Having come from games like Battlefield, Call of Duty, and Team Fortress 2, it’s safe to say my history with first-person shooter games are geared more towards more fast-paced, arcade-style experiences. For me, I enjoy the fact that these titles allow even a casual player to play jump in and have a good time.
These are the types of experiences I enjoy in my multiplayer FPS titles. I find it great to switch my brain off, switch on a podcast, and rack up a bunch of kills on some of my favourite maps.
When it came to approaching Hell Let Loose, I soon realised that I would need to switch up my tactics if I wanted to enjoy it. It’s a 50 v. 50 shooter set on the European theatre during World War II. One team plays as the Allies and the other the Axis.
What was particularly daunting about my first round in this game was the overwhelming number of classes available to choose from. There are 14 playable roles to play as during a match, with each one utilising its own weapons and equipment.
It takes some time getting familiar with each of these classes, but I spent roughly one or two matches trying out each one before eventually settling on the medic. It was an easy way to see how Hell Let Loose balances its classes around each other, where players are encouraged to work together as a small part of a greater force to achieve victory.
One way it does this is by limiting the number of players who can play as one type of class. Something that always frustrated me about Battlefield were the number of enemy snipers that would sit and camp a spot on both sides of the battle, preventing either team from making any real progress.
Meanwhile, I was pleasantly surprised that Hell Let Loose limits sniper classes to only a handful on each team, and with the maps being so open and wide (as well as offering very little vertical advantage), it made worrying about enemy marksmen negligible.
Tanks, on the other hand, are slow and cumbersome as you’d expect a tank to be. They provide massive tactical advantage in being able to dole out heavy damage while also drawing fire away from friendly infantry. But due to the lack of destructible scenery, they can only really drive on roads or across empty fields.
Perhaps it’s just me being used to Battlefield’s extremely fragile landscapes as achieved by the Frostbite engine, but not being able to destroy many parts of the environment felt like a big missed opportunity to me. Black Matter has said this isn’t possible due to the engine limitations, so I can’t really complain too much about this, but it doesn’t exactly emphasise the ‘Hell’ part of the game’s title in the same way that a game like Battlefield does. And it does make tanks really boring to play with.
But on the other hand, the maps themselves are incredibly detailed. They use real-life references to create authentic war scenarios based on some of the most hellish battles in World War II. This includes Omaha Beach, Carentan, and Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. Each map fulfils its own atmosphere, with unique hazards, landmarks and objective points that allows it to stand out from the others.
Adapting to each of these maps takes time, as you slowly grow to learn about areas that become hot zones for enemy bombardment while others prove useful in flanking the other team. It gives the game a sense of progression where you can feel yourself getting better at it as you better learn where to position yourself in these maps and how to repel enemy attacks.
The part of this that ruins it for me is the lack of a mini-map. If you’re navigating the battle and need to move to a new position, it can be difficult to ascertain where you’re currently located. The big map itself is hard to read, with your own position not standing out very well amongst all the other confusing icons that litter it.
In turn, this emphasises the need to communicate with the rest of your squad and coordinate your actions. Hell Let Loose even includes a disclaimer that playing with a microphone and talking to those you’re playing with is the recommended way to play. In my time spent playing the game I managed to find a few good players who knew what they were doing and were even willing to offer tips and advice to help improve my own ‘noobish’ skills.
But unfortunately, as with all online video games, there were also groups of players who went out of their way to troll each other, not communicate in a tactical way, and were just being straight-up unsporting. It ruined a few of the matches I played in, and therefore I can’t pretend that you’re going to have a smooth experience by relying on your teammates for assistance.
Should you play Hell Let Loose? If you enjoy more authentic, tactical shooters like Red Orchestra and Squad then this is a no brainer. Hell Let Loose successfully adapts the same feeling of being a small unit in a larger army in many successful ways.
If you’re like me and have more experience with arcade FPS titles like Call of Duty or Battlefield, you need to approach Hell Let Loose in a slower, more methodical way. There’s no room for 360 no scopes or One Man Army camping. If you don’t act as a team, you die as a team. Once I was able to realise this as the best way to play it, I started having a lot more fun.
Tested on PC
Also available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
Developer Black Matter
Disclosure a copy of Hell Let Loose was provided by Team17