Helldivers Devs Had To Balance The PC Controls So It Wasn’t Too Easy

When Helldivers was finally announced for PC, it was a pretty positive move. Not only did it mean an excellent co-op game would be getting released on multiple platforms, it also meant that Sony might be open to putting more PS4 exclusives on Steam at some point. That’s a win for gamers.

But then I started to wonder. How would the game be balanced against the increased precision of a mouse and keyboard versus the PS4 controller? Would they add more enemies? Would they deliberately restrict your aiming speed or movement? Would they mess with the controls entirely?

As it turns out, the precision of the controls was a key concern. Johan Pilestedt, CEO of Arrowhead Game Studios and the game director on Helldivers, told fans on the Steam forums that the PC build of the top-down co-operative shooter had a crosshair on-screen at all times — although this made things too easy.

“We initially had it on screen at all times with aiming making the helldiver facing it. This proved to make snapshots and accurate fire very easy, outmatching the controller,” Pilestedt posted.

Helldivers is a game that thrives on its difficulty, and understandably Arrowhead wanted to ensure that challenge was mirrored irrespective of the platform. “Our solution was to steal your crosshair, and initially we were sceptical about the way it felt, but after some playtesting it felt more natural to us.”

The director went on to say that other options for balancing a mouse and keyboard setup against a controller — such as greater spread of fire — but that would have ruined the game for many. “In this particular instance we feel that the effect is achieved, aiming is not instant and the decision to go into combat mode is deliberate. But it reduces the kinaesthetics of the title, the question is to which degree.”

The concerns come as the developers have had to deal with the prickly nature of the PC market, including a higher prevalence of cheating and a backlash against the DLC available at launch. Arrowhead explained that the latter is principally a result of making sure PC users have access to all the same content as what was released over the last 10 months since the game’s PS4 launch, and Pilestedt replied that they were “on it” when asked about the presence of cheaters.

The CEO also added that the studio are closely watching how the community reacts to the current aiming model on PC, and that more changes could be rolled out next week. It’s entirely possible that alternate, or multiple aiming systems could be patched into the game.

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