Helldivers 2 boss finds Starship Troopers renaissance 'humbling,' says the game is that 'without the plot armour', and nothing captures that better than your frantic near-death videos

Helldivers 2 Boosters - A squad of divers
(Image credit: Arrowhead Game Studios)

If you're anything like me, the overwhelming popularity of Helldivers 2 has made you hungry for a rewatch of Starship Troopers: Paul Verhoeven's satirical, anti-fascist Leni Riefenstahl send-up about pearly-toothed space marines and their doomed war against an army of bugs.

And look, I know a lot of you are like me in that regard, because discussions of Starship Troopers in my various social media feeds have escalated by approximately 3000% since Helldivers 2 came out, with all sorts of people getting in on a rewatch, and I'm not the only one that's noticed. Arrowhead CEO Johan Pilestedt has also seen the uptick in gifs of Johnny Rico actor Casper Van Dien on the back of Helldivers' popularity, and he's thrilled.

"It's humbling, right?" said Pilestedt to PC Gamer in a recent interview, "if you look at the history of Arrowhead as a studio, we're all about our pop culture," a trait that's been present in Arrowhead games since the beginning: "We've grown up with the same kind of interests in books, movies, games, so there's a lot of easy parallels that we can draw on". "Magicka had a tonne of these references," said the CEO, "and of course, [Helldivers 2] does as well, Starship Troopers being the most obvious one.

In fact, Helldivers' popularity has sparked a bit of a Starship Troopers renaissance, with discourse about the film flowing fast and free on social media. Pilestedt even had a brief chat with Van Dien on Twitter last month, with the actor (jokingly) proposing the tantalising idea of a "crossover movie."

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No wonder the film stayed dear to Arrowhead's heart through development. "There is always this kind of desire and love from us as a studio to be able to put the player into the shoes of those kind of significant pop-culture moments." Crucially, though, Arrowhead wants to let you "experience that without the plot armour." Unlucky, soldier, Helldivers doesn't want you to survive like Johnny Rico and Carmen Ibanez did, you're instead fighting from the perspective of that poor schmuck who was spectacularly beheaded when the bugs attacked Outpost Whiskey.

Logically, then, it's not necessarily the clips of Helldivers' success that makes Arrowhead feel like it did what it set out to do. "There was this one clip of this guy shooting a brood commander," waxed Pilestedt, "and it just wouldn't die. And eventually he whips out this pistol lying down on [his] back, and it just dies over him." It's that kind of desperate, doomed scrabble for survival that gives the devs a warm glow: "It's like, that's a movie," said Pilestedt, "[a] picture-perfect movie." 

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.

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