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Thanks to Helldivers 2, tricking normal people into role-playing has never been easier

For now it's fighting for democracy. I'll have these chumps playing wizards and making goblin sounds in 3 months max.

Custom header of Helldivers 2 guy with a wizards hat
Image credit: VG247

Only last week, I was doing the usual: Helldiving with the homies. Taking on Automatons and helping out with the war effort. We're a bunch of dorks. That's not surprising, we've been like this for years. What did surprise me is the willingness of other Helldivers 2 players - who, from what I can tell, are totally normal people – to be down to clown in-character.

I can smell an RPG fan in-the-making on the wind from half a mile away, and somewhere in my mid-20s I partook in a ritual at the back of a CEX with strangers (and several bottles of WKD) that allowed me to do exactly this through the limitless range of the internet.

Helldivers 2 is rich with these same people. It's a new frontier of would-be wizards, warlocks, wendigos, and werewolves. I promise you this. Helldivers 2 will lead to a new wave of RPG players, the sort of people that, at the end of the day, will go buy a copy of Lancer or the DnD 5th edition handbook. This is a good thing.

Some helldivers killing a thing in Helldivers 2.
Soldeirs, not farmers. | Image credit: VG247/Arrowhead Game Studios

Now, this isn't a binary thing. Roleplaying in Helldivers 2 can take many forms. A salute at the start of the mission is the most common form of this tomfoolery; a way of saying howdy to incoming players joining your lobby. But, occasionally, I'll hear democratic chrips from PS5 mics or calls for retreat echoed by PC powerhouses. It turns out Helldivers 2 is a wonderful gateway drug getting folks to get goofy with it. Give it a go if you're not too embarrassed. Tell your squad mates that you need to gather rare samples for the sake of justice in voice coms. You'll either be greeted with similarly heroic dedication to the bit, cringe-inducing silence, or encouraged to shag someone – anyone – immediately. There are rarely other outcomes.

It's a revelation. Anyone who was trying to get a Dungeons and Dragons game going a few years back will know how powerful a bit of popular media can be when it comes to encouraging new players to try this sort of thing out. Stranger Things did wonders for people's confidence in jumping on Discord and acting like a Gnomish Bard.

Helldivers 2 is not-so-direct an avenue to a 3-hour YouTube medieval tavern playlist booming on a kitchen table, but it's a gateway nonetheless. There's still that tricky jump from the distinct Starship Troopers vibes and 3rd-person action shooting to an RPG. But a path is there, and willing to be exploited. After a few nights of Helldivers 2 voice comms I was convinced I could have these suckers doing voices and pretending to be grizzeld war vets in no time.

Some players in a firefight in Helldivers 2.
It's snow joke. | Image credit: VG247/Arrowhead Game Studios

A lot of the credit for this goes to Arrowhead, who has managed to weaponise its Helldivers universe in masterful fashion. Explicit credit goes to the writers, of course, but I must note also the sound team. The triumphant soundtrack is just cheesy enough, but played straight so that the game manages to hit its comedic stride and somehow circle back around to an earnest sincerity. You are playing a space trooper, and Helldivers 2 lets you revel in that.

Now if you're able to pull yourself away from the galactic front and take a gander online, you'll see ample examples of people proudly exclaiming their love for Super Earth and hate for the enemies of democracy. Social media can often be an illusion - many will talk a big game on Twitter but not actually follow through. But with Helldivers 2, it's different!

People are running their own propaganda show, they're making posters to aid the war effort. It's a bonanza of shared community spirit. Sure, a lot of it is done by the same enthusiasts who always do this sort of stuff – but we're seeing it explode outwards to a wild degree. Like GTA Online for Good Morning, Vietnam fans.

If you are reading this and do partake in a cheeky "for democracy" while you're own your lonesome, or find yourself enthralled by edited montages of hard-fought battles, I've got some shocking news: you're a roleplayer. Sorry, that's just the way it is. Your future will range from anything between a weekly Pathfinder session with the lads, or shooting nerf arrows at people at a bi-monthly LARP in a £1,500 custom-made outfit. That's the path you're on, now.

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