Would Helldivers 2 players just prefer to fight bugs rather than bots? It certainly seems that way

Ever since the explosive launch of Helldivers 2 for PC and PlayStation 5, players have had two alien factions to battle against: the terrifying robotic Automatons and the brutal, bug-like Terminids.

One ongoing theme running through the wonderful meta-narrative that is Helldivers 2’s Galactic War is that the wider player base enjoys playing against bugs more than against bots. This debate comes up every time a Grand Order – Helldivers 2’s time-limited, community-wide missions – revolves around a battle on automaton planets. And almost every time, try as they might, Helldivers 2’s hardcore community, buzzing around the success of Galactic War, can’t win the majority of players over to the Western Front.

It’s happening again now that Helldivers 2 developer Arrowhead has given a planet release bonus, but only if the automaton (Vernen Wells) planet training facilities released in the previous Big Order remain under Super Earth’s control.

The problem is that most Helldivers 2 players are perfectly happy playing on bug planets, putting Vernen Wells and thus bonus liberation at risk. Players have a number of theories as to why such things happen. The lack of in-game communication is certainly a valid proposition. Helldivers 2 itself doesn’t point out to players that Vernen Wells is a particularly important planet for players to focus on right now, so most won’t know it needs attention. Players have called for Arrowhead to add more in-game communication to help drive a wider player base to planets focused on the Prime Order instead of relying on social media posts and the likes of Discord and Reddit.

But as many Helldivers 2 players have suggested, the simple truth is that many players prefer to fight against bugs. After all, the Terminids are the alien faction that realizes the fantasy Starship Troopers Helldivers 2 relies on so much. And the bugs are simply much denser than their metal-shelled counterparts. On the harder difficulties, all Helldivers 2 missions can be nightmarish. But terminids are considered easier than automata.

Most active Helldivers 2 players fight in systems controlled by Terminid.
Most active Helldivers 2 players fight in systems controlled by Terminid.

Then there’s machine gun fatigue. Bots have been the recent focus of Grand Order, so asking players to patrol planets with bots when they’d like a change is a tall order. In short, there’s no single reason for the Helldivers 2 community’s apparent preference for Terminids, but the overriding sense is that bugs are just more fun.

So what should be done? Some Helldivers 2 players are now calling on Arrowhead to make the fight against bots more rewarding by giving out some kind of bonuses. There have also been suggestions that the planet release should be changed to reflect the number of players fighting in a given system at any given time. Arrowhead, fresh off the all-encompassing PSN debacle it’s now trying to move on from, said it would take time to focus on game balance, among other things. Maybe some UI tweaks are in order too.

Systems controlled by automatons usually have fewer players, regardless of the large order.
Systems controlled by automatons usually have fewer players, regardless of the large order.

“I think it’s time to admit that the Automatons need a carrot dangled above them for players to touch the Western Front,” suggested Redditor CouldBeBetterTBH. “We just got a galaxy wide upgrade not even two days ago and we’re already going to lose some of it in 13 hours because nobody likes bots. 90k Divers online and 60k are in Terminid worlds.

“What else can we do at this point but cheat the game rules and add some sort of medal/trial multiplier effect to the automaton planets? No one wants to play against the bots, we are always a minority of players and keep failing all our Orders and keep losing planets because no one wants to touch our worlds with a 100 mile long pole.

“No one wants to play against the bots…

“Something has to attract players from this side of the Galactic Map, otherwise we’ll never make any progress in the West unless Joel keeps changing the numbers and throwing us profits every time the Automatons become a focus or even part of a large order.”

Whatever your preference, Helldivers 2 was a hit, becoming Sony’s fastest-selling PlayStation game. It sold an astonishing 12 million copies in just 12 weeks of its release and continued to push hard with its live service elements.

Wesley is the UK news editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter at @wyp100. You can contact Wesley at wesley_yinpoole@ign.com or privately at wyp100@proton.me.

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