Since I am currently a bit annoyed with the various antics going on in Star Trek Online, I have followed Skeleskully and started dabbling in another game called Helldivers, developed by Arrowhead Game Studios.
Helldivers isn’t actually an MMORPG; it’s a top-down shooter game. And it’s not Star Trek – if anything, it has a very strong Starship Troopers feel to it (wait till you see the opening sequence). Players are soldiers of Super-Earth, fighting on three fronts against intergalactic enemies that threaten humanity: Cyborgs, Illuminates, and of course, the BUGS. As players level up, they gain access to new equipment: firearms, sidearms and strategems – catchall term that includes a wide variety of combat abilities, ranging from jetpacks, defense drones, barbed wire, vehicles, mechs to artillery strikes. All of this can also be upgraded with Research Points, which are gained as bonus rewards as well as picking up Samples on maps.
The missions are not linear; players pick a front, and then a planet, which is procedurally generated with several objectives on each map; objectives include things like capturing an area, defending an installation, rescuing civilians, etc. Once objectives are complete, players head back to an evac point and call in a shuttle… then wait for it to arrive. This tends to be the most hairy part of any given mission!
Combat is fast, furious and brutal. Friendly fire can and does cause major bodily harm; comically, in the last few days that we’ve played, Skully and I have lost more soldiers to friendly fire than to the enemy. In particular, watch where the air drops are landing!
Sounds simple enough? Yeah, it is. But a few things set this game apart from most shooter games.
Most importantly, this is meant to be a multiplayer game… and it shows. Yes you can solo missions, but you are likely going to have a pretty tough time. Having one or more teammates makes a huge difference in your success rate – as long as one player remains alive, they can always bring the others back by “calling for reinforcements”. In addition, some vehicles require several players to properly man. Often, you just can’t effectively defend against the bugs swarming in from all directions!
The game actually takes multiplayer a step further — any progress you make in a mission is counted against the overall war effort. There is an overview “Galactic Campaign” map that lets you see how the war is progressing on the various fronts, and it keeps count of the casualties suffered both by humanity and the assorted enemies. This cute mechanic does help maintain a sense of being on the front-lines of a major conflict, and that you’re helping out with the war effort.
If you have an open game going, other players are free to join up to a full team of four… which can be both a blessing and a curse. In fact, we’ve learned to set our games private, because if you end up with someone who isn’t a good teamplayer, they can really mess things up such as going off in a random direction and squishing you against the map’s edge, or worse, shooting you by mistake all the time. If we can get a full team of four players who we know, we’d do it all day!
We got the bundle during the Steam Black Friday sale for $15, and I have to say it was totally worthwhile. I’ve never been very good with shooter games but I love the co-op aspects of Helldivers. Highly recommended!