The narrative of the co-op shooter Helldivers 2 has taken unpredictable twists and turns that have kept its community on its toes since it launched, but no surprise has been greater than the reverence for Malevelon Creek. The embattled planet, often referred to as “Robot Vietnam” due to its abundance of intense killer robot foes, was one of the earliest hot spots in the game’s galactic war, before it was spun into a community in-joke and eventually a martyr site. Today, however, Helldivers 2 players were tasked with liberating Malevelon Creek once and for all, and by god, they did it. Let’s back up a bit, though.

Malevelon Creek is an unwitting catalyst behind Helldivers 2’s massive success. In the early days of the game, players could only really contend with the bug-like Terminids in the galactic war. The game was marketed around them, they feature prominently in promotional artwork, and they are the centerpieces of the game’s tutorial. Soon after launch, though, the Automatons—a faction of killer robots—emerged on the other side of Helldivers 2’s galactic map, prompting a war on two fronts. Among the planets that the Automatons held was Malevelon Creek, a jungle-like world teeming with swarms of robots ready to cut players down in an instant. Many of the first viral videos around Helldivers 2 took place on Malevelon Creek, whose outlandish difficulty paired well with players’ good humor to make skits that folks around the world began eating up. The sights and sounds of Malevelon Creek became synonymous with Helldivers 2 and spread like wildfire.

Hundreds of thousands of player deaths later, Malevelon Creek became a bit of a running joke. Despite players’ best efforts, successfully completing objectives accomplished very little in the way of liberation and eventually they lost the planet to the robots completely, though it’d come back soon after. Players mourned the loss, but then immediately doubled down with renewed efforts to free the planet, spawning messages like #rememberthecreek, and continued to fruitlessly throw themselves at it in the hope of a decisive win. At one point, there was even a coordinated effort to spend a weekend exclusively playing on Malevelon Creek. Suffice to say, the locale grew from a meme to a bit of an obsession, maybe even to the hindrance of the greater community.

A message from a community manager at Arrowhead Game Studios posted in the Helldivers Discord seems to suggest that the developers have obviously been aware of the fanaticism around Malevelon Creek, noting that the attention being paid to it detracted from the completion of other goals. And so we arrive at today, when a major order came down urging players to focus on Malevelon Creek and take it back once and for all. As reported by PC Gamer earlier today, the liberation effort was even proceeding smoother than usual, with all signs pointing to a surefire win for the players and Super-Earth. Eventually, the players won and Malevelon Creek was liberated, marking a marvelous turn from the grim fate players had faced just a few weeks earlier.

Since Helldivers 2 launched, we’ve learned that the game’s war narrative is effectively being controlled by a lone developer named Joel, who’s since become a friendly-but-antagonistic force to the community. Many of the rises and falls in Helldivers 2’s story have to do with strings he’s pulled behind the scenes, which affect things like major orders— objectives the developer passes on to the player base—and how easy it is to free a planet, which is tracked by a liberation gauge. Observing how Joel works in tandem with the community, especially as they chart epic wins like the campaign that gifted players mechs, has been fascinating, and this latest development is the most intriguing yet due to how the developers seem to have weaponized the fanbase’s zeal to solve a problem they never intended for.

With Malevelon Creek dealt with, players who have been roleplaying a little too hard are now free to move on to something else, maybe even the next planned step in Arrowhead’s ongoing story. Congratulations to all the players currently celebrating this hard-earned moment of victory! Now let me just check today’s calendar. Hm, it’s April 1, huh? Surely, that can’t mean anything bad’s about to happen.


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