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Helldivers 2: A Genius Satire

This game hit the shelves in February, and in that time it has grown to be the third most popular game ever. But is it popular because of its amazing gameplay, or is there something deeper hidden in this gem?
Sony Interactive Entertainment/TNS
Players have to know where their teammates are and make sure they’re not hitting each other in the crossfire in “Helldivers 2.”

Helldivers 2 is a game about perseverance against the most downright impossible, silly and sometimes horrifying odds imaginable. Playing as a nameless and faceless Helldiver, an elite soldier sent to fight in the galactic war in the name of Humanity unified under the Managed Democracy of Super Earth. Dropping onto a planet with one goal in mind, completing the objective and spreading as much democracy as possible. Once the objective is completed, no matter what happens, the mission is successful, even if no one comes home.

The game records every win and loss, and depending on the number of wins on any given planet that planet, will be liberated from the enemy faction. Creating the effect of a real war that players have the power to influence collectively. It proved to be extremely successful, reaching the third most popular game on Steam (an online game store company) a day before it was released.

But behind this great gameplay and outstanding design, there is a much more serious message. Helldivers 2 is a satire about the dangers of extreme nationalism and corrupt governmental systems. Managed Democracy is a fictional form of government in which the citizens of the system vote by taking a quiz. The quiz is supposed to assign a vote for the voter, giving it to the candidate that most matches the voter’s political ideals, creating a system where human error is removed from democracy. But it is abundantly clear from the moment that the game begins that this system has completely collapsed. Instead of assigning the vote to the candidate, the voter wanted. The vote is instead assigned to the highest bidder.

“Helldivers 2” offers fun and deep co-op gameplay with a different perspective from the original. (Sony Interactive Entertainment/TNS)

Whoever has the most money in this system is the winner. Propaganda is rampant, the populace is undereducated, and the whole economy relies solely on the fact that there is an ongoing intergalactic war.


And the Helldivers are the perfect embodiment of the worst of this system. They fight for liberty and freedom when, in fact, they never had it to begin with. The Helldivers are so brainwashed that when they are fighting against hordes of enemies, they don’t think of their family, friends, or even children. They think only of the flawed and corrupt system that sent them here to die, regarding it as the most beautiful thing to ever exist in this galaxy.

Even the enemy factions are Super Earth’s making, the automatons are humanoid robots that have human minds. They are used as an uber-cheap labor force on inhospitable planets to power most industries throughout Super Earth space. But when the automatons started organizing and creating communities, Super Earth naturally put them out of commission. They fight not to destroy Super Earth but for the right to exist.

In the same fashion, the Terminids were the first alien species that Super Earth made contact with. Terminids are actually two species that share a symbiotic relationship, one of which is a type of fungus that grows Terminid eggs as a byproduct. And the actual Terminids, insect-like in nature, are organized in a hive-mind system that allows them to live in harmony. But at some point, Super Earth realized that Terminid bodies decompose into a hyper-efficient energy source known as Element 710. Once Super Earth knew this, they created farms for the E-710 and killed millions of Terminids. The after-effects rage on today. These farms are often destroyed by the Terminids who then escape into the surrounding environment.

All and all the whole game is obviously designed to be a satire, emulating the Starship Troopers film by Paul Verhoeven. Walking the line between serious warning and goofy fun in the same way as the film. The Helldivers universe is a bleak representation of what unchecked governmental systems and a compliant nationalist population will do for profit and power, and god is it fun!

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About the Contributor
Walker Ledbetter
Walker Ledbetter, Journalist
Walker is a freshman in his first semester in journalism and he's ready for the challenge. When he's not on the move he can't sit still, whether it's biking to school or running to class, he's always got somewhere to be. When he slows down, he plays with strange objects, pets dogs and wrangles his five siblings. Some of his passions include talking when it's not his turn, being way too silly and Norwegian sweaters.

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