Hell Let Loose Review
We all know that, no matter what your skill level, interest, or gaming preference is, there are probably dozens of great games waiting to be discovered. If you’re a first-person shooter fan, subset multiplayer, subset World War Two, you’ll find both forgiving, arcade-like games like the Battlefield franchise and at the other extreme, games like Squad or Hell Let Loose, which takes realism and tactical skill to a more authentic place. In other words, prepare to die, and a lot.
I’ll say upfront that Hell Let Loose is not for most shooter fans, even devotees of multiplayer shooters. It requires signing on with a very long list of adjectives including patience, teamwork, determination, and tolerance for frustration and failure. As much as a Battlefield match improves with everyone on the squad communicating and working in sync, it is a fundamental, baseline, no exceptions requirement for Hell Let Loose. Drop into a match and expect a fast-paced, lone wolf shooter good time and you will be in for a pretty disappointing experience. But slap on the headset, work with your squad, and follow orders, or at least try to, and Hell Let Loose is probably the next best thing to being on the Western Front. Actually, it’s obviously way better, or at least far less literally lethal.
Hell Let Loose is a 50v50 multiplayer shooter, set in Europe during some of the most iconic battles of World War 2, including Omaha Beach, Carentan, Stalingrad, and Foy. Modeled from satellite imagery and period reconnaissance photographs, the immense battlefields are divided into capturable sectors and matches can last a very long time, upwards of an hour. You have a choice of fighting for the Americans, Germans or Soviets and though you begin as a lowly rifleman, you can eventually unlock 14 different classes like Scout, Machine Gunner, Medic, Engineer, and Tank Commander. Hell Let Loose is really a game that rewards diving deep into one or two classes and helping your team by being an expert and leveled up, with the best gear and skills.
The actual weapons look, sound, and feel great, when you actually get to use them. There is a lot of hurry-up-and-waiting around, or scanning the map for enemies and objectives, and travel by foot across the immense maps can be painfully slow and tense. Death from an unseen sniper or rifleman from afar is common, but on the other hand dispatching a distant enemy from cover is thrilling every time and there’s nothing like honing a talented squad to well-ordered perfection and winning a grueling match.
No Hand Holding
Whether you elect to play in the Warfare mode — with two teams starting on opposite sides of the map and trying to capture territory or the opposing HQ — or Offensive mode (where teams assume roles of offense or defense and hold a line as long as possible), death will probably come early and often, at least until you’ve spent many hours learning the game and incrementally improving your characters and abilities. Hell Let Loose is such a complex and unforgiving game for newbies that a robust tutorial is almost a necessity, but there is none at all, save a fairly terse set of tool tips. I suppose that developer Black Matter assumed this barrier to enjoyment was a gauntlet to weed out the arcade shooter fans from the hardcore simulation faithful.
Another barrier to entry might be technical. The game looks great but requires a high-end PC, capable graphics card, and rock-stable connection to achieve anything near smooth performance. It is clear that painstaking research went into creating authentic environments and weapons of war down to the weathering and rivets. Sound design is very good and the occasional use of historical popular or patriotic songs in various languages in the loading screens is a nice, scene-setting touch. There seems to be a need for games like Hell Let Loose, as the many servers are consistently full with long wait times. Additionally, the nature of the servers reflects the diverse appeal of the game across national borders, with servers in English, German, Russian and Chinese appearing on the list alongside other requirements that further narrow the scope of players.
Not every game or genre needs to appeal to every gamer. Hell Let Loose is built for hardcore multiplayer shooter fans with a desire to move away from the casual and sometimes irrelevant teamwork that makes easier games well, easier. Hell Let Loose demands commitment, cooperation, and enough patience to learn the game through several hours of painful, frequent death and have a genuine willingness to contribute to a squad instead of being a lone hero. Meet these requirements and you’re in for a singular and memorable battlefield simulation.
***PC code provided by the publisher for review***
Authentic maps and weapons
Variety of classes and roles
Eventually very rewarding
High barrier to enjoyment
No tutorial, unfriendly to new players