Lost Planet Walked So Helldivers Could Run

A series from the past echoes in Helldivers 2

Lost Planet Walked So Helldivers Could Run
Lost Planet 2. Source: Steam.

Helldivers 2 is one of the best games of the current generation. The numbers show that millions of people have been playing it since its launch date in February, and the numbers continue to reach 40,000 concurrent players on Steam alone. Sure, it has had its own pitfalls (we're looking at you Sony), but it continues to recover time and time again, becoming stronger than ever, relentless in its pursuit of success like the very bugs that chase you in the game.

For many, Helldivers 2 is their first dive into such a game, but for me, it isn't my first rodeo with co-op shooters. I've played Left 4 Dead and its sequel, Back For Blood; Darktide; and the closest comparable to Helldivers 2, Deep Rock Galactic. I've also played the first Helldivers game, which I enjoy slightly more than its sequel for varying reasons. All of these titles share a particular similarity to Sony's current bug-smashing hit, but one game (or should I say game series) in particular, Lost Planet, popped into my mind from the first moment I played Helldivers 2, and has stuck with me ever since.

The game Capcom forgot

Let’s go way back to 2006. Gaming was still growing, and not as many people were dedicating their time or money to consoles and gaming PCs as they do today. Games were few and far between compared to the almost daily cadence of releases we have today. But that doesn’t mean that games were of great quality then; the industry was afraid to take risks, and it lay stagnant for a while, relying on well-known formulas like first-person and third-person shooters. In the FPS realm, we had the Halo and Call of Duty series, and well for third-person shooters, there were a couple like Syphon Filter, SOCOM, Rogue Trooper, and Splinter Cell. None of these games had interesting set pieces, but that’s why I liked a game like Lost Planet: Extreme Condition back then. 

Lost Planet 2. Source: Author.

Extreme condition

Lost Planet: Extreme Condition is a third-person shooter, and the same can be said for Helldivers 2. It played like any other third-person shooter out there at the time, but despite that, it was more than moderately successful, selling a million copies by April 2007. What made the game such a success (mind you, a million copies sold back in 2006 is considered a success) was what made Helldivers 2 the success it is today: the backdrop.

The world of Lost Planet was fascinating. E.D.N. III is a frozen planet. Its inhabitants, known as the Akrid, were able to generate thermal energy, a resource important to humans. It sounds similar to the bugs we’re all familiar with, doesn’t it? Now, back on Earth, thermal energy is becoming rarer than ever because of war and global warming. Adding to that mess, Earth is becoming harder to inhabit, requiring humans to colonize E.D.N. III and claim its resources.  

The gameplay of Extreme Condition is tied to its very lore. Every time you kill an Akrid, you gather thermal energy, and that energy is a resource you need to survive the planet’s extreme conditions. You also have a variety of weapons to play with, though quite limited in number. But, what makes the game truly stand out among others is the existence of mechanized suits called Vital Suits (VS for short) and their overwhelming firepower. These suits aren’t too different from the ones we play with in Helldivers today, with heavy weapons like miniguns and rocket launchers to rain democracy upon Super Earth’s enemies. What makes VS different is that they have rather more mobility than their Helldivers counterpart.

The player also ends up fighting against their own people, which, to a certain extent, changes the way the game plays. Instead of trying to kite the melee-based Akrids, the player now has to contend against targets that can shoot back and have their own VS to boot. It is quite similar to how the Automatons change the variety of gameplay in Helldivers 2, putting the players in the back end of the fight as they try to bob and weave against the incoming hail of lasers. 

Because of the game’s success, Capcom released a sequel, which I found even more enjoyable than the first.

Lost Planet 2. Source: Author.

Lost Planet 2

It's in Lost Planet 2 where I can see similarities to Helldivers 2. After the events of Extreme Condition, E.D.N. III has changed drastically. The snow melted and revealed a more vibrant world than anyone expected. The huge change in the setting means that the campaign is now set in various biomes. Much like the different planets you visit in Helldivers 2, the levels in Lost Planet 2 vary from tundra to tropical jungles and scorching deserts. The game also has plenty more weapons that have unique niches, from energy guns and plasma weapons to support weapons like the shield. The VS also vary widely, with some having boosters for improved ability and others having more mounted weapons.

The game was also more catered towards the co-op market, with stages requiring players to work together to defeat the ever-growing (figuratively and literally) Akrid bugs. There’s one amazing instance game where players must ride on a train that’s being chased by a giant Akrid monster, similar to the massive worm Shalai-hulud in Dune. One player can fire the train's mega-cannon, while another has to load its shells. This kind of teamwork reminds me of how Helldivers is today. Sure, players don’t necessarily have to work together all the time, but when they do, they can achieve goals much faster and more efficiently.

Thanks to the refurbished systems and additions from the first game, Lost Planet 2 was a success, selling over two million copies, possibly as many as three million worldwide. However, the competition was stiff, and while it was outshone by other games that came out at the time, its success was enough to spark the third game in the series. We’re not going to talk about Lost Planet 3 because it was one of the worst flops in gaming history, to the point that Capcom never reported how much it sold. The game was released within months of some of the biggest titles in history, including Grand Theft Auto V and The Last of Us, likely contributing to the poor sales. It also stuck close to the formula of the previous two games, doing little to innovate the way other big releases did. It also returned to the frozen setting of the first game which was way too soon for the series.

How Lost Planet can make Helldivers 2 better

No one can fully say that the Lost Planet series helped inspire the creation of Helldivers 2, but there’s a good chance there was indirect inspiration. Lost Planet 2 can be considered the forgotten grandfather of third-person co-op games, and the similarities in gameplay and set pieces show that some of the game's DNA made its way into Helldivers. Interestingly enough, there are a couple more things that Helldivers can learn from this series and one that can make the game far better.

Helldivers 2 is nowhere near perfect, but it is an amazing game that has quickly taken much of my time since its release. But I can’t help but think about ways to improve it, and some of those are tied to what I was familiar with in the Lost Planet series. One thing Helldivers 2 can learn from Lost Planet: bigger and better monsters. Sure, the game already has a lot of variety in monsters, with some fans even stating that the monster design is a rip-off from the Lost Planet series. Although I disagree with that contention, there are plenty more monsters from the series that Helldivers 2 can integrate into their game.

Lost Planet 2. Source: Author.

The Bile Titan and the recently released Factory Striders are great additions to the game, requiring players to work together to bring the monstrosities down. But what about adding the Category-G of Akrids like the Akrid X or the Gordiant? Or if Arrowhead wants something bigger and better than the Bile Titan, they can add something like the Baiztencale into the game as a future boss fight. The first Helldivers bosses were an entire mission in themselves, so why not get inspiration from Lost Planet's monsters, giving players unique ways to take them down, creating a cinematic experience while highlighting player agency? We already know that the developers are hinting towards these boss fights from the previous game, such as the Hive Lord skeletons showing up on some of the bug planets. Hopefully, Arrowhead can add these boss fights to their game, but with the Lost Planet feel to them.

Having more variations of the EXO suits also wouldn't hurt, much like how Lost Planet 2 did it. It’d be great to have a suit that’s faster to help get around the huge maps that Helldivers 2 has across every mission. It’d also be great to have a slower suit with more firepower that we can bring down for boss fights. The first game had two EXO suits that could be upgraded to make them stand out from each other, not to mention the other vehicles that were around in the game. It's not that much of a stretch to say that more suit variations could be added to the game.

These additions to Helldivers 2 could certainly make the game even better than what it is now. If the CEO of Helldivers 2, Johan Pilestedt, wants the game to truly last forever, it's in his best interest to look for inspiration in other games. These additions aren’t impossible, considering that some might already be in the pipeline, such as the variation of mech suits. Hopefully, we’ll see these sooner rather than later in the game’s life.

I’m not going to say that Lost Planet inspired Helldivers 2. The game’s CEO never mentioned that nor any other game that inspired its creation aside from Dungeons and Dragons, and that’s fine, Helldivers has its own unique identity. But at least everyone should be able to agree that Lost Planet indirectly inspired the creation of Helldivers 2. But it does make me wonder: if Capcom rereleased Lost Planet, would it be similar to Helldivers? No, I think Helldivers has its own mechanics that will forever be unique compared to games in existence. However, if Lost Planet was released this year, it would be a co-op shooter with multiple weapons, upgradable mech suits, and a choice of missions you can take in various places across E.D.N. III. I think that, to a certain extent, it would be similar to Helldivers because, mechanics-wise, it’s already there. But alas, Capcom has forgotten this game, and it's quite clear now that Lost Planet walked so Helldivers could run.  

If you want to experience the Lost Planet series, you can find both the first and third games on Steam. They are practically always on sale, so you can easily get them for as low as $10. As for the second game (the best game in the series, in my opinion), it was removed from Steam years ago due to the Windows Live catastrophe. But you can get a physical or digital game copy in the Xbox store. Consider trying one (or all) of these games out to see the beginnings of what Helldivers fans are currently enjoying.


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