Helldivers 2 has been praised for avoiding the tedious and intrusive microtransactions common among live-service shooters, so it's perhaps no coincidence that the game's creative director, Johan Pilestedt, reckons games "have to earn the right to monetize," which is why developer Arrowhead "really applied ourselves to not make it pay-to-win."
In a recent Twitter post fielding pay-to-win complaints, the Arrowhead CEO reasoned that Helldivers 2 can have items that "are functionally different" without outright selling power to players beyond the game's $40 asking price. "The only item that's P2W is the revolver – which will win you any 'cool gun' competition," he jokes, crucially adding that the "only (minor) problem is that it's not that good." This isn't a problem, however, because the revolver is an early throwaway unlock.
Helldivers 2 offers a free and paid battle pass called a Warbond, and the premium $10 version is mostly cosmetic-heavy but also features four guns: the P-4 Senator pistol that Pilestedt's referring to here, the AR-23E Liberator Explosive assault rifle, the SG-225IE Breaker Incendiary shotgun, and the JAR-5 Dominator explosive weapon. (You can also get the premium bond by saving up enough credits earned in-game, and they won't disappear like most battle passes, removing FOMO from the equation.)
The pistol is the standout because it has no direct counterpart in the free Warbond, but as Pilestedt says, it's not especially good. The free SMGs are feeling much better from what I've seen. The premium assault rifle and shotgun, meanwhile, are matched by multiple similar models in the free Warbond, which also includes a suite of energy weapons to rival the Jar-5 Dominator. The default Warbond is several times larger than the paid one too, which conveys that you're really just paying $10 for some extra bells and whistles that are not central to the experience.
Pilestedt says it's going to stay that way. In a separate response, he pledges that Arrowhead will never force microtransactions on anyone: "'You have to earn the right to monetize' - I truly believe that. If people want to support this title they have an option, but we are never forcing anyone to do so."
Our Helldivers 2 best weapons tier list will help you mow down hordes of bugs.