Top 5 This Week

Related Posts

Helldivers 2 had a disastrous weekend, but it didn’t stop hordes of players from diving in, with countless more stuck in queues

I was planning an indulgent weekend shackled to my PC eradicating alien bugs and robots in Helldivers 2. Instead I was forced to do boring things like going outside and spending time with my annoying dog. A travesty.

More Helldivers 2

Helldivers 2 weapons: Best guns of Super Earth
Helldivers 2 stratagems: Understand the ordinance
Helldivers 2 loadouts: Finest kits for bug-killing
Helldivers 2 armor: Which suits to wear
Helldivers 2 medals: Where to claim more currency

Helldivers 2 continues to suffer for its success, which wasn’t entirely unexpected. Ever since its launch, developer Arrowhead has struggled to keep the game running smoothly in the face of its huge popularity, and a new server cap doesn’t seem to have noticeably alleviated the issues, instead just causing another one.

As the concurrent player count kept rising, Arrowhead attempted to create a buffer against this horde of Helldivers by capping the servers at 450,000 players, but this did nothing to solve the most significant problem.

For the entire weekend, matchmaking was completely broken. Despite the multitude of people playing, the in-game tracker was registering zero players, the maps showed no missions-in-progress (unless someone in your friends list was playing), and selecting quick play did absolutely nothing.

The only way to get into some multiplayer action was through your friends list, leading to players sharing friend codes on Steam and Discord. I managed to get through a bunch of missions with Phil, Sean and Harvey with no issues, but for a game like this matchmaking really is essential, so it’s not a great state of affairs, and it’s yet to be resolved.

With the servers being battered, more problems were making it a less than ideal time to be a Helldiver. During UK hours, I had no trouble getting in-game, but the moment the Americans woke up that changed. I wasn’t surprised to see server queues, but Helldivers 2 provides frustratingly little feedback for queue dwellers. After failing to get in, you get a message about the servers being at capacity, and then you just need to keep waiting. There’s no estimated waiting time, no information about your position on the queue—you just have to hope for the best.

During these busy hours, the game really struggled to handle the number of players, creating additional symptoms like mission rewards not showing up and being unable to claim or purchase items in the ship, battle pass and shop menus. Sometimes just restarting the game resolved these issues, but quitting also meant you’d be stuck in that vague queue again. These bugs have been affecting players since launch, and while Arrowhead has been working on mitigating them, they seem no less prevalent now.

The situation sucks and players are understandably frustrated that more than a week after launch they are still having to jump through hoops to play. Adding to the frustration was the fact that an XP bonus was in effect due to some prior issues, which players found themselves unable to take advantage of, which I suspect means we’ll see the bonus extended.

But I also sympathise with Arrowhead, which did not expect this level of success, and was thus entirely unprepared for the stress placed on the servers. CEO Johan Pilestedt said he was “completely exhausted” by the game’s popularity on Twitter last week, and noted that keeping things up and running required “Many, many late nights, on-calls, emergency meetings, discussions around server capacity, shards, capacity units, CPU utilization, login rates and CCU”. He predicted things would be better over the weekend, but clearly he misjudged the demand.

As much as it might make some of the playerbase happy, crunching over weekends is not the solution; rather, this weekend’s debacle is another reason why live service games really need meaty beta periods and stress tests before they launch to give developers an indication of its potential popularity and to highlight any problems and blind spots. There really is no other way to prepare for the launch of a game like this. Time and time again, studios underestimate what’s required to maintain these mammoth enterprises, even when said studio is a veteran online developer.

The silver lining is Sony and Arrowhead now know they have a hit on their hands, and hopefully the resources dedicated to it will reflect its popularity. And crucially, it’s a really great time—when things are running smoothly. It’s been ages since I’ve been this entranced by a live service romp, and as much as the weekend was a letdown, I’ll be sticking around and continuing to fight for Super Earth for, I suspect, a long time.

Popular Articles