Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Helldivers

Go To

"Join the fight, spread democracy!"

Helldivers is a top down shooter game developed by Arrowhead Game Studios, the creators of Magicka. In Helldivers, the players need to learn to coordinate their actions during chaotic combat game play, to succeed in combat and to avoid friendly fire casualties.

The dystopian universe of Helldivers has mankind ruled by a managed democracy where the outcome of elections are more predictable. The improved democracy has become more than a way of electing a government, it has become a creed which the brainwashed inhabitants fight for - without fully acknowledging what it means. The capital of this new society, Super Earth, is beset on all sides by three hostile enemy races that, according to the government, need to be exterminated if humanities "peaceful" democracy could ever hope to prosper.

The Helldivers, a galactic combat unit, must fight three different enemy species to ensure the survival of Super Earth. The gameplay takes place on one of several procedurally-generated open missions where players must accomplish a series of objectives. Before missions the players select from a wide variety of weapons, perks and stratagems to accomplish their objectives. The game's most unique feature is, much like Magicka, the fact that friendly fire cannot be turned off, meaning it's incredibly easy to die by your own teammates hands if you fail to cooperate with them. The game also has a macrogame known as the "War Front", where all players cooperate to assist with the eradication of the three alien species, in doing so obtaining powerful bonuses and rewards. The game was released for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. A version for Microsoft Windows was released via Steam on December 7, 2015.

A sequel, which shifts the perspective from top-down to over-the-shoulder, was announced at Sony's "PlayStation Presents" showcase on May 26, 2023, and is set to release later in the year.

Our utopian nation at Super Earth provides samples of:

  • Achievement System: Both the Steam and Playstation versions have achievements. These include basic progression, such as completing a mission, reaching levels, as well as ones for things such as having your 4-man team in a vehicle at the same time on a Friday.
  • Ammunition Backpack: The RL-112 Recoilless Rifle and the MLS-4X 'Commando' are shoulder fired launchers that come with an ammunition backpack that is required to reload them, which takes a while... unless the backpack is carried by somebody else than the shooter, who can reload the weapon much faster than the user would.
    • Honorable mention to the Resupply Pack, which is a backpack holding ammunition for use by the wearer's teammates.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: When your Helldiver reaches certain levels, they are rewarded with different outfits, including, helmets and capes. You can also earn three different specialty capes, one for each opposing race by completing a level 12 (Helldive) planet.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Should the last player alive die before they can throw their reinforcement stratagem, it will still activate and allow all of the dead players (including the one who was about to throw the beacon) to come back. Only counts if the last player has the reinforcement stratagem beacon in their hand when they die, though.
  • Ascended Meme: Penny Arcade had a comic about the extraction shuttle pilot, which they named "Frank", and his complete indifference about crushing Helldivers with his ship. In the next update, Arrowhead added an achievement "Make Frank Crush a Tank", which was earned by having the extraction shuttle land on top of a Bug tank.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: The M5 APC and its more heavily armed sibling, the M5-32 HAV.
  • Badass Cape: Every Helldiver soldier sports one; completing the Training course is how you earn the right to wear yours.
  • Bayonet Ya: One of the upgrades for the various assault rifles is a bayonet.
  • Beam Spam: the LAS-13 "Trident" is essentially a laser shotgun, shooting multiple beams in an arc. Its upgrade lets it fire even more beams. Having more than one squad member with this weapon can easily lead to a screen covered in beams.
  • Blackand Grey Morality: Sure, the Illuminate may be peaceful, at worst leaning towards "survival of the smartest" if their enemy bio is true, but the Cyborgs genuinely seem to think nothing of getting their members to rip off loads of their flesh for progressions in their ranks, and the Bugs... Well, they're the Swarm, and they clearly do spread like wildfire. Sure, Super Earth might be full of brainwashed masses, but it's a hell of a lot better than most of the other alternatives.
  • Boring, but Practical: The game gives you more than a dozen perks to customize your character with. The most practical, given how helpful it is in avoiding friendly fire incidents, is the Laser Sight you start out with.
    • On the enemy side, At difficulties 13+, enemy scouts become much harder to take out. The bugs get an evolved Stalker, with the ability to regenerate health, cloak themselves and raise the alarm. The Illuminates get Obsidian Observers, which can reverse your controls upon revealing themselves and also have the ability to cloak themselves. Meanwhile, the cyborgs equip their scouts with... a simple metal shield. This simple shield makes the cyborg elite scouts MUCH harder to kill than the other two elite scouts due to requiring anti tank weapons or flanking.
  • Big Brother Is Employing You: The Helldivers are working for a government that brainwashes their citizens to have them fight for a cause they do not fully acknowledge.
  • Boss Remix: The three masters have distinct remixes of their faction's combat music, being even more intensive. A slightly slowed theme with increased percussion instruments marks the presence of a master.
  • Bug War: One of the main enemy factions consists of hostile bugs that are to be subdued in any way necessary, according to the government. Turns out they're a good source of oil, though...
  • Catchphrase: The Helldivers cycle through a fair few set phrases:
    • "Taste Democracy!"
    • "For Super Earth"
    • "How about a nice cup of LIBER-TEA!"
    • "Freedom Delivery!"
  • Close-Range Combatant: Most of the enemies you face, actually. The Bugs are particularly prominent, with their only ranged unit using long, burrowing tentacles to attack you, but the other races aren't much better - most of the Illuminates' combat forces are armed with energy staves, energy blades or short-ranged lightning tasers, while the Cyborgs prominently arm their forces with wicked blades alongside slow-firing firearms.
  • Cool Chair: Illuminate Illusionists sit on a floating chair that comes with an integrated shield. Council Members get an even more grandiose chair, which looks more like a throne.
  • Competitive Balance: All three races evoke familiarity with anyone who has played StarCraft, but they also have shades from other media:
    • The Cyborgs are similar to the Terrans (alongside the Players themselves) but also share a lot of similarities with the Orks from Warhammer 40,000.
    • The Illuminate are VERY similar to the Eldar and Protoss, despite being squids, apparently.
    • The bugs are very much like the Arachnids from Starship Troopers, as well as the Zerg and Tyranids.
  • Degraded Boss: Mid level missions (usually 5-9) have an assassinate mission, where your goal is to kill that faction's top level enemy. Top level missions (13, 14 and especially 15) has said enemies basically replace most of the regular spawns.
  • Dirty Commies: The Cyborgs of Cyberstan are all communist. The Helldivers' goal is to teach them about managed democracy, by overwhelming force if needed.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: A human terrorist sets off a bomb that kills eight civilians and claims it's on behalf of the Cyborgs. Super-Earth immediately declares war and mobilizes its entire military into subduing the Cyborg civilization.
  • Drop Pod: Used to drop ammo supplies, turrets, and exo suits, along with the soldiers. In-universe, they're called Hellpods.
  • Dystopia: It becomes clear that the government has been brainwashing the citizens of Super Earth in order to fight for their own benefits.
  • Eagle Land: Flavor 3 wearing the mask of Flavor 1. The troops are sent to "spread democracy" by slaughtering the denizens of other planets with hot lead, launching missiles, and deploying oil wells one after another, all in the name of freedom. That being said, their society seems largely peaceful and prosperous despite the constant war, and they are arguably the lesser evil relative to the factions they're fighting against. Also see Satire.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: When a war is lost, a cutscene plays of the Helldiver fleet pulling away as Super-Earth explodes.
  • The Empire: What Super Earth is; however, it wants you to think that it's The Republic.
  • Escort Mission: Three of the possible objectives:
    • Escorting a group of four survivors to a facility on the map (the objective is complete even if only one of them arrives). A player walks up to the them, and from them on the survivors will follow that player until they reach the objective, the players tell them to stop or they're all dead. The scrappiness of those missions is noted by the achievement unlocked for escorting the four survivors to the facility, named "Who likes escort missions anyway?"
    • Protecting a train on a rail. The train will move forward as long as neither an enemy or a player touches it.
    • Returning an object to the objective point. A player has to grab it and sees themselves incapable of running or using two-handed weapons (almost all of them).
  • Evil vs. Evil: Just because Super Earth is The Empire does not mean their opponents are any better; lose the Galactic Campaign, and the victorious faction will destroy the planet out of spite.
  • Failed a Spot Check: When prone, Helldivers are much harder to notice by enemy scouts, requiring them to almost be touching the helldivers to notice them.
  • False Utopia: The government brainwashes the citizens of Super Earth by using "managed democracy'' where the results of the elections are more predictable; citizens answer a series of questions at voting booths and the automated system picks the candidate/etc. that best reflects the citizen's answers. This has led to the government remaining in more-or-less full control while the citizens believe they are fighting for the freedom and safety of their nation.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Averted, friendly fire is always on and there is no way to disable the feature. This requires the players to carefully plan their actions during the games many chaotic combat sequences. Of special note is the fact that you can get squished by your reinforcements' Drop Pods, and your extraction.
    • This goes both ways, as enemies can damage each other with their attacks. Illuminate snipers think nothing of shooting their kin in the back.
  • Glass Cannon: Helldivers themselves can dish out alot of firepower, both from their weapons and stratagem calldowns, but cannot take much damage in turn.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: The Obelisk is a standout in the Illuminate forces for being the only enemy possessing enough armor to block bullets when encased in its shell. This armor is strong enough to block even the RL-112 Recoilless Rifle's shots.
  • Immune to Bullets: Armored enemies cannot be hurt with normal firearms (shown as a faint blue impact flash), and require anti-tank weaponry.
  • Instakill Mook: Several of the enemies in each faction are capable of one hit killing Helldivers. In particular...
    • The Cyborg IFV's turret can gib Helldivers with a direct hit.
    • The Illuminate Obelisk will instantly cleave any Helldiver caught in its wall when it fully materialzes.
    • The Bug Tanks/Behemoths charge will crush any Helldiver in its way.
  • Interface Screw: Some illuminates can inflict this to you, inverting the controls for a short time. This includes strategem input.
  • It's Raining Men: The Helldivers' M.O.
  • Kill It with Fire: The firebomb stratagem, the flamethrower, and one of the DLC exoskeletons. Fully upgrading the double-barreled shotgun also gives it incendiary ammunition. Cyborg Immolators happily use this against you - go prone to extinguish the flames.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: Illuminate Council Members have a reddish-brown skin tone, compared to the rest of their kin's purple skin tone. They also get an even cooler chair than the Illusionists.
  • Loading Screen: In-Game justification type. When loading a mission, the Hellpods are shown leaving the ship, and the loading time is presumably the time it takes to make planetfall. note 
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Cyborg Hulks have a massive slab of armor for a left arm, which can harmlessly deflect even anti-tank weapons. Thankfully, they can't shoot or move while holding the shield over their (relatively) unarmored front. Legionnaires also get a smaller shield. While it doesn't protect them from anti-tank weapons, it does make them immune to anything short of anti-tank weapons from the front.
    • As of the "A New Hell" update, Cyborg Legionnaires. Essentially, they are the Cyborg's normal grenade launcher-wielding scout unit carrying a smaller version of the Hulk's shield. They only appear on Level 13+ planets.
  • Mini-Mecha: The EXO-44 Walker mech, along with its variants the EXO-48 Obsidian and EXO-51 Lumberer. Slower than Helldivers on foot, but more heavily armored and equipped with much heavier firepower.
  • Monster Compendium: On the bridge, you can look at the Galactic Encyclopedia which gives information about any enemy you have encountered.
  • More Dakka:
    • EVERY Helldiver weapon is incredibly damaging and most are rapid fire weapons. The game encourages "Conservation of fire" to preserve your VERY limited ammunition. However, most matches dissolve into panicked arcs of fire against huge swarms of enemies.
    • The vehicles on the other hand are all about unloading a lot of fire down-range - all weapons are full auto
    • The Mech and Mini-gun turret in particular are this trope personified.
    • Laser weaponry has unlimited ammunition and its rate of fire is constant. However, if you overheat it, you pull out the overloaded heatsink and slap in a fresh one.
  • Necessary Drawback: Just about everything.
    • Laser weapons have functionally unlimited ammo as long as you don't overload the heat sink (once you do, you have to replace it, it won't cool down on its own anymore). But lasers are not as powerful as ballistic weapons: the constant output of lasers is balanced by the fact that they take longer to kill their targets.
    • The various vehicles are all extremely powerful, but have limited ammo that you cannot reload; the EXO-44 Walker has a machine gun that's as powerful as the man-portable version you get at the start of the game and an 8-missile pod that is not anti-armor and runs dry very quickly, for example. You're also limited in the amount of times that you can call them in per mission, unlike other supply drops. And they can and will hurt other players just by touching them.
    • The Anti-Armor weapons can take out heavily armored enemies in a single shot, but only have a single shot before they need to be reloaded. And reloading them takes either an inordinate amount of time (for a single user) or requires another person to work with you (which takes up their backpack slot and makes your powerful gun useless if they die).
    • Turrets can provide excellent cover and don't require any input from you to do their dirty work. They also have infinite ammunition. They also don't care if you happen to be standing between them and their target and will gleefully gun you down if necessary.
    • Deployable air support, such as strafing runs and bombing runs, inflict excellent damage on enemy troops. They also require you to call in the support (during which you are vulnerable), throw the support beacon (during which you are vulnerable), and take a few seconds to arrive (during which the enemy can and likely will move). And of course, if you don't throw it far enough, you'll quickly find that they do a lot of damage to ''you'' as well.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Averted by the extraction pilot. If a team member is dead and the rest of the squad is on board, it takes off. Can be played straight by the players, who may wait outside the extraction vehicle and call reinforcements (revive) of a downed member, hoping to get the highest score (and therefore more XP) from a level. However, if at least one squad member is on board and the timer runs out, the mission ends, leaving behind anyone outside the extraction.
  • One Bullet Clips: Entirely averted - not only are the remaining bullets in a magazine discarded when you reload, they are discarded at the very start of the reload, so if you interrupt it before finishing (by, say, dodging, meleeing, or bringing up the map), your gun will be empty.
  • One-Man Army: Any solo Helldiver can still expect to easily rack up dozens of kills, possibly even hundreds, during the course of a high-threat mission.
    • Hold the Line missions require you to kill X number of enemies in an enclosed area, and the number is rarely less than 100.
  • Optional Stealth: Killing enemy scouts before they raise the alarm means only having to worry about patrols instead of having to defeat swarms of enemies while completing objectives, but completing them with the alarm raised is still possible and doesn't affect the experience gained.
  • Our Elves Are Different: The Illuminate are a clear expy of the Protoss - or the Eldar.
  • Procedural Generation: The universe, planets, and mission environments.
  • Propaganda Machine: The Super Earth government spreads an image of false democracy and freedom, claims the alien species are a threat to humanity that must be eliminated in order to have their citizens join their forces and fight for them.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: Being a male or female Helldiver has no effects on the gameplay.
  • Satire: The game pokes fun at the attitude of starting wars for the sake of freedom and spreading democracy.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Played straight for three of the four available shotguns (even the laser one) but averted with the SG-8 which has a range and spread that makes it a viable weapon to use at mid-long range.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The entire game is one for Starship Troopers (The Paul Verhoven Movie). Several Trophies and Codex entries are almost direct quotes from the film ("Next time I see you, I'll have to salute you"; Aim for the center mass, etc).
    • The Helldivers are remarkably similar to ODSTs, even their name (In Halo, ODSTs are often referred to as Hell JUMPERS)
    • Warhammer 40,000:
      • The Helldivers could be considered a mid-point between the Imperial Guard and the Space Marines - their armor even looks a lot like that of the Kasrkin.
      • The Mech looks like a Space Marine Dreadnaught.
      • The constant Galaxy-spanning war.
      • The use of expendable troops who all look a little like the Imperial Guard.
    • The Achievements are full of these, with some referencing Warcraft's unit commentary when you click on them.
    • One of the DLC weapons is a boxy, shoulder-fired four-tube missile launcher, very similar to the one popularized by the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle Commando. It's even part of the "Commando" DLC pack.
  • Spent Shells Shower: All the weapons to a certain extent but it's especially noticeable with the Minigun Turret, Heavy MG and Exosuit weapons.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The Nux-223, Shredder missile, grenades, grenade launcher, missile launchers,...
  • Take That!: There are several named background characters who are thinly veiled Expies of real world politicians: "Senator John W. Killjoy", for example, who talks about seizing WMDs from aggressive aliens and preventing them form being "too advanced", in case they start a war against Super Earth. And to stop this, Super Earth declares war. "Cowel Pollin" also gets a mention.
  • Universal Ammunition: Sniper rifle, pistol, shotgun, rocket launcher backpack, doesn't matter. Picking up the crate you called for will refill the weapon's ammunition.
  • Unlockable Content: Weapons and Perks are unlocked as you progress in levels. Strategems become available as you complete certain missions.
  • War Is Glorious: According to the government of the dystopian Super Earth, it spreads democracy and ensure freedom, despite it probably involving starting wars with alien species.