Update 2/9: While I am still not able to launch the game without crashes, others are able to get it launching in Desktop Mode using Proton GE 7-49 or 7-55. For now, I would still recommend not getting it on the Steam Deck yet until there's more official word, but it sounds like it could work in some circumstances. I have yet to personally experience this myself though.

Update 2/8: It appears you can get the game running if you play in Desktop mode using Proton GE 7-49, but there are very constant stutters that make the game borderline unplayable with a connection error. This is most likely an anti-cheat error that will stop you from playing this way.

Like many others, I have some extremely fond memories of Helldivers. The original game is a ton of fun, blasting enemies through a top-down view with your friends while trying to complete missions. That and Magicka took up a lot of my time back in the day, so when Helldivers 2 was announced, I couldn't be more excited! And, while the game looks fantastic, it seems we won't be enjoying it on the Steam Deck due to a rootkit anti-cheat that is included in the game.

Helldivers2Stock1 1

When it comes to anti-cheat, a lot of the ones that require root or kernel-level access tend to not work at all. This is why games like the newer Call of Duty or some online EA games refuse to work at all. Helldivers 2 is no exception and is using a similar anti-cheat called nProtect GameGuard. This is used to protect others online from cheating, which is good, but it renders any chance of playing the game on any OS other than Windows impossible, and this includes SteamOS.

When trying to launch the game with the stable and experimental Proton layer, it will automatically close. This continues on older Proton GE versions as well, but if you try to launch with Proton GE 8-29, you will be met with an error that details GameGuard failing to initialize and then brings you to a wonderful FAQ about how to possibly fix this.

While it's the right of every developer and publisher to use whatever tools they want to with their games, it's a shame that a kernel-level that doesn't support Linux/SteamOS was used. Helldivers 2 looks like an awesome game, and I have been hearing great things about it, but it seems like I won't be able to play around with it on the Steam Deck. This is a bit weird too, considering PlayStation has seemed to embrace the Steam Deck and try to make a majority of their games run with it.

As for its performance, if it was running, that is up for debate. The minimum asks for a Nvidia GTX 1050Ti GPU and a Ryzen 5 1500X CPU, so it may have trouble running anyway, but we won't be able to find out definitely unless the anti-cheat is removed. Thankfully, we shouldn't have this issue on Windows handhelds like the ROG Ally and Legion Go, so that's where I will be going next!

Helldivers 2 is now available on Steam for $39.99, but if you want to save some money, you can get it on Fanatical for $33.19.

The Fanatical link above is using an affiliate link, which gives us a little back from sales at no extra charge to you. All proceeds go back into SDHQ and its development.

If you enjoyed this article, check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety of game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for newstips and tutorialsgame settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back.

Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
Steam Profile