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The robots are winning: Helldivers 2 players are convinced those new planet defense missions are so difficult they must be bugged

Following yesterday’s surprise assault on the Xzar system by the Automaton menace, the helldivers are in shambles. Squads are failing Planet Defense campaigns in droves as players complain that the new civilian rescue missions are way too difficult. Helldivers 2‘s galactic war is changing at a pace we don’t usually see in a multiplayer game: As players complete one conquest, developer Arrowhead then triggers new planetary conflicts as lightly narrativized events.

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24 hours into the war’s new front, a red progress bar that’s longer than a blue progress bar suggests the robots are winning. With just four hours remaining on the countdown above the planet Draupnir, Super Earth might suffer its first major loss.

Is a (non-Terminid) bug to blame? Possibly. Just hours after yesterday’s robot invasion began, players reported that Extraction missions to safely escort civilians across a battlefield were unusually difficult. They argue that these specific missions, which are required to progress the Major Order objective, are more intense and dense with enemies than the same mission type on other planets.

“It’s harder than all the other levels. Even 9 was easy in comparison,” said streamer Gothalion on Twitter.

“I have not completed one extraction mission,” wrote Pepinis on Reddit.

“Recoilless is way too slow, autocannons are too weak, rifles are laughable, orbitals kill the civilians. Huge waste of time,” wrote Reddit user Samsquanch-01, who gave up on attempting extraction missions with random teammates.

I can echo that. Our group has been playing at difficulty levels 4-6 and we immediately noticed a difficulty spike on the Extraction mission type. Bot drops flew in at an alarming rate that outpaced our cooldowns on armor-piercing weapons and stratagems. I’ve personally never seen more bots on screen than I did last night trying to get just a handful of civilians across the killzone safely. We were eventually able to win one, but only barely, and not before cranking the difficulty down to four.

The inconsistency between these Extraction missions and the rest of the game have some convinced that this degree of punishment must be a bug. It does seem unlikely that Arrowhead Games intentionally spiked the difficulty on a single mission type, especially considering the intensity of other mission types on Draupnir and Mantes, like ICBM launch or wave-based survival, is unchanged.

Extraction missions are proving so difficult that, for the first time since launch, players on Reddit are rallying to share specific tips and tricks just to save the bare minimum number of civilians.

User Fit_Assistance_8258, who says they’ve completed a bunch of Extraction missions, shared the strategies that worked for their squad (shortened for readability):

Don’t try to outdamage the armor. You can’t. You can’t get enough anti tank/anti armor fast enough. You’ll get overwhelmed and fail way too early.Instead. Focus on smoke and EMS. You should ALWAYS have smoke up, literally everyone who can take it should take a smoke.EMS is also key here. If you have the EMS Mortar, it’s king shit on this mission. Two EMS Mortars will give you uninterrupted civvie saving.The other huge winner of this mission is the Shields. Shield backpack and Shield pod. Keep a shield backpack on the button presser, let them smoke themselves if need be.The civvies will die for Super Earth. It’s totally fine, you get a ton of req for this mission, so if a few die it’s not a huge deal.

Sound advice, especially the suggestion of smoke and EMS. In Helldivers 2’s first week that focused on bugs, stratagems that stun or blind enemies didn’t seem all that useful when you can just blow them up instead. Now that we’re facing waves of bots with heavy armor, the need for delay tactics has come into focus. It’s true that you don’t necessarily have to kill all the bots, just keep them away from the civilians long enough to meet quota.

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That’s also the advice of user Worried_Lie_7772, who coordinated with their squad to kite the majority of enemies out of the civilian compound while one stayed behind to escort.

“We waited for bots to mass up and attack us, we found a majority of the bots will arrive near the bigger group of players, once enough bots had arrived, we sent one man toward the evac site to complete the objective, they would still have hostiles dropping on their position, but a puny amount compared to the rest of the squad,” they wrote.

This ended up working for us, too. Not everyone made it into the dropship in the end, but all that mattered was that the job was done. Even if Extraction missions are bugged, it’s been its own kind of fun working around seemingly impossible odds. As Helldivers 2 enters its second weekend and matchmaking stability remains Arrowhead’s chief concern, we may soon find out what it’s like to lose a war.

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