Helldivers 2’s Latest Major Order Suggests Player Choices May Not Really Matter

Helldivers 2’s Latest Major Order Suggests Player Choices May Not Really Matter

Helldivers 2’s major orders are supposed to be objectives that unite the community to work toward a common goal, one that often paves the way for momentous beats in its ongoing galactic war. Past major orders have led to incredible player-led stories like the liberation of Malevelon Creek and the securing of mechs on Tien Kwan. They’ve also led to some gut punches, like the return of the Automatons after players were led to believe they had expunged them from the galaxy. The point is that following through on these major orders tends to have consequences that can be either good or bad, and it’s been great to watch Hellidivers 2 players have to roll with the punches. That all makes the latest major order a little deflating, then, as it kind of undoes a choice that they collectively made just a few weeks ago.

At one point, Helldivers 2 players were asked to pick between the defense of two planets, each with their own stratagem they could earn as a reward. Though the community could ostensibly liberate both, only the first one to be liberated would yield a stratagem. Players were given the opportunity to trial each stratagem while they were on either of the worlds, and they ultimately picked the planet that granted everyone a rocket launcher rather than the one that granted anti-tank mines. It wasn’t the biggest decision in the world, but it was one that bore out some kind of consequence by locking away a new weapon. Now, Helldivers 2’s newest major order is reversing course and giving players the opportunity to unlock the mines that they’d missed out on.

Let me start with the obvious: yes, something like this was always going to happen! You don’t work on a whole new feature for a game, or in this case another version of a similar weapon, just to scrap it. I just wish they’d kind of held onto it a bit longer, though, in order to make its reintroduction more of a dramatic deal than it is now. Arrowhead Studios was always going to find a way to implement them into the game, otherwise it would just be eating development costs for nothing and I don’t fault the developers for that. But this twist, and how quickly it came, does kind of lay out how consequential some choices in Helldivers 2 really are, and it’s a little deflating.

The introduction of the choice just a few weeks ago felt like a great pivot to make after months of uniting the community behind one cause at a time. Players were legitimately divided, even if things ultimately swung in favor of the big gun, as I predicted they would. Folks simply can’t say no to a big gun. The concept of forcing players into a choice with lasting consequences had potential beyond simply picking between weapons, though, and it isn’t tough to imagine the team extrapolating it to larger decisions concerning the fate of whole planets or the tide of the war. I was looking forward to seeing how Arrowhead might continue creating these frictional moments and building upon them, not to sow seeds of actual dissent in the fan base, but just because it’s interesting to watch a group weigh multiple factors and come to a consensus (or lack thereof) and then live with it. Internally, I bet it was also a very handy way to informally poll Helldivers 2 players about what they would like to see in future weapons and stratagems!

Following up the choice with a story beat that effectively communicates, “Psych, that was all for nothing,” is just a little weak. The next time Arrowhead tries a similar move, folks are going to be savvy enough to know that it probably doesn’t really matter all that much, and what was once a galvanizing objective is now little more than something for the community to game the next time it rolls around. I’m sure most folks are completely unbothered by this, and are in fact celebrating that they now have the opportunity to get both of the stratagems that were on offer, but as someone mostly enjoying the narrative of Helldivers 2 from the outside, it’s a shame to see such a potent storytelling mechanism be pacified so abruptly.

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