Helldivers 2 Makes Perfect Use Of A Game Master To Boost Replayability

Every session in Helldivers 2 is a treat that envelops you in a whole other universe.

Story Highlights

  • Every Helldivers 2 session feels rejuvenating and fun to play due to its D&D-like game master named Joel.  
  • The game introduces a pinch of inconsistency to often completely turn the tide of the planetary battles.
  • Whether it’s acid storms or meteor showers, there is always an element of surprise waiting for you.

Helldivers 2 has appealed to me like no other third-person shooter recently, and I have been trying to wonder what exactly has attracted me so much. A good and rather addictive gameplay loop is there, sure. Gunplay checks out, and the in-game audio makes you immersed. The cinematic visuals—especially when the sunrise is on the horizon—are also gorgeous.

But there seems to be more to it than all the obvious telltale features that flooded my mind.

At first, I thought it was the combination of all these things. Yeah, that’s a strong argument, but no other good shooter has rewired my brain enough to make me this addicted to it before.

I eventually deduced it was the game master—the D&D-styled puppeteer who pulls all the strings of every round—that kept me so ingrained in Helldivers 2. Dubbed Joel, the game master has perhaps played the biggest role in making every moment enjoyable.

Every Round Of Helldivers 2 Feels Refreshing Because Of Joel

Helldivers 2 pits you against bots, bugs, and the planet itself. || Image Source: Sony/Arrowhead Studios.
Helldivers 2 pits you against bots, Terminids, and the planet itself. || Image Source: Sony/Arrowhead Studios.

Whether it’s major and daily orders, the location of enemy attacks, or planetary hazards, we—the players—are a mere pawn in the chessboard controlled by the narrator. However, that also works out in our favor. All the random variables always come together to produce a heartfelt delicacy. In layman’s terms, no round of the third-person shooter has ever felt the same to me.

So, the question arises: who exactly is Joel? He is not just a programmed feature, that’s for sure. According to an interview with PC Gamer, Arrowhead Studios CEO Johan Pilestedt clarified that they have hired a dev who essentially plays the role of the game master and “takes his job very seriously.” He has a lot of control over the user experience and decides all that goes on in intergalactic warfare.

However, the narrator always manages to screw things over; with the events being for us or against us, all it leads to is a series of chaotic events that leave nothing but a smirk spreading across my face.

The Game Master Brings The Perfect Amount Of Inconsistency

The sense of a narrator overseeing the events happening on the Super Earth gives me different feelings—in a good way, that is. You could be mowing through hordes of bugs, and suddenly, a meteor falls on top of you. It is also all too common to nearly wipe out enemies only for Joel to send in reinforcements at the worst of times. 

The only thing missing now is for Joel to narrate the ongoing events live, like a game master would in an intense tabletop RPG session. It’s also not a feature because continuous commentary would grow boring rather quickly.

Overall, I and many others have felt that Joel secretly targets specific players. While it is technically not true, the dynamic system that Arrowhead uses surely makes us feel that way.

I think Joel might be messing with us
byu/McBahtman inHelldivers

The various planetary hazards brought by a recent Helldivers 2 update add to the already chaotic state of the battlefield. However, I have found it to be a really fun addition that introduces a bit of inconsistency to the consistent pursuit of spreading “managed democracy.

From Acid Storms To Meteors — Everything Becomes Possible

The beauty of Helldivers 2 is that there is just too much that can happen at any moment. The game master plays a huge part in controlling all the disarray that goes on around the war. Meteor showers look gorgeous during the night, for instance, but pepper down on an area to result in instant death. Whether you’re a bug or a player, Joel does not care. 

The cinematic environment in every planet looks breathtaking despite the horrors of an ongoing war in the background.
The cinematic environment on every planet looks breathtaking, despite the horrors of the ongoing intergalactic war.

The bane of all planetary hazards, acid storms, mostly affect visibility and can be a cumbersome experience while dealing with enemies and terrain alike. Tornadoes are, well, tornadoes. Everything goes wrong when you face a tornado. Despite all the cons, they add a much-needed dose of seriousness to an otherwise absurd third-person shooter.

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I reckon that Arrowhead Studios will add more features to Joel and make him stronger to make the intergalactic war more sophisticated. The developers have hinted at the prospect in the aforementioned interview but shared no details “to surprise and delight” the playerbase.

Without Joel, The Gameplay Loop Could Grow Boring Over Time

Drawing to a conclusion, I believe that Helldivers 2 would have engaged me for a long time. However, eventually, it’d have devolved into a title that I’d play to check out major updates. I’ve often had a fallout with excellent shooter games, but Arrowhead’s magnum opus feels different.

Joel Appreciation Post
byu/MBergdorf inHelldivers

I mean, when you have a dynamic game master that boosts replayability so much, every session just feels like it’s my first experience. I’ve struggled to get out of the honeymoon phase with this game. And I’ll likely stick to it for a long, long time. It is all because of Joel.

Thanks, secretive Arrowhead Studios dev for becoming the game master for over a million gamers.

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Shameer Sarfaraz is a Senior News Writer on eXputer who loves to keep up with the gaming and entertainment industries devoutly. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science and several years of experience reporting on games. Besides his passion for breaking news stories, Shahmeer loves spending his leisure time farming away in Stardew Valley. VGC, IGN, GameSpot, Game Rant, TheGamer, GamingBolt, The Verge, NME, Metro, Dot Esports, GameByte, Kotaku Australia, PC Gamer, and more have cited his articles.

Experience: 4+ Years || Education: Bachelor in Computer Science.

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