This little accessory has made me a stratagem hero in Helldivers 2

Stream Deck Mk. 2 with Helldivers 2 icons
(Image credit: Rael Hornby / Laptop Mag)

A month on from release, Helldivers 2 continues to impress with its evolving galactic war. This week, players can expect to get their hands on the game's first post-launch content drop, the "Cutting Edge" warbond — featuring new weapons, armor, and capes.

In the meantime, the Terminid and Automaton threat continues to press at Super Earth's defenses, and players are putting their newly acquired EXO-45 Patriot Exosuits to work as they seek to activate the Terminid Control Systems (TCS) on various planets throughout the galaxy to halt the spread of the arthropod aliens.

But before the major order to activate the TCS ever made its way to the front-lines of Helldivers 2, I've been making use of another piece of technology in my efforts to spread Managed Democracy throughout the galaxy, and it's turned this humble 'Diver into a true Stratagem Hero.

Introducing, the CH-3353 Stratagem Macro Repeater — or, as you might already know it, the Elgato Stream Deck MK.2.

Better managed, managed democracy

That's right, Elgato's broadcast buddy has far more uses than firing off transitions and sound clips in OBS for your next Twitch stream.

While it might make for a fantastic desk accessory when it comes to fulfilling your big-Twitch-money ambitions, the Stream Deck, as it turns out, is also pretty darn handy at turning your 'Diver into a walking force of democratic justice, with the power to summon stratagems so fast it could make your eyes melt. Even through that rather fetching FS-11 Executioner helmet.

It's secret? The ability to hotbar up to 15 different macros at once across its LCD switches, granting you the kind of stratagem summoning speed that would make you the stuff of comic book legends back on Super Earth and turning you into one of the quickest draws in the galaxy when it comes to delivering swift payloads of mayhem across the game's many war fronts.

The Elgato Stream Deck MK.2 offers up to 15 quick-fire macros to use in games and apps at any one time, though you can spread out more options across multiple easy-to-set-up and navigate pages. (Image credit: Rael Hornby / Laptop Mag)

The Stream Deck's buttons can be programmed to replicate the keystrokes needed to call in any stratagem in the game, reducing your mid-battle Dance Dance Revolution routines to a single stab at its brightly-lit keys.

Is this cheating?

Not at all! Steam actively supports macro use within its own hardware, as it not only helps players to rapidly accomplish routine tasks, but it also serves as a fantastic accessibility option for differently-abled gamers too. The Helldivers developers don't seem to mind, either, as plenty of players are making use of similar methods without issue to call in weapons, equipment, and Super Ship support.

Personally, I think this kind of macro use is ideal if you're making use of a controller, especially if it's one with a similar layout to the PS5's DualSense, which doesn't make it easy to adjust your hand positioning to input stratagem combos while still dodging your way through streams of alien bile or laser fire.

However, whether or not it flies in the face of the spirit of the Helldivers experience is another thing entirely. Is this the most ideal way of playing the game? Maybe not. A good portion of the game's drama can spin out from failing its stratagem combos in stressful moments, which could see you cutting yourself off from a wide range of emergent gameplay moments.

That being said, how you want to enjoy the game is up to you, and as long as you're not actively impeding another Helldiver's explosive spreading of democracy, then more power to you. As a PvE title, nobody gets hurt by the use of macro shortcuts, well, except for the bugs and those commie robots, anyway.

I don't own a Stream Deck, can I still use macros?

No Stream Deck? No problem! You may own other pieces of hardware that allow you to record macros onto them, including your gaming mouse or keyboard. Due to the simple input nature of stratagems, you can also make use of free to use software like AutoHotkey and assign any number of macros to spare keys or single combo presses while in-game.

The trick to setting things up is to switch your Helldivers 2 mappings to allow the stratagem list to be opened with a tap instead of a hold, and then setting the directional prompts to your keyboard's arrow keys.

This will give you a much easier way of priming the game to receive a rapid string of inputs from a recorded macro, all without impeding your 'Diver's movement along the way.

So if your stratagem game needs a little uplifting, or you're struggling for support of your favorite controller, feel free to get a helping hand on your pathway to galactic (managed) democracy with a few macro crutches along the way.

Remember 'Divers, "Work smarter, dive harder."

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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.