Helldivers players saved the children, so Arrowhead Game Studios is making a donation to the Save the Children charity

helldivers 2
(Image credit: Arrowhead Game Studios)

Earlier this week, Helldivers 2 were faced with a terrible choice: A major order gave them the option of liberating the planet Marfark, which would grant access to a new strategem, or heading for Vernen Wells to save thousands of survivors trapped in Super Citizen Anne's Hospital for Very Sick Children—with no discernible reward. Despite the promise of new ways to blow things up, massive armies of Helldivers drove on Vernen Wells, forgoing more 'splosions in favor of saving the kids—and I think it's fair to say it was the right call.

"Since the Helldivers2 community chose to save the children, @arrowheadgs does the same," Arrowhead COO Johan Pilestedt tweeted. "We have made a donation to, well, Save the Children. Great job Divers!"

(Image credit: Johan Pilestedt)

Founded in 1919, Save the Children is an international charity organization that raises money to improve the lives of children around the world through health care programs, educational opportunities, and crisis aid in war zones. The amount of the donation represents the number of children saved in the Vernen Well operation.

It turns out that Pilestedt pulled the trigger a little early: In a followup tweet he said that Vernen Wells was actually sitting at 99%+ liberated, just barely short of the finish line. "I want to apologize to the team for my blunder," he said. "Especially the marketing, community and game master teams that dreamt this up. Sorry friends, I'll do better."

But an hour later, the job was done: Vernen Wells is at peace, and the children are saved!

As noted by GamesRadar, there was a major propaganda push in the Helldivers subreddit urging players to go hard on Vernen Wells after the major order was issued. For some it was a narrative imperative: Helldivers are heroes, so it goes, and Helldivers players are nothing if not committed to the bit.

(Image credit: JuanTienda (Reddit))

(Image credit: Knightmare_memer (Reddit))

For some, curiosity was a factor.

(Image credit: -Eqqsquizitine- (Reddit))

Other players seemed to be more into it simply as a way to embrace the chaos:

(Image credit: MasterPugKoon (Reddit))

(Image credit: Caligaster (Reddit))

Naturally, there was a little pushback based on practical considerations, which I think is a reasonable argument to make. Maybe it could've been framed a little differently, though.

(Image credit: Due_Ad4133 (Reddit))

But in the end, the kids won the day, and while Helldivers aren't going to get any shiny new boom-booms out of it, they do seem quite happy with the outcome. Multiple threads on Reddit are praising the outcome and Arrowhead for delivering a worthy reward.

"I was hoping we would get a little kid in a Helldiver's uniform on the ship after the MO just constantly praising us and showering us with passionate propaganda, but this is honestly the only thing I can think of that is in any way better," redditor Kenju22 wrote. Casual_apple134 noted with apparent wonder that "the simple, stupid fact that I put in more playtime in a chaotic-good effort to screw with AH's 3rd attempt to get us those mines, while 'saving the kids'... Is actually helping irl kids."

Of course, there are also more memes.

(Image credit: KurnaKovite (Reddit))

Some Helldivers players are following Arrowhead's example and making their own donations to Save the Children, and encouraging others to do the same. It's pretty fantastic.

The children saved expressed their gratitude to the noble Helldiver heroes of Super Earth in a message shared via the Helldivers 2 Twitter account. "Dear Helldivers, thank you so much for saving us. They told us you made a lot of sacrifices (mines/lives) to help us. We'll always be grateful. Now, we can grow up to become Helldivers too. With Liberty, the Very Sick Children of Super Citizen Anne's."

(Image credit: Arrowhead Game Studios (Twitter))

The good news for Helldivers is that the anti-tank mines they could've acquired if they'd gone for Marfark instead of Vernen Wells are still technically on the table: It'll take a hell of an effort (when I checked shortly after Pilestedt's message went up, the planet was less than 0.1% liberated with less than 24 hours remaining in the Major Order) but the Arrowhead COO said that if players can pull it off, "which they never will," they'll save the kids and get the mines.

As for what would've happened if players had gone for the mines instead of the children, Arrowhead CEO Shams Jorjani said that a donation would've been made anyway—just to someone else.

(Image credit: Shams Jorjani (Twitter))

(I'm pretty sure he's not serious.)

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.