Just days after saving the children, Helldivers 2 players are ordered to annihilate bug children in a weeklong nuke-a-thon

 Helldivers 2 democratic detonation.
Credit: Arrowhead Game Studios

Helldivers 2 celebrated a moral victory last week when the community made the collective decision to save scores of innocent Super Earth children instead of unlocking a new stratagem. Taking strike three on the Anti-Tank Mines suggests we really must not care about new forms of minefields, but it's also a sign that the Helldivers player base has a soft spot for kids. Well, human kids.

In a cruel and unfortunately funny inversion of fates, Super Earth's newest major order is to wipe millions of Terminid children off the face of the galaxy.

"Reduce the Terminid population and clear planets for citizen settlement, utilizing the new Hive Breaker Drill to cleanse their nurseries," reads the major order.

That Hive Breaker Drill is the subject of a new mission type available on Terminid planets. It's a large map-type mission, and similar to the Supercolony offensive on Meridia, expect much of the region to be completely overtaken by crusty Terminid nest.

The Hive Breaker Drill mission I played today at level 7 called for the culling of three nurseries on opposite ends of the map. The nurseries themselves look like huge nests with lots of bug spawners. At the center of the nest, a prompt to call down the Hive Breaker appears. A pelican drops a cargo box on the battlefield and the drill neatly unpacks itself in place. After a quick activation, the drill barrels its on-board nuke deep into the underground nursery, detonating after a 10-second countdown.

The explosion is on par with a garden-variety Hellbomb, though unique to the Hive Breaker is the bottomless pit it leaves behind. As I gazed into the black abyss, breathing in fumes of atomized Terminid babies, the image of recently-hatched bugs having a peaceful nap where I've just made a big hole entered my mind. Are we really any different from them? A sucker punch from a flanking Hunter snapped me out of the brief anti-liberty trance, and I went back to gleefully punching holes in bugs with guns.

helldivers 2
helldivers 2

The new mission was also my first extended time with last week's big balancing patch. I'm really liking the buffs to machine guns and non-explosive stratagems—auto turrets and gatling strikes really pack a punch now—but what stood out more than anything is how relatively chill that level 7 mission felt. Do lower spawn rates for Bile Titans and Chargers make Helldivers 2 a bit easier? Yes, but all Arrowhead has really done is reduce the need for cheesy strategies at higher levels.

For the first time since launch, I don't feel pressured to always have an all-powerful Orbital Laser or Railcannon in my loadout. I'm also seeing fewer frustrating scenarios where enemies spawn at unbelievable rates and the whole mission snowballs out of control. Even still, my squad of randoms completed that Hive Breaker mission with no spare respawns.

The major order asks for a deep cleaning of five planets (Hellmire, Nivel 43, Estanu, Crimsica, Fori Prime) in a week. With just under five days remaining, divers are making steady progress with nearly two planets liberated.