy crawly as your friends scurry to save you – or run away to safety – the lighthearted themes and whimsical approach are just what you need in a strong co-op game to get the vibes flowing. It’s this charming nature that’s kept me invested in Deep Rock Galactic all these years later. While Deep Rock has more defined characters than Helldivers 2, from the trailers alone it’s already added a lot of personality to its devout bug slayers.
With the Helldivers 2 release date fast approaching, I couldn’t be more excited to try out what could be one of the best PS5 co-op games to date. Looking ahead to more PS5 news, we put together our Playstation State of Play 2024 predictions and there’s certainly a lot to be excited for those on team blue.