terminids in helldivers 2
Image via PlayStation's YouTube channel

The introduction of Shriekers makes Helldivers 2’s war against the Terminids feel like an arms race

They're evolving!

Since its release in early February 2024, Helldivers 2 has been slowly increasing the number of weapons and Stratagems available for players to utilize. At first, it was mechs, then a new Warbond, and now, it looks like we may even get some vehicles to drive around.

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Recently, though, and I do mean very recently, it’s the enemy factions who have been iterated upon. While Helldivers have been getting new toys to squish Terminids and get blown up by Automatons, Arrowhead Game Studios has quietly upgraded our enemies. It wasn’t until I saw the flying bugs, Shriekers, that I realized we’re in an arms race for the future of humanity.

War never changes

terminid shrieker in helldivers 2
Image via leojakg on Reddit

During World War 2, a group of scientists, some of the best minds in the world, were shipped out and housed in purpose-built towns in several locations around the US. It was in Los Alamos, New Mexico, though, where the world’s first nuclear bomb was created, ushering in an entirely new age for our species.

The bomb was built as a direct response to the war. The side with the biggest piece of wood with a nail in it or a gun is generally going to win. As soon as the first nuclear bomb was detonated over Hiroshima, World War 2 had been one. Even if not everyone knew or admitted it at the time.

Helldivers 2 is far less harrowing than real-world examples of war, but that doesn’t mean the same rules don’t apply. War is an arms race. If Super Earth doesn’t step up and give Helldivers the tools they need to overcome the enemies of managed democracy, then they won’t be able to liberate worlds from the grasp of the Automatons and Terminids.

So what’s been the enemy response to our mechs and our latest Warbon, which allows us to become electrical conductors? Evolution. At least, that’s what the Terminids have done. They’ve only gone and thought about how best to get around our giant bipedal machines and turrets. The result is a Shrieker, a Terminid enemy that can soar across the sky and dive onto a Helldiver like an unexpected cow during a tornado.

Players spotted a few of them, though not many, soon after mechs were added to the game. The developer told us not to worry and keep on fighting, saying Super Earth would know if anything had changed. They either lied or were wrong because it’s raining bugs on Terminid worlds, and no one is happy about it.

While they’re an annoyance in small numbers, Shriekers pose a big problem to Helldivers pushing through Major Orders. This flying foe is a step forward in the game’s arms race, an advantage the Terminids have strategized specifically to combat our efforts in a way that will hurt us most. We’re too used to being able to see our enemies on the horizon. Now, we’ve also got to watch the skies.

Watching from the sidelines

blue laser illuminate in helldivers 2
Image via Lifeless’ YouTube channel

Another aspect of Helldivers 2 that mirrors real war in many ways is the feeling that a new enemy is always lurking, waiting to strike when we least expect it. For weeks, players have been reporting blue lasers shooting them, lasers that we all believe are coming from the Illuminate faction.

Again, the developer and Super Earth are squashing these rumors, insisting the blue lasers either don’t exist or can’t harm us. They’re wrong, though, very wrong. In a similar way to how the Terminids are bringing out their version of new technology to push us back, this new faction is waiting for us to be weakened. Then, once we’re on the back foot and focused on what the Terminids might do next, they’ll strike.

In real wars, tactics have changed based on region, and I expect to see the same with different factions in Helldivers 2. The Automatons endlessly patrol planets and seek out prey to ensure dominance. The Terminids swarm anything that isn’t them in overwhelming numbers. Maybe the Illuminate seeks out weaker factions and tries to dominate or destroy them while the other factions aren’t looking.

I’m thoroughly enjoying the progress and pushback in Helldivers 2. I think every new Stratagem or Major Order has been targeted and made the community band together or fall apart, depending on where it takes them. I’ve never seen a game use real-world war tactics in such a creative way, but I really do feel it helps push the game to be far more immersive than most others in the same genre.


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Author
Jamie Moorcroft-Sharp
Jamie is a Staff Writer on Destructoid who has been playing video games for the better part of the last three decades. He adores indie titles with unique and interesting mechanics and stories, but is also a sucker for big name franchises, especially if they happen to lean into the horror genre.