Don't be fooled by a fake Joel: Helldivers 2's game master probably didn't drop an unreleased vehicle into a random player's game, but someone did

helldivers 2 balancing
(Image credit: Arrowhead Game Studios)

The Helldivers 2 community took the latest in a series of surprised gasps this weekend when a video emerged purporting to show Arrowhead game master Joel joining a random player's game, dropping an unreleased vehicle onto the battlefield, and then leaving so he can "get back to work."

After Joel's departure, the remaining players are able to hop into the vehicle and drive around. The clip, shared by a fan account on Twitter that reposts other people's Helldivers 2 content, has racked up over a million eyeballs in 24 hours.

While it'd be on-brand for Arrowhead to reveal a major new feature by making something randomly appear for players, unfortunately, that's probably not what's happening here. Judging by what we already know about vehicles in Helldivers 2, and what little we know about Arrowhead's mysterious dungeon master, it's much more likely that we're dealing with a Joel impersonator who should be reported to the Ministry of Truth.

The fact is that the "Joel" in the viral clip could be anybody. A quick Steam search reveals several accounts currently (or previously) named "[AH] Joel" who've also played Helldivers 2 recently. Any of these Joel imposters could be among the group of players that's been spawning unreleased vehicles into unsuspecting Helldivers 2 lobbies for nearly a month. It's believed that they're gaining access to the APC seen in the video, as well as a faster buggy vehicle and a few unreleased weapons, through cheat software. The same thing happened with mechs weeks before they were officially released.

So what seems more likely: that Joel himself dropped in to personally deliver the first official Helldivers 2 APC, or that someone with cheats installed was having a bit of fun?

We can't categorically rule out that Arrowhead's shadowy string-puller isn't at work here or won't pull a similar stunt in the future, but it's telling that the official Helldivers 2 social channels, as well as talkative CEO Johan Pilestedt, have been radio silent on vehicles since the first leaks emerged—a contrast to the "flying bugs" conspiracy and blue laser investigation still unfolding.

We can also probably take a lesson from how the release of mechs played out. Arrowhead distanced itself from the leaks right up until it was ready to reveal them on its own terms with the Tien Kwan liberation event.

The good news is the vehicle in the video seems very much real. We've gotten a look at this APC in its unfinished state several times now and it seems like it'll be a powerful mobility tool. It'll seat four divers with one driver and at least two gunner positions—the model shown off in the video is outfitted with Stalwart machineguns. Interestingly, the driver has to manually shift between two forward gears as well as reverse, neutral, and park. Vehicles also have limited gas.

The APC in this newer video actually looks farther along than leaks from a month ago—the gearshift UI is cleaner, though the van is still missing sound. With how fast things have been moving with Helldivers 2 in its first month, the wait for official vehicles might be shorter than you think.

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.