Helldivers 2's player-made comedy comes from the lead's many years playing D&D: "It always ends with us crying of laughter"

Helldivers 2
(Image credit: Sony)

Tabletop RPGs, including D&D, are to thank for Helldivers 2's brand of player-driven comedy. 

As GamesRadar+'s own Joel Franey found when he delved into Arrowhead Game Studios' phenomenally popular shooter Helldivers 2, it isn't just a good co-op, it's a masterclass in designing comedy games. Rather than add a few jokes or have characters indulge in some zany antics to elicit some laughs, Arrowhead has woven comedy into the gameplay itself, meaning all the hilarious moments are down to the actions of the players. 

Far from being a happy coincidence, this unscripted player-led humor is precisely what Arrowhead CEO and creative director Johan Pilestedt was aiming for with Helldivers 2. "It is absolutely what I'm going for when I design games," he explains in a post on Twitter.

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Pilestedt adds that to achieve this type of hilarity, he drew inspiration from his time spent playing tabletop RPGs in which he and his companions would, by their own doing, find themselves in all kinds of amusing situations. "The concept originates from years of playing P&P RPGs, where the players manage to turn everything into a farce," he says. "No matter if it's Cthulhu or D&D, it always ends with us crying of laughter."

"It's interesting how often people decide that since it's humor/comedy, everything needs to be a joke," he continues. "The humor comes from the contrast of being told you are elite soldiers to what actually happens in game. If everything was silly, nothing would be."

Arrowhead's approach has certainly paid off, as Helldivers 2 has enjoyed immense success since arriving on the scene earlier this month, already managing to surpass the concurrent player peak of heavy hitters such as GTA 5 and Destiny 2 on Steam. Unfortunately, all this interest has led to server woes, so much so that over the weekend, the player cap was raised to 450,000 to help cater to the game's immense player base. The developer says it's "completely exhausted" by the success of the shooter, but "very, very pleased" that it's so popular. 

Meanwhile, Helldivers 2 will "never" add a PvP mode because the dev wants to "reduce toxic elements."

Anne-Marie Ostler
Freelance Writer

Originally from Ireland, I moved to the UK in 2014 to pursue a Games Journalism and PR degree at Staffordshire University. Following that, I've freelanced for GamesMaster, Games TM, Official PlayStation Magazine and, more recently, Play and GamesRadar+. My love of gaming sprang from successfully defeating that first Goomba in Super Mario Bros on the NES. These days, PlayStation is my jam. When not gaming or writing, I can usually be found scouring the internet for anything Tomb Raider related to add to my out of control memorabilia collection.