Helldivers 2 devs are working on bug fixes, but 'Arrowhead still has a very small team' after its surprise success, and 'there's just only so much time in a work week'

helldivers 2 balancing
(Image credit: Arrowhead Game Studios)

Helldivers 2 is one of the most impressive multiplayer games in recent memory—enjoying such a runaway success that you could barely play it for the first handful of weeks, due to chronically overloaded servers. It's also, unfortunately, a little buggy right now—and I'm not talkin' Terminids.

As highlighted by recent patch notes, damage-over-time effects aren't applied under certain conditions—and certain scopes, like that of the Anti-Materiel Rifle, have been busted for even longer. Sickles can't shoot through foliage, the Spear misses more than I whiff headshots on Automaton hulks. It's a little rough out there. Even before some of these bugs, crashes were about as common as Super Earth flags on any appropriately patriotic suburb.

Arrowhead Games has been trying to keep pace, but one gets the feeling they're losing in a war of whack-a-mole right now. In a message to the game's Discord server, community manager Spitz painted a picture of the studio's current problems:

"Most of the bugs in the known issues list in ⁠⁠[the patch notes] are actively being worked on, but they're either large fixes that require a bit of time or low-priority issues behind other things, and most should be patched in the next major build. It's difficult to maintain our cadence of one Warbond per month while also fixing major technical glitches in time for the next patch."

(Image credit: Spitz on the Helldivers 2 Discord.)

This goes against conventional gamer, not-a-developer wisdom. One that argues development teams are made out of highly specialised devs working in silos—or, in other words, that Helldivers 2's blistering patch cadence isn't taking away time from troubleshooting. While there are a few grains of truth to this (especially for larger teams) it's not at all uncommon for devs to wear multiple hats. As Spitz later explains in a response to a thread on the game's subreddit:

"This is patently untrue," Spitz replies to a comment arguing that bug fixes should take priority over everything else. "Arrowhead still has a very small team compared to the success of the game, and while we have dedicated QA, the people fixing bugs with weapons and armour for example are the same people in charge of making new weapons and armour.

"It's important to us to maintain the cadence that we promised—one warbond per month—but equally important to everyone to fix the glaring bugs and technical issues. There's just only so much time in a work week."

It's hard to say that glitches shouldn't be the number one priority target for a dev team, but Spitz isn't exactly wrong when they say that content cadence is important, too. Part of the reason Helldivers 2 has continued to do so well is due to how it's actually delivering on the live service promise of a breathing, constantly updated world with its ever-shifting Galactic War campaign. 

It's also backed up by… well, the community itself. In a recent player poll conducted on the Discord, bug fixes only came second (28% in a four-option poll, 30,750+ votes) as a desired priority for players at the time of writing, with "Different objectives, modifiers, biomes, and planets" polling highest at 37% with 40,680+ votes. 

As much as I can agree that weapon glitches are annoying, I still figure that if Arrowhead dropped everything to fix those for a month that the game would suffer because of it. I think players enjoy the fantasy of a bug-free game far more than they'd enjoy the reality of the complete content deadzone that kind of commitment would take.

It's also not a case of "just hire more devs". As anyone who has worked any understaffed job anywhere can tell you, onboarding new hires takes time away from people already working at the company—which creates a bigger bottleneck of work. I'd bet good money Arrowhead is already doing as much as it reasonably can, and I'm still having fun with the game, warts and all.

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.