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Helldivers 2 is some of the best fun we've had with friends on PS5. It's a simple and broad statement to start a review with, but in many ways Helldivers 2 is a simple game. This satirical bug-squashing shooter has its upgrades and customisation, but it's at its best when you're holding the trigger and not letting go. This game knows how to make you feel like a badass — and a complete buffoon — and experiencing that spectrum with a full squad of friends easily makes it one of the best co-op games on PS5.

The premise is this: you're a Helldiver, a soldier of Super Earth taking the fight to the scuttering Terminids across the galaxy. Dropping on a variety of planets, you in teams of up to four will take out nests, upload data, and complete an assortment of other trivial assignments. However, across your journeys you will be attacked by waves of seemingly endless creepy crawlies, or horrifying, Terminator-like robots. If you've ever played the original, you'll know that tactics is the name of the game, and that's no different here with Helldivers 2 — and it's really where the fun begins.

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Switching things up in this outing, Arrowhead Studios has opted for a third-person perspective — a bold move from the simpler top-down predecessor. Aiming, shooting, and general traversal are all impressively tuned in, and you'll never get bored of pulling off a last minute evasive dive. Across our dozen or so hours with the game, it's easily up there with the likes of The Last of Us Part II as one of the best-feeling and best-controlling third-person shooters. It helps that the game is absolutely stunning with some excellent lighting, runs at a solid 60 frames-per-second, has phenomenal sound design, best-in-class DualSense haptics, and a score that'll inspire you to lay down your life for Super Earth.

Running and shooting in pretty settings is just part of the magic of Helldivers 2, though. This is a game about balancing that power fantasy. You can take on hundreds of Terminids with ground-shaking orbital strikes, or hold down the frontline as you pepper the enemy assault with a machine gun. But a couple of strikes from a bug and you're mush, buddy. While the firepower you wield can be utterly preposterous, the soldiers themselves are just meat sacks who will be decapitated, ragdolled, and crushed at any and every opportunity. Friendly fire — a mandatory part of the Helldivers experience — means you also have to watch where you shoot and toss your grenades. It quickly becomes clear that you can't just blast your way out of every situation, and that combat encounters must be considered carefully.

It's what makes the mission structure so entertaining. Landing on a planet, you'll have a main objective to complete, but across the contained map there will be nests to clear, side missions to complete, and points of interest to discover and loot. You then must survive a two-minute wait for extraction, which can get very intense. It's a tantalising sense of risk and reward, as you weigh up whether to leave with what you already have or risk it all for one more side objective.

This level of decision-making becomes all the more pertinent as you creep up the difficulty levels, and it's here where a lot of co-op shooters falter. Shooters in particular can be guilty of amping the difficulty for difficulty's sake, with very few actual rewards to make it all worth it. Helldivers 2 does become a far more visceral and nail-biting affair the higher up the difficulty tiers it goes, but it bakes progression and cooperative play into that difficulty with Stratagems.

Stratagems are the special sauce of Helldivers, allowing players to call in support weapons, defensive items, orbital strikes, and more. Put together with your arsenal, Stratagems can make the difference between life and death, especially if you balance them across your team. Arrowhead makes sure that even calling them in pushes you to your limit as you must input D-pad sequences. The amount of times a last minute Stratagem will turn the tide of a Terminid onslaught are plenty, and it's always such a rush.

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As you level up, you're able to unlock more Stratagems, of which there are 47. It's a decidedly slow process, but just playing the game and earning credits and XP will eventually unlock them all. However, if you want to improve your Stratagems, that's where things get interesting. When out on patrol, you must collect samples and successfully extract them. Building up these resources enables you to unlock ship module upgrades, which reduce Stratagem cooldowns or give them a little extra kick. However, to max out upgrades you must earn rarer materials, which only become available in the higher difficulties. So while there is the fun of the challenge, Helldivers 2 gives you a legitimate reason to test your resolve; it doesn't just toss new meaningless loot at you, but something that can significantly impact your playstyle.

When Stratagems and gunplay come together, Helldivers 2 is unlike anything else out there. It's genuinely jaw-dropping how consistently epic and cinematic its encounters become, playing out like a Starship Troopers or Terminator experience. The game's reactionary nature means you're always laying down the tracks as you go, using new tactics or tossing life-saving Stratagems down, making constant communication with your team borderline mandatory. Working as a team is utterly essential, whether you're covering, resupplying, or redeploying each other. Helldivers 2 is just as much about a plan completely falling apart as much as it is extracting successfully, making it a genuine blast to play with friends.

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Outside of its team dynamic, Arrowhead has crafted up a community experience too with its liberation system. Every successful extraction counts towards the capture percentage of a planet, and once a planet is liberated, more are unlocked. While it's a little weird to lock off liberated planets — goodbye Heeth, we barely knew ya — it's cool to see the percentage creep up in real time, and it serves as the perfect excuse to return to the game. There's also an in-game store where you can purchase armour, helmets, and capes, with the currency purchasable but also earnable and discoverable in the main game. We understand some concerns over potential pay-to-win elements, but the live service aspects of the game to us seem affordable and more importantly unobtrusive.

Lastly, we want to mention the connectivity issues. At the time of writing, Helldivers 2 is littered with issues whether those be matchmaking related, hard crashes, or mission rewards not carrying over. We have been largely unaffected by all this, since most of the issues relate to matchmaking with randoms, rather than joining friends. It's still something to consider and a shame as it acts as the main detractor of the whole experience, however, we expect that Arrowhead will swiftly iron out these connective kinks.


Helldivers 2 is a riotous affair, offering up best-in-class gunplay, a truly epic and often cinematic experience, mixed in with one of the best co-op gameplay romps currently available. Its present matchmaking issues hold it back from true glory, but when it works it really works, forcing you to feel a sense of patriotism for Super Earth as the score swells and bullets fly. Helldivers 2 is a hell of a lot of fun, and is the best laugh you and your mates will have on PS5.