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This Helldivers 2 Game Master Theory Changes Everything

PlayStation/PC exclusive "Helldivers 2" has only been out for a month, but it's already been a wild ride. Players have fought robots, captured planets from bugs, and unlocked giant mech suits that can rain hell on the battlefield. It might seem like utter chaos is playing out across the galaxy, but the war in "Helldivers 2" is really controlled by one man. Arrowhead Games Studio is taking a unique approach with this one, enlisting a man named Joel to act as an old school Game Master for everyone taking part in the "Helldivers 2" campaign.

At this point, most "Helldivers 2" players know about Joel, because Arrowhead isn't trying to keep its entire strategy hidden. CEO Johan Pilestedt has even talked about some of the ways in which Joel has gotten directly involved in how the game unfolds: On a daily basis, he's developing grand plans for the game's future, but he also gets into the nitty gritty details, like sending in Automaton reinforcements when players are capturing a planet just a hair too quickly.

Now that they know there's a man behind the curtain, "Helldivers" players are doing their best to figure out what's going on in Joel's mind. Every new event in the game is another data point helping fans piece together the Game Master's master plan. One of the community's latest theories just might explain what's going on in "Helldivers 2."

Developing a theory about Helldivers 2's master plan

To figure out what Joel has planned for "Helldivers 2," players have been investigating every bit of communication from Arrowhead games, digging through the game itself for clues, and pulling from their own experience as tabletop role-playing game masters. At least one Redditor, u/1080_Pugh, thinks that they've finally cracked the code.

The theory is that Joel is stress testing the "Helldivers 2" community the way a Dungeon Master might test a fledgling party in "Dungeons & Dragons." First Joel was seeing how long it takes the community to capture a world, and now players think he's testing how long they can hold planets as waves of increasingly more difficult enemies are thrown at them. A number of commenters agree with this theory. Some imagine that the community will start losing certain planets and objectives as Joel discovers the upper limit of players' capabilities and makes campaigns harder in response. Others think that Joel's tests are really just a distraction paving the way for a new, even scarier enemy that will threaten Super Earth.

What's next for Joel's plan?

The idea that Joel is currently testing the community to find out what they can handle definitely makes logical sense. We know that no one at Arrowhead expected the game to become this popular, so it's easy to imagine that Joel is throwing tests at the community so the dev team as a whole can adjust its plans moving forward. This has even been tacitly confirmed by Arrowhead CEO Johan Pilestedt, who revealed that players captured Tien Kwan four times faster than Arrowhead had anticipated. If the developer has those kinds of metrics on hand, then Arrowhead must be in some kind of data gathering phase. The current game master theory holds water, then — but what does that mean?

Thanks to hackers, we already know that big changes are coming to "Helldivers 2." This theory makes those potential changes even more exciting, though. If Joel is gathering information about the community, that would imply that Arrowhead is in the process of changing or even accelerating its plans. Whatever changes come to the game in the near future, we can be almost certain they'll be based on what Joel is learning about the community. 

Who knows? With more recent Major Orders commanding Helldivers to liberate five planets in three days, maybe players are making things harder on themselves by being the best they can be.