ReviewsReview: Hell Let Loose

Review: Hell Let Loose

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War has plagued mankind’s existence since the dawn of time! Many lives have been lost and multiple families are broken for minimal gain. People picture each battle as an all-out encounter, yet they rarely are. These long drawn out fights are masterminded by the generals and usually extended periods of silence and tension fill the air. Hell Let Loose captures the brutality of these events in its WWII setting.

Developed by Black Matter and published by Team17, this is a hardcore first-person shooter. Players slug it out in iconic WWII battles across the Eastern and Western fronts. The expansive maps and RTS elements make this an intriguing but slow-paced affair. Its tense and often quiet times will not be for every fan of the genre, yet I loved its alternative approach.

Hell Let Loose is bloody hard work. 

I’m not the best FPS gamer, but I can hold my own. Even so, I struggled with the brutally tough gameplay and the constant back and forth across the epic maps. In short, Hell Let Loose is bloody hard work, however, it’s a fantastic experience once you break its back. Unlike other games in the genre that reward “Rambo-like” behaviour, this one will chew you up and spit you out if you try anything so stupid! It’s a tactical game where communication is key. More often than not, it’s the squad that works together that tops the leaderboard. Therefore, make sure you dust off your microphone as you are going to need it. 

A match comprises two teams of 50 against 50. These are then broken down into squadrons of six for Infantry, three for Armour, and two for Recon. There is a commander who oversees the battle while calling in support items. The Squad leaders control the Infantry units and they play a key role in pushing the enemy back when placing Garrisons and Outposts. Finally, you have your grunts, medics, and engineers, as well as other specialists. Each soldier must work as a unit to complete each objective, otherwise, failure is guaranteed.

Avoid the tanks or pay the consequences.

The Americans Vs the Germans and Soviets.

No matter which side you punt for, you’ll be surprised by the limited choice of game modes. At launch on console, there are only two to choose from and these are Offensive and Warfare. This lack of modes doesn’t mean that the gameplay becomes stale quickly. No, because many mechanics have been implemented to ensure the action is fresh during each fight.

However, the familiar approach may disappoint veterans of the genre. Effectively, you are playing either capture the flag, or domination as the map is separated into sections that must be secured and held. Yet, let me not simplify it too much, as each mode has its own objectives.

Offensive. 

A team of defenders must hold its line and repel the attackers. The defending side holds all the objectives and the attacking team must take them all before the timer runs out. This is an excellent game of cat and mouse and you must decide to spread your defences thinly, or heavily fortify a few locations. 

Warfare.

This is the more free-flowing option, where both teams aim to capture each section. The winner is the team who holds the most areas as the timer runs out or all the sectors at one time. It’s a game of tug of war, and the strongest and most organised will be victorious. 

Use the environment to stay alive.

Master your role and work together. 

With many squad roles to select, you must master your specific task. Each squadron has limited specialist places available, so each player must decide where their skills are best utilised. This is especially key when you take on the part of Squad leader. This person is the difference between a fun tactical experience or a running simulation from hell.

Every map is a vast expanse and traversing it feels like it takes forever. The Squad leader can reduce the grind by placing down Outposts and Garrisons. These create spawn points that enable you to jump right back into the action. If your leader is woeful at their role, you’ll spend more time running across fields than you will be shooting your gun. 

Alongside this, communication is a key tool to organising the troops. Each officer can contact the commander to relay orders and discuss tactics. Likewise, squad members can speak directly to their leader or listen to nearby troops. This was a fantastic idea that makes the gameplay super immersive and adds to the RTS mechanics.

Hell Let Loose has you on edge throughout.

Using vast open spaces is risky business as these large areas can appear hollow and empty, and the action can feel gutless and without purpose. Fortunately, Hell Let Loose has created a tense and suspenseful atmosphere with its slower gameplay and hardcore mechanics. Hiding in dilapidated buildings or creeping through fields and trenches was exhilarating. The fear that your enemy could kill you at any moment was a genuine concern. With era-specific imagery and an earthy colour palette, you’ll enjoy the accurate representation of each iconic battle.

My only disappointment is that many of the buildings are inaccessible. This created an unrealistic representation of war and reduced the tactical choices. It was a shame the developers didn’t take a leaf from Battlefields playbook. Destructible buildings and the freedom to manipulate the landscape would have been very welcome.

As discussed, headphones are the key to success, yet a decent pair highlight the audios shortcomings. Unfortunately, the sound is flat and uninspiring when you are wandering around the vast maps. This impacts the ability to pinpoint your foes and reduces the quality of the final product. However, when in the heat of battle, the sound effects are incredible. The booming noises will fill you with fear as you wait to lose your life. 

Keep your eyes open as your foes can be hiding in plain sight.

No tutorial = mass confusion. 

When a game is as complicated as Hell Let Loose, you’d expect there to be a thorough tutorial. Sadly, though, this isn’t the case! You’ll fumble around in the dark, trying to work out what you need to do. Subsequently, the gameplay is much harder than it should be. Moreover, many casual players will be put off by the difficult learning curve. Fortunately, though, once you understand what you are doing, you’ll love the brutal action and the realistic nature of the controls.

This is addictive as hell if you have a good group of friends or a great squad to play with! You’ll lose hours to this realistic title as the tide of each battle ebbs and flows. But, if you end up in a poor team, you’ll be frustrated, curse your luck, and hate every minute! Its longevity revolves around the many classes that need levelling up, its tough achievement list and the long matches you’ll endure. When these elements work together you’ll experience a phenomenal but tough game.

Hell Let Loose won’t be for everyone. 

With many FPS fans preferring an arcade approach, Hell Let Loose will only appeal to a niche market. If you fall for its tough and realistic charms, you’ll enjoy the slower action and tactical nuance. I sucked at it, but I recommend you to buy it here! Choose your side, pick your role, and remember communication is key!

SUMMARY

Hell Let Loose is a brutally tough first-person shooter. You must work together, understand your roles and keep the communication flowing. Its hardcore approach will not be for everyone, but with a fantastic team at your side, you'll fall for its bleak charms.

+ Excellent graphics and a tense atmosphere.
+ The audio in close combat is fantastic.
+ The game mechanics are in-depth.
+ Addictive once you learn the fundamentals.
+ Many tactical choices.
- The lack of a tutorial is unfairly harsh.
- Difficult when teamwork fails.
- The audio is flat when navigating open areas.

(Reviewed on Xbox Series X. Also available on PC and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: [email protected]

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