Helldivers 2 difficulty levels – how to unlock, all differences, and rewards

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✓ At a glance

Difficulty levels in Helldivers 2

  • There are nine difficulties in Helldivers 2 – Trivial, Easy, Medium, Challenging, Hard, Extreme, Suicide, Impossible, and Helldive,
  • Gain up to +250% more XP by taking on tougher foes and collect rarer samples and more Medals at higher difficulties.

As you unlock higher difficulty levels in Helldivers 2, you earn more XP and rewards. These let you work towards the best stratagems and weapons in the game. Here’s what you need to know about how difficulties differ and how much XP they can grant you.

Helldivers 2 difficulty levels: A player checks the Galactic War console, with the difficulty highlighted. Image captured by VideoGamer.
Here’s where you can change the difficulty. Image captured by VideoGamer.

How to unlock new difficulty levels in Helldivers 2

Helldivers 2 has nine difficulty levels that can be changed in the Galactic War console. Use the filter underneath the Quickplay option to adjust it. You can find this in the Destroyer’s War Room. Note that most missions require you to finish them in 40 minutes. The Eradicate missions are shorter so try those if you’re pressed for time. Here are all the difficulty levels in Helldivers 2 and how to unlock them.

  • Trivial: Default setting
  • Easy: Finish a mission on Trivial difficulty
  • Medium: Finish a mission on Easy difficulty (+25% XP)
  • Challenging: Finish a mission on Medium difficulty (+50% XP)
  • Hard: Finish a mission on Challenging difficulty (+75% XP)
  • Extreme: Finish a mission on Hard difficulty (+100% XP)
  • Suicide Mission: Finish a mission on Extreme difficulty (+150% XP)
  • Impossible: Finish a mission on Suicide Mission difficulty (+200% XP)
  • Helldive: Finish a mission on Impossible difficulty (+250% XP)
Helldivers 2 difficulty levels: A player stands in a mission in the game, drenched in blood. Image captured by VideoGamer.
Difficulty levels let you reap more rewards but be careful. Image captured by VideoGamer.

All Helldivers 2 difficulty level objectives and rewards

Difficulty LevelObjectivesEnemiesRewardsSamplesModifiers
TrivialPrimary objectives (orange icons)Weak1 Medal for mission success.Green CommonNone
EasyAllied Tactical objectives (blue icons) like Radar Towers, SEAF Artillery, Illegal Broadcast Towers, Rogue Research Labs, Escape PodsLight Outposts like Terminid Nests and Automaton Fabricators2 Medals for mission successGreen CommonNone
MediumSecondary ObjectivesHeavily armored enemies, Medium Outposts2 Medals for first mission, 4 Medals for second mission success.Green CommonNone
ChallengingEnemy Tactical Objectives like Terminid Stalker Lairs, Spore Spewers, Automaton Detector Towers, AA EmplacementsHeavy Outposts3 Medals for first mission, 5 Medals for second mission success.Green Common, Orange RareNone
HardSame as beforeMassive enemies like Bile Titans4 Medals for first mission, 6 Medals for second mission, 8 Medals for third mission success.Green Common, Orange Rare1 Operation Modifier like increased Stratagem cooldown times or fog of war
ExtremeMore Tactical ObjectivesSame as before5 Medals for first mission, 7 Medals for second mission, 9 Medals for third mission success.Green Common, Orange Rare1 Operation Modifier
SuicideSame as beforeLarger enemy patrols6 Medals for first mission, 8 Medals for second mission, 10 Medals for third mission success.Green Common, Orange Rare, and Pink Super1 Operation Modifier
ImpossibleSame as beforeEven larger enemy patrols7 Medals for first mission, 10 Medals for second mission, 12 Medals for third mission success.Green Common, Orange Rare, and Pink Super2 Operation Modifiers
HelldiveSame as beforeMore armored and massive enemies8 Medals for first mission, 11 Medals for second mission, 14 Medals for third mission success.Green Common, Orange Rare, and Pink Super2 Operation Modifiers
A table with all the Helldivers 2 difficulty level objectives and rewards

How to change difficulty settings in Helldivers 2

Press the Q or E keys on PC to cycle between difficulty settings in the Galactic War console before a Helldivers 2 operation. On PlayStation, use the L1 and R1 buttons. Note that you need to have finished a mission on a lower difficulty to unlock the next one. And no, you cannot change difficulty options mid-game in Helldivers 2.

Why should you pick higher difficulty options in Helldivers 2?

Picking a higher difficulty gives you similar mission types but on different parts of the planet. These tougher missions offer better rewards and more Medals that can be used to unlock gear in the game. Complete as many missions as you can on easier difficulty before dialing things up. Some Terminid or Automaton enemies like the Bile Titan only spawn at higher difficulties. In addition, rare Orange samples and super Pink samples are found at higher difficulty levels as well in Helldivers 2. These are necessary to unlock the best ship upgrades in the game.

Does difficulty scale with the number of players in Helldivers 2?

Based on our time with Helldivers 2, the difficulty does not scale with the number of players. This means that you’ll face the same kinds and number of Terminid and Automaton forces regardless of whether you play solo or in a team. This is what makes playing solo a challenge, especially at higher difficulties. Try to play with friends to tackle higher difficulties as the enemy presence gets crazy at high difficulties. If you’re playing solo, consider using the right stratagems for the job. Sure, you die and can respawn, but that takes time from a ticking clock. The Resupply stratagem is particularly useful as you’ll need explosives to take out nests and other objectives. 

How to fix difficulty not unlocking bug in Helldivers 2?

Some players report being unable to progress to the next difficulty even after clearing a mission at the previous difficulty. While Arrowhead Game Studios is updating the game with frequent patches, here’s what you can try in the meantime. Host games at the right difficulty, keep your game updated, and recheck your internet/VPN.

About the Author

Antony Terence

Antony Terence is a Guides Writer for VideoGamer. While he is particularly fond of city-builders, shooters, and strategy titles, he won’t turn down a good JRPG or a turn-based roguelike.

Helldivers 2

  • Release Date: February 8, 2024
  • Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 5
  • Genre(s): Action, Shooter, Third Person
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