LGBTQ+ Helldivers 2 players complain of rampant and ‘surreal’ in-game toxicity

Image shows four sci-fi soldiers standing on a rocky outcrop against a yellow sky, a superimposed screenshot from reddit reads "LGBTQ please avoid the official discord for now"

Wildly popular new sci-fi shoot-em-up game Helldivers 2 has captured the public’s hearts, minds, and wallets since it launched on 8 February, but some LGBTQ+ players aren’t very impressed.

In the game, humanity is governed by a dystopian, authoritarian government called Super Earth. Other planets have been colonised, and on them, humans farm creatures called the Terminids: a bug-like race that produce a valuable resource called E-710. But (yikes!) the bugs have escaped, and elite shock troops are being dropped from orbit to reclaim the colonised lands: these troops are the Helldivers mentioned in the title.

If this all sounds a lot like the plot of the 1997 science fiction film Starship Troopers, you’re on the right lines. Helldivers 2 features satirical, propaganda-style military recruitment videos created by the fictional world government, similar to the “our brave lads fighting the bugs” vibe of the ’97 movie.

But the multiplayer game’s fascist tone – tongue in cheek though it may be – has been blamed for a rise in “toxic” player interactions, with LGBTQ+ players saying they feel they’re being negatively targeted.

In a March 8 article for video game news website Polygon, several LGBTQ+ gamers spoke out about how they felt the “fascist role-play” within Helldivers 2 had gone too far.

One player said that when she joined the Helldivers 2 official Discord forum, she asked if it’d be possible to have Pride flag capes added to the game.

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She told Polygon that, since then, she’s been receiving regular hate-speech filled messages telling her to “keep your shit out of our game,” as well as “slurs and harassment” after she changed her profile picture to the trans flag to protest what was happening.

She also spoke out about the harassment in a long message on the Discord forum, after which she was banned for 24 hours and her message was deleted, Polygon reports.

Other players have taken to X to complain about the official Helldivers 2 Discord being “rampant with racist, anti-LGBTQ+ hatred since launch.”

One user took to Reddit to advise LGBTQ+ folks to stay away from the official Helldivers 2 Discord “for now”, writing: “Just wanted to get the message out there for anyone who was trying to get into the discord server but has been unable to thanks to it being full; if you’re a member of the LGBTQ, it’s best to avoid it right now.

“The mods there are doing what they can to keep discussions civil, but things have been boiling out of control whenever anyone mentions something even slightly related to us.”

However it isn’t just Discord that LGBTQ+ people are having issues with, it’s the game itself. Helldivers 2 gameplay makes “griefing” easy – defined as “the action or an act of deliberately spoiling other players’ enjoyment of a game by playing in a way that is intentionally disruptive and aggravating.”

Friendly fire can be used to indiscriminately kill teammates, often repeatedly, negatively impacting their ability to participate in online missions.

A Helldivers 2 player called mechanizedContortion told Polygon that her character was killed and she was kicked from a public lobby after somebody in the squad saw that she had a trans flag in her Steam profile picture.

“When I joined I saw him go AFK (away from keyboard) for a bit, and when he came back he had typed in the chat along the lines of ‘get out of my game freak’ and then killed me.”

She asked the other player why he had done that, and told Polygon that he replied that he’d “looked at my Steam profile and that he doesn’t like ‘your kind of people’. He kicked me after that. It was f**king surreal.”

LGBTQ+ Helldivers 2 users told Polygon that they believe developer Arrowhead Game Studios could mitigate this toxic behaviour by adding the option to be able to report players for griefing or team killing, also “adding a friendly fire warning like the one in Rainbow Six Siege” as well as “penalties for going against teamwork.”

PinkNews has reached out to Arrowhead Game Studios for comment.

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