What Helldivers needs to be a great game


Great games present situations to players that can be solved, while challenging players with a range of actions and circumstances that provide specific approaches towards solutions.
Games that are not great use game situations to overwhelm, and psychologically attack players. The solution, if it exists, can only be arrived at through a willingness to endure, rather than discovering a path which leads to successful conclusions.
Much of Helldivers falls into the second category. The personality of Helldivers is focused on regularly turning weapons, perks and strategems against players. An example is the Displacement Field, which teleports players right into the arms of the enemy, which unfailingly kill the character. Such action does nothing to offer solutions, it once again creates an atmosphere where the omnipotent game simply decides to murder the character, and the player can either quit, or endure it, but can do nothing to improve the quality of challenges.
Great games provide enemies and enemy tactics with areas to exploit. Not so great games bulldoze players with inexhaustible waves of enemies that cannot be challenged by anything other than flight or force.
Helldivers is branded as a strategy game, yet there is no genuine strategy that can be deployed. All one can do is choose loadouts and order of objectives. True strategy allows players to determine their objectives, and to focus upon them. Such choices are absent from Helldivers. There are no feigned attacks, no hardened defenses, no supply or communication infrastructure, nothing that requires anything approaching a strategic sense. If anything, the game is similar to Call of Duty and it’s endless clones in that it requires an individual tactical design regarding loadouts and fighting.
Finally, great games offer flexibility and variety. Challenges stay fresh with open possibilities. Not so great games just step up the enemy numbers and frequency of their appearances. Rather than offering challenges, this just demands more player deaths, and more specific applications of weaponry.
For what it is, Helldivers is demanding, yet it requires a development into a further, less oppressive game environment to become a great game.


Helldivers is already a great game; one of the best, in fact.


Helldivers is guilty of the problems you listed, to an extent. It also provides solutions to every one of those issues, and elegantly, too. Many of these solutions depend on the skill and quick thinking of the player. Bad displacement teleports can be escaped easily with jump packs, dives, melee dodging, teammates, just turning and running, shooting and grenade spamming, etc… Waves of enemies can be cut down one at at time or in swaths with just about any weapon being used properly (not to mention stratagems and grenades). Also, Helldivers is not strictly a strategy game. It’s a strategic shooter. Most of the strategy goes into planning and execution: front-line thinking. And with or without coordinated loadouts – with or without a team – true Helldivers can adapt to any situation. You mentioned willpower being the only way to find a clear path through the game’s challenges. I’d agree; every seasoned Helldiver has faced countless “overwhelming” battles (in truth there are none), emerging smarter and stronger.

Another thing: Arrowhead’s motto. A game for everyone is a game for no one. The people who enjoy twin-stick shooters and a challenge universally love Helldivers. And why shouldn’t they? It’s a great game.


All it needs is just teleport animation, when someone disconnects :stuck_out_tongue: That animation already used for displacement field could work. Because watching my teammates dying every time they just leave ship looks weird.


No, just because someone happens to enjoy the context of the game, doesn’t make the game great. So, we have a few long time players who feel the need to defend the game, and only one who can offer an intelligent rebuttal to my assertion.
However, I have a response to this rebuttal, and that would be to provide context that refutes the supposition that loadouts and quick thinking can overcome the oppressive capricious nature of the game. Just tonight, I played a duo mission against Bugs. We managed to secure all objectives, and overcome the four huge waves at extraction to jump to the waiting shuttle. Before we could land the shuttle was surrounded by another huge wave of enemies that killed both of us as we landed at the door. This is nothing but a twisted joke intended to rob us of the mission, and surprise, surprise, it worked. I can think of several choice words to describe these antics, however GREAT is at the very bottom of the list. If you enjoy games designed around stealing your victory through sick parlor tricks, so be it, but such is the reason I am unable to categorize Helldivers as a great game.
Now, if the situation was presented in a fashion that indeed allowed for an elegant, quick thinking achievement, then I would agree that player skill could have saved the day, yet it was not so.
If this were an unusual turn of events, then my conclusion might also be different, but sadly such is not the case.
I I would like to point out that at level 6 and below, the game largely keeps it’s more twisted aspects in check. It’s only at the higher levels where jump kills and the like become de rigueur.
It actually is possible to increase difficulty without resorting to cheap kill tactics, however it takes more of a strategic sense to accomplish this feat.
Funny, the statement that HD isn’t for everyone. Isn’t the point of designing games to encourage as many people as possible to play?
Ridiculous statements aside, there are definitely aspects of this game that fall squarely into the cheap trick category.
I have tried to offer some constructive criticism here because I believe that HD has potential which is not only unrealized, but unachievable when certain conditions predominate game play. I care enough to take my precious time to point these things out.


I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but Arrowhead isn’t the kind of game company to pump out common denominator games to make a quick buck.

Video game development can be a lucrative business, there are definitely a lot of potential customers out there, but some developers are happier to make a little profit but making something they’re proud of, rather than make a lot of profit by belittling or sacrificing their vision.

I propose that perhaps instead of being passionate with greed, some game development studios have a passion for making fun games for a particular target audience.
Watering down mechanics to make it pleasing for everyone would have a cascading effect; adding mechanics that make the game easier takes away development time that could have been used to improve existing mechanics, and unfortunately development time is limited.
Not to mention, certain mechanics (and respectively, their effects on the player) are so deeply rooted, that to change or remove their effects would be to go against the very founding vision of the game.

If you feel that game design is purely a way to rake in money, and that people should be pragmatic in making a product instead of being happy in making an experience, then I’m afraid that there is no argument I can make to convince you that video game design is an art form in and of itself, and should be respected as such.

The unfortunate situation you describe simply doesn’t make sense to me as a rebuttal - what are these four huge waves at extraction?
Do you mean to say that you triggered four alerts while attempting to evacuate, triggered a fifth, and then proceeded to desperately jump to the shuttle?
If you were jumping instead of running, does that mean that perhaps there were enemies between you and the shuttle?
There is no shame in abandoning an evacuation and coming back to it when it is clear of enemies, perhaps this was just a error in judgment on your part?

For better context, what difficulty was this on?
What sort of enemy killed you?
Was it a ranged attack or a melee attack?
How close did you land to the shuttle?
Did you land next to a tentacle?
Your account, in my opinion, simply doesn’t provide enough context to be a good, convincing refutal.

Finally, you should really consider editing this comment out of existence, for your own sake. (and really truly just your own)
In the most polite way I can say this, it just paints you as being short-sighted.


Points well taken, yet again we are confronted with the essential question…how much of game play is going to be determined by events which a player has little to no ability to affect?
The example above was but one of many I could have chosen, and to answer your questions, the mission was level 11, no all bugs weren’t eliminated at shuttle arrival, and yes I was describing waves of enemies, the last of which spawned surrounding the shuttle, as we engaged jumps to reach the door. My teammate managed to injure the brood commander that blocked the door before he was killed, but not any of the others, and I was instant killed as I landed a moment later. I really cannot describe my response to playing very hard, only to be cheaply killed at the last moment which wiped the entire mission. I can’t help but conclude that it’s the game delivering a grand F.U.!
In terms of mechanics, I’ve watched them change pretty dramatically over the time I’ve devoted to this game, so I cannot agree that such areas are already set, and thus unalterable. Just for example, last year the Minigun Turret would knock a player down, yet it didn’t kill them. Currently, this turret now kills regularly.
The glee with which some weapons kill players has rendered them unusable in my own gameplay, at least when I team up with others.
Examples of weaponry made more lethal to fellow players include the Toxic Avenger. It used to be possible to rescue an afflicted player by continually helping them up, but no longer.
Examples of stricter impediments? Small rocks now impede movement, in the same mission I was killed due to being pinned against one such obstacle.
I won’t bore you with further details, but perhaps you can appreciate that I’ve watched this game change significantly, and the result of this change has been a significant increase in player deaths, and missions failed due to aforementioned F.U. tricks.
I won’t cite names, but if you search the web and do some viewing with an eye to reactions, you’ll find that I’m not the only one who makes note of these changes.
If one follows the logic of this trend, the result will be a game with appeal to only a certain type of player, or to the hacker who sees the restrictions of the game as a challenge to circumnavigate. If this is the intent, then players with sympathies similar to my own will have to either deal with it, or stop playing.
Ultimately, I have to wonder if the game is purpose driven to provide challenge or to inspire negative reactions. I’ve played enough with multiplayer to conclude that peak annoyance and rage outbursts are far from uncommon. BTW, inspiring players to hate the game and try to beat it because they hate it, certainly appears to have a firm place in this industry.
In conclusion, I do think HD does some things quite well. However, the game consistently presents circumstances and situations that are obviously intended to deliver specific results. My comments do not emasculate, or render the game impotent in order to broaden its appeal. There is nothing about toning down cheap tricks that makes the game less playable, but if you truly do think so, then that is your opinion.
Anyway, the game is going in a direction that is definitely leaving me behind. I will probably continue to play some solo missions here and there as time and energy allow, but my time is too precious to burn on F.U. moments that leave me perplexed and wondering why I bothered to play.


All I can really say is that, from your account, you took a risk by flying at the shuttle instead of calmly walking in, and the risk didn’t pay off.
You didn’t think that an alert would really be able to kill you, and you turned out to be wrong.

Then you proceed to write a scathing wall of text to belittle the game’s design, convinced of a grand conspiracy to eliminate you by any means possible, convinced that the developers are playing some sick war of attrition with your patience.

I don’t buy your argument.
Yes, the situation was certainly inescapable, but was it avoidable? I certainly think so.

Let’s take your other examples:
The Toxic Avenger is lethal, yes, but YOU shouldn’t be shooting it at friendlies.
Rocks impede movement, yes, but you weren’t “pinned” by the rock, YOU shouldn’t have panicked and run up against them.

At this point I wouldn’t be surprised if all your examples could be solved with just a little bit of self-discipline and patience.

(A side note, the minigun turret is very sensitive to lag, which essentially determines whether a player will be hit by one bullet or several, ideally they are hit by one and take cover, but I am sure that you can appreciate how difficult it can be to account for every high ping situation)

Restrictions in games aren’t there to be circumvented! The very concept of a game should make it clear to you that every restriction is synthetic, but also necessary, as they define the “rules” of the game.
To be good at a video game means to acknowledge them, and adapt your play style to those restrictions.
Properly weighing risk and reward, edging against the restrictions for a thrill, feeling accomplished for emerging triumphant under those restrictions, this all holds true, even for Olympic sports, for instance.

I will concede that simply spawning more (and harder) enemies overall is an artificial way to scale difficulty, however the smoking gun here is that despite knowing this, you chose to play on 11 anyway.


This pretty much sums it up.
I understand where @RangerRen is coming from. I also encounter situations in which there is no escape (or so it seems), but usually I can trace the source of the problem. Dropped back in surrounded by enemies? Who threw the beacon there, and why? If a teammember shoots me in the back with his shotgun, I also die. On purpose or not, I cannot prevent that. Its a risk I decided to take when I teamed up with the guy, or when I decided I wanted to play in a 4 player party. Its possible you didnt make the fatal mistake, but your team did. You dont always get to escape every situation by doing something, but you get the tools to avoid most situations that leave you without options.
And this is what Helldivers is all about. You weigh the risks, choose your tools, and try to pick a course of action that minimises the risk. And its very unlikely that all 4 of you get unlucky at the same time.

Sure you gotta unlock them stratagems on high lvl planets, but after that, its perfectly fine to stay at lower levels if its more enjoyable for you.


I would say great games present situations to players that they enjoy solving even repeatedly because they are not static scripted open to quickly becoming predictable boring and challenging enough mechanically or strategically each time to keep the player engaged.

I disagree that challenges in great games should require specific approaches towards solutions. Player should be able to play according to their idea of how they should be able to best the challenge and then successfully achieve that goal based on how well they executed their plan.

You also contradict yourself later by saying:

100% agree. In my 30+ years of gaming, no game does this better than Helldivers. If not convinced with your own experience yet, just take a look at all the Loadout option specific playlists I have accumulated on my YouTube channel compiled over the last 3+ years since I first started playing and enjoying Helldivers.

It is okay if you haven’t reached the same conclusion yet. Maybe you are used to more scripted AI and Helldivers is too dynamic for you, but maybe trust someone that has probably played the game a lot more, it is a great game (if not the greatest) by the very criteria you want to attribute to what makes a game great.


Hmm, no not a contradiction, more of a loss for words.
Specific here relates to the tactical nature of HD, and the gaming experience in general. In other words, there are weapons, load outs and procedures, i.e.; specific solutions, which are applied to solve a game problem.
Flexibility here relates to the manner, or individual style with which a player applies their specific solution.
Hopefully, this makes clear how an apparent contradiction is actually an attempt to explain different levels of application. In the real world, an example might be a specific tool, say a screwdriver, and the flexibility is in how that screwdriver is actually used to solve problems.
Considering such, perhaps the lack of contradiction becomes clear.
I understand that most who post here cannot see the more negative facets of the game, and how they have been magnified. It is far more convenient to blame internet speed, and player skill, or lack thereof.
Frankly, Cusman, I would never consider myself anything above a good player. Good leaves much room for improvement. On the other hand, this is a self assessment. I’ve been subjected to some amazingly negative responses on multiplayer, so others might not share this assessment.
Ultimately, I am requesting greater self determination. I think great games are confident enough to refrain from loading it over a player. I am also aware that this perspective is anachronistic, and as such may be unrealizable.


Not really sure what you mean.

I will say that Arrowhead took huge risks in their design choices that other companies that use a lot more focus groups and design by committee would not. This is both what attracts the success they get with more niche more dedicated audiences and what keeps them from breaching a wider audience.

To their credit they are out to make games they themselves would like to play and saw lacking in the market place. I am just very grateful for that, because what they have made in that mission, is a game that is very much for me.

I continue to look for a game that is better for my tastes for co-op fun and there really isn’t. I can enjoy a whole host of other games but Helldivers to me is a very rare gem of a game. I don’t require it to be perfect, for it to still be viewed overall better than anything else for a co-op game for my personal continued enjoyment.


Umm… for that person, yes it does. That’s the point. It’s a personal opinion thing, and that’s the crux of this whole thing.

There is no such thing as an “objectively great game” because “great” is just someone’s opinion about it.

That’s fine. You don’t; many do. Again, that’s the point.

At all costs? No. There is no game that’s for everyone. For example, it would be stupid to buy a stealth game if you hate stealth games then blame the devs for not reaching you with their game. That is why people say Helldivers (or whatever game) isn’t for everyone. It’s not “funny” or ironic; it’s just basic logical sense.

You may not want to hear this, but a lot of the “sick, twisted, cheap tricks” you complained about can be overcome with skill, despite what you may think.

Oh and another thing, just because there’s other people who can love the game despite its imperfections doesn’t mean they have no complaints of their own or just unreasonably defend the game no matter what. You just may not be one of them. So when you say,

Someone else could just say, “So, we have less experienced players who feel the need to bash game.” Either way, it’s not an argument. Plus if you think you’re going to come to the fanbase’s headquarters, so to speak, and bash the game (or call it “less than a great game”—whatever) and get no rebuttal, then that’s crazy. lol

Of course, there’s a lot more things I could address, but I’ll just start with this.


The Art of being misunderstood…
Or, are my posts actually read???
Lein, look up the definitions in any good English dictionary, and you will discover that like and great are two very distinct words.
However, it’s not about accuracy, it’s really about being peeved at my posts.
Cusman, I will attempt once more to convey where I am coming from…
Firstly, I think just about everyone has missed an important point I have made, that HD does some things extremely well. Yes, I definitely agree that co-op play, or whatever term you wish to assign it, is ONE AMONGST SEVERAL SUCCESSFUL DESIGN ELEMENTS.
Hopefully, now, it will be clear that I am discussing an ASPECT of the game that I personally have found limits my choice and method to an unhappy degree. Furthermore, I believe that with an effort to address this aspect that HD could possibly move into a “great” game.
I’ve also tried to explain my approach to gaming, that which I find preferable, so that if anyone cared, they could perhaps get a little background to my perspective.
Yes, at times I have used rather uncompromising language. Sorry, but this is my delivery, and I refuse to change without a very good reason.
HD is unique in many ways. This unique quality means that typical PvP does not apply, and as I have previously stated, this is a very good thing.
That said, a strategy game needs well…strategy. I would think this might be a little less than an earth shattering realization. It is in the application of strategy where I would prefer some advances be made.
Now, you are all free to return to attacking my skill level, and vent as you wish, or to continue the discussion according to the topic. It’s up to you.


I’ve noticed you claim to be misunderstood quite often. Perhaps your explanations often don’t convey what you mean them to. There comes a point where maybe it’s not the readers’ faults, but rather an issue of not clearly communicating your intentions to your audience.

That’s not an attack—just something to think about if you feel you are being misunderstood this frequently. (Personally, I don’t think you’re as misunderstood as much as you’re simply just disagreed with, but if you don’t think so, it might be worth considering.)

I’m familiar with this mental game. You can’t lose it. Any reference that contradicts a point you make, it won’t be a “good” dictionary anyway. Nor would it have anything to do with anything I said. We can already agree that they are obviously different words, and I’ve said nothing to the contrary, so I’m not going to even entertain that one.

This does not change the point that “great” is subjective and a matter of opinion, which is really my only point. It has nothing to do with misunderstanding you. You seem to want “great” to be something that transcends personal opinion and subjectivity, but the fact of the matter is, it doesn’t. Again, that’s the point.

You don’t like certain elements of the game but like others. The game just isn’t “great” to you due to a certain number of things that you wish to see changed / fixed / whatever. Trust me, I think everyone gets that. That really doesn’t change anything about anyone’s points though. The contrary was never a premise to anyone’s arguments from what I can see.

Uh, no, you brought skill / experience into this. I don’t mind that, but you don’t get to make a point off of that now as if you’re a victim to it or something. I’ll get the quote and go more into it if you want to make further issue of this.

I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you just mean this ironically, because I know you’re not about to try to complain about others venting after making a thread like this.


I will restate my point one final time. Great games are set apart by certain qualities, not the least of which are an emphasis on varieties of approach, a providing of means for solutions, and an open rather than oppressive gaming environment.
HD meets some of this criteria, but not all. The game continues to present unsolvable circumstances which determine the result of the game.
Despite claims by some long time players this is a fact in HD, and it is demonstrated by numerous videos available for perusal.
The essential question is does this fact prevent HD from climbing up to the podium and proclaiming itself great?
I submit the answer is yes.
Therefore, I have presented a premise which is supported, and a conclusion, which is logically consistent within the conditions of the premise. This doesn’t mean that it is impossible for HD to adapt, and offer a selection of choices. This doesn’t mean that I’m bashing the game, and this doesn’t mean that I am ignorant of certain realities concerning current play.
The reader can agree, disagree, and everything in between, however if the disagreement comes from a primitive emotional response, which is from where most, but not all responses appear to originate, then they neither refute my premise, nor shed light on cited conditions.


And what those qualities happen to be is your opinion. Opinions aren’t bad. Because of that, I’m (or whomever) not wrong when I say Helldivers is already a great game—which you seem to take issue with for some reason (since that’s all I ever said initially).

At its core (whether the game is “great” or not), there’s no argument to be had. Argument requires logic, but this is not a matter of logic. It’s a matter of tastes and personal preferences. There’s nothing to “counter”. That’s why no one is “refuting your premise”. No one cares to take your opinion away from you. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you have to agree that the game is great. lol So you don’t think it’s a great game. Big whoop.

I’m not here to challenge you (I can’t challenge opinion—it is what it is). In fact, I’m here to help you. I’m here to help you realize the subjective nature at hand, that way you know why some suggest the game may not be for you at least to some degree (since you were unclear on that front). I’m also here to inform you that some of the problems listed in your opening post are avoidable and not inevitable. That’s all.


What makes this game great is that it is totally dependent on player skill. The only thing that would make it better would to have some perk that would decrease reload time to beat LV 15 Lumis Solo.


Well, thats one of the most naiv opinions i have read on the internet :smiley: :smiley:
Sory 9.0 but this is not how business work. Game developing is exactly that kind of business, where every studio with his approach bankrupts.

I have to agree with RangerRen. This community is made of few “core” players like you, Blackjack, YOPG, Lein… and others. And those “core” players are trying to defend everything about the game for every price. Even though they are wrong, they support each other in that fight. Not accepting any complaint. And unobjective AF.

Anyways, Helldivers is fun game. It is really fun to play. But I’d rather not call it “great”. There are many many better games.


I really want to agree with you Vali, I truely do, as there are indeed some reinforced opinions going on.
But then you make the same mistake as those you criticise, which makes it hard to take your criticism seriously.

As far as I see, all those people you mentioned have have different opinions and are willing to accept complaint. I even commented on one of the admitted ‘flaws’ posted by 9.0. This is only an opinion of said player. Most of them are however, united in their view that HD is a great game in their eyes. They are however, alone in their descision to defend some criticised aspects of the game based on their own opinion. Some are merely a bit direct in their approach. This goes for RangerRen as well, so this is by no means criticism in that direction.

But then you throw all the ‘HD-defenders’ on the same boat, and call them wrong, unwilling to accept criticism and unobjective, in a thread that was based on opinions in the first place. Helldivers being ‘great’ or not is mostly subjective.

As for 9.0’s so called naïve opinion, there are in fact game developpers like that, just not many that dont change when they get more and more succesful.

As for the purpose of this topic, I believe exchanging tips based on experience falls within the premise of this subject.