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The Student News Site of Santa Rosa Academy

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The meteoric rise of helldivers II


Helldivers serving up one heap of democracy to an unliberated bug. The only good bug is a dead bug.

In the shadowed corridors of the cosmos, where stars flicker like distant memories, a new era dawned. It was a time of chaos, of relentless conflict, and yet, strangely, of camaraderie. Welcome to Helldivers II, a sequel that defied gravity, sanity, and perhaps even the laws of physics. According to ArrowHead Studios themselves is a top down shooter set in “A satirical dystopian future where mankind is ruled by a managed democracy. You are part of the Helldivers – the spearhead of humanity’s defense against the perpetual alien threat on Super Earth. With up to four player co-op missions” The second portion of the quote states “working together as a team is vital, whether calling in strikes or placing weapons, each action must be totally synchronized to achieve the objectives. This isn’t just a four player co-op game; it’s a co-op game that relies on the global efforts of the entire HELLDIVERS community!”

Quite a synopsis of a game, although having the sales and player count on average of 328,278 and 458,208 all time peak concurrent player count while having the sales to back it up having sold over three million copies according to IGN’s sources which totals to around 119970000 but to understand this meteoric rise the history of the game must be understood first.

This Game of the year contender was originally a top down strategy shooter developed by ArrowHead Studios being published by playstation. ArrowHead Studios is an independent Small time Swedish game studio established in 2008 by a group of Luleå University of Technology students studying in Skellefteå. Currently the company employs around 100 people currently working on their small library of games such as Gauntlet, Magicka, Helldivers I, The Showdown Effect, and smash hit Helldivers II.

Arrowheads First game Magicka won Game Of The Year at the 2008 Swedish game awards being published by Paradox Interactive. The following year developing The Showdown Effect a 2D multiplayer game inspired by 1980 and 1990 action movie tropes being a co-op interactive adventure game. Along with Gauntlet, A dungeon crawler published by WB interactive. A small games studio from Sweden with currently around 100 employees is an industry anomaly full of big companies with massive budgets and workforces. It’s quite rare for an indie developer that started in a university to go to the heights that the studio has gone to or well this wouldn’t be the meteoric rise of Helldivers II.

As stated Helldivers II started out as a top down co-op tactical sci-fi shooter, yes Helldivers II is a sequel to the lesser known game Helldivers I which was launched way back in 2015 as previously mentioned the game was developed by Arrowhead studios taking seven years to complete in its entirety. The development team faced many issues such as being built on a discontinued game engine making game coding, asset retrieval, physic mapping, and scripting extremely challenging forcing the team to rewrite the entire game or work around a defunct game engine.

Based on the time, money, and human resources already sinked into the game the small Swedish team decided to continue development making the project a high financial risk with little to no fiskal rewards as Helldivers 1 was a niche game received well by the small cult following it had. The development of Helldivers II also faced many difficulties when COVID-19 hit which forced the team to do most of their work remotely throughout 2020-2021 which labored on financial backing as well as team motivation and communication/planning issues.

Even though the team had to deal with many setbacks throughout development of Helldivers II the team delivered a game that has been received well both commercially and critically as well. Helldivers II has been praised for it’s fast paced high intensity fun gameplay with complex systems throughout its entirety from the killstreaks to the armor even the little details that are not meant to be seen by players for example when a Napalm strike is called in instead of a blanket spread of fire coming from nowhere three planes are fully modeled flying in an launching the strike on the requested target.

The game has also been a commercial success selling a confirmed three million copies but an estimated ten million copies within the first four months rivaling other games in the space. Helldivers itself is actually doing extremely well for itself as a whole through its sales player interaction, community engagement, and from a purely gameplay standpoint is thriving with praise from gamers to content creators, reviewers and all in between love Helldivers II! Fans and critics alike love Helldivers due to the variety of missions, locals, weapons, abilities, and enemies. While being challenging, having around 8 different difficulties that are all honestly pretty challenging. The main appeal of helldivers though is the teamwork and interactivity needed to coordinate and survive against the environment.

Helldivers II is also insanely smart in it’s gameplay design and visual presentation such as in the game after completing missions which can range from Bug Extermination, Destroy Automatons Operation, Eradicating Terminid Swarms, destroy supply and ammo depots, taking down large bosses, rescuing civilians etc. The player completes these missions to earn xp cosmetics and weapons test but also completes them for one common goal liberating the galaxy with the help of the entire community liberating singular planets at a time what you do in the game affects a very small percentage of the rest of the community making for quite an interesting spin on tactical shooters mixed with strategy games. Helldivers II also has absolutely stunning visuals whether it’s the lighting environments, impressive sound design, effects, and dynamic weathers.

Helldivers II also has quite the sense of humor with it’s anti capitalist, anti American Millitary message being deeply critical of western society and the American millitary industrial complex as a whole telling you that you are not the good guys that your frankly committing genocide. It mocks the way how in this Dystopian American culture or now super earth the overuse of the military and creation of advanced tech has led to the spreading of freedom and democracy as you the helldiver are just another cog a helldiver. The game is a metaphor for the modern day American military and how it conducts itself. When fighting the terminids the bug faction, the bugs shoot out black tar like oil that can be used as a fossil fuel back on super earth a literal objective in some of the more basic missions. In some of the side objects you can take down propaganda outposts where propaganda is being blasted out to the universe when listened to the broadcasts say that the bug threat is a lie to cover up a super earth oil conspiracy saying quote “WAKE UP PEOPLE THE BUG THREAT IS A SUPER EARTH CONSTRUCT”.

The steam charts show that Helldivers II is the most popular game on steam. Helldivers II game of the year! (PcgamesN)

The other faction in the game the Automatons are basically cyborg anarchist robot descendents of cyborgs who in, in game lore left super Earth being tired of the corporatization of their planet leaving to form an anarchist feudal society after that not much is known what happened or how but the Automaton a faction of militaristic robots attempt to kill you in your quest for managed democracy. Helldivers II has a lot to say but so too does the community as well the player base is known for making many memes and skits across youtube, tiktok, twitch, instagram etc wherever you look on any form of social media over the past months you’ve probably seen penguins or Walter White helldivers memes somewhere.

You the Helldiver are an elite super soldier who is deployed on dangerous missions across the galaxy loyal and patriotic working in teams of four to spread managed democracy living on Super Earth a dramatized version of earth at the center of it all “The Federation” an organization that controls Super Earth and the rest of the Galaxy spreads managed democracy. Super Earth is an Imperialist Racist society where all citizens are trained to serve in the military for some time. The goal of Super Earth is to colonize all planets and exploit other races for their needs by any means necessary. You are a small part in furthering this goal.

The Terminids are a race of insectoid bugs that inhabit many planets. They are hostile and attack anything on sight including you. Their goal is to reproduce, protect their own and eat. Super Earth wages war because these communist bugs have E-710 space oil which powers Earth sorry Super Earth’s technology and economy. They are meant to be killed and harvested but not to the point of extinction where’s the fun in that? Automatons are a race of robots formerly cyborgs now fully robotic once allied with Super Earth, giving super earth their technology and weaponry Super Earth Betrayed them enslaving them. The Automatons created a resistance movement wanting to live free in peace with nature. They are now considered traitors and enemies to the state. One question still remains: what’s the future of Helldivers II?

The future of helldivers seems certainly bright with the development of the game being ongoing as it seems the devs have big things in the works behind the scenes. The devs have promised continued support for years to come with no micro transactions or any triple A ick. Promising free content updates, bug fixes, and balance changes. The devs have talked about adding Mech suits, new weapons, and gear along with new biomes, enemy factions and story beats.
Whatever the future holds it certainly looks extremely bright for Helldivers II so please stay tuned!

POV: Helldivers II servers when you just got home from school and wanna kill robot scum on Malevelon. This picture shows comedian Eric Andre at the DNC (Unknown: Imgflipp)
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About the Contributor
Che Marroquin
Che Marroquin, Staff Writer
Che’ Marroquin is a Sophomore who wrestles for Santa Rosa Academy He has been attending Santa Rosa Academy for 11 years. His wrestling weight class is currently undecided but he has wrestled at 182, 195 and 215 before. Outside of school, Che’ enjoys Dungeons and Dragons, computer games, 3-D modeling, and playing guitar. Che’ is an outstanding student with a 3.5 grade point average. In his time, away from school and sports, Che’ enjoys listening to music, spending time with his family and playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends on the weekends. 
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