HELLDIVERS 2 – Guide to Arc Weapons

How to Use Arc Weapons

The Arc weapons are a very fun and generally powerful category of weapon. They have excellent range (though still not quite as much range as a good ‘ol fashioned bullet or plasma bolt), and extraordinarily high damage which pairs well with the fact that they completely ignore armor. This means that the Arc Thrower, for example, can very quickly kill things like hulks or chargers in just a handful of shots.

The thrower specifically also has a “bouncing” effect, allowing you to simultaneously mob up smaller mobs while also dealing with the big targets- an extremely potent tool indeed! Even when there is no armor present, being able to nab 1-3 kills with every single blast is very, very effective.

This guide shall provide a number of handy tips, each of which explaining either a neat trick or an important limitation of the weapons.

Targeting Parameters

The Arc Weapons are renowned for being somewhat difficult to predict or control, but once you understand how they select their targets, it becomes possible to easily manipulate which enemies die and efficiently clear out groups whilst also not killing your own team! First, the simplest and easiest; the Blitzer

The Blitzer is very simple, it draws a decently sized cone in front of the barrel of the gun and zaps everything in that cone that isn’t behind something else, including other enemies. The cone is quite narrow, however, so often it will only hit 2 or 3 targets since only so many enemies can be in one space.

Also mind that “behind” is relative to a straight line drawn from the center of the gun to the middle of the target- so enemies that are “short” like scavengers can still be hit even if they are a little further back than another similarly short enemy. More on that line later. 

The Arc Thrower’s targeting is somewhat similar, except the cone it draws is much longer than the blitzer (but from what my testing can tell, if the cone is wider, it isn’t by very much), and rather than simply zapping anything that it has “line of gun” on, it picks the target that is the closest to the “center” of the cone and also nearest the thrower. It could also be whichever target “takes up” the most space from the POV of the Arc Thrower, as that would end up with near identical results.

After that, it picks the “next closest” or “next mostest” target that is also in the cone and bounces to them (regardless of their angle relative to the initial target), and then does it a third time. Of course, if there are no valid targets it doesn’t bounce. Furthermore, the bounces care only about line of effect to the previous target, not to the gun- only the first target needs to have line of effect on the gun. When there are several valid targets for a bounce, it picks the one closest to the last target.

Keep in mind that despite my excellent drawing skills, I can’t adequately convey the exact shape/size of the cone- as that would require both recording equipment and editing software, as well as for me to not be a lazy bum. The cone is thinner than you think, and the visual effect of the gun does not in any way actually represent its true functionality- it’s just a visual effect, nothing more.

Line of Effect

Furthermore, Line of Effect is the primary limiter for this weapon as just about anything can block it. Not just solid objects, but even porous ones like chain link fences or bushes/trees, as well as Corpses (the BIG obstacle for this weapon, and the bane of my existence- why oh why can’t they just bounce off a corpse; it’s not like being dead makes them any less conductive…) and active EMS fields (Stun nades, EMS mortar/strike).

Furthermore, the above diagram is a “top down” view, but the cone is 3-dimensional, and helldivers do not wield weapons with their feet or kneecaps, so the cone has a bit of elevation to it- and elevation matters ALOT for this weapon. As per the below images:

As the images show, having an elevation advantage when using the Arc Thrower (and the blitzer, technically, though its cone range is so short that it won’t be able to do much from the top of most relevant objects) is a huge advantage. If an enemy dies, their corpse won’t suddenly become a massive Line of Effect blocker, as your higher elevation lets your gun draw its targeting line over their corpse.

As such, the best possible backpack to use in tandem with the Arc Thrower is the Jump Pack- get on top of stuff and blast away! For similar reasons, enemies who have an elevation advantage are begging to be zapped- did you know that Arc Thrower batteries are actually just canisters of Shrieker Repellant?

The Tesla Tower is similar to the Arc Thrower, except it’s a static tower. It just draws Line of Effect to the closest target, then bounces from that target to anything else in its radius- in essence drawing a circle instead of a cone. I’ve not had the opportunity to test it against shriekers, but given that it will happily zap you to death as well as bugs it’s probably not a good idea in any case.

It also appears that the radius within which it will bounce is much larger than the radius within which it initially targets. The tower is pretty bad in any case, as enemies will very happily just ram their faces into it if players aren’t around and exposing yourself to them to draw aggro is just as liable to get you zapped as the enemy themselves. Not to mention bots can just shoot it without ever getting in range.

Minimum Range

Due to the fact that the cone is drawn from the tip of the weapon and not the camera, there is a very significant “melee deadzone” for both the Blitzer and the Arc Thrower, since the nature of cones is that their “tip” is very narrow relative to the rest of their width, it is very common to be basically unable to shoot things like Hunters that have decided to eat your face unless you manage the plant the weapon dead center.

As a result, it is often far better and easier to just whip out a secondary and/or primary when dealing with melee-range targets. If you absolutely MUST use the arc weapon in melee, I recommend aiming down slightly as the ‘gun angle’ relative to the camera is slightly upwards in order to match it to the third person crosshair. Alternatively, start making liberal use of…

ADS

Aim Down Sights, also known as first person mode in Helldivers 2, is a toggleable option in-game that lets you switch to a first person perspective aiming directly down the sights of whatever weapon you happen to be using whenever you use the right-click to “aim”. For most, this feature is ignored- if they even know about it at all. But to be frank, it is probably one of the best ways to generally improve your performance in-game in general; but especially with the Arc Throwers.

“How? Isn’t the entire point of them to auto-target stuff so you don’t have to aim?”

Technically, yes, but consider the above diagrams and the extreme importance of Line of Effect from the barrel of the gun. Due to the nature of a third person perspective, every gun you wield is actually aiming “upwards” relative to the camera; even if only slightly, because the camera itself is aiming slightly downwards relative to the player model.

This is done because the developers want the 2-dimensional crosshair in the center of the camera to match where the gun itself is actually aiming- its actually very similar to a “hop up” on the sights of an IRL gun, for more or less the same reason (the “camera” being the sight itself, which cannot be perfectly aligned with the barrel because duh).

For Arc weapons, this means it can be very, very difficult to correctly judge whether or not your Arc Thrower (or blitzer) truly has Line of Effect on a target, as that inflected camera can make the perspective seem very weird at times and convince you that something that is most definitely in the way actually isn’t because the camera angle makes it look like it’s shorter than it really is; especially corpses.

As a direct result, it becomes very effective to use the first-person toggle and ADS when using the Arc Thrower and Blitzer, just to ensure that you are always actually aiming at something and are not about to watch your zap-cannon zap the dirt or a rock or that stupid green vomit motherfu-

Anyways, yeah, use the ADS with these guns- don’t bother thanking me. If it helps, think of them like the Laser weapons and try your diddly damndest to point the laser at the enemy with nothing in-between.

Anti-Everything

This fact is much better known, the Arc Weapons deal “true” damage- that is, they don’t hit weakpoints, but they don’t need to. No amount of armor blocks an Arc weapon. They deal a fixed amount of damage, and that’s that. Of course it isn’t nearly as much as say a Recoilless Rifle or even a Railgun, but considering that you can “half charge” an Arc Thrower after the first shot for the exact same damage and functionally fire twice as fast as long as you are good at timing the release, and you can end up melting just about everything short of Tanks and Titans (mostly because they just have gargantuan health pools- though an entire team of arc throwers will also just melt them as well; teamwork makes the dream work!).

This handy dandy feature can free up your stratagems for more general use options, letting you save stuff like strikes or railcannons for the really big boys, or take stuff like cloudbursts, gatlings, etc. Do note that the Blitzer does significantly less damage than the thrower, and will take absolutely forever to kill Chargers/Hulks in just the same way that the thrower takes forever to kill Tanks/Titans- and don’t even bother wasting time using a blitzer on a Tank/Titan. Another important thing is that bugs who can keep going after their head pops (the Warriors and Brood lords) will almost always get their head popped by these weapons, and then continue to chase you- but fret not!

As long as they’re moving, they aren’t a corpse and will still bounce your shots behind them, so if anything you can make use of that fact to continue your killing spree longer before repositioning for a better angle! For similar reasons, Chargers and Hulks make excellent “lightning rods” to throw your thrower at, since the bounces only care about LoE from the previous target- letting you turn their large size (and therefore higher “center”) to your advantage to kill all their friends even while they themselves melt.

Bots vs Bugs

Now comes the Arc Thrower’s biggest weakness. The Automatons. “What?” You ask, flabbergasted, “Wouldn’t walking computers be super weak to electricity?”

Normally, yes- and in fact, they do take particularly brutal damage from the Arc Thrower precisely because nearly every bot unit is just a weak, low HP enemy encased in a bunch of armor (except berserkers- they are legit just built different and they annoy me to no end). But the Bots make use of a significant number of advantages that can neuter the Arc Thrower and make it almost unusable. First and foremost, the Bots are ranged and the Arc Thrower is a charge weapon that relies on constant, repeated firing, not unlike the flamethrower.

This means that to use the weapon properly you need to spend long periods of time exposed to return fire, any amount of which can stagger you and interrupt your charge- thus stopping you from even successfully trading damage (which is already a bad thing, given how badly outnumbered we always are). Furthermore, being ranged, the Bots love to make use of cover. Their bases are almost always covered with sandbags, barbed wire, or indestructible buildings/walls or turret emplacements- as opposed to bug hives which tend to be big craters, naturally providing you a huge elevation advantage to exploit.

Additionally, due to the fact that corpses can block Line of Effect (and despite bot corpses tending to be fairly low to the ground due to their humanoid shape), the Arc Thrower is a weapon that highly values constant repositioning; something which the bots are very very good at harshly punishing due to them having guns. Many bot maps are also covered in trees and rocks, mostly because the devs aren’t evil and don’t want to make it so we have no cover to use against the bots; but in this case, it backfires and renders the Arc Thrower a nigh on unusable weapon in tandem with these other factors.

However the Blitzer suffers almost none of these issues. It only ever hits the “first” enemy it can draw LoE too anyways, and does not rely on “getting the bounce”. It doesn’t have much range, yes, but it also doesn’t take up a support weapon slot. Furthermore, the Blitzer fires instantly then cools down rather than needing to charge, making it easy to pop out of cover, fire, then pop back to wait for the cooldown.

Although the blitzer doesn’t have the range to really trade with bots, its output and ability to hit multiple targets makes it uniquely suited for dealing with hyper-aggressive bots like berserkers, striders, and jetpack bots (whose jetpacks it never hits, which means they never end up suicide bombing you when it kills them); and its ability to maintain “full dps” while still popping in and out of cover also makes it very effective against all 3 Devastator types- allowing you to minimize your exposure to their heavy weapons while still going straight through their armor.

Combine with skilled movement whenever repositioning is ultimately called for and the Blitzer ends up being a very effective anti-bot weapon. Though you will unfortunately still need to use your support slot or a stratagem to deal with heavy targets like Hulks or Tanks. Against striders in particular, having a higher “center” means it’s very easy to shoot them down with the Blitzer while also still hitting other bots nearby- including oftentimes other striders; making it a premier weapon for dealing with annoying packs of small bots.

Not to mention that bots tend to “spread out” but only a little bit, since they want to be able to fire their weapons at you while maintaining some kind of odd formation, and the blitzer wants enemies to be more or less side by side (unlike Bugs, who love to either form a conga-line behind a big bug or spread out so far over a wide area that the blitzer’s somewhat narrow cone just can’t cover enough of them).

In short, use the Arc Thrower into the bugs, to abuse their tendency to hide behind their biggest hitters to get easy kills, but not the Bots because of their prolific cover use and guns, and use the Blitzer against the bots because they like to spread out and rush you down but not the bugs because you’ll usually only hit 1 of them at a time anyways.

Volodymyr Azimoff
About Volodymyr Azimoff 944 Articles
I turned my love for games from a hobby into a job back in 2005, since then working on various gaming / entertainment websites. But in 2016 I finally created my first website about video games – Gameplay Tips. And exactly 4 years later, Game Cheat Codes was created – my second website dedicated to legal game cheats. My experience with games started back in 1994 with the Metal Mutant game on ZX Spectrum computer. And since then, I’ve been playing on anything from consoles, to mobile devices.

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