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Helldivers Review

Super Earth is the beautiful home to a proud populace of future humans that offer peace and prosperity to all. This however comes at a cost with the "voluntary" signing up to protect the boundaries of Super Earths and secure vital resources. Peace and prosperity may be sought after on Super Earth but away from home, the Helldivers protect it with extreme prejudice, spreading managed democracy throughout the galaxy, if the alien cultures want it or not.

Early on you just know you are not the good guys here, with a skull emblem on your uniform (a classic “borrowed” Mitchell and Webb joke) and a similar tongue in cheek approach of Starship Troopers, you know you are the baddies here but who cares when it is this much fun, with the Helldivers taking great pleasure in crushing all under their boots for the glory of Super Earth, the government using the threat of a possible weapon of mass destruction as a rallying call to obliterate all aliens in the vicinity. Taking over a planet at a time, the Helldivers are a ferocious and well equipped battle front in which you play as a new recruit, fresh from training and ready to prove yourself in this galactic battle. Super Earth is surrounded by three different alien races with the goal of the Helldivers to carry out missions on key planets in each solar system and make a path to the home world of each race and finally put a stop to the alien "aggressors". Each system has a gauge that indicates how much influence Super Earth has over the vicinity, the more the gauge is full, the closer you are to taking on the home world. When you do reach it there is then an emergency drive to gather online players to take on missions there, with everyone trying to gather enough influence before the timer runs out. A successful war on a home world will result in victory for Super Earth, but a failure will mean the defending race will reclaim some planets on the galactic map.

Each planet has a variety of missions to carry out and depending in the difficulty you choose, the game will add more missions like capturing key areas, activating and protecting equipment, escorting stranded survivors to safety and collecting and delivering black boxes. Of course the local natives will stop at nothing to prevent you gaining a foothold on their planets, with the Bugs, Cyborgs and Illuminates using all of their might to push back the Helldivers. Thanks to a challenging difficulty and fighting against extreme odds death is a common problem but being the best of the best, as a Helldiver you are granted a hefty arsenal of weapons and stratagems to help push the fight forward. Backed up with a pistol, before you are jettisoned in a Hellpod to the surface you can select a primary weapon like assault rifles, shotguns, laser rifles and lightning guns. Playing like a classic top down shooter the basics are very easy to control, taking on a twin stick approach, with the left stick controlling movement and the right your aim, leaving the triggers to shoot, throw grenades and reload. Things do get a little fiddly though when calling in stratagems with you having to hold a shoulder button whilst tapping in a directional code in the heat of battle that can often result in death. Stratagems are care packages that are sent down from your ship in orbit which really turn the tide of battle to your favour with extra ammo supplies, jump packs, automated mini-gun turrets, an assortment of air strikes and the rather awesome Exo-suit. On your own these are great fun to use but with a team backing you up the game becomes a lot more enjoyable with each player able to bring their own stratagems to the field.

To get the most out of Helldivers you really do need to play online, where it offers the same action and use of stratagems but the enjoyment is hindered by one vital factor, friendly fire. On your own you can dive for cover if a turret looks you way, here you have three other players and whatever else they have thrown onto the battlefield to consider, resulting in far too many deaths. This element alone will make or break the game as finding a decent team who communicate is vital to not only complete missions but also enjoy the game as when the team work together and back each other up with a decent selection of stratagems you can become a fierce fighting unit, raining bullet hell on all that cross your path.

Being a digital game backed by Sony there is of course lots of connectivity between consoles and Helldivers really nails it here with cross-save, cross-play and cross-communication between the PSVita, PS3 and the PS4. This element of the game is seamless, being able to play a PSVita game and level up my character whilst dipping into a couple of online games and then getting home, booting up the PS4 and joining the same online players with my character is a great achievement from both Sony and Arrowhead Game Studios.

Having played both PSVita and PS4 versions the gameplay is identical with both consoles looking great, though the PS4 does have a better graphical finish and more comfortable controls over the PSVita which for reloading and throwing grenades requires an awkward swipe of the rear touch pad, resulting in a few mishaps but overall the transition between both consoles is seamless, with mic chats and joining online games a breeze.

Helldivers is a challenging arcade shooter that is equally rewarding and exciting across solo and online missions. What will make or break this game is the friendly fire as a solid team is a must have to make the most out of this game.

Words by Ash Buchanan.

(Version Tested: PS4/PS3/PS Vita)


+ Cross-save/play/chat between PSVita, PS3 and PS4.
+ Loads of weapons and stratagems to unlock and upgrade.


- Friendly fire can become an issue.
- The stratagems are awkward to summon.

Edited On 03 Mar, 2015

( 1 )
Anonymous user's avatar
Kwan 2 years ago
Thanks Ash, a nice review. Seen a few videos of helldivers and looks similar to dead nation, cross play , cross save functionality is indeed a mean feat ! I will definitely be picking this up, can't wait to play it with friends :)

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