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Combat in Helldivers 2 involves firing various weapons at a multitude of freedom-hating targets, and (hopefully dodging) attacks by those targets. There are three main types of weapons: Primary Weapons, Secondary Weapons, and Support Weapons. Primaries and Secondaries are typically your horde-clearing weapons, while Support weapons often take the role of killing larger, tougher enemies.

Other attacks that Helldivers can use to spread Democracy across the galaxy include throwing a wide variety grenades, calling in Stratagems from their Super Destroyer or an Eagle fighter, and melee attacks.

Firing Weapons

To fire a weapon, a Helldiver can either hipfire, fire while shouldering the weapon, or aim down sights to fire. Hip firing is the least accurate, but requires the least setup. Simply click the fire button to dispense liberty.

A Helldiver can shoulder their weapon by holding the Aim button, which will bring up a crosshair for most weapons (with the exception of the Anti-Materiel Rifle), which will display exactly where their bullet will land if they fired at that moment (though it doesn't take bullet drop into account, which is explained below). The crosshair consists of two short horizontal lines, a dot, and a circle. The way this crosshair changes depends on the currently equipped weapon's hidden handling trait, explained below.

Finally, a Helldiver can aim down sights by pressing the Switch Aim Mode button while shouldering their weapon. This will toggle ADS mode, which will cause the player's camera view to zoom in to first person mode, and look through the crosshair that's attached to the actual weapon model.

ADS mode provides the best accuracy, but has some disadvantages compared to shoulder firing. This is especially true of larger weapons like the Quasar Cannon, which blocks a significant portion of the player's view while aiming down sights, due to the weapon model's sheer bulk. Some weapons have multiple zoom levels, which can be toggled from the Weapon Wheel (explained below).


Weapons with good handling will show the shouldered mode's crosshair in a fixed location on the screen, with the circle remaining over top of the dot, even as you swiftly move the camera around.

But weapons with poorer handling will cause both the circle and the lines to move as you swing around to aim at new targets. Once you've stopped moving the camera, the circle will migrate back to the center of the screen, and the horizontal lines will converge, both at a speed determined by the weapon's hidden handling trait.

The Redeemer has excellent handling: the circle and lines barely move even after violent camera motion. But the Diligence Counter Sniper has poor handling, causing the circle to move an enormous distance from the center of the screen during quick camera motion, and only return to the center almost a second after the camera stops moving. The JAR-5 Dominator, by comparison, has average handling.


Firing a weapon typically ejects a fast-moving projectile from the muzzle, which is what deals the actual damage of each shot. Most such projectiles travel so fast that the delay before the hit, and the effects of gravity, are imperceptible to human senses. But all projectiles are affected by gravity, and thus have some amount of bullet drop. This is mostly only noticeable when firing rocket weapons across great distances, such was when destroying Shrieker Nests from outside of their spawn range.

However, laser weapons do not fire a projectile. Instead, they are so-called hitscan weapons, and will hit whatever the Helldiver is aiming at the very moment that they pull the trigger. This makes laser weapons such as the LAS-5 Scythe especially effective for killing highly agile enemies, such as Hunters and Shriekers.


There are three different ways that a weapon's ammunition can be reloaded: magazines, individual rounds, and heatsinks.

Most weapons are reloaded by placing a full magazine into the weapon's receiver. Reloading such weapons while there are still rounds left in the current magazine will waste those rounds, so be careful not reload such weapons when you don't really need to.

Some shotguns and pistols reload by placing individual rounds into them one at a time, rather than loading via magazines. Reloading cannot ever waste ammo on these weapons, but reloading tends to be significantly slower than weapons that use magazines.

Finally, some weapons are so-called "Heat" weapons. Instead of having rounds of ammunition, they have a heatsink that builds up heat when the weapon is fired. If the weapon is fired until this heatsink overheats, it must be discarded and replaced with a reserve heatsink. However, if the Helldiver stops firing before the heatsink overheats, it will slowly cool back down. Judicious use of this mechanic allows heat-based weapons to have effectively unlimited ammo.

The Weapon Wheel

Most weapons have customizable options built into them. Holding the Reload button will bring up the Weapon Wheel, which lets you set those options. While holding Reload, you can press Weapon Wheel Up to change zoom mode (on weapons that support that), Weapon Wheel Down to change flashlight mode (on weapons with flashlights), and Weapon Wheel Right to change firing speed (changing the RPM of machine guns, or switching between semi-auto, burst fire, and automatic fire mode on various weapons).

Damage Mechanics

When firing a weapon, a hit will produce either a red or white crosshair flash in the shape of an X, or display a ricochet symbol.

A red crosshair flash means the shot dealt maximum damage, which is the damage displayed for that weapon's "Damage" stat in the Armory. Red flashes tend to happen when you hit exposed flesh on a bug, or an unarmored area on an Automaton (usually their head). The crosshair will also flash red if you hit a lightly armored enemy with a weapon that has medium armor penetration, as such weapons are powerful enough to bypass the target's armor entirely.

A white flash, however, means your shot penetrated their armor, but dealt reduced damage. Most white flashes indicate the shot suffered 40% damage reduction, though some high level enemies with very limited amounts of exposed flesh (the green sacs under a Bile Titan and the underside of a Charger's abdomen) will display a white flash that indicates 90% damage reduction.

Finally, you may see an icon appear that looks like a bullet bouncing off a piece of armor, which is often accompanied by the sight of your weapon's projectile doing just that. This means your bullet hit armor that was too heavy for it to penetrate, and it dealt no damage at all. This will happen when firing a weapon with "light armor penetration" at a body part protected by medium or heavy armor, or when firing any Primary or Secondary weapon (and even most Support weapons) at a target with heavy armor. Only a select few Support weapons and Stratagems can damage enemies through heavy armor.

Body Parts

Enemies are made up of different body parts that have independent health pools, and sometimes even have different types of armor. If you blow off a Warrior's lightly armored leg, it will keep coming at you at an only slightly diminished capacity for violence. Blow off two legs, and it'll have a very hard time lunging at you, but it won't be any closer to death. You must blow off its head, or deal sufficient damage to its torso, to actually kill it.

You will only kill an enemy by reducing the health of an essential body part to 0. Essential parts tend to include the head and torso, though some enemies will die from the removal of a single leg (e.g. Chargers, Scout Striders), though this is often easier said than done. Some enemies are exceptionally tenacious, and will survive the severing of *several* limbs. A Hive Guard will keep wriggling toward you after you've blown of four of its legs, until you put it out of its misery by killing its head or torso.

Speaking of Hive Guards, they are a useful example of body parts that have different kinds of armor. The fronts of their head and forelegs have medium armor, which means weapons that have the "Light Armor Penetrating" trait cannot damage them through that armor. But those are the only parts of their body covered in medium armor, so a flanking attack that hits them in the side or rear will only have to contend with light armor, making the Hive Guard significantly easier to kill.

Heads typically have the smallest health pools, so going for headshots tends to be the fastest way to kill enemies. However, some heads have medium armor (e.g. Hive Guards, Bile Spewers), so weapons with medium armor penetration will be needed to efficiently kill them. In addition, the Automatons tend to have very small heads, making headshots that much more difficult to land. Highly accurate weapons with good handling are quite desirable when seeking headshots on Automatons.

However, tougher enemies protect their bodies with heavy armor, necessitating entirely different tactics. These enemies can typically only be killed by using explosives to either destroy their head outright, or strip their armor so that regular weapons fire can damage the exposed body part.

Kill Streaks

If multiple kills are achieved in a short amount of time, a skull kill streak tracker will appear at the bottom center of the screen. This skull will change color and grow in size as the number of kills increases.

  • When the skull first appears, it will be small and yellow in color.
  • From 0 to 25 kills, the skull will remain yellow and incrementally grow in size.
  • From 25 to 40 kills, the skull will slowly change from yellow, to orange, to red.
  • At an undetermined value (70+), the skull will loop back to its original state. (This has not been confirmed)

Additional Trivia

Projectiles fired from weapons with medium armor penetration will pass straight through a lightly armored body part, hitting whatever is behind it, too. This means you can sometimes blow off two of a Warrior's legs, or kill two Scavengers or Troopers, with a single bullet.