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Helldivers 2 Now Has Imposter Joels

No, that's probably not Joel making a personal appearance in your match


For the past 24 or so hours, Helldivers 2 players have been buzzing about a purported in-game sighting of the game’s maniacally mysterious DM, Joel. He appeared, per a video that’s pulled in over one million views, to a random squad of players, magicked up a still-unreleased vehicle for them to obliterate automatons in, and then said he needed to “get back to work” before bouncing. Sadly, this almost certainly wasn’t Joel, despite multiple publications reporting it as such. 

Yes, the player’s in-game name was “[AH] Joel,” and yes, he managed to summon a vehicle thought to be inaccessible from the darkest depths of the game’s code, but there’s one big problem: Joel has never been one to sign his crime. He tends to turn dials from the shadows, marshalling invasions and orchestrating intergalactic intrigue without ever making a personal appearance. As PC Gamer points out, this Joel was likely a fake, a prank born of confusion surrounding Joel’s true powers and a hacker’s whims. After all, data-mining hackers have been calling down this exact vehicle – the hulking, cooperatively-controlled APC – for weeks, as other videos can attest. It will come out eventually, but it doesn’t appear to be ready for primetime just yet. When it is, Arrowhead will likely at least acknowledge the thing’s existence, even if it chooses to play coy about it like it recently did with flying bug enemies

The only difference between this supposed Joel and a standard hacker is the name. But it’s not difficult to change your name on Steam. PCG found several players with the handle “AH Joel,” and I did a search of my own just for good measure. One current “[AH] Joel” used to be known as “Amogus 𐑀 ඞ,” making them an imposter Joel in multiple senses. This isn’t even the only purported Joel to join a match and pass out ludicrously powerful toys. The Helldivers 2 subreddit contains a few such reports, as does Twitter

I doubt Helldivers 2 developer Arrowhead meant for this to happen, but it is a fitting turn of events considering the game’s preoccupation with futuristic fascism and Arrowhead’s own use of lighthearted misinformation tactics in promoting new features. Joel is perhaps the apex of this strategy. I mean, we don’t even know his last name, whether he’s a lone individual or a team, or the full extent of his powers. As a result, players suspect him of damn near everything, from outsmarting the entire player base in 12-dimensional chess to spawning one too many bugs for a single squad to defeat. Now players are shrouding his true nature in an even thicker fog of war. Joel himself might not have had a hand in this one, but there’s such a thing as a happy accident.    

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