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Helldivers 2 Should Be Enjoyed, Not Optimized Or Farmed

Over the last two weeks, Helldivers 2—an online co-op, sci-fi third-person shooter—has exploded in popularity and quickly become one of 2024’s biggest and best games. Its mix of hard-but-satisfying combat, intense action, silly moments, and satirical tone has hooked me and many other players. However, some players have decided to farm and optimize Helldivers 2 instead of enjoying it, and they’re ruining the game for others.

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Some of the most fun I’ve had in Helldivers 2 has been when my friends and I are barely scraping by after completing a few objectives, but we manage to pull off a heroic last stand to escape the hellish planet and its enemies. Watching the galactic war map change, even a little bit, due to our badass (and not so badass) moments is rewarding. It’s a key reason I keep returning to the game. Even when a random low-level player joins and we must carry them, I don’t mind. They are a loyal defender of democracy and I’ll stand side-by-side with them as we save the galaxy, one bomb at a time.

But during one recent mission, I noticed two low-level players bail after the first part of a larger campaign. And then it happened again. As more players finally get into Helldivers 2 thanks to server updates, stories have emerged of players being killed for their samples (which isn’t even how that mechanic works) or people being kicked because they weren’t using an optimized build that a YouTuber or Redditor created. It turns out this isn’t a small problem. Looking around online, a lot of players seem hell-bent on sucking all the uniqueness out of Helldivers 2 as they optimize and farm the game like it’s something they are trying to avoid. Let’s not do this.. Let’s have a good time with a cool game. Not everything needs to be min/max grinded into boring busy work.

Don’t farm the fun out of Helldivers

If you head to YouTube you’ll quickly find plenty of short videos showing players how to grind out medals (used to unlock new gear in the game’s various battle passes.) A lot of them boil down to “Find a campaign that contains an Eradicate mission, complete it, get the medals and XP, then leave and find a new Eradicate mission.” The problem is that the players sticking around to finish the campaign are now down a player which could be a big problem depending on the difficulty and other missions involved.

Fallout plays / Arrowhead Games

What frustrates me about all of this farming and grinding is that it doesn’t make any sense. The point of Helldivers 2 is climbing your way up the difficulties, completing missions with the stratagems and weapons you have available to you, and getting better gear and tools as you level up. In other words: Grinding Helldivers 2 to reach max level and unlock everything quickly skips all the fun. And for what? Once you hit max level, have all the gear and upgrades, and can easily complete most missions solo, what now? Do you just stop playing? If your answer is, “Well I don’t have much time to play and I want to get all the rewards in the battle passes,” I have good news: The battle passes aren’t going anywhere. As long as the game is alive and running, you can earn medals and upgrade them whenever you want. No FOMO here.

Helldivers 2 is the kind of special game that we don’t get very often. It’s something worth cherishing and experiencing with friends. It’s not a job you should optimize so you can spend as little time as possible in it while ruining other players’ experiences and hurting the community’s ongoing war efforts.

Embrace failure, death, and defeat

I understand that I’m probably wasting my time asking folks to not grind a video game. For about as long as games have included level-up systems or unlockable content, people have been figuring out strategies to finish everything as quickly as possible.

But I really would stress that folks avoid that with Helldivers 2. Instead of trying to become super soldiers with access to every support weapon, airstrike, and ship upgrade as quickly as possible, enjoy the chaos and struggles that are what make Helldivers missions so much fun.

Embrace being under-equipped. Embrace death. It’s a key part of what makes Helldivers 2 a great game. The number of times I’ve been blasted into powder by a friendly bomb or supply drop and laughed about it afterward is too numerous to count. The war stories my friends and I have built up since release are incredible. We still talk about that dude getting squashed by the evac ship after a grueling mission that we nearly failed.

That’s the fun of Helldivers 2. And what’s nice is that, as you build up war stories and complete (or fail) tough missions, you unlock more gear and upgrades. Things get a little easier or you get weapons you like a bit more. It’s a nice progression that rewards you for fighting the good fight and sticking it out. Don’t go and ruin it by trying to min/max the experience as quickly as possible. Have a good time. Laugh. Die over and over. Savor Helldivers 2. And stop ruining the war to spread democracy, please.

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