Helldivers 2 dev lays out Arrowhead’s strategy for buffing and nerfing the game’s guns: ‘Powerful weapons can’t be too versatile, versatile weapons can’t be too powerful’

Helldivers 2 just had its first proper balance patch, and a few fan favourites had their numbers tuned down. Namely the Breaker shotgun, the Railgun, and the Energy Shield Backpack—a holy trinity that most players rocked on higher difficulties, aside from missions where more specific tools were called for.

(Image credit: The Helldivers 2 Discord.)

Arrowhead’s mission objective here isn’t to spoil people’s fun—rather, it’s to make sure that players actually use the game’s other weapons. That’s according to game designer Alex Kravchenko, who released a statement via the game’s Discord shortly after the patch debuted. 

“… we believe it’s important to be completely transparent about our approach to game balance, especially when it comes to weapons and stratagems that you have strong opinions about,” Kravchenko writes. “Our goal is to give you a wide range of weapon choices … Sure, you will have your own favourite, but it should come from your personal preference, not from the universally-agreed knowledge of which gun is the strongest.”

The dev uses the Autocannon as a good example of a weapon that’s powerful, but has some major flaws: “it packs a powerful punch, has a very good range, but requires you to carry an ammo backpack or have a friend assist you.” In comparison, the Grenade Launcher has very few flaws—but lower damage to make up for its “flexibility.” 

“Weapons that are both powerful and versatile become a no-brainer choiсe during the weapon selection phase. It robs you of your own agency, as stale ‘meta’ builds force you to make an unfair choice between a fun weapon and an effective one. In short: Powerful weapons can’t be too versatile, versatile weapons can’t be too powerful.”

(Image credit: Arrowhead)

While Kravchenko’s name-and-shamed firearms of the month are getting nerfed, he says the team  “strongly believe[s] that the changes won’t ruin this build, but rather help the affected items find their place among the other options and stay effective in capable hands.”

Another dev from the team notes that the Railgun has mostly had its purpose shifted. Instead of being an all-rounder, it’s more of a skilled sniping weapon now. In its default mode the Railgun can’t punch through heavy armour anymore—but if you use its ‘Unsafe’ mode (which can blow you up if you hold down your mouse too long) you can still hurt plated targets. Its overall limb damage has been reduced, too, so you’ve gotta aim for the head now. Higher skill floor for the same impact—seems fair to me.

“I know that having your favourite toy nerfed absolutely sucks. Investing countless hours into mastering a weapon is an incredible dedication from you. which is the main reason we’re making this game in the first place. And then having that weapon weakened feels like a punishment for being too good at the game … But I implore you not to compare a changed item with its older version.”

He adds: “Oh and we also buffed a bunch of weapons as well!” Which is correct—the Flamethrower, Punisher, Breaker Spray & Pray, and 380mm/120mm Orbital Barrages all received a touch-up. It’s a great day for pyromaniacs and (despite the Breaker no longer being broken) shotgun-lovers as well.

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