joel helldivers 2 featured image
Screenshot by Destructoid

Who is Joel in Helldivers 2?

No, no, a different Joel.

Anyone who’s been playing Helldivers 2 understands the constant struggle of pushing back against the waves of Terminids and Automatons as they try to conquer all worlds between them and Super Earth. Well, it seems as though one man has been pulling the strings of this war the entire time.

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Ever since it was first released, players have been monitoring their progression in the war in Helldivers 2 against both the Terminid bugs and Automaton machine menaces. Each planet taken is a victory, but it seems as though every time the community focuses on one sector of the galactic map, enemies pour more effort into taking planets in another. If this seems calculated in any way, I can confirm that it is, and it’s all down to one man called Joel.

Who is Joel in Helldivers 2, and why should you care what he does?

automatons rushing players in helldivers 2
Screenshot by Destructoid

Joel is the Game Master of Helldivers 2. This was revealed during an interview with PC Gamer and Arrowhead Game Studios’ CEO Johan Pilestedt. Joel’s role is to monitor where players move their focus as either a community or in small pockets of forces on various fronts. Then, he has to decide where the Automatons and Teminids will move next.

It’s also part of Joel’s job to hand out the major orders for players to complete. The very first of these was liberating Angel’s Venture and Malevelon Creek, also known as Space Vietnam. I remember feeling so uplifted as the servers allowed more players in so we could finally leave these worlds and move on. However, I also remember the crushing defeat and overwhelming sense of dread from the community when Malevelon Creek fell once more to the Automatons.

In addition to having an important job on Helldivers 2, Joel is now a meme among the community. I regularly catch images and posts on Twitter or Reddit using his name. It wasn’t until I looked into who Joel was that I finally understood the context of these memes. I can say with some certainty that these have only enhanced the game for me, and it wouldn’t be the same without Joel or the constant stream of memes about him.

I’ve seen several instances of players wondering if Joel is just messing with them. Some, such as players fighting off eight or so Bile Titans, are hilarious. Others can get you thinking about how much power this individual has, though.

A conversation on the Helldivers 2 Subreddit brought into question the rate at which planets are liberated. They believed that Joel was changing the percentage players liberated a planet on the fly. However, this has since been debunked. Instead, planets are constantly under siege from both Helldivers and one faction of enemies. When the concurrent player count is lower on a planet, the enemy takes back control of as much of it as its forces are able. Then, when more players log in again, they can take back the ground the enemies retook and liberate even more.

We don’t know Joel’s true identity, and it’s probably for the best that things stay that way. He’s doing a great job of keeping the Helldivers 2 community engaged with a war on two fronts.

Many players also believe he’s responsible for mechs and vehicles appearing in the game before they were officially released. As a Game Master, it’s important to remember that he doesn’t have unlimited power. It’s similar to Dungeons & Dragons in that he can craft a story and prepare for all eventualities in advance to create an immersive narrative of war.


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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.