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Helldivers 2: A Sequel Out of Nowhere, But Plagued by Launch Woes

Nine years ago, a gem emerged on the PlayStation store. The original Helldivers captured a dedicated community with its over-the-top, action-fueled chaos, where friendly fire could be both hilarious and deadly.

Helldivers 2 screenshot

Fast forward almost a decade, and a sequel seemed like a distant dream. But here we are, Helldivers 2 graced the scene on February 8th with a bigger budget, cross platform gameplay and a third-person perspective. This unexpected return has already made waves in the gaming world.

High Demand, High Barriers:

Against expectations, Helldivers 2 saw an unexpected surge in popularity. The developers were forced to cap the concurrent player count at an impressive 450,000 - leaving many players staring at a timer, waiting to spread freedom and democracy. While having too many players is a good problem to have, it also revealed some fundamental flaws in the game's launch.

Queue-Jumping and Idle Players:

Players found workarounds to skip the queue, leaving others waiting for hours. Additionally, there was no system to remove idle players, allowing some to stay logged in for days. This further strained the servers and frustrated legitimate players.

Furthermore, the ineffectiveness of the initial player cap is starkly evident. Even before it was raised to 700,000 in patch 1.000.12 released on February 23rd, concurrent player numbers surged past 450,000 on February 20th according to Steam Charts, showcasing the overwhelming demand and highlighting the server issues that plagued the launch. This serves as a stark reminder of the need for robust infrastructure and preparedness when dealing with unexpected popularity.

Crashes and Optimization Issues:

On top of the login woes, the game is plagued by frequent crashes triggered by seemingly normal actions like aiming down your sight, unlocking new items, purchasing premium currency or joining your friends. While many of these crash triggers are being addressed in updates, these optimization issues obviously add further frustration, making it even harder to get into and enjoy the game. One player took to reddit and said the following:

"I don't want to not recommend the game, but when it constantly crashes every 2-5 minutes into every match, it's pretty much unplayable. Even playing solo it still crashes. I want to play this game so bad but literally just can't."

An Enjoyable Experience with Potential:

Despite these launch issues, the core gameplay remains incredibly fun and engaging. The explosive, immersive, and cinematic experience is a breath of fresh air, especially at its affordable price point.

Looking ahead, the developers have their work cut out for them to address the launch issues and retain their player base. With the right changes, Helldivers 2 has the potential to be a major success, both for the developers and for Sony. Its unique style and engaging gameplay could even lead to merchandise and further expansion, similar to other popular franchises. But gamers can be fickle, and if the problems persist, Helldivers 2 could quickly fade into a collection of unfulfilled potential. It's a critical juncture for the game, and the developers' actions will determine its future.


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