Huge Helldivers 2 balance changes are here, but the patch notes are a major letdown

Helldivers 2
(Image credit: PlayStation Studios)

What you need to know

  • The first major balance update for Helldivers 2 has gone live, and it includes nerfs to several of the game's best weapons and stratagems along with buffs to some underperforming options.
  • The Breaker shotgun got reduced magazine size and more recoil, while the Railgun's damage and armor penetration (on Safe Mode) was lowered. The Shield Generator Pack's recharge delay was increased, too.
  • Meanwhile, the Flamethrower got 50% better DPS, and the Laser Cannon got improved damage and armor penetration. The Punisher now also has more ammo, damage, and stagger force, while the Breaker Spray & Pray has higher armor penetration, fire rate, and pellet count, but a reduced magazine size.
  • Developer Arrowhead has said it wants to be careful with its nerfs, and that it's prioritizing keeping a weapon's fantasy and fun alive over perfect balance.

The first major Helldivers 2 balance patch has gone live this morning, but its changes aren't exactly what many in the game's community were hoping for.

Since it launched early in February, the co-op shooter's "meta" — the generally agreed upon list of the best weapons and stratagems — has settled on the Breaker shotgun, the Railgun support weapon, and the Shield Generator Pack, along with call-ins like the Eagle 500kg Bomb and the Orbital Laser. These stood out as the strongest items at Helldivers 2's higher difficulties, though they didn't trivialize their challenge at all; as a result, based on what I've gathered from spaces like the Helldivers Discord server or its subreddit, most players (myself included) seemed to want buffs for everything else rather than nerfs to meta gear.

It's disappointing, then, that the Breaker, Railgun, and Shield Generator Pack have all been nerfed in the latest Helldivers 2 patch, with barely any meaningful buffs to other items to compensate. The Breaker now has higher recoil and three less rounds in its magazines, the Railgun's Safe Mode armor penetration and damage against thick enemy armor has been reduced, and the Shield Generator Pack's recharge delay has been increased.

The Laser Cannon got some significant buffs with this patch. (Image credit: PlayStation Studios)

The only weapons that got buffed were the Flamethrower, Laser Cannon, Punisher, and Breaker Spray & Pray. The Flamethrower now has 50% higher damage-per-second, while the Laser Cannon has better armor penetration, damage against weak points, and handling. Meanwhile, the Punisher shotgun's gotten 20 extra total ammo, increased stagger force, and a per-bullet damage increase to 45 (up from 40), making it the biggest winner of the patch. The Breaker Spray & Pray isn't completely useless now either, as its armor penetration, fire rate, and pellets-per-shot have all been raised, albeit with the caveat of six fewer rounds in its magazines.

Stratagems were largely untouched, though both the 120mm and 380mm Orbital HE Barrages received duration increases and a tighter spread. This makes the 120mm barrage significantly better than it was before, and the 380mm one was already great, so now it'll undoubtedly be one of the best Helldivers 2 stratagems.

In addition to all these balance changes (read the section below for the full patch notes), the patch has added Planetary Hazards to Helldivers 2 as well. These are described as "additional environmental challenges" like fire tornadoes and meteor showers that can appear randomly while you're in a mission, and will likely damage and kill anyone — friend or foe — that gets caught in their area-of-effect. Eradicate missions have been made tougher with higher kill requirements and faster enemy spawns, too.

The most exciting part of the update is a fix to Helldivers 2's long-standing armor bug that caused every armor set to provide the same level of protection, essentially making anything other than light armor useless. Now, medium and heavy armor offer the increased damage reduction they're supposed to, making them viable loadout options.

The Punisher is better than ever thanks to the improvements it got in this update. (Image credit: PlayStation Studios)

All in all, there is some great stuff here, but Arrowhead's decision to nerf the best loadout without also buffing up Helldivers 2's many underperforming weapons and stratagems is a huge letdown. I understand that only buffing things and never nerfing them is a bad idea, as Arrowhead's Head of Product Testing Patrik Lasota wrote in the blog post that accompanied these changes. But in a case like this where the best items often felt like the only ones that were strong or viable at high difficulties, I think a buff-heavy approach was warranted.

The silver lining is that Arrowhead says it wants to prioritize keeping the fantasy of a weapon alive over perfect game balance, and that it hopes that "you, our players, will tell us when we cross that line [of ruining a weapon's fantasy and fun] inadvertently." Ultimately, it sounds like the studio is willing to reconsider any nerfs that the community deems too strong, and will hopefully buff underwhelming options in future patches.

Helldivers 2 Update 01.000.100: Patch notes

A squad of Helldivers looking very patriotic. (Image credit: PlayStation Studios)

Below, you'll find the full patch notes for Patch 01.000.100, taken directly from Arrowhead's official news post about the update on Steam.

Major Updates

  • Planetary Hazards active
    • Many planets now have additional environmental challenges that will appear at random while you are deployed, from fire tornadoes to meteor showers and many more.


Eradicate Missions

  • Eradicate missions now require more kills and enemies spawn more often. The time to complete the mission was previously shorter than intended and should now usually take twice as long to complete.

Primary, Secondary, & Support weapons

  • Breaker: Decreased magazine capacity from 16 to 13, increased recoil from 30 to 55
  • Railgun - Decreased armor penetration in Safe Mode, decreased damage against durable enemy parts
  • Flamethrower: Increased damage per second by 50%
  • Laser Cannon: Increased damage against durable enemy parts, increased armor penetration, improved ergonomics
  • Punisher: Increased total ammo capacity from 40 to 60, increased stagger force, increased damage from 40 per bullet to 45 per bullet
  • Breaker Spray & Pray: Increased armor penetration, increased fire rate from 300 to 330, increased number of pellets from 12 to 16 per shot, decreased magazine size from to 32 to 26


  • Energy Shield Backpack: Increased delay before recharging
  • 380mm and 120mm Orbital Barrages: Increased duration of the bombardment, decreased spread


  • Fixed armor rating values not reducing damage as intended.
  • Fixed certain Bug Holes (including Stalker Nests) that were unnecessarily hard to destroy.
  • Fixed anti-aliasing toggle not working on PS5.
  • Balanced lighting across all planets to solve cases where the game was too dark.
  • Improved flashlight efficacy.
  • Increased visibility during “sand rain” weather on Erata Prime.
  • Updated tutorial materials and lighting.
  • Improved cases where some materials could look blurry if "Lighting" graphic setting was set to "Low".
  • Fixed timing issues that could occur in the “Extract E-710” primary objective.
  • Changed button interaction behavior for buttons in bunker POIs. Helldivers will now let go of the button after holding it for a few seconds.
  • Fixed some cases of large assets floating if the ground beneath them was blown up.
  • Helldivers standing next to ICBMs during launch will get properly toasty with a chance of not-so-spontaneous combustion.
  • Fixed unthrowable snowballs after ragdolling.
  • Fixed being able to use grenades after drowning.
  • Camera no longer locked on the player's own corpse and blocking spectator mode.
  • Helldivers now take damage from fire, gas etc. generated by other players.
  • Armor no longer stretches when dismembered.

Known Issues

These are issues that were either introduced by this patch and are being worked on, or are from a previous version and have not yet been fixed.

  • Game may crash after dropping several high power stratagems in succession.
  • Picking up items from caches may cause characters to freeze in place for an extended period of time.
  • Picking up items from bunkers and caches in quick succession may render one of the items unpickable.
  • Players cannot unfriend other players befriended via friend code.
  • Players may be unable to select loadout or return to ship when joining a multiplayer game session via PS5 Activity Card.
  • Mission objective HUD displays different numbers for client and host during some missions.
  • Default armor is always shown while viewing the warbond, regardless of the armor that player has equipped.
  • Text chat box display is obstructed by the cinematic letterboxing during extraction.
  • Some text in the HUD/UI is missing or not displaying correctly.
  • Players may experience issues when many players attempt to login and/or play at the same time:
  • Login rate limiting
  • Players may become disconnected during play
  • Various UI issues may appear when the game interacts with servers
  • Some games may not be joinable by others for a short period of time

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.