Helldivers 2 Is Putting On A Clinic When It Comes To Games As A Service

Helldivers 2 Is Putting On A Clinic When It Comes To Games As A Service

Helldivers 2‘s next battle pass is just around the corner. Arrowhead Studios announced that the Polar Patriots Warbond, featuring new weapons and Arctic-themed armor, will drop on May 9. It’s the third battle pass the co-op shooter has received in as many months, and the latest example of how the PlayStation/ Steam hit has nailed its post-launch rollercoaster ride.

The Polar Patriots Warbond includes three new guns, three new armour sets, a new pistol and incendiary grenade, three more cape styles, three additional emotes, and a utility booster that prevents players from getting interrupted by enemy status ailment. A trailer for the gear shows it performing across the snow-covered paths and icy cliffs of what looks like the Automaton planet Vandallon IV. I’m most pumped for PLAS-101 Purifier, which can seemingly one-shot Scout Striders from the front.

Gif: Arrowhead Studios / Kotaku

If you haven’t been spreading liberty day-in and day-out since Helldivers 2 launched on February 8, it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed by just how much has happened in the three months since. When it comes to the paid battle passes alone, Arrowhead Studios has been dropping a new one every month. While Helldivers 2 shipped with the Helldivers Mobilize and Steeled Veterans Warbonds, it added the cyber-themed Cutting Edge one in March and the explosion-inspired Democratic Detonation Warbond in April, each composed of three pages of new rewards to unlock.

Though they’re 1,000 Super Credits to buy, dedicated players have made quick work of earning them by scavenging planets for some bundles of free credits. I’ve put dozens of hours into Helldivers 2 and platinumed the game on PlayStation 5, but I’m still not close to unlocking all of the additional gear and cosmetics added to the game this way. And unlike most other live service multiplayer games, Arrowhead took a chapter out of Halo Infinite’s book and made each Warbond permanent so players don’t have to worry about FOMO if they take a break to play something else (like say one of the other massive RPGs that released in the first half of 2024).

 

The battle pass rollout would be slick enough on its own, but it crucially comes alongside weekly updates to Helldivers 2‘s player-fueled Galactic War. These could have just been lists of changes each week. Instead, Arrowhead has woven them into the fabric of the game’s storytelling, with immersive twists and turns as players accomplish new objectives, suffer major defeats, or spot new threats out on patrol before they’ve been officially announced. These “leaks” along with Dungeon Master “Joel” seemingly spinning dials for difficulty and progress like a live service DJ has kept Helldivers 2 feeling remarkably fresh even as the initial record-breaking frenzy on Steam has died down a bit.

Most live service games only get one chance to impress new players and get them hooked. For every Final Fantasy XIV and No Man’s Sky-type turnaround, there’s half a dozen games like Anthem that crash and burn without ever getting a second shot. Even when a game isn’t busted a launch, like Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, the number of ongoing updates and new content drops needed to keep it alive can leave studios constantly racing to catchup. The stakes of that required commitment was at least part of why Naughty Dog seemingly bailed on The Last of Us Online.

Arrowhead seems to have been ready for that with Helldivers 2, hitting the ground running even amid dealing with overloaded servers and some annoying bugs on PS5 and PC. “Our old roadmap is very out of date in comparison to what we now want to do,” Arrowhead CEO Johan Pilestedt tweeted in February as the game blew up beyond the studio’s wildest expectations. The team has purposefully not disclosed its full year-one plans for the game, so who knows if it will continue evolving at breakneck speed. The developers have to sleep at some point though, right?


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