There's only one game better than Helldivers 2 (for now)

Helldivers 2 artwork
(Image credit: Arrowhead Game Studios)

Talk of the town, "Helldivers 2" might be capturing hearts and minds on the battlefield of alien worlds, but regardless of its widespread appeal, it's not the best game around. , it's not even the best Helldivers game... For now, anyway.

One of the best aspects of "Helldivers 2" is its madcap chaotic fun, and to that end the game is well worth all of its praise. However, if you want the most chaotic coop experience, then you owe it to yourself to look at the game that came before it: the original "Helldivers."

If for no other reason than to catch a glimpse of what's to come in the near future of Arrowhead Game Studio's recent breakout hit.

  • Update: 'Divers have now liberated the planet of Tien Kwan, unlocking the EXO-45 Patriot Exosuit for all! For a limited time, all 'Divers can call in this powerful mech within missions (it doesn't even take up a Stratagem slot). Though you'll need to be level 25 to call it in, in the future. For more Helldivers news, check out a preview of the game's first post-release warbond "Cutting Edge."

To Helldivers and back

The success of "Helldivers 2" took many by surprise. Not least the developers of the game itself who were caught completely off-guard by the staggeringly large amount of players seeking to dive into its galactic war from day one.

However, as I mentioned in our "Helldivers 2" review, the popularity of the game is no shock to franchise veterans. The real surprise is how the original title didn't attract the same audience.

Especially when you realize that, perspective aside, the two have so much in common, that "Helldivers 2" feels more like a next-gen remake of the 2015 twin-stick coop cult classic as opposed to a true sequel—and I'm not complaining.

Helldivers gameplay screenshots

(Image credit: Rael Hornby / Laptop Mag)

The original "Helldivers" was one of my favorite games to play on PS4, and it was a game that got progressively more fun with each update and downloadable support pack that was released.

And, in my opinion, will remain the better of the duology because of it. But I doubt that'll be the case for long, and I can't wait for Arrowhead Game Studios to unleash the full chaos of the original game onto its player base.

Guns, gear, and Gundams!

If you thought surviving the onslaught of Automaton and Terminid hordes was as chaotic as things get in the Helldivers universe, then think again. If the original game is anything to go by then Arrowhead Game Studios have plenty of gasoline to throw onto the fire when it comes to frantic coop gameplay.

While "Helldivers 2" already contains a decent arsenal of weapons and Stratagems to pick from, the original took things to an all-new level with some of its additions. Most notable of which are the array of vehicles your Helldiver could request for faster traversal and maximum carnage.

(Image credit: Rael Hornby / Laptop Mag)

From surprisingly agile (for their size) armored mechs to slow and lumbering traversal of tanks that turn the tide of battle, "Helldivers" had several vehicular options available for 'Divers to even the odds in their favor. Something that anybody who might have ventured into Automaton space at higher difficulties will no doubt feel the need for right now.

Thankfully, these additions are confirmed to be on the way, with the game teasing the inclusion of taking tires and treads to Termanid thoraxes from launch by clearly labeling one of the doors in the background of your Super Ship bridge with the words "Vehicle Bay."

It was later confirmed that the EXO-45 Patriot mech suit, an advancement over the EXO-44 Walker of the first game would be arriving soon, and a host of mechs and light armor buggies have been spawning into player sessions recently, too — likely as a result of unofficial God Emperor of Super Earth's war machine "Joel," a single Arrowhead Game Studios employee who serves as an omnipresent "Dungeon Master" for the dynamic galactic war in play.

(Image credit: Rael Hornby / Laptop Mag)

Also missing from the original are a much broader range of weapons and support items, from the awesome "Commado" rocket launcher to the AD-289 Angel that let players take on more of a healing role within groups.

"Helldivers 2" has a much stronger focus on direct coop with several weapons requiring two 'Divers to operate to their fullest, so seeing players able to tune their loadouts to suit a specific role on the battlefield like healer could take things to a whole new level in future.

Helldivers gameplay screenshots

(Image credit: Rael Hornby / Laptop Mag)

An empty seat at the table

Maybe the final missing piece to the "Helldivers 2" puzzle is the absence of the first game's third enemy faction: the Illuminates. In the original title, the galactic war was spread across three fronts: the "Starship Trooper"-like Termanid invasion; the traitorous onslaught of the Cyborgs, who are now the Terminator-esque Automatons; and the Protoss-like Illuminate, an advanced race to the south of the galactic map that offer some of the most challenging encounters in the game.

(Image credit: Rael Hornby / Laptop Mag)

There are already several clues to the Illuminate eventually appearing in the game, along with data-mined information revealing references to them in the current build. We could be in for a treat when Arrowhead Game Studios eventually unleash our toughest foes yet onto the galactic scene. If you think the Automaton threat is the hardest front to fight on, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Outlook

"Helldivers" was a fantastic game. It still is. I recently hopped online to see how it holds up, and I can safely say that it does so alarmingly well. Not only is the chaotic coop gameplay still one of the most fun drop-in-drop-out gaming experiences I've had the pleasure to enjoy, but it's like looking into a near-future build of "Helldivers 2" that gets me all the more hyped about 2024's smash-hit success story.

I'm having a blast with "Helldivers 2," and I couldn't recommend it more to veterans or newcomers alike. However, while I share the sentiment of many about it being a genuine GOTY contender and one of the coop games of recent memory, "Helldivers 2" isn't even the best Helldivers game. Not yet, anyway.

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Rael Hornby
Content Editor

Rael Hornby, potentially influenced by far too many LucasArts titles at an early age, once thought he’d grow up to be a mighty pirate. However, after several interventions with close friends and family members, you’re now much more likely to see his name attached to the bylines of tech articles. While not maintaining a double life as an aspiring writer by day and indie game dev by night, you’ll find him sat in a corner somewhere muttering to himself about microtransactions or hunting down promising indie games on Twitter.