Helldivers 2's dynamism and constant evolution is incredible, and I'm utterly sick of it

Man screaming in Helldivers 2 intro cinematic
(Image credit: Arrowhead Game Studios)

Though the war has only been raging for a couple of months, Helldivers 2 developer Arrowhead has positioned itself as the master of live service games. The unrelenting crusade for managed democracy has brought with it an absurd level of dynamism, fulfilling the dream of a living, evolving game in a way that few others have come close to realising. It's what I've always wanted from the model, with its constantly shifting fronts and cavalcade of surprises being dropped onto my head. Sometimes literally. 

It's incredibly impressive and I am completely exhausted by it. 

I don't know how the studio manages it, honestly. Most live service games will dump a big update on players and then let it simmer for a while, but Helldivers 2 refuses to stand still. The pace feels impossible, and I do wonder if it can be maintained. Unexpectedly, I find myself hoping it can't be. The next big change I want from Helldivers 2 is for it to chill the hell out.

(Image credit: Arrowhead Game Studios)

Arrowhead has been commended for removing FOMO from the equation by making its premium currency accessible by just playing the game, and by not removing any Warbond battle passes when new ones arrive. Even if you take a few weeks off, you can come back and still keep working through the previous Warbond. It's great. But personal progression is only one part of Helldivers 2—galactic progression feels equally important, and for me at least generates a substantial amount of FOMO.

I just don't have the stamina to keep up with the pace of the war. It often feels like I can't get through a single day without Arrowhead making a new announcement about the state of the conflict, or for players to uncover something sinister on the horizon. New bugs have appeared! There are mechs now! Weird ships are appearing in the skies! One minute we're losing to the Automaton faction, and the next we've defeated them. Massive, apparently very important operations are born and die by the time I've put my helmet on. 

Literally as I was writing the paragraph above, Arrowhead announced that the bots weren't actually defeated and there's now a "massive fleet" starting an assault on Cyberstan. I can't even write a bloody paragraph without some big change or revelation appearing. 

War and peace

(Image credit: Arrowhead Game Studios)

At first the pace was thrilling. There was always something exciting happening, some new objective that we all had to focus on in the name of liberty and managed democracy. But then it started to feel like I was experiencing Helldivers 2 more through our articles reporting on the war than through the game itself. By the time I was actually able to sit down and play, all that exciting stuff had ended. Sure, it's always replaced with something new, but it means I never get my bearings or feel like I'm really part of the war. I'm mostly on the sidelines trying to catch up. 

The information overload is also giving me a headache. As an avid player of Paradox grand strategy games, I'm very familiar with the mechanic of war exhaustion, and now I get to experience what all my tired little citizens have to put up with first-hand. Now when I read another story about how the galactic war is coming along, I find myself grinding my teeth. I'm being buried under the weight of all these missives detailing new enemies, new metas, new worlds demanding that I spill my blood. 

I thought I had a lot of endurance when it came to live service games. I've played World of Warcraft for 20 years, and at the moment I'm dipping in and out of multiple MMOs, as well as Path of Exile's new league. I can juggle all of these things and not feel overwhelmed, but Helldivers 2 on its own just makes me want to crawl into bed and hibernate. 

(Image credit: Arrowhead Studios)

The difference is that these other games give their changes and big updates time to breathe. I'm only realising now that I never appreciated that fact enough. When WoW drops a big expansion, I know that I'm going to have months to explore it before I need to deal with new factions, rep grinds and balance changes. There's time to settle in and just enjoy myself. I don't feel compelled to rush through everything. 

When I'm actually playing Helldivers 2, it's still a delight: blasting bugs, jump-packing over chargers, hoping a kind soul will let me play with their mech. But I find it hard to motivate myself to log back in all the same. Because it feels like work. I'd like to get involved in this assault on Cyberstan, for instance, but I'm not sure I'll have much time for it this week. It'll probably be over when I actually want to play. So the alternative is forcing myself to dive in, even though I have other priorities nipping at my heels. That sense of obligation is what's murdering the joy for me. 

I don't want Helldivers 2 to stop evolving. And I don't think it needs to adhere to a strict update cadence like WoW or Destiny 2. They can get a bit dull and prescriptive. I just want it to slow down a little bit. Let the warfronts simmer for a while. And I think that probably will happen eventually. Arrowhead is riding this high at the moment, where Helldivers 2 is a phenomenon everyone is obsessed with—to the point where I'm having conversations about it with fellow dog walkers when I take my pooch to the park. The pace has gotta abate eventually, and I'm looking forward to it. 

Fraser Brown
Online Editor

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.