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Shellshocked Helldivers 2 players so stunned by indiscriminate friendly fire from Stratagems they've begun to question if the Automatons are behind it

 A horde of automaton bots from Helldivers 2 marchers mercilessly on.
A horde of automaton bots from Helldivers 2 marchers mercilessly on.

Helldivers 2 loves a bit of friendly fire and, while this mechanic has been around in various games since the year dot, its re-emergence at the heart of the current big thing has really captured some imaginations. After all, we live in a world where it feels like half the games you play seem afraid of putting up a fight.

But Helldivers? Half the time your problems seem to stem from your erstwhile companions in democracy, as they over-enthusiastically apply the game's explosive Stratagems in your general vicinity. There's not much of a middle ground. If a Helldiver gets caught in the middle of an orbital strike, near the vicinity of a mortar barrage, or between a turret and its target, that brave soul is now an ex-Helldiver. Reinforcements please!

So far this makes sense. I don't exactly love it when clumsy companions scatter my limbs to the four winds with a misplaced superweapon, but it gives the Stratagems an enormous "oomph" and sense of danger (and if I'm being honest, sometimes it's maybe a tiny bit my fault). But to certain players, something about this doesn't smell right… in fact, there's a whiff of those dastardly xenos to it.

As first spotted by GamesRadar+, there's a contingent of Helldivers that are so put-out by certain Strategems' tendency to blow up the wrong side that they're starting to think it's deliberate. The Mortar Sentry and Gatling Gun are particular targets of ire: in theory crowd-control tools that can suppress waves of foes, in practice often taking out the Helldivers it's supposed to help as collateral.

"I was prone the other day and my Gatling aimed right at me," writes Patient_Commentary. "Paused. And then lit me up. I laughed so hard."

"That thing deliberately shoots at you without a doubt in my mind," writes Ubiquity97. "Closest enemy was about 30m away and the mortar just shoots three at me and one at the enemy [...] It's just on some bullshit sometimes."

Other Helldivers pointed out there are some pretty simple rules to follow. "If you place a machine gun/gatling/autocannon/rocket sentry, and your team can see where this sentry is, that sentry will kill your team," explains erised10. "If you place a mortar sentry and your team cannot see where this sentry is, that sentry will kill your team. If you place a tesla sentry, that sentry will kill your team."

But so far, so sensible. That's not enough however for one player who, in an amazing act of internet self-ownage, vented so hard about an imaginary Automaton gunner that reddit subsequently removed the post. They were mad about the Orbital 380MM HE Barrage which, as any Helldiver will tell you, is not something you ever want to be anywhere near.

"I've been running the last several games and purely based off my anecdotal evidence I am firmly under the impression that the 380MM cannon gunner is, in fact, an Automaton," frothed the angry Helldiver, before going on to swear a bit and fulminate that said gunner needs to be shot. The Automatons of reddit then stepped in to remove the thread.

"Earlier today I threw one about 3 feet from an Automaton factory thingamabobber," says CarnagePants. "When it was finished, the factory was still standing but it had leveled everything else around it. If you're going to make it do a wide spread, fine. But you'd think they could put one fucking round on the actual beacon."

"The first time I ever used it, I threw one out 25 yards behind my teammate running towards me," says ArsonRides. "He kept running and the first shell hit him dead center in his médula oblongata, he died instantly. The next 3 shots pounded his dead body so I couldn’t get his samples. There were approximately 60-75 bugs chasing him, I think one of them sprained an ankle."

Well: democracy don't come cheap, even if Stratagems do. There are of course plenty of players pointing out the reasonable things in response to all the above, but who needs reason when the big gun should just kill the bad things all the time and never touch me.

What the Stratagem-ragers need to do is go outside, touch some grass, and then nuke some bugs. Luckily the latest patch has just tweaked a few elements of squishing the Terminids, because it's swiftly been followed by a new major order: and the promise of permanently ridding a sector of bugs with planet-sized pesticide.