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Helldivers 2 is everyone's favourite live-service game right now, but it almost wasn't one

Arrowhead clearly made the right call in the end.

Two people in futuristic suits of armour are shooting at a very large bug-like alien, both of them covered in its green blood in Helldivers 2.
Image credit: Arrowhead

Ignoring that whole PSN thing recently, Helldivers 2 is probably everyone's favourite live-service game right now - but it wasn't originally meant to be.

Yeah, alright, sure, some players were unhappy about needing to connect a PSN account to their PC copy of Helldivers 2, but for the most part everyone is still loving it. No one expected it to take off as much as it did, but you'll likely be hard pressed to find a more loved live-service game this year, even with all of the ups and downs it's had. But when the game started development, much like the first game, it wasn't going to be a live-service title.

Speaking to Inverse, former lead writer on the game Russ Nickel explained that Helldivers 2 being an evolving experience felt "like what live service was born to do. For a while, Arrowhead [Game Studios] didn't know if the sequel was going to be a live-service title. But as we talked about it more, it was clear that this would make for such a cool live service experience, one where the story can change constantly so it really does feel alive."

Interestingly, it really was quite far in development where it was decided the game would be live-service. When asked about at what point, Nickel shared that "it was about halfway through development. For a long time, they were just building the game to be playable. So that was the first focus. When I joined, there was already a game that was fun to play. And then the back half of development was adding in the narrative and figuring out exactly what that playable prototype would become."

Clearly, making that change has worked out for Arrowhead, as it will likely be a big contender for some awards this year. Now we just have to figure out how to truly achieve freedom…

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