Helldivers 2 battle pass is too damn slow

Do your part.

Helldivers 2 is a game based around being pure fun. It delivers immediate gratification to you in truckloads. Each kill feels satisfying, each accidental death is hilarious, and each victory feels well-earned and glorious. That’s the case during the actual fights and missions you launch into, but it falls apart when it comes to progression.

Helldivers, the original game, didn’t have an especially fast progression system either. You’d simply unlock stuff naturally as part of the general game. Helldivers 2 keeps a similar system, but it feels a bit slower than before. Worse yet, it now times you to a battle pass. There’s a knee-jerk reaction to battle passes that, while understandable, isn’t always earned. This isn’t one of those times.

Some view battle passes as this unnecessary gate that stands between them and the things they want to unlock. That’s true even in games like Fortnite, which is entirely free-to-play. Sure, the battle pass costs money, but it only grants cosmetics for getting through it. Well, that and usually enough premium currency to get the next battle pass.

Helldivers 2 has a battle pass that isn’t just cosmetic. You level the battle pass not with experience but with Medals. As you get Medals from each mission, sometimes from individual objectives, it’s slow progress for the most part. Many missions will only grant a handful of medals, and there are dozens of unlocks to get.

This is how you get new weapons in Helldivers 2. This is also how you get new armour pieces. These things are rarely full upgrades but will offer different stats and can perform better against specific enemy types. It’s a good system in that you technically have everything you need as soon as you start the game. It also makes unlocking weapons somewhat underwhelming.

When battle passes feel sluggish, it’s important for each unlock to count. Making it rewarding justifies the time you spend. If all you get are incremental bits of gear, that’s when it starts to feel like a grind. I can sympathise with the developers, as it splits the battle pass into free and paid premium tiers. Locking good gear behind a paywall starts to look a lot like pay-to-win, but when you don’t, it’s difficult to justify the cost. There are other unlocks outside of this, but even they feel like you’re just perpetually crawling uphill.

While it’s clear that you’re supposed to play Helldivers 2 every day for the rest of your life, it’s not a satisfying way to game. It’s also indicative of the live service world we live in. Many describe it as being the Destiny model, but I’d argue even Destiny 2 doesn’t get it right. All I can tell you is that it’s probably the thing that’s going to be the end of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.

Sure, Helldivers 2 is fun, but it’s also basically a second job if you want to keep on top of it. Is that really worth it?