Thank Liberty: Helldivers 2 will soon fix the biggest problem with its high-difficulty missions

Helldivers 2
(Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • A common criticism of Helldivers 2's gameplay at high difficulties is how frequently tough-armored threats like Chargers and Bile Titans spawn. Many players feel like they can't effectively fight these enemies with the game's existing anti-tank options due to how frequently they appear.
  • Arrowhead has confirmed that it plans to adjust the "spawn rates and health pools of heavy enemies" in a future hotfix.
  • While there will be fewer armored elite foes, the game will spawn "more 'chaff' enemies to support them." This will hopefully preserve the challenge of high difficulty modes while making many more stratagems viable.
  • Also, despite not being in the patch notes, the developers also say this week's balance update buffed the Expendable Anti-Tank and Recoilless Rifle launchers by removing a 50% damage penalty that could occur if their rockets hit an enemy at an angle.

The first Helldivers 2 balance patch went live earlier this week, but it wasn't exactly well-received by players. Many in the community were frustrated that meta options like the Railgun were nerfed while other anti-tank weapons didn't get any buffs to make them better at higher levels, with that smoldering disappointment sparking into flames of controversy when fans and developers got into a few heated arguments. Overall, the whole situation was rather overdramatic, though I do think players hit the nail on the head in regard to their criticisms of high-difficulty gameplay.

As I wrote yesterday, the Helldivers 2 meta is a symptom of a much larger problem: the absurd rate at which tough-armored foes like Chargers and Bile Titans spawn on Tier 7-9 difficulty. Nerfing the Railgun didn't make other anti-tank options better; it just took the only one that felt reliable at the highest level of play and made it worse, fully exposing the core issue, which is unmanageable elite unit spam.

Thankfully, developer Arrowhead has been monitoring post-patch feedback closely, and has confirmed it's planning to address the "spawn rates and health pools of heavy enemies" in an upcoming update. The studio's associate community manager Spitz made the announcement on the official Helldivers Discord server:

"I wanted to take a moment this afternoon to let you all know that we've heard your concerns over the last few days regarding enemy spawns, enemy armor, and the ability to kill these enemies," they wrote. "I can confirm that we're currently looking at changes to the spawn rates and health pools of heavy enemies, and will be attempting to spread them out more to prevent large spikes of tougher mobs appearing at the same time, as well as making them a bit easier to bring down. This change should go out in a future hotfix — no date as of yet."

The full message from Arrowhead's associate community manager, Spitz. (Image credit: Windows Central)

You can read Spitz's full message to the community in the above image. Notably, they also mentioned that even though they weren't listed in the update's patch notes, some small buffs were given to the Expendable Anti-Tank and Recoilless Rifle rocket launchers when the balance patch went live. These removed the 50% damage penalty that would occur when the projectiles from these weapons hit an armored enemy on an angle, making them more reliable and easier to aim.

Between this change and the aforementioned tweaks coming to enemy health and spawns, Arrowhead hopes there will soon be fewer "instances of endless kiting and players being left without any effective weaponry to kill harder enemies," and so do I. As funny as it is to desperately zig-zag around the perimeter of the extraction zone to avoid a swarm of Chargers and Bile Titans while waiting for a shuttle to arrive and save my bacon, I'd prefer if things were more reasonable than they are now.

Some are worried that the developers will go too far and make high-level missions too easy — these difficulties are called Suicide Mission, Impossible, and Helldive, after all — but Spitz noted that while larger threats will be "a bit less common," the game will instead spawn "more 'chaff' enemies to support them." So, there'll be fewer big boys to deal with, but swarms of weaker units will be larger. 

The new EXO-45 Patriot Exosuit mech in action. (Image credit: Windows Central)

All of this sounds great to me as someone who's bored of the Railgun and would love to run Tier 7-9 missions with other support weapons without feeling like I'm making things harder for my teammates. Fewer heavily armored enemies means that there'll be more opportunities for options like the Flamethrower (buffed with 50% better DPS recently), Laser Cannon, Stalwart, and Machine Gun to shine, along with less powerful, but more frequently usable stratagems like the Orbital Gatling Barrage and Eagle Cluster Bomb.

There's also Helldivers 2's new Exosuit mechs to consider, which offer both anti-personnel and anti-armor firepower with their heavy machine guns and missile launchers. I haven't taken one of these into any of the hardest difficulties yet, but my experience with it in Tier 5-6 thus far has been great. Though it only has enough ammo to last for 5-7 minutes or so, its thick armor shrugs off small arms fire with ease and it makes quick work of all but the toughest foes.

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.

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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.