After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Hell Let Loose released as an early access title on Steam. Since then, Developers Black Matter have intently listened to player feedback and issued regular updates as well as tweaking and upgrading their game. Now it’s 2021 and it’s finally released for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. Will this squad-based first person shooter be worth the wait? Or will it just be yet another FPS drop in the ocean?
Published by Team17, the masterminds behind the infamous Worms games, Hell Let Loose has some serious experience behind it and that got me very excited for some intense fire battles. And I tell you what, it really didn’t disappoint.
Set during World War 2, you are thrust headfirst into an online mode, as there is no storyline to get you bogged down here, as you pick between 14 various roles, split between four distinct classes to help your side in battle. These are Infantry, Armour, Recon and Command. These 14 roles within the classes include snipers, tank commander, medics and rifleman to name a few. Each role can only have a select amount of people playing it in each game so you’ll need to be quick as sniper roles and rifleman, for example, are always selected first! The commander is the most important of roles on each side though as it’s their responsibility to call in special abilities such as air strikes, and the building of spawn points. This is, clearly, a big undertaking and I cannot stress how much better my team did in games where the commander took their role seriously, helping to plan and strategize.
Within each role there are identifying weapons and appearances which can be levelled up and unlocked through gameplay. There are also different aides that come with each role such as vehicle repair kits for engineers and binoculars for spotters. This level of variety shows just how much teamwork is needed to accomplish your mission. I’ve never played a game where it genuinely seems like the other 49 people on my team were each playing a vital role towards victory; without working together we would be defeated.
There are only two game modes currently available, but each play in perfectly to the sheer size of the games and maps. You can play either Warfare, in which the battlefield is split into sectors and the victor controls them all or at least the majority when the timer runs out. Or you can play Offensive, which is a very similar style of game but one team is in control of all sectors at the start and the opposing team tries to capture them all before the time runs out. Having just two modes to pick from is fine for now as they are both enthralling and tense, but I’d definitely like to see more added in the future, if only for a bit more variety.
One of Hell Let Loose’s biggest draws is the sheer scale of its maps. For me, personally, this was 90% incredible and 10% annoying as all hell (no pun intended). I’m very used to playing Call of Duty so going to a game like this was a fantastic breath of fresh air and the sheer diversity was nothing short of stunning. One map, Utah Beach, had me jumping off the landing boat, sprinting up a land-mine scarred beach, trudging through wet trenches, taking cover in derelict, mortar destroyed houses and running through open fields to capture an enemy sector. Seeing all of this in one map really made me realise how small other game maps are and how much time, effort and beautiful design has gone into this one.
However, one annoyance was that sometimes I didn’t see players for a long, long, LONG time. I timed myself on one game and it took me 6 minutes to reach from where I spawned, sprinting in one direction, to then finally spotting my first enemy – only to be killed immediately. That is an extreme example but very similar things did happen on a regular basis; patience is definitely key in this game as you will be running in each and every map. A lot. Luckily the variety did help, spanning across nine maps in total and set all over Europe and the Eastern Front. Being able to drive both tanks and jeeps cut down a bit of the commute…
The gameplay in Hell Let Loose is brutal and it’s exactly what I want in a game like this. I’m so fed up with shooters where it feels like I’m unloading a whole magazine into someone, only for them to just be wounded and then immediately kill me. I’m a huge fan of hardcore mode on Call Of Duty so I don’t want my bullets displayed, I don’t want a cross hair and I want one/two strikes to kill someone. Hell Let Loose does this perfectly. Feeling like I have to advance up the battlefield to take another sector in a strategized way and not just blast my way through players engages me so much more as it feels more real.
Hell Let Loose, for the most part, runs pretty smoothly. It’s not a AAA title so I wasn’t expecting super high-end graphics and photo-realistic player models and environments. And it’s lucky I wasn’t because I didn’t get that here. All players on either the American or German side look identical and there have been some frame rate dips during every game I have played. Luckily you’ll find yourself so tense and on edge just trying to survive in the dense maps that it doesn’t ever take the player out of the game. The sound, though, is fantastic. The ratting booms of air strikes and the iconic clang of the M1 Garand rifle pinging as I ran out of ammo, completely engulfed me, drawing in with every second.
One final mention that I couldn’t have been happier for is the “Field Manual” option on the main menu. Now, I’m not a smart man and it sometimes takes me a little longer than it should to understand a new game and how all the mechanics work. However, the field manual broke down every aspect of Hell Let Loose, from vehicles you can use and how to drive them, to how to deploy each type of unit as well as spawn points. In fact it told me absolutely everything I needed to know about, well, absolutely everything in the entire game in a clear, concise and easy to digest method that I really wish more games did. I didn’t feel like I was being spoken down to, either and it’s just a fantastic edition to a game where there’s a lot happening and a lot to understand. Thanks Dark Matter *thumbs up*.
Throwing you head on into 50v50 warfare, in which teamwork is essential and death comes quickly in huge maps, Hell Let Loose is a stunning game that had me playing round after round. Aesthetically it could use work, the frame-rate drops do start to become a bit tedious and the sheer scale of maps may put off some people. However, it’s a great bit of brutal warfare and one I know I’ll be keeping installed for a long time to come.
Join us in Hell Let Loose on Xbox Series X|S by visiting the Xbox Store