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For a game with no campaign, Helldivers 2 has an incredible story

By bringing the community together to complete daring, galaxy-spanning missions, Helldivers 2 tells a story for the ages on PS5.

Helldivers 2 story: A Helldiver saluting with the text "We need you" on the right side.

Helldivers 2 has one of my favorite videogame stories of recent memory. That’s no doubt a confusing statement because, well… Helldivers 2 doesn’t actually have a story mode. With no campaign missions or even characters to speak of, just how has the new PS5 shooter captivated me with its storytelling? Well, Helldivers 2’s story is all about coming together as a community to kick ass – and it’s an experience I won’t ever forget.

As soon as you step foot into your new spaceship and interact with the galaxy map in Helldivers 2, you’re officially drawn into the overarching conflict of Super Earth. Fresh off the Helldiver training conveyor belt, you’re the latest recruit tasked with defending and spreading democracy throughout the galaxy against bots and beasties. You won’t be doing it alone though. As one of the best co-op games on PS5, you can undertake your missions alongside up to three other players. Again though, these missions rightfully aren’t concerned with telling a story – other than all the memorable, butt-clenching moments facing off against the enemies of Super Earth.

The story comes into full swing when you realize that you’re just one determined group of many, all hellbent on the defense of Super Earth. On the galaxy map, you’re met with a Major Order which lasts roughly two weeks. This is a community-wide goal, meaning all players will have the same objective, whether it’s liberating far-away planets from Terminids or fending off an overwhelming robot offensive. This is the story.

Helldivers 2 story: The galaxy map showing the various ongoing war efforts.

Most recently, the Automatons have made an aggressive push against Super Earth occupied space, with leadership calling all Helldivers to defend these areas to rescue valuable personnel. Sure, the missions are still rather straightforward (in the best way possible), but having this overarching goal providing context to everything you do has had astounding results. Ever since the robot uprising began nearly a week ago, I’ve seen countless posts on social media of fellow Helldivers rallying players to specific planets and missions. After all, the Automaton menace won’t put an end to itself.

No matter what my individual message is on any given mission, I feel like I’m contributing to a much larger picture in a way that no other game quite has. We’ve seen some of the best FPS games attempt such a feat, most notably Destiny 2, but it’s never quite hit the mark. Helldivers 2 is continually updating its galaxy map with new threats for the community to face in an ever-changing theater of war that makes for unforgettable moments. I can imagine that, further down the line, veterans Helldivers will be saying things like “I was there for robot Vietnam back in 2024” or “Remember when we defended this planet from Terminids?”. Helldivers 2 is creating its lore and its history as it goes, and the players are the real scriptwriters.

Helldivers 2 story: Players orbitally dropping onto a planet.

There’s potential for this to be taken even further too, such as by tying new gear, locations, and other updates to in-game events. For example, imagine if mechs (confirmed to be coming in a post-launch update) were conveniently added after the robots won an offensive, giving us a bombastic counter-offensive opportunity.

Having such a defined, shared goal and an ever-changing galaxy map has already paved the way for incredibly rich and memorable experiences to enjoy alongside the community – something usually reserved for the best MMOs, not double-A co-op shooters. There are no cutscenes or named characters, but that doesn’t mean there’s not an engrossing story unfolding right now. In fact, head on over to your ship and look out of the window and you’ll see it for yourself: other player’s ships dominate the skybox and beacons light up the sky as explosives rain down on the enemies of Super Earth. The marks left by your fellow Helldivers are there to see.

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Given Arrowhead Studios’ great humor and satire, I’ve no doubt a more definitive story mode would be a blast, but I don’t need one. Helldivers 2 PvP, on the other hand, would be a lot of fun. For now though, I’m engrossed with the satisfying challenge of playing Helldivers 2 solo while still helping my fellow troopers in the break-out new PS5 game. I’m surprised at how quickly Helldivers 2 has become one of the best PS5 games, but when you look at the community-driven stories it has created, it’s easy to see why.