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Helldivers 2 nerfs in new patch have set the community ablaze

So much for keeping things non-toxic
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In Helldivers 2’s most recent patch, update 01.000.100, developer Arrowhead adjusted several weapons in its first wide balancing sweep since launch – and, boy, are players divided over the nerfs made in there.

A thread with the patch notes on the Helldivers 2 subreddit has close to 9,000 comments at the time of writing, with eight more threads concerning the update having over 1,000 comments. If Arrowhead wanted to get a debate going, it certainly was successful. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of constructive and calm criticism that the studio would be happy about – there is a ton of negativity around the adjustments with players claiming that the game had been ruined, made unplayable, and so on. You’ll know the drill if you’ve followed online debates around any game in the history of video games.

A group of Helldivers stands on a rock making celebratory gestures as a cloud of yellow fog erupts behind them

The Helldivers 2 community no longer stands united.

It’s quite ironic, really, that Arrowhead’s decisions have set the otherwise tranquil community ablaze like this, given that studio CEO Johan Pilestedt in the past stated that avoiding a toxic situation like this is exactly why Helldivers 2 would never get a PvP mode.

Well, it turns out that even in a non-competitive game, players will go berserk if you touch what they’ve established as the almighty and holy “meta” – a term describing the prevalent and most effective way of playing a game, such as using specific loadouts and weapons.

Update 01.000.100 nerfed a whole bunch of popular meta weapons, which greatly upset many users. This, in turn, led to a counter movement by another group of players calling those upset out and claiming they should simply “get good” if they couldn’t complete missions without these powerful meta weapons. Again, this is quite normal stuff for competitive games and exactly what Arrowhead wanted to dodge, as any level-headed discussion about balance is now going to be hijacked by any of the two sides, making constructive debates nigh impossible.

It’s going to be interesting how Arrowhead, which has built up a good reputation for itself within the community over the weeks since the game’s launch, is going to extract itself from this. In a blog post released after the patch, the developer seemed to hunker down and defend the nerfs.

“First I’d like to speak to the general power of primary weapons. Many have commented that they aren’t powerful enough and are unable to deal with all the enemies either by the amount of ammunition required or their raw DPS,” Arrowhead’s Patrik Lasota, the Head of Product Testing, wrote. “This is very much intentional, you need to rely on your Stratagems, and the Stratagems of your team to deal with all the enemies effectively. [...] This doesn’t mean that your primary weapon shouldn’t feel good to use, but please understand that it is primary only in the sense that it’s something you always spawn with.”

He also rejected the idea that patches should only ever buff weapons and never nerf them. He explained: “However as a designer I can tell you this is not a great idea, but I understand where the sentiment comes from. All too often in the games industry the core fantasy, and what makes a weapon feel good and fun, is ignored for the sake of Balance. I believe players are scared of Nerfs, because it will ruin the fantasy of a weapon, ruin their fun. It is extra important to us to tread carefully so that we don’t ruin fantasy and fun when we do nerfs. We hope you, our players, will tell us when we cross that line inadvertently.”

With almost 4,000 comments on the thread discussing this post, that hope has certainly been fulfilled by now.