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Why Deep Rock Galactic is the perfect Helldivers 2 Xbox alternative

Packed full of satirical humor, best-in-class co-op action, and gross bugs, Deep Rock Galactic is the Helldivers 2 Xbox alternative you’ve been ignoring.

Helldivers 2 Xbox Deep Rock Galactic: A Scout from Deep Rock posing with a pickaxe over their shoulder on the left, while on the right is a Helldiver standing against Super Earth's flag.

After the breakout success of the PS5 console exclusive Helldivers 2, Xbox players have been rightfully lamenting its absence. Facing down Terminator-style Automatons and hordes of deadly Terminid is an absolute blast, especially with your friends. However, Xbox already has a great co-op bug-slayer, it’s called Deep Rock Galactic – you just haven’t been playing it.

Once you take your first steps on Deep Rock’s dangerous planet of Hoxxes IV, you’ll immediately notice the similarities. Though the PS5 exclusive Helldivers 2’s main inspiration is undeniably Starship Troopers, it’s hard to ignore how Deep Rock set the stage for Helldivers 2’s chaotic co-op action.

On a surface level, both games see you shot towards an unforgiving environment in a tin can at the behest of higher-ups to battle it out against wave after wave of bugs and robots. If you’re just here to shoot creepy crawlies, then you’ll be more than satisfied – though there is a lot more under the surface. Luckily, Deep Rock is one of the many Xbox Game Pass games – and one of the best Game Pass games to boot. In other words, you’ve got no excuse and you can thank me later.

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As two of the best co-op games, both Deep Rock and Helldivers 2 make teamwork and collaboration the centerpiece. When you see the terrifying creatures you’re up against, you’ll certainly welcome the extra hands. There’s a large variety of mission objectives and enemies in both shooters, which are often easier to tackle with other players by your side. While Helldivers 2 plays around with tandem reloads for heavy weapons and general survival through numbers, Deep Rock uses its class system to encourage clever team play.

Scout, Gunner, Driller, and Engineer (my personal favorite) each have their own set of tools to wipe out bugs and traverse the cave maze you find yourself in. However, no one class can do everything. The Scout, for example, has a grappling hook to reach high places with ease. The only problem is that there’s a high price to pay for not sticking the landing. Thankfully, that’s where the platform-shooting Engineer comes into play. Much like Helldivers 2, you really do have to stick together if you want to succeed.

Speaking of success, those in charge will push you hard to reach it. You might think there’s no one more passionate than a Helldivers player, eagerly immersing themselves in its universe to defend Super Earth and dish out Managed Democracy – even if it’s all an inside job. Its satirical approach to its conflict is infectious, opening the door for all manner of absurd scenarios – including a TikTok account tracking its galactic battles in real-time.

In much the same way, the Deep Rock Galactic mining company inspires its hardy Dwarves to mine Hoxxes for all its worth – despite a deadly species of bugs calling the place home. While management often praises your efforts, it’s hard to ignore the fact that you’re simply making the company richer at your expense – though these Dwarves never complain. From screaming “Look at me, I’m Stony Hawk” when grinding on a pipe to chanting “Rock and Stone” at any chance they get. After all my years playing it, I’ve given up trying to resist playing along with the joke when I’m playing with others, often being just as stoked to get back out there as my Dwarve is.

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This satirical approach is key. If you’re an Xbox player feeling like you’re missing out on an important moment in gaming, seeing everyone online seemingly in-character rallying troops, then Deep Rock captures that same magic. The community is just as passionate and welcoming. All you have to do is say “Rock and Stone” and you’re in – it’s kind of like a cult.

It’s important to point out that these games are different in the best way possible, each carving out a distinct piece of the same pie. Sure, there are no Stratagems to call in using rhythm game-like button inputs, but what sets Deep Rock Galactic apart from Helldivers 2 is its clever mining and resource systems. Naturally, as a Dwarve, there’s nothing you love more than mining and precious metals.

Equipped with a pickaxe and other destructive tools, you can carve through its procedurally generated (and stunning) maps as if it were Minecraft. You can break everything. Combine mining with action befitting one of the best FPS games and you’re in for some fun. Countless times have I had to frantically mine my way to the escape pod while hordes of bugs are hot on my tail.

So, with the sudden surge in popularity of co-op horde shooters following Helldivers 2, it’s the perfect time to give Deep Rock a go – especially if you’re on Xbox and can’t play the new PS5 game. Even if you’re an avid Helldiver already, there’s no harm in also becoming a faithful miner of the Deep Rock Galactic mining corporation. If Deep Rock still isn’t scratching that itch, then desperate Xbox players are also turning to Halo Forge to get in on the Helldivers 2 action right now.