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Hell Let Loose Review

Hell Let Loose

Hell Let Loose... So, you’ve respawned with a small crew around you, armed with the trusty M1 Garand. Your squad commander has issued you the task of capturing a control point, bullets are whizzing past you and planes are flying in the distance. Bunkered down, you peek over cover but for a moment, revealing in front of you a massive field baron of cover, smoke grenades cover precious amounts of space to cover your advances.

The moment has come, as your squad waste no time and dart towards the objective, picking out enemy soldiers as they make haste towards the next cover. After nearly getting hit by a swarm of bullets, you make it to cover, feeling relieved and excited to press ahead. Suddenly, you hear the unavoidable scream of an artillery rocket plummeting down towards you. There’s absolutely nothing you or your squamates can do as the bomb hits the ground, and you see the respawn timer once more.

How this unavoidable death makes you feel will pretty much determine if you’ll find enjoyment of this game. Does it make you feel frustrated and cheated? Probably not the game for you. But, if you’re simply excited to be immersed in the frantic WW2 mayhem surrounding you, then this may be the multiplayer shooter you’ve been looking for all your life.

This Is War

Hell Let Loose is an Online Multiplayer first-person shooter set in an extremely authentic WW2 era. Up to 100 players are split into two teams, and must fight against each other to dominate the battlefield with artillery, infantry and armoured units. This is no simple team deathmatch however; the teams must utilize co-ordination and teamwork to help them fight on sprawling maps with fierce choke points and risky open fields.

When you open the game for the first time, you are informed that a microphone is strongly recommended to play Hell Let Loose, and I couldn’t agree more. This game goes far and above the “ping” system that has emerged from some team shooters, and your team will definitely benefit from you having a mic to play this game. Not only that, but it also adds to the fun of the core gameplay. You’ll be a rookie at first, and may even stay quiet in the first few hours. But eventually, you’ll start calling out enemy locations to your squad, and further still, recommending actions and tactics to help your squad contribute to your whole team. This game doesn’t just level up your avatar, you’ll also be improving and learning as you play more and more matches.

No 1 In Team

Teams are split up between squads, and each serve a different but crucial purpose. First up, we have the recon squad, who serve as the snipers creeping round and finding enemy hot points and potential flanking areas. Only two people in the entire match will wield snipers, which are incredibly useful on the realistic maps covered in open fields. The limit of snipers is a very welcome thought, as getting sniped over and over is not a fun prospect in any shooter.

Next, the armour squads, who are in charge of controlling the tanks and other offensive vehicles. Tanks are genuinely terrifying to go up against, especially when its controlled by a strong co-ordinated team. Finally, we have the infantry squads, which are groups of your normal foot soldier classes that we’re all used to.

For the most part, and especially in your first 10-15 hours of playing, you’ll stick to the infantry squads. Squads are formed of a maximum of 6 players, and within this squad there’s a variety of roles you can undertake. The very basic class is the Rifleman. You’re armed with a semi automatic and a few other supplies (grenades, bandages etc) and your job is to simply respond to your squad leaders' orders. This is a great starting point for newcomers, as a good squad leader will be able to guide you to your objectives on a huge threatening map.

After that, it becomes a case of shooting any enemies you see. Shooting in this game feels very authentic. Guns are punchy with hefty recoil and reload times, meaning every shot had to be carefully taken, as you risk being exposed as you pull the bolt back on your Kar98. Most classic include semi auto and bolt action rifles, with just a few full auto machine guns.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll naturally want to move on to more involved roles. There’s a decent choice here, and for the most part each are different enough to keep things varied. Medic class arms you with morphine as you race around reviving your team mates, whilst the machine gun class gives you a huge machine gun that’s only useable when set up on a bipod. Each class offers you a new challenge, and you can’t help but yearn to perfect every single one. There’s no doubt you’ll be lost for a while, but if you stick with it, you’ll be mowing down hordes of enemies in your well-placed flanking position.

Resource For Victory

Now we move into some of the more advanced roles, which you most definitely shouldn’t touch until you have a good understanding of the game, and are comfortable talking to others via the mic.

The squad leader, the middle man between the commander and your squad, is extremely important to the success of a Hell Let Loose match. Leaders have access to a separate voice chat that includes the commander and other squad leaders. You’ll be using this new channel to ask for resources or supplies, co-ordinating with other leaders, or passing on information to your squad. In fact, this chat channel is truly where the battles are won or lost.

Believe me when I say, this is a demanding role, and even the veterans of shooter games may feel overwhelmed with the tactics being thrown around. It’s quite a fantastic feeling honestly, the feeling of being out of your depth is something that I've not felt all that much in recent multiplayer games, it was weirdly nice to feel like a beginner once again.

And finally, the pinnacle of the team, the commander. The most important role of the team who will be directing each squad and spending resources to help win the match. The commander has access to a pool of tools, from the small box of supplies to the chaotic and game changing missile barrage.

As squads utilize mechanics and engineers as much as possible, they’ll be able to contribute more resources for the commander. More resources mean more tanks, airstrikes and artillery ammunition. It’s a small system that influences the game massively, and adds another branch to this truly deep online shooter.

A Mountain Of Things To Learn

I’ve gone through as much as I can in this review, and yet there’s so much I have missed out. Truth is, this game has a steep learning curve, and it goes far beyond being good at shooting enemy players. Tactics and team play are far more powerful than a player’s shooting skills. Sometimes you’ll just be sat on a point defending for over ten minutes, keeping your eyes on an empty walkway waiting for any potential attackers, just in case they sneak up on you. It can be slow and dull, but positioning and covering entrances are more impactful than running around hoping to spot swarms of enemies to kill. If you want to flex your crazy kill streak, this isn’t the game for you.

It can also be frustrating when you find yourself stuck in a death loop. I’ll be clear right now, you will die, A LOT! Whether its from a stray bullet from a bush yards away or an unavoidable bombing run, it will happen over and over again no matter how good you are. Be prepared to wait sometimes up to a minute to re-join, as spawn timers are fairly unforgiving. Obviously, the timers help with balancing and affect the outcome of the game, but it doesn’t stop you being frustrated when all you want to do is get back in the game.

In contrast to the spawning menu, the game itself is staggeringly beautiful, in an authentic WW2 way. It’s not due to the visuals either, which, although are amazing in their own right, don’t blow me away. The star of the show is the audio. Do yourself a favour and get a good set of headphones, because the sound design of Hell Let Loose is surreal. Everything from the echo of an MG in the distance, to the whistle of a missile heading for the ground is accounted for. The atmosphere is stunning, there’s truly nothing out there that comes close to it. The sound design mixes so well with the HUD-less visuals, it really makes you feel like you're part of a world war.

Power To The People

Finally, we hit the potential worst part of the game. Everything I've mentioned on teamplay and co-ordination relies on who you are playing with. Hell Let Loose is a very popular game, so don’t worry about not being able to find full servers, but there’s a good chance that you’ll be joining matches where only a few people (or worse, none at all) are using microphones or giving orders.

It’s a shame that such well-crafted tools that work so well together can be easily ruined by simply not having enough players getting involved with the talking/teamwork aspect. At least half of my matches (which most are played for a maximum of one hour) I've experienced dead chats and no teamwork. It truly does hamper the experience, and keeps you from getting too excited when playing.

Final Thoughts

Hell Let Loose is a difficult game to score, because when everything is working as intended, it’s the best online shooter I've ever played hands down. I’ve had one or two matches that have been simply incredible. It’s not unnatural to suggest that there’s a hint of role playing in this game too, being a medic and hearing the screams of your team through their mics cements this fact.

The handful of players that get into character when playing are the ones that will keep this game going for years to come. I do hope that more and more players start to understand the role-playing element, and grow to become more comfortable using their mics with other players. Until that time however, Hell Let Loose will be an amazing authentic WW2 shooter – Only if the other 99 players in the match help make it so.