Helldivers 2 is one of the funniest games in recent memory

helldivers 2
(Image credit: Arrowhead Games)

In this rapidly changing world, it's some comfort to me that ragdolling remains as funny now as it did 20 years ago. Flailing limbs are one of the two main sources of humor in Helldivers 2, which has been one of the funniest game launches in a while.

What makes the human cannonballing especially funny in Helldivers 2 is that it's often your own friends that do it to you. PC Gamer's Morgan Park was showing off his AC-8 Autocannon in my first session when he clipped a crate and knocked both of us on our asses:

View post on imgur.com"

The second, more substantial way Helldivers 2 is funny is also a collaboration between the game and its players, who've embraced its Starship Troopers-style ultranationalism (ultraplanetism?) with the the kind of zeal you'd expect from the disposable soldiers they're embodying. 

Roleplaying as a member of "The Galaxy's Last Line of Offence" produces instant comradery among players, both in any given co-op scenario and online generally, which has led to dark gags like group mushroom cloud salutes and referring to the grim Automaton missions as "robot Vietnam." It's both a Third Wave-style warning and an excellent set-up for TikTok skits.

The best so far has been sarahebaus' parody of propaganda aimed at military spouses, a checklist of tips for "wives and girlfriends of Helldivers soldiers."

@sarahebaus

♬ original sound - sarahebaus

My other favorite take on the social underpinnings of the space war comes from thewestsidewizard on TikTok, who imagines a post-war future in which elderly Helldivers refuse to move on:

@thewestsidewizard

♬ original sound - Logan Thompson

The game itself is full of jokes that've inspired all this player creativity, starting immediately with an propaganda video which depicts a Super Earth hero mourning "sweet liberty" while his family is gutted by a bug, and continuing with dozens and dozens of subtler gags.

As PC Gamer's Evan Lahti put it, "the tiny ways Helldivers 2 reinforces that you're fighting a pointless war are so funny," such as being sent to retrieve ridiculous objects like "Super Solid State Hard Drives."

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The uranium-level joke density in Helldivers 2 reminds me of classic adventure games like the Zork series, as well as the Portal games. No opportunity to crack a joke is missed. When you upgrade your orbital cannon targeting speed, it's by updating the orbital cannon targeting software to a premium version. 

One of my favorite details is that you get to name your spaceship by combining words like "Hammer" with phrases like "of Selfless Service." I went with "Fist of Individual Merit." 

Aside from contributing to its overall greatness—we gave Helldivers 2 an 86% in our review—Helldivers 2's sense of humor may be helping it ride out its early server troubles. The rough launch has saddled it with a "Mixed" rating on Steam, but players are also channeling their Super Earth comradery to get through the errors together with memes, commiserating both with each other and with the developers. 

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Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the '80s and '90s, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on early PCs. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now, and PS1 classic Bushido Blade (that's right: he had Bleem!). Tyler joined PC Gamer in 2011, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.