Helldivers 2 players are dousing planets in poison gas that Super Earth says will ‘permanently’ destroy the bugs, but we all know what Joel’s really up to

Greetings, helldivers. An official Super Earth communiqué puts the latest Helldivers 2 major order in no uncertain terms: the goal is to “permanently contain” the bugs by dousing four planets in special “Termicide” gas. It’s up to the players themselves to activate these Termicide towers, a welcome new mission type that’s been added to the four bordering planets on the Terminid front.

The plan, as outlined in an in-fiction news broadcast published by Arrowhead today, seems foolproof: gas ’em, drop ’em, then we’re bug-free forever. I’m sure it’ll go exactly as predicted. There’s no way that, say, Termicide will actually have the opposite effect on the bugs, causing horrible mutations that create new breeds of horrible.

At least, that’s our working theory. A potentially war-ending gambit that perpetuates the war and leads to more Helldivers (who, officially, never die) to die, feels right up Arrowhead’s alley, and “unintentional” mutation sure would be a fun way to canonize those flying “Shrieker” bugs CEO Johan Pilestedt insists don’t exist.

Breaking: Helldivers To Permanently Contain Bugs#StrohmannNews pic.twitter.com/QLRQbtQxovMarch 13, 2024

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In fact, the more I learn about Termicide, the more I’m seeing yesterday’s surprise debut of the Shriekers in a whole new light. Did game master Joel send Shriekers after a small handful of players as a story beat? It’s strange how so few have encountered the strange mushroom-shaped nests after over 24 hours. I played for three hours last night under the same conditions and couldn’t find any. Perhaps yesterday’s Shriekers were the first products of the gas, and they’ll start appearing in more player sessions as more Termicide towers go online?

I hope I’m right because that would be fun, but I also hope I’m wrong because it’d be even cooler to be surprised by some last-minute twist. Not a difficult bar for Arrowhead to clear—Helldivers 2 has proven full of surprises in its first month, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

A “Termicide” tower spewing nasty gas after activating it. (Image credit: Arrowhead Game Studios)

What’s remarkable, and uncommon in an era of live service games, is how often Arrowhead isn’t just telling a story with its updates, but also changing how we play it. Nearly every development in the galactic war has come with some sort of game-changing element: mission types, modifiers, mechs, stratagem access, and now another bug. In a more conventional live operation, these story beats would be directly tied to limited-time cosmetics with goosed-up prices. Instead, Arrowhead’s focus is almost entirely on missions and items free for everyone while it’s hardly said anything about the $10 warbond launching tomorrow.

It’s a refreshing inversion of how I’ve experienced multiplayer games for the better part of a decade, and just one reason Helldivers 2 is keeping my attention during an already stacked 2024. 

The Termicide tower major order is set to conclude on March 19, at which point all the Terminids will be dead and our helldivers can go home to their spouses and 2.5 kids… right? After all, insecticides have always been safe and predictable throughout human history, something this very apolitical game no doubt will represent faithfully.

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