If Helldivers 2 isn't on your 2023 radar, this excellent gameplay trailer should correct that

One of the best co-op games you probably didn't play eight years ago is getting a sequel that's seriously upping the ante: Helldivers 2 is a third-person co-op shooter about tactically annihilating giant bugs with your best buds. It was announced in May during the last PlayStation showcase, but we got our first proper look at gameplay today in the trailer above.

Folks, it's looking real good. 

I promise my blanket excitement isn't unearned. The CGI-heavy announcement trailer looked cool, but I wondered if the transition from a top-down perspective to third-person would also mean smoothing over the original's unforgiving edges, like its brutally realistic friendly fire and resource management. Judging by the way Arrowhead Games is talking about the sequel, I don't think I have anything to worry about.

Still core to combat in Helldivers 2 is Stratagems: an airdrop system similar to MGSV's Fulton delivery service that lets you call in ammo drops, air strikes, and power weapons anytime during a mission. Stratagems are often a double-edged sword—calling down each one requires punching in a unique directional code and you can bet standing between one of those divebombing pods and the ground will instantly squish you (or more likely your unassuming friend). The notion of a "support" drop becomes especially ironic when you pancake a teammate in the act of calling down a respawn pod for another teammate.

Arrowhead made a point in the video to touch on friendly fire, which looks even less forgiving in Helldivers 2. In one brief scene the player kills a teammate with one stray bullet to the head—a much harsher punishment than I remember from the original game, where you could eat a magazine of ammo before going down, but it's a noble sacrifice in the war for Super Earth.

helldivers 2

Arrowhead didn't mention it in the trailer, but you can just make out the directional codes for different Strategems in the upper left. (Image credit: Arrowhead Games)

Maybe the increased team damage can be explained by the new perspective. Friendly fire is understandably common when locked to a 2D plane, but a fully 3D environment where everyone jetpacks across the sky should give you more space to avoid each other. Though, my nemesis in the first game was the gatling sentry (featured prominently in the trailer) that'd constantly swiss-cheese me while trying to shoot a nearby bug.

Arrowhead also says that the new third-person perspective will leave Helldivers 2's shooting more complex than even most traditional FPSes.

"The armor system that we've developed in the game is inspired by real firearms fired against armored targets," explains Arrowhead CEO Johan Pilestedt. "This means that a shot at a shallow angle will get deflected and not penetrate the intended target."

I bet you're leaving one crucial bit out there, Pilestedt. Deflected where? Into my buddy's head? I wouldn't put it past them.

Helldivers 2, published by PlayStation but releasing simultaneously on Steam, is coming later this year.

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.