Magicka Devs Release Co-op Shooter Helldivers

‘Helldiver’ is perhaps a good nickname for an elite troop who stands as humanity’s last line of defense against alien invasion, but it’s not a very realistic job title is it? Hey, Arrowhead Game Studios, how about Senior Earth Preservation Technicians? That’d be a good name for a game. Ah, no matter! The Magicka folks today released deathsome shooter Helldivers [official site] so you can your chums can save Super Earth together, enjoying big guns, mech drops, support strikes, and a whole lot of friendly fire.

Helldivers sends players (solo, or together with local and online co-op for up to four) on procedurally-generated missions to shoot enemies, complete objectives, and did I mention the shooting? Sure, you could just do shooting as a futuresoldier, but you might also fancying airdropping in, say, a mech to romp around in (airdrops can land on folks and squish ’em, mind). It looks hectic and fun and difficult, with a fair range of viable builds and playstyles. Across missions you’ll level up to unlock new weapons, vehicles, perks, and cosmetic doodads, see, and research upgrades.

The game first hit PlayThings in March, and this PC release comes with all the DLC included. It’s £15.99 on Steam.

Folks who pre-ordered were allowed in early, playing over the weekend, so perhaps some of y’all have some thoughts to share with the group? Or maybe you played it on PS? Or, for the rest of us, here’s a trailer:


  1. spec10 says:

    What can I say … I don’t particularly enjoy arcadey experiences. I generally do not have the patience to train my reflexes for hard twin stick shooters and the like …


    • wcq says:

      Speaking of twin stick shooters, how does Helldivers even work without a console controller? A big part of the challenge in the game was aiming with analog sticks (and no sights, if you didn’t feel like wasting your perk slot), and I don’t think that can be replicated with a mouse.

      Has anyone here played it yet? How have they solved this?

      • ZigomatiX says:

        Not really well imo.
        The cursor only shows up when you aim (rmb) and it appears few meters away in the direction your character is facing.
        It’s the exact behavior of a stick, which doesn’t feel right with a mouse.
        It was so strange i had to switch back to controller, even if i suck at aiming…

      • trashmyego says:

        The game plays fine with mouse and keyboard, and fine with a controller. Haven’t found any issue with either. It doesn’t take long to get use to any weapon’s spread and next that that, all that matters is the direction your character is facing.

  2. raiders says:

    Does anyone play this game in single-player? I asks because I’m not one to do co-op or jump online to play with friends/foes/or other. Just wondering if you can still have an enjoyable game or if it is virtually impossible to finish solo.

    • Severn2j says:

      You can play solo, but is designed fur online, it gets hard very quickly and you will need other players. However, it is surprisingly playable with randoms, I gave up online gaming years ago, but had a good online experience with this in PS4.. Its one of those games where friendly fire is part of the fun.

    • artrexdenthur says:

      You should know that your post has an incorrect assumption… There’s no “finishing” Helldivers; the closest thing to that is a really neat community metagame. There’s nothing to gain plot-wise from defeating harder and harder planets, just more equipment to get and different enemies to see.
      And to answer the question, I personally have a lot of fun with singleplayer, though as Severn said it’s definitely designed around multiplayer. You might not be able to take on the hardest planets (I sure can’t do that alone yet), but imo that doesn’t matter too much.

    • hotmaildidntwork says:

      It drastically changes the flavor of the game, but even on the highest difficulties I think it’s at least possible. What happens is that you have to be much stealthier, destroying patrols before they sound the alarm, being mindful of where your shadow falls, actually taking advantage of the fact that it’s harder to see you if you’re prone.
      Honestly you may find that the game outlasts your desire to play it, given that your friends panicking over voice chat is a large portion of the fun.

    • Hobbes says:

      I tried it solo, and it bounced off of me. Sadly I don’t think without players it quite works -as well- as it does with people to enjoy it with. I can see how it would work in a party context though.

    • iainl says:

      Playing actually solo is not only extremely difficult, it’s also pretty bad. Like, worse than Magicka bad.

      Don’t get me wrong, in multiplayer co-op, even with complete strangers, it’s brilliant – but the creatures take too many hits for it to work as a really good single-player twinstick shooter. Even if you haven’t got someone else to play with, stick to co-op.

  3. anHorse says:

    It’s a good game but it’s totally balanced around co-op.

    Doesn’t really work if you’re playing alone despite it being an option.

  4. LionsPhil says:

    Is the netcode any more reliable than Magicka’s?

    • Wisq says:

      Rock solid from what I’ve seen. I’ve had one MP-related crash in my two days of playing so far, but no trouble setting up groups and no perceivable lag. Steam invites/joins work too.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Excellent. I see nk’s agreeing below too, which is particular good since my experience of Magicka apparently matched his.

        (At one point I think three of us spent something like half-an-hour trying to get a game going, with a random different subset of that managing to connect to each-other each time we tried, until eventually giving up.)

  5. a very affectionate parrot says:

    This game is ridiculously fun, playing 2 player co-op with a friend pretty much every week since the PS4 version dropped and it’s always hilarious.
    Said friend is also playing it in singleplayer and apparently it’s perfectly viable so long as you take a stealth approach and eliminate patrols before they spot you.
    Of course I’m far more into shotgunning bugs in the face.

  6. Baines says:

    this PC release comes with all the DLC included.

    Technically true, but slightly misleading, considering the base game is $20 and there are 14 DLC packs that come to an additional $43, though the Deluxe edition gets you both the game and all the DLC for $40.

    • theMaverickD says:

      Just as a note, there’s a “Mega Reinforcement Pack” which includes all the DLC for $25, bringing the cost to $45 if you bought the base game (vs. $40 for the Deluxe Edition)

  7. ran93r says:

    I have played the Vita version and didn’t really like it.
    I can’t even be constructive and go in to any depth as to why, other than I found it all quite mundane.
    I wanted to like it, I just couldn’t work up the enthusiasm.

    • KDR_11k says:

      Same here, I wonder if it’s the lack of multiplayer when playing on the go. Playing Helldivers solo is just meh.

  8. tigerfort says:

    Presumably, in Alice’s renamed version, the Helldiver commanding an operation would be the Senior Earth Preservation Technician In Charge. Military hierarchies are often problematic, but declaring officers to be automatically SEPTIC just seems rude. I like it.

  9. Wisq says:

    While I’m certainly not complaining about being able to enjoy Helldivers over the weekend, I’m mightily confused as to their release approach. “Pre-order and play immediately”? Isn’t that just “buy it now”?

    I’ve got a number of guesses as to why they might have done this — ranging from “they were ready ahead of time but didn’t want to change the release date” to various theories of pre-seeding the community or load-testing / throttling up their servers — and given that it’s Arrowhead, I’m not really expecting anything seriously shady here. But it definitely raises the question: How weird can our release-date terminology get before it no longer makes any sense whatsoever?

    • TokyoUD says:

      I think they were getting the servers warmed up and ready to go. A big part of the Helldivers experience is the campaigns that everyone contributes to. If that system wasn’t working on launch day, the game would have been gutted.

    • Baines says:

      From what was said on the forums, the DLC wasn’t supposed to unlock until release day.

      But yeah, rather than a pre-order, they really just moved up the launch day at the last minute. Guess they figured it might hurt publicity if they officially moved the launch date (or was the launch date perhaps a contractual obligation?)

  10. DeFrank says:

    *scratches head

    If a game gives you access to it early if you preorder it, doesn’t that just mean the game is released earlier than when they say the game is released?


    • DeFrank says:

      I see I’m not alone ^

    • Donkeyfumbler says:

      If you forced marketing to make sense or tell the truth, you’d put thousands of people out of a job (not that I’m saying that would be a bad thing for society as a whole).

  11. king0zymandias says:

    I am looking for fun co-op games to play with my newphew, who’s going to be staying over for while. So I was looking forward to buying this. Just couple of questions to anyone who has played it – 1) Do I need to buy multiple copies of the game for LAN co-op? 2) Is there an easy mode? Or is it too difficult for only two people?

    Off topic, I really had a lot of fun playing Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance with him the last time he was here, would love to play something similar. Any suggestions?

    • veerserif says:

      You can play local multiplayer (so two controllers off the same machine), but I think you need two copies if you’ve got separate accounts/computers.

      As for difficulty, each planet gets a ranking, so if you stick to easy/medium difficulty planets they’re very doable with just two players.

      • KDR_11k says:

        Also local coop does not split the screen in any way, you can’t separate too far.

        • Lim-Dul says:

          Not only local co-op. It’s the same for online as well. It’s just a design choice to force players into friendly-fire and drop-stuff-on-head situations as well as controlling the spawning of the enemies just off-screen.
          I saw some extremely rage-induced topics about this “screen lock” already.

          • hotmaildidntwork says:

            Yeah, it’s hyper annoying but it’s definitely a design choice.

          • veerserif says:

            I quite like it, it forces you to stick with the team. Plus it’s actually pretty funny when everyone’s trying to escape the hellbomb’s blast radius and no one knows where the hell they’re going, leading to people jetpacking off cliffs, into enemy packs, etc. etc.

          • wcq says:

            The camera’s probably the main reason I stopped playing the PS3 version. It’s definitely an intentional design decision, but it’s one of those that kept bugging me more and more as I kept playing.

            The more players you have in the game, the more inflexible the camera system gets. Especially if you order in some hardware: you’re just staring at a clump of robots and tanks that are firing off screen because the enemies don’t even fit in the frame. It’s silly. At points it also gets very blatant how the game’s just spawning in enemy patrols when it thinks you’re not looking.

  12. Shizzle says:

    I bought Rainbow Six Siege, Just Cause 3 and HELLDIVERS in the last few days. And which one am I playing all the time?

    Yep, HELLDIVERS. It’s sooo much fun! I highly recommend it and for just 20 bucks HELLDIVERS is a must-buy. Worth every penny.

  13. jeeger says:

    (Feel free to delete this if considered advertising).

    Quinns (former RPS compatriot) and associates have recorded a rather funny Let’s Play of the game under the moniker “Hellduffers”. So if you need a bit more prodding to buy this game, do look at Hellduffers for motivation.

  14. mcnostril says:

    I found after a while the early difficulties (anything before 6) get really dull, since even with just two players it’s quite easily done without much excitement as long as no one is terrible. 7 and up are hilarious hectic fun though. The game becomes a mad dash through the maps, where a single mistimed drop can turn an efficient democracy spreading machine into a mess of running screaming soldiermans, desperately trying to regain control of the situation.
    I think the entertainment value is inversely proportional to how seriously your teammates take it; basically anyone who gets mad at being murdered by their mates instead of laughing it off is probably going to result in a terrible experience (not to say it’s not frustrating sometimes, but most of the time the deaths are so sudden and so precisely poorly timed that you just have to chuckle).
    I suppose it could get old after a while, but the game offers so many approaches to murdering aliens that it’s always fun to try new weird strategies that will most likely result in ludicrous amounts of friendly fire.

    Also, fashionable capes.

    • artrexdenthur says:

      It should be noted, of course, that the game can be highly rewarding to those who “take it seriously” in the sense of aspiring to mastery, especially with a dedicated team.
      But agreed, this game should be avoided at all costs by those who would feel personally affronted by a teamkill. Much of being an expert Helldiver lies in being able to roll with disastrous occurrences.

  15. Andy_Panthro says:

    I’ve watched Matt Lees and Quinns Hellduffers series on this (which is excellent), and it looks great, but I’m not really a multiplayer kinda guy so I think I’ll probably have to give this a pass.

  16. nk says:

    It does scratch that Alien Swarm itch pretty well, while giving a Starship Troopers vibes (what with the over the top propaganda).
    Arrowhead apparently got their shit together on the technical side now. It is a relief, because for all I loved Magicka, it was a hot mess laden with crashes and network desyncs.

    10/10 would get murdered repeatedly by my own turret again

    • Badfinger says:

      I definitely get a lot of Alien Swarm vibe, which is part of the reason I have been enjoying it so much!

      Here is an illustration of why this game has been great:

      One of the tasks was to blow up a Bug Hive, which is done usually by calling in a Hellbomb and activating it, which creates a larger-than-screen-sized nuclear explosion that kills everything.

      Our group of 4 had gotten into some trouble with patrols waiting for it to drop. Two of us were dead, and we were being attacked from two sides. Right as the Hellbomb dropped in, the third squadmate when down but not out. I knew if I went down we’d lose, so in order to save the mission…

      I ran over to the Hellbomb, activated it, and ran away as fast as I could letting my teammate die. And it was the right decision. We got call ins, resupplied, collected our gear, and won the mission.

      • mcnostril says:

        I love that half second when you realize that someone has activated the bomb prematurely and no one knows which way to run.

        An amusing thing that a lot of people fail to notice is that you can call in reinforcements when down. It’s not uncommon to throw a beacon when you’re down, dying before it hits the ground, only to all be respawned from orbit to save the day. Or get mauled again.
        Also, people joining a game will be spawned on your location. Your exact location. I have gibbed many tanks, mechs and people by simply joining a game.

        • Badfinger says:

          Another sequence of things that happened:

          We had just unlocked the APC.
          Loaded into a mission, done calldowns.
          APC gets dropped. Heck yes, APC! We load in.
          A random player joins our public game. Yay, reinforcements for our APC!
          Player drops directly on APC, destroying it and killing us within the first 30 seconds of the mission.

          • artrexdenthur says:

            Had a great mission-start moment playing solo… After looking at the map pre-launch I decided to do its escort mission first, and positioned my drop point at the survivors’ location.
            I was pretty accurate… Accurate enough that I landed on one of the survivors’ heads.

  17. oWn4g3 says:

    Loving almost every bit of it. The only thing that manages to annoy me quite a bit are the arena style levels. It just feels a bit random how the spawns of the enemies can screw you over and overall I need a lot more attempts for those. It’s a great coop experience though, highly recommend for groups of at least 3 players.

  18. Scelous says:

    I wish I could enjoy Helldivers as much as everyone else does. I just found it mind-numbingly repetitive and simplistic(not to mention simplistic graphically, as well). I ended up getting a refund on Steam, I was so disappointed with it.

  19. gunny1993 says:

    Me when playing this game:


  20. Potocobe says:

    Did you know the graphic detail is so rich you can count the number of missiles left on a walker. And on the missile rack people can wear. The shadows are great and give away the enemy all the time. Everything has it’s own footprints in the sand or snow. Your empty magazines litter the battlefield and you can tell what gun they went to because the mags look different on every weapon type. Every action is animated fully with way more detail than this type of game needs. No you can’t zoom in and count your nose hairs through the glass of your helmet visor. Nor should you. But for what this game is the details show that everything and I mean everything looks like it has had some attention and time paid to it on the graphics part of things. For me the looks bring it all together and sell it. Playing coop has been many hours of fun in the last few days. And I continue to notice all these tiny little details that are in just…everything! Wading through a swamp because you had no other direction to run in and seeing that your enemy is also kind of slogging through the water after you just feels nice.

    Oh, and because no one else has mentioned it. This game has freaking Tron Walls of Doom. The pain they cause is never ending hilarious almost every damn time. A lot of people will be getting Helldivers as their only xmas present this year for that reason alone. Seriously, this game needs a LOL button so I don’t have to type it because that’s mostly all I ever say in chat.

    • Lim-Dul says:

      I noticed that as well! You can also give examples how the Helldivers enter various vehicles. A lesser dev might have just made them pop in and out of the models but not Arrowhead! The Helldivers enter and exit through hatches on the models with a corresponding unique animation – which has a function from the gameplay standpoint too since the vehicles can burn up and explode and you have to take the escape time into account.
      Or one could provide the example how they made all vehicles control differently on purpose – the motorcycle controls like something out of a racing game with the RT serving as the accelerator while the bastion tank destroyer controls, well, literally like a tank with each stick moving one tread (push both up to move forward, push them in opposite directions for quick turning).
      I’m immensely hooked on the game. These days most titles rarely catch my attention beyond the 1 hour mark but I’ve been playing Helldivers for almost 9 hours across two days now.

  21. jonahcutter says:

    The one thing I didn’t like about it is the way corpses descend into the ground.

    Performance reasons, probably. But I so want to see the bodies and parts stack up.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Probably gameplay ones, too. Either your character will be visually lost under a noclip pile of meat, or you’re going to have to consider players dynamically generating rough map terrain in the form of mountains of corpses in your design.

      (Although the idea of having to scramble over a pile of dead bugs to flee a Hellbomb, just about managing to take cover behind its ridge, is an amusing one.)

      • jonahcutter says:

        Maybe it could reach a saturation point, where there is at least some remnants, then the rest start despawning. So there is at least some mark left on the battlefields.

    • mcnostril says:

      Amusingly enough, failed escort mission corpses stay. I had a game where we got everyone killed, had to run away, did all the other objectives, and when we looped back to find the extract we saw the bodies again, like “oh yeah, that time we failed 15 minutes and 23 deaths ago.”

  22. LNO says:

    This really does look like fun. However, some steam reviews warn about additional DLC not included in the pack at 10$ extra, that is all but mandatory. This kind of stuff I do not want to support. So is the additional DLC indeed very very helpful or can you do without?

    • SHwoKing says:

      All the DLC are included with the DDE edition. What people complain about is that if you by standard edition, you cannot upgrade to the DDE for 10$ more. You have to buy the complete DLC pack for 20$.

      Some DLC are strong like the exosuit with flame thrower + anti tank gun. But the game si totally playable without it.

      I’ve played the game for quiet sometimes now (level 18) both in co-op and solo. The game is fun, with little details I like as mention above. Gunplay is satisfying and feels great, great sound effects, great music as well.

      But I think the game structure and mechanics are a little weak now. that I played it for some times. It’s quiet repetitive really. But it is fun.
      It’s near impossible to play stealthy in four player co-op when you move as the screen lock tends to reduce your line of sight.

      The game si playable solo but you have to rely on stealth. And for the “Survival” mission you have to kill X ennemies in a small arena, it becomes some sort of tower defense using turrets and manage them. quiet fun. I did not intend a boss fight solo, must be quiet hard but managed to complete some Level 10 (up to 12) missions solo with the proper Stratagems. But that was a bit silly as I have to run away most of the time because ennemiesnare way to resistant so it becomes a game of Hide and Seek once the alarm is on.

      Things I like is the variety if the arsenal at your disposal. You really have to find the right combo for a given mission. Especially in solo.

      Overall the game is enjoyable. I had lots of epic moment already, even with strangers. And solo is another way to play it. But don’t see myself playing it over and over because of its repetitive nature.

    • ZigomatiX says:

      I also want to add that buying all DLC at start leads to a complete mess in the loadout selection.
      Haven’t played Helldivers before so i’m a bit lost with all guns/stratagems/perks.
      And tbh, even after few hours i already know that i won’t ever use most of the DLC stuff.
      So my advice is to buy the main game and maybe 1-2 dlc later if you want more of something (vehicules, mechs,…)

    • mcnostril says:

      My number 1 problem with the DLC, is that there’s not way to try it out beforehand. It sounds a bit strange, but since all the DLC is really add options, it’d be nice to have a firing range or something to test it all out on; I suppose the videos on the DLC page do that job now that I think about it.
      Everything has drawbacks or very specific uses, and it’s hard to know without trying it out (though I suppose there is a certain expectation that you will see other players flaunt their gear and be enticed by whatever particular thing you saw).

      I dunno, out of all the DLC there’s not that much that I’ll actually use, but it’s all fun stuff, especially if you find a particular playstyle growing stale.