Former Helldivers 2 lead writer didn't think anyone at Arrowhead "was expecting Malevelon Creek to be a thing" before it turned into the Galactic War's deadliest battleground

Helldivers 2
(Image credit: Arrowhead Game Studios)

Helldivers 2 reacts to players and the in-universe galactic tug-of-war like no other live service game, and it's all thanks to improv, surprisingly. 

In an interview with Inverse, former lead writer Russ Nickel revealed that his background in improvisational comedy helped the team quickly and appropriately react to community shenanigans, most notably with the struggle to liberate one of the most contested planets in the game, Malevelon Creek.

"I don't think anyone was expecting Malevelon Creek to be a thing, and the game had to very much 'yes, and' that," Nickel explains. "We did talk about how to 'yes, and' Malevelon Creek in a way that wasn't the game communicating with Reddit. It was still an in-universe thing."

Rather than simply rewarding players with "a fun Malevelon Creek thing," the developers instead framed the brutally tough planet as "a place of heroes" that needed to be memorialized. Helldivers 2 honored fallen rookies with a free cape and an in-game Malevelon Creek Memorial Day, for example. "It's about finding ways to see what the community is up to and 'yes, and' it in a way that doesn't break the immersion," Nickel continued. "Where it's a little bit of a wink." Probably what helped Helldivers 2 become a live service masterclass

That improvisational spirit has been carried over by the game's very own players, too. Nickel praised the player base for banding together against the now-scrapped PSN mandate, saying "We trained them to fight together and they fought together."

Elsewhere, the Helldivers 2 veteran is making a Fire Emblem-style strategy RPG that’s as horny as Baldur’s Gate 3. 

Freelance contributor

Kaan freelances for various websites including Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer, and this one, Gamesradar. He particularly enjoys writing about spooky indies, throwback RPGs, and anything that's vaguely silly. Also has an English Literature and Film Studies degree that he'll soon forget.