Best Helldivers 2 loadouts: For bugs, against bots, solo, Helldive difficulty, and more

Helldivers 2
(Image credit: Windows Central)

If there's one thing I've learned from the 140+ hours of playtime I've spent enjoying Helldivers 2, it's that putting together balanced and well-thought-out loadouts is the single most important thing you'll need to do before dropping into a mission with your squad. Though you can easily get through low-difficulty levels using whatever you want, harder missions introduce more dangerous, numerous, and well-armored foes that force you to take things like armor penetration and uptime into account.

I've been taking a wide variety of different loadouts into battle since Helldivers 2 launched in early February, trying out everything from top weapons and the best stratagems to numerous armor sets and each of the special boosters you can use to give everyone in your fireteam a nifty buff. In the sections below, you'll find complete overviews of all the builds I've had the most success with. With these, you shouldn't have too much trouble crushing Super Earth's enemies and spreading managed democracy across the galaxy.

Something I want to stress, though, is that you should play the game how you want to, and focus on fun above all else. One of the best things about Helldivers 2 is that its sandbox is massive and full of many different weapons and stratagems to use, and while some gear is better than the rest of what's available to you, you can still be very successful even if you use weapons and stratagems that aren't "meta." Don't be afraid to experiment and come up with your own loadouts and builds, especially since a big balance patch is coming soon that'll likely buff their effectiveness considerably.

Note: At the time of writing, Helldivers 2's armor is bugged, and all armor sets are providing the same level of protection. This effectively makes almost all medium and heavy armor useless, which is why I recommend movement speed and stamina-boosting light armor for nearly every loadout below. When armor is fixed, I'll update this article.

Best Helldivers 2 loadout for Automatons

This is the loadout I usually take into Automaton missions. (Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Armor: Light
  • Weapons: SG-225 Breaker or R-63 Diligence, P-19 Redeemer, G-12 High Explosive or G-16 Impact
  • Stratagems: Eagle Airstrike, Orbital Laser, Railgun or Autocannon, Shield Generator Pack or EMS Mortar Sentry
  • Booster: Stamina Enhancement or Vitality Enhancement

The Automatons tend to have fewer units on the field than the Terminid bugs do, but they've got heavier armor, and most of them shoot at you from a distance rather than trying to rush you down up close. They also have well-fortified outposts with bunkers and machine gun nests on their perimeters, with larger bases even sporting thickly armored turret towers with lethal laser cannons.

When facing them, I recommend taking the Breaker shotgun so you can quickly and effectively take out the units in the confines of their trenches and bunkers once you reach them, though the R-63 Diligence works well too if you'd prefer to snipe from longer distances. For your grenade, both the G-12 High Explosive and G-16 Impact are excellent, as the former can heavily damage or kill clumps of armored infantry units like Devastators and Scout Striders while the latter can be thrown into fortifications and at large groups of weaker bots to clear them.

For your stratagems, the Eagle Airstrike offers the perfect balance of uptime and firepower, and is ideal for wiping out crowds of armored bots or quickly blowing up a line of bot fabricators. The Orbital Laser can be thrown to destroy cannon towers or multiple heavies like Hulks and Tanks, while both the Railgun (when switched to "Unsafe" mode) and Autocannon serve as your anti-armor support weapons (the Railgun has higher damage potential and doesn't require a backpack, but the Autocannon requires a bit less precision and does more damage to weak points on the backs of cannon towers, Hulks, and Tanks).

Your last stratagem slot is dependent on which support weapon you prefer. If you use the Railgun, your backpack slot will be free, so you can use the Shield Generator Pack to give yourself a personal energy shield that absorbs a good amount of laser fire for you. If you take the Autocannon, though, you'll have to carry its ammo backpack unless an ally is willing to wear it and reload for you. Thus, I'd go with the EMS Mortar Sentry instead in that context, as the static fields its mortars create slow down bots significantly and make them easy to pick off.

Best Helldivers 2 loadout for bugs

Here are some of the best options against the Terminid bugs. (Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Armor: Light
  • Weapons: SG-225 Breaker or AR-23 Liberator or SMG-37 Defender, P-19 Redeemer, G-16 Impact or G-10 Incendiary
  • Stratagems: Eagle Cluster Bomb or Eagle Airstrike, Orbital Laser, Orbital Gas Strike, Grenade Launcher or Railgun or Expendable Anti-Tank
  • Booster: Stamina Enhancement

In contrast to the Automatons, the less durable, but more numerous bugs of the Terminid faction constantly try to swarm you so they can rip you to shreds with melee attacks, with only a few of their units able to fight from medium range. Consequently, the best loadouts to use against them facilitate fast movement for kiting, as well as effective crowd control to thin the horde.

That means you'll want light armor for improved movement and stamina regen, as well as the Stamina Enhancement booster. Weapon-wise, you'll always be fighting the bugs at close-to-medium range, so the Breaker shotgun, Liberator assault rifle, and Defender SMG stand out as the best weapons to use against them (they're also very stable when fired from the hip, which you'll be doing often as you kite swarms back). The G-16 Impact is the best grenade for raw killing potential, but the G-10 Incendiary is a strong alternative that can create pools of fire you can use to cut off a chokepoint (it can clear nests like other grenades, so don't worry about that).

Lots of different stratagems work well against the Terminids, but my favorites to use are the Eagle Cluster Bomb (more uses, can't clear nests) or the Eagle Airstrike (fewer uses, can clear nests), the Orbital Laser, and the Orbital Gas Strike. Your Eagle close air support is best used to obliterate large groups or clear groups of nests, while your Orbital Laser serves as your emergency swarm clearer or Bile Titan killer and the Orbital Gas Strike should be called down on any bug breach holes the Terminids open.

For your support weapon, the Grenade Launcher, Railgun, and Expendable Anti-Tank are all fantastic picks. The Grenade Launcher is best used as an anti-infantry tool against unarmored bugs, while the Railgun is ideal for one-shotting Hive Guards, cracking the armor off Chargers (break off the leg armor and shoot them there once the skin is exposed, as this is their weak point), and damaging Bile Titans. The Expendable Anti-Tank launchers have lower uptime than the Railgun does, but you can still call a pair of them down every 70 seconds, and they hit harder and require less precision.

Best Helldivers 2 loadout for solo

If you're dropping into battle alone, I recommend this loadout. (Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Armor: SC-30 Trailblazer Scout (Light)
  • Weapons: SG-225 Breaker or SMG-37 Defender, P-19 Redeemer, G-16 Impact
  • Stratagems: Eagle Airstrike, Orbital Railcannon Strike, Orbital Laser, Railgun or Autocannon
  • Booster: UAV Recon Booster

Going in guns blazing works well when you've got a squad backing you up, but if you're dropping into the Galactic War all on your own, you'll need to opt for a more stealthy approach. The Trailblazer Scout light armor set you can get from Helldivers 2's free "Helldivers Mobilize!" Battle Pass-like Warbond is perfect for this, as it gives you improved radar while simultaneously making you harder for enemies to detect. These bonuses, along with the UAV Recon Booster, will allow you to both spot and avoid patrols with ease.

When you do need to fight, you can count on the high damage and reliability of either the Breaker shotgun or the Defender SMG, as well as the explosive power of the G-16 Impact grenade. Use the Eagle Airstrike against large groups or multiple nests/fabricators, and save the Orbital Railcannon Strike and the Orbital Laser for large well-guarded bases, heavy units, or situations where you're getting overwhelmed.

The Railgun and Autocannon are both S-tier support weapon picks for solo play, as they're extremely ammo efficient and can be used to quickly take out high-priority threats. The Railgun has higher overall damage potential against enemies like Chargers and Hulks, but the Autocannon demands less precision and is more effective against certain weak points like Terminid Bile Spewer sacs and the heatsinks on the back of Automaton Tanks, Hulks, and base cannons.

Best Helldivers 2 loadout for Helldive difficulty

Survive the hardest difficulty in the game with this setup. (Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Armor: DP-40 Hero of the Federation (Medium)
  • Weapons: SG-225 Breaker, P-19 Redeemer, G-16 Impact
  • Stratagems: Eagle 500kg Bomb, Orbital Laser, Railgun or Grenade Launcher, Shield Generator Pack
  • Booster: Stamina Enhancement

Helldive difficulty is the ninth and highest tier available in Helldivers 2 currently, and while it's got all the best samples as well as the biggest XP, Requisition, and Warbond Medal payouts, it's also extremely tough, and a top-tier loadout is mandatory if you want to come through it victorious.

Enemies spawn very frequently in Helldive difficulty, and lots of them are notable threats with tough armor and/or deadly attacks. For that reason, you should use the DP-40 Hero of the Federation armor set from Helldivers 2's free Battle Pass. Even though it's a medium set (armor is still bugged, so you unfortunately won't get extra protection) and doesn't give you the speed and stamina bonuses you'd get with a light one, it has the incredible "Democracy Protects" perk that gives you a huge 50% chance to not die whenever you take lethal damage. This will save your life constantly, so you should absolutely use it.

For your gear, use the Breaker shotgun and the G-16 Impact grenades, along with the Stamina Enhancement booster so you always have stamina when you need it to get out of hairy situations. You'll then want to take the Eagle 500kg Bomb — by the time you're on Helldiver difficulty, you should have the Expanded Weapons Bay ship upgrade that gives you an extra use before a rearm is needed — as well as the Orbital Laser, a Railgun (anti-armor) or Grenade Launcher (anti-infantry), and a Shield Generator Pack for extra protection. Believe me, you'll be glad it's there.

Best Helldivers 2 support loadout

This loadout is perfect for a support-oriented playstyle. (Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Armor: FS-38 Eradicator (or anything with Fortified or Engineering Kit) or CM-09 Bonesnapper (or anything with Med-Kit)
  • Weapons: SG-225 Breaker or AR-23 Liberator or R-63 Diligence, P-19 Redeemer, G-16 Impact
  • Stratagems: Eagle Cluster Bomb or Eagle Airstrike, Gatling Sentry or Autocannon Sentry, Machine Gun or Stalwart, Supply Pack
  • Booster: Vitality Enhancement or Hellpod Space Optimization

While having a player fill a more supportive role rather than a purely offensive one isn't needed to complete missions, I strongly recommend having one person in your squad do so. The best way to do this is to first pick out armor that gives the Fortified, Engineering Kit, or the Med-Kit perk. The first two reduce weapon recoil by 30% when you're crouched or prone, while the last one allows you to carry two extra stims.

Then, you'll want a Breaker, Liberator, or Diligence depending on the range you plan to fight from (close, medium, or long), along with a Machine Gun (higher armor-piercing capabilities, better for Automatons) or a Stalwart (more ammo and lower recoil, but less powerful, better for Terminids), a Gatling or Autocannon Sentry to provide automated firepower, and a Supply Pack you can use to refill your team's ammo while you're on the move. The last stratagem slot is a flex pick; I like using an Eagle Cluster Bomb or Airstrike to help clear out large groups of units, but use whatever you want. Cap the build off with a Vitality Enhancement or Hellpod Space Optimization booster to improve the squad's limb health or ammo, respectively.

While your teammates eliminate significant and tough-armored threats like Hulks, Tanks, Chargers, and Bile Titans, you'll be focusing on mowing down the scores of basic infantry troops that support them. Then, between fights, you can resupply and heal up your allies. 

Best Helldivers 2 defense loadout

Use this setup for Helldivers 2's short and specialized defense missions. (Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Armor: Light (for now), Heavy (after armor is fixed)
  • Weapons: SG-225 Breaker or AR-23 Liberator, P-19 Redeemer, G-16 Impact or G-10 Incendiary
  • Stratagems: Eagle Cluster Bomb or Railgun, EMS Mortar Sentry, Mortar Sentry, Autocannon Sentry or Gatling Sentry
  • Booster: Hellpod Space Optimization

Helldivers 2's defense missions require you to either kill a set number of enemies or defend a base while escorting civilians to an evac shuttle, and this is best accomplished with plenty of Sentry stratagems. Throw both an EMS and a regular Mortar Sentry in the center of the area you're defending, then have a Gatling or Autocannon Sentry watch major chokepoints where incoming waves are likely to go.

For weapons, go with a Breaker or a Liberator, as both are perfect for the close-to-medium range fighting in these levels. Then use either the G-16 Impact (high damage) or the G-10 Incendiary (area denial) for your grenade, and an Eagle or Orbital call-in in your final stratagem slot. I like the Eagle Cluster Bomb since it covers a wide area and serves up instant death to anything that isn't heavily armored, but other stratagems will get the job done, too.

Alternatively, you could switch out your air support stratagem for a Railgun, which is worth doing on higher difficulties since you'll likely have to deal with a few heavies like Chargers or Hulks before you can extract.

Best Helldivers 2 early game loadout

This loadout excels in Helldivers 2's earlier levels and difficulties. (Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Armor: SC-34 Infiltrator (Light)
  • Weapons: AR-23 Liberator, P-19 Redeemer, G-12 High Explosive
  • Stratagems: Eagle Airstrike, Orbital Gatling Barrage, Gatling Sentry, Grenade Launcher or Stalwart or Expendable Anti-Tank
  • Booster: Hellpod Space Optimization

If you're just starting out in Helldivers 2 and only have access to early game unlocks, this is the build you should use. All of the gear listed above, including the SC-34 Infiltrator light armor set, stratagems, and Hellpod Space Optimization booster, are all obtainable from either the first few pages of the free Helldivers 2 Battle Pass or from the Stratagems shop (within the Ship Management menu) for a low Warbond Medal or Requisition cost.

The Liberator is the rifle you start the game with, and it's also the second best primary in the game after the Breaker shotgun you'll get later, so it'll serve you very well in the early game. Similarly, the Eagle Airstrike and Orbital Gatling Barrage are very high-tier stratagems available early, with the former ideal for nest/fabricator clearing and both great for killing big groups of enemies. The Gatling Sentry will mow down anything that isn't heavily armored, and nothing too tanky shows up until Tier 4 Challenging difficulty, anyway.

Both the Grenade Launcher and Stalwart excel at taking out lots of unarmored or lightly armored units, but if you're on Challenging or higher and are encountering more resilient threats, you can opt for the Expendable Anti-Tank instead. It's much cheaper than the Recoilless Rifle, and it's also arguably better since you don't have to play around a long reload time and can call down a pair of launchers every 70 seconds. The Recoilless is more effective if you've got a teammate willing to reload the launcher for you, though.

Helldivers 2 is available now for $39.99 on both PS5 and PC, and so far, it's one of the best PC games of the year. Notably, the game also supports cross-platform play between PS5 and PC.

Helldivers 2 — $39.99 at GMG (Steam)

Helldivers 2 — $39.99 at GMG (Steam)

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Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.