Much of Helldivers II builds on the formula of its 2015 predecessor. You play as ordinary soldiers who ODST-drop down onto procedurally generated planets, fighting to defend the dystopian democracy that is Super Earth. Friendly fire is always on–between that and the dangerous alien threats you face, you’ll die plenty of times, redeploying on the battlefield as a new soldier ready to give their life for the cause. Helldivers II feels like playing as a character in something like Alien or Starship Troopers. And not the badass hero characters who survive impossible odds and save the day–you’re the background nobodies getting blown to bits.
The big shift between Helldivers II and the first game is the perspective. While the original Helldivers was a top-down shooter, its sequel is an over-the-shoulder third-person shooter (with the option to go first-person while aiming down sights). This puts a heavier emphasis on action and ludicrous destruction: aspects the first game certainly had but which were tempered by the ability to easily see where all your allies and enemies were standing at a given time. This sense of camaraderie translates into the minute-to-minute gameplay too. A player carrying rockets can load them into an ally’s launcher, saving said ally considerable time on the normally lengthy process of reloading, for example. I really like mechanics like this–they add a greater semblance of teamwork to a mission beyond the scope of everyone all shooting the same enemy a bunch.
Helldivers II is scheduled to launch for PS5 and PC on February 8. To stay on top of Helldivers II and the many, many shooters coming to PC and consoles in 2024, be sure to Subscribe to GameSpot.