The Helldivers smash their latest MO and for some reason have taken against anti-tank mines, but 'can finally go back to killing bugs in good conscience'

Helldivers 2 Discord header image - four Helldivers celebrating side by side on a large rock
(Image credit: Arrowhead Game Studios)

Helldivers 2 may have slowed the pace of updates after a breakneck launch period, but that hasn't meant a pause in the ongoing galactic war and the major orders that herd these overarmed cats around their target planets. The latest focused on liberating X-45, apparently home to a mysterious "interplanetary battle station", with over half the player base at any given time pouring in there to give the Automatons a bullet buffet—and we did it.

I'm not claiming that my own heroics tipped the balance, though like everyone else I'll happily take the loot. But this has turned out to be a slightly odd one inasmuch as the main reward is now pending. For the time being, we've got a side reward that's basically the rocket launcher from Commando, and all anyone's talking about is the reward they don't want (anti-tank mines) that we didn't get anyway. 

So the interplanetary battle station's "plans" have been saved, and "work completing this research will commence shortly." The speculation I find most plausible is that this relates to some kind of incoming clan system, which would both be a great addition (imagine being able to build up squad bonuses over time) and suggest that the intergalactic doodoo is about to hit the fan. 

The actual concrete reward for this MO, confusingly enough, manifested halfway through the mission (and it was leaked a month ago in a PlayStation marketing email).  The game's lore has it that X-45 hosted an Advanced Weapons Lab left-over from the first Galactic War, which is what went down in the original 2D Helldivers, and during this MO a cache of MLS-4X Commando missile launchers was discovered. Yes it's basically the quad rocket launcher from the Arnie classic, and yes it explodes things good.

This weapon's an alternate to the EAT-17, aka the expendable anti-tank launcher, which does tremendous patriotic damage but only gives you two shots. The Commando does slightly less damage but with four bites of the cherry, which to my mind makes it preferable in pretty much every situation where you're not facing a Bile Titan. Also you get to mutter "I eat Green Berets for breakfast—and right now, I'm very hungry!" every time you shoot it (Austrian accent optional).

The final and most curious point is the anti-tank mines, for which there is some context. In early June Helldivers 2 presented players with a fairly stark choice in an MO focused on the planets Marfark and Vernen Wells: liberate anti-tank mines from the former, or go in to save "Super Citizen Anne's Hospital for Very Sick Children" in the latter. There was no in-game reward for saving the children beyond the warm fuzzies. But you guessed it—the Helldivers collectively decided 'screw the mines' and went in to save the kids. Call it what you will, but Arrowhead's CEO was so touched by this he donated over four grand to Save The Children.

The flipside is that players, emboldened by the flames of righteousness, have taken against the anti-tank mines in a big way. I suspect part of this is the existing mine stratagems, which are extremely hard to use effectively against the enemy (but do tend to blow up a lot of Helldivers). You rarely see them on missions and, when you do, they're universally unpopular.

The kids weren't even the first time: our patriotic Helldivers have passed on the anti-tank mines as a reward in multiple MOs. It's become a community meme, whereby a straightforward upgrade in firepower (in this case, an improvement on the anti-personnel mines) is now being actively opposed for the lulz, and players are therefore paranoid Arrowhead is going to somehow sneak them in by the back door. To which the answer is: yes, of course the developer is going to eventually utilise an asset that has already been made.

But not yet, and when it does, the players will roundly boo with half a smile on their faces. Which is one of the things that keeps me interested in Helldivers 2 and the unfolding story: Arrowhead is in control and Joel's conducting the orchestra, but the player base has its own thoughts and motivations. By far the most exciting moment so far was when I found out about the so-called "Martale gambit", whereby players had worked out supply routes not shown in-game and went in to destroy them—and it almost, almost worked.

Those anti-tank mines are coming either way and, when they do, expect a whole lot of good-natured moaning about it. Meanwhile we have the wait for our interplanetary battle stations, a fancy new rocket launcher, and after what feels like weeks of Automaton destruction perhaps the most important reward of all: as Helldiver nothingbutme49 puts it, "I can finally go back to killing bugs in good conscience."

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."