Preview: Helldivers ain't your friendly twin-stick shooter
Where friendly fire isn't an option you can toggle
We first saw Helldivers unveiled at E3 2014. I didn't really understand the game aside from being a twin-stick shooter with suite of social elements. We finally got a chance to check out the full version prior to its March 3rd release.
While I can't officially score the game yet, nor would I want to, since I still have yet to experience the tougher later missions, I can share some of the features I personally find interesting in a game like this.
It's co-op focused, but friendly fire is always on
Helldivers makes no excuses and drops you into an incredibly hostile world fill with a myriad of enemies that just want to chomp away at your body and tear you limb from limb. Thankfully, you can bring other Helldiver buddies along with you. This is helpful as you can form teams to tackle different objectives, or just be there to have each other's backs.
However, there is one small caveat; Friendly Fire is always on. That's right, as much as Helldivers encourages you to spray your enemies with a hail of bullet fire, you have to be mindful where you're shooting since your bullets can and will damage your teammates. Even a defensive turret which will automatically target enemies, can hurt you if you're in the way of its bullets.
It's this feature that actually makes Helldivers a lot more interesting and strategic. It's not just another twin-stick shooter where you're constantly shooting in all directions. The square button appropriately has your character dive for cover, which makes it one of the most useful buttons when playing with other people.
Your efforts contribute to a larger picture
You can take on the Bug menace, Cyborgs and Illuminates in three varying parts of the galaxy. You can choose which of the three factions you want to take on, and contribute Influence towards each one. What happens when you fill up the bar completely? You advance the galaxy map towards the enemie's homeworld. Once you get far enough, you'll be able to wipe them out completely. When that happens, I'm unsure how the game progresses after, since the influence bar changes very slowly.
Each region of the galaxy contains different planets, with each having varying difficulty, as well as different Stratagem rewards. Play on a higher difficulty and fill up the influence bar faster, but be prepared for a much tougher challenge.
Randomly generated levels keep the experience fresh
Each time you select a planet from the Galaxy Map, you'll get a brief preview of the map, as well as a list of goals. Everything you're looking at, at that point, is completely randomly generated, meaning no two drops will be exactly the same.
What's also pretty cool and rather unique, is that you can't ever simply go back to redo a mission, if for instance you didn't get a 3-star ranking on it. Once you complete a mission, that's it, it's gone. Same goes for a planet, once it's done, it will be replaced with a new one, giving you new missions and new objectives.
A giant focus on Konami codes!
Helldivers might be largely about cooperation, but it's also largely focused on button prompt inputs. Each Helldiver can call down four different drops called Stratagems, that you can set up before as loadouts. These can range from things like defense turrets, ammo resupplies, powerful weapons, UAV drones, and more.
Whenever you choose to call down a drop, you have to put in an arrow button prompt, hence me calling them Konami codes. You'll have to quickly press up, down, left, left, right, up for example to summon down a turret. This makes you stay on your toes, since you'll have to manage enemies swarming you from all sides, and pressing these inputs quickly without fail.
March 3rd is right around the corner, so you won't have to wait long to get your hands on this fast and frantic twin-stick shooter. Make sure to check back then for our official review.