Hell Let Loose
Black Matter Pty Ltd / Team17 Digital Ltd
Back in June of this year, I previewed Black Matter’s Hell Let Loose, a gritty World War 2 shooter that I said at the time was “one of the most immersive (if not the most) WW2 shooters that I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing.”
Although the game made its debut shortly after my preview, I wanted to give it some time to mature before heading back into its muddy trenches for a review. So how has Hell Let Loose fared since launch? Does it still deliver those same feelings of raw tension and immersion?
For those who don’t know about the game yet, Hell Let Loose is a massive 50 v 50 team-based World War 2 shooter. Played in the first-person perspective, the game features an ever-shifting front line along with a strategic, resource-driven meta-game that is based on what sectors each team has captured.
If I had to compare Hell Let Loose to any game on the market, I’d have to say it plays similar to Offworld Industries’ Squad. The battlefields are large (not quite as large as Squad’s massive maps) and it also features combined arms warfare, with infantry and vehicular combat on full display. Most individual players make up squad members who are led by a squad leader, who in turn take orders from each team’s commander (Squad is adding the commander role soon as well).
One of the things that most impresses me about Hell Let Loose is the incredible attention to detail that the developers have put into the game. The maps are absolutely stunning, with frostbitten, snowy pastures (complete with dead cows), idyllic countryside meadows, and war-scorched, barren forests. In other words, if you’ve watched any great World War 2 films from the last few decades, you’ll see much of their environs replicated here. The art direction is simply off the charts.
Another thing that really struck me about Hell Let Loose is that the game has this really solid feeling; like when you hold a weapon it seems weighty and substantial. The game’s closest competitor, Post Scriptum (which was released way too early and unfortunately has now died out) had decent graphics but for some reason everything in it seemed more floaty and insubstantial. It’s had to know what goes into making a game feel like it has gravitas, but the programmers at Black Matter clearly took their time to make sure that everything felt just right.
Gameplay-wise, Hell Let Loose plays out at a more strategic pace than most shooters out there. Each team begins at opposite sides of the battlefield and have to get into position before any action pops off. That means setting up bases and spawn points first, complete with defenses. I’m really fond of this initial set-up phase, because similar to Squad, you get to hang out with your new squad and develop a sense of teamwork with them (most people play with mics).
You’ll find people joking around, strategizing, etc. and get to know each other’s personalities more, which fosters a sense of comradery that you just won’t find in any of the twitch-based arcade shooters out there, such as the Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises.
When the two sides collide in Hell Let Loose, there’s a real sense of broken tension as tracers streak through the air, artillery rounds begin walloping the ground, and squad leaders start barking their orders. And since you’ve most likely bonded with your squad members during the set-up phase, every one of them that goes down makes your heart sink. Luckily, there are medics in the game so unless you’re struck in the head (or take a direct hit from a tank or artillery shell), you and your buddies still have a chance of being revived.
Like any responsible developers out there, Black Matter has provided a roadmap for Hell Let Loose. They’ve already updated the game to include a body dismemberment system (for all of you gore-hounds out there), heavy tanks, and a couple of new maps. They have plans to implement such fun stuff as flame throwers, transport trucks, and other great additions in the future, so it looks like they’re in it for the long haul.
Probably the most notable of the new updates is the introduction of the Omaha Beach map, made famous in the film Saving Private Ryan. After playing this new map, I was completely blown away (no pun intended) by how true to form it is, and how it allows you to replicate scenes out of the movie.
Hell Let Loose is simply an absolute beast of a World War 2 game. It has a gritty, weighty feel to it that lingers after you play it, and emergent stories that can happen during each match. Any fan of the time period or shooter fans, in general, should definitely check this title out.
Hell Let Loose has some pretty nice looking graphics that make its World War 2-based gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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