Player overlooking a snowy landscape in Helldivers 2.
Screenshot by ProGameGuides

How I learned to stop worrying and love the Senator in Helldivers 2

This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one shoots explosives.

The meta in Helldivers 2 is stale, and it's a shame. It's a lot of Quasar Cannons, Sickles, and Redeemers out there, and for a long time, I was right there with everyone else. I'd boot up, grit my teeth, and bear through another Helldive difficulty run on whatever planet we were currently charged to liberate or defend, and I felt my love and interest slowly wane. The same guns and the same stratagems: dive in, dive out.

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And then one day I sat back, and I thought for a while, and then, in a flash, I remembered something I had sadly forgotten...

I Have an Explosive Assault Rifle

An explosive assault rifle. In what world does that not absolutely, totally, biblically rock? It was a moment of near-childish glee, me consumed by the thought of using such a weapon; the kind of weapon I would imagine my Lego figures wielding when I would sit on my bedroom floor and construct grand narratives of betrayal and triumph.

First person view of the Liberator Concussive in Helldivers 2.
Screenshot by ProGameGuides

The 'AR-23C Liberator Concussive' assault rifle was available right back from the launch of the game, along with the first premium Warbond. And even back then, I don't particularly remember seeing it get much use. It seemed to be overshadowed by its ever-reliable basic counterpart (the 'AR-23 Liberator') or any of the other weapons from the base unlock path. And it genuinely is a crying shame, because this weapon is just sort of super cool.

Sporting... ever so slightly higher damage than the regular liberator, the exact same level of armor penetration, considerably higher recoil, and a reduced magazine size. Once you break it down like that, it's easy to see why it didn't take the top spot from the get-go, so why do I love it so much?

It's because it goes chug, chug, chug, chug. It sounds really cool, and yes, that's about it. (Oh, and I guess it also does additional damage to enemy weak spots, and causes additional stagger... but I don't really care.) There is the added benefit of it 'ragdolling' enemies slightly further on a kill, and that's also great, it's all just the rate of fire and sound it makes for me.

The Big Iron

The 'P-4 Senator' is another entirely without merit but entirely sweet weapon you can use. It's a revolver. Now sure, you can use the 'Redeemer' all the livelong day, and you'd be better off for it. After all, it's a high capacity, high rate of fire, automatic handgun that can really come in handy in a pinch, but it's not a revolver.

First person view of the Senator revolver in Helldivers 2.
Screenshot by ProGameGuides

This weapon is an absolute blast. Drawbacks include some gnarly recoil, low overall ammunition, and as a revolver tends to, only six rounds in the cylinder. But, it packs a crazy punch, and as with the Liberator Concussive, it's exceptionally fun to wield. And here's a fun fact a lot of people don't know, this weapon has a hidden mechanic - if you hold down your weapon modification button, eventually you'll start spinning the revolver, classic gunslinger style. And on top of that, the next shot you fire after spinning the revolver is a guaranteed critical hit. Yeah it takes ages, yeah it's one critical shot... but you get to spin a revolver.

Ultimately, there is a great case to be made for every weapon in the Helldivers 2 arsenal. An explosive crossbow? Sign me up. A handgun that fires live grenades? You betcha. All of them, even the meta weapons like the 'LAS-16 Sickle' can really shine if you just take the time to appreciate all the love and care that the developers clearly poured into them. But for now, let's move on to something a little bigger in scale, and by bigger, I mean...

High Yield Explosive Ordinance & Other Assorted Orbital Bombardments

Stratagems are what make Helldivers 2 really stand out in my opinion, and for good reason, because you can launch a 500KG bomb needlessly at soft targets. I mean of course, you should use them for Hulks, or Chargers... but you could use it on a singular Automaton alone in a field somewhere. And you know what? It's really funny to do that. Using exceptionally overkill stratagems on small groups of enemies lets you really appreciate the after effects, and I like doing it.

A 500kg bomb exploding with a character silhouette in Helldivers 2.
Screenshot by ProGameGuides

Of course, I'd start by suggesting the ever-elegant 500KG Bomb. It's an Eagle Stratagem, so the deployment time is exceptionally fast, and if you've upgraded your Super Carrier enough, you can throw them out multiple back-to-back. And yes, I'm well aware that the 500KG Bomb could be considered meta, especially against bugs... but there is NEVER going to be a situation where it isn't absolutely magic. Another stratagem you should absolutely consider bringing just for the sheer beauty of it is of course...

The Big Laser

The Orbital Laser stratagem. The concentrated power of the sun located handily on the bow of your Super Carrier, ready to be directed by your careful hand.

An orbital laser striking an enemy outpost in Helldivers 2.
Screenshot by ProGameGuides

Yes, this one is also technically considered meta (this time for the Automatons), but much like the 500KG Bomb, it really shines when you use it needlessly on a lone Marauder. And this one has the added benefit of having a younger brother that you can carry on your shoulder.

The laser cannon firing in Helldivers 2.
Screenshot by ProGameGuides

And you know what? It absolutely sucks. It's a nightmare to control, and it only really has any effect if you're able to hold it entirely on a targets weak spot for the entire duration of its limited heat sink. But as it's mentioned here, it should be clear that this thing also absolutely rules. You can find yourself a nice spot, and sweep in large, very pretty arcs to do massive damage to large groups of softer targets - which yes a grenade could manage, but not with quite so much style.

The Big Robot

The 'Exo-45 Patriot' mech suit is one of the higher level unlocks, and even after some buffs, still not great overall. It absolutely has its uses, but mostly against the Terminids. Against Automatons, it simply cannot cope with the near constant barrage of incoming fire on the higher difficulty levels. But, it is a mech with a minigun and a shoulder mounted missile battery, so who can complain really?

  • The Exo 45 Patriot in the world in Helldivers 2.
  • The Exo 45 Patriot in combat in Helldivers 2.

Above the minigun and the shoulder mounted missile battery... what I love most about the Exo-45 Patriot is my memories of unlocking it for the first time. My friend and I partied up, working our way through the major order to defend the factories producing them, and before we knew it, we'd done it—we'd made a tangible impact on the galaxy, and we were rewarded with a massive robot. THAT is how you do live service.

And finally, above all the weapons and the stratagems that I can offer to change the way you have fun in Helldivers 2, there is one final piece of advice that I can impart.

Take it easy!

Anyone who might've looked a little harder at any of the images might've noticed something, and you'll know what's coming. And if you did, I'm sure you're thinking 'What in the gaming journalism is this guy doing on the Easy difficulty?'.

Well, do you have any idea how hard it is to get screenshots even closely resembling consensus reality in this game? Trying to get a decent screenshot at anything above Level 6 is like trying to get Devolver Digital to stop making fun of me for wanting Hotline Miami 3. It simply isn't going to happen.

Something good came of it, though. During the process of getting material for this article, I bumped the difficulty down all the way to Level 2, and played a few games on my own... and I had an absolutely great time. I wasn't constantly looking over my shoulder for the next triplicate of Hulks, or desperately trying to reload my Machine Gun support weapon for the next Charger. Instead I was running around, testing out my new found favourite weapons, all my favourite stratagems, and loving it. In the process, I also found appreciation for something I think a lot of people forget...

Helldivers 2 is a genuinely stunning game

I was absolutely shocked when I noticed just how incredible Helldivers 2 can look, with some of the nicest scenery I've ever seen. With the procedural generation in play, you can play on the same planet time and time again, and never get the same view twice.

  • Moving through a snowy landscape in Helldivers 2.
  • An overlook of an ice field in Helldivers 2.
  • Stood atop a hill at night in Helldivers 2.

But without all the Terminid fog and never-ending red streaks of Automaton lasers, you can really see just how much care went into the design for each of the planets; the dynamic backdrop of your allied ships engaging in combat with ground targets don't hurt either. It has been far too easy for me to ignore just how pretty this game can be, and playing on a lower difficulty gave me that opportunity.

This isn't a piece that is meant to say 'you have to use the AR-23C to have fun', but merely nudge you towards maybe dropping the difficulty down a few notches, picking up a weapon from a Warbond you've perhaps never even given a second glance, and heading out there to spill some oil. It'd be a shame not to enjoy an absolute time of a weapon simply because it got a dodgy nerf or isn't popular.

Perhaps you could try taking the 'CB-9 Exploding Crossbow' out for a spin along with a 'LIFT-850 Jump Pack', or maybe the much hated 'LAS-5 Scythe' along with the 'AX/LAS-5 "Guard Dog" Rover' for double lasering against some Automatons. Ultimately, the choice is yours, but my only hope is that you get out there and have some fun!

If you're looking for more Helldivers 2 content, check out Where to find super rare samples in Helldivers 2 here at Pro Game Guides.


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Author
Connell Watson
Hotline Miami understander, rat aficionado, lover of boomer shooters - Freelance Writer at ProGameGuides.

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How I learned to stop worrying and love the Senator in Helldivers 2

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