War is hell.
First-person shooter games and the World Wars are a match made in heaven, yet only a few studios have executed it right and delivered an experience worthy of the weight of events at the time. The most prominent examples in this genre include the likes of Battlefield 1, Call of Duty: WWII and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. Developer Black Matter and publisher Team17’s World War II title, Hell Let Loose, is the latest to join the list. It pits an impressive one hundred players against each other, split into teams of fifty, battling it out for control over historically accurate battlefields.
Hell Let Loose divides players within each team into different roles, each with their own loadout and functions to fill within the team. Players are grouped up into units of six, and their position around the map is shown with small markers indicating their role. Considering the game’s tactical nature, every unit has a function to play, whether to flank the enemy team, set up traps, find vantage points to snipe incoming units, or even go guns-blazing with your infantry unit. The roles available vary from the regular medic and engineer roles to crewman, tank commander, and even anti-tank, accumulating to a total of fourteen unique positions.
However, the description and menu are crowded, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the amount of text, roles and options available before dropping in a game. As mentioned before, it allows for a more tactical approach to the battlefield, but you have the same loadout as your enemy if they pick the same class. This doesn’t allow for any variety or for players to add their own touch to their role. Some players might want to add more grenades or change their secondary weapon, but the option simply isn’t there.
Hell Let Loose is a fully online experience, and players are prompted with the available server rooms. The information shows the number count of players in the server and its ping. Unfortunately, there aren’t dedicated servers for every region, so I had to play on around 150 ping consistently. Although not terrible, it doesn’t allow for a smooth experience either. There are always one or two full servers with the rest abandoned.
Once you finally connect to a server, pick your role and choose your deploy location, you will definitely take some time to get around the map. It’s just too big for its own good. I understand the purpose is to fit an action-packed experience with a hundred players firing back and forth, but the entire battle usually takes place on less than a quarter of the total map size. However, the game at least offers a diverse range of methods to traverse it, giving you the option to go in running or get inside a tank and blast through enemy lines.
Hell Let Loose’s visuals are extremely impressive, competing with some of the best triple-A first-person shooters out there. The amount of detail and textures on trees and the objects around you is outstanding. Whenever a first-person shooter adopts the World War setting, there is always the fear of getting it wrong with the weapon and attire appearance. This is not the case at all with Hell Let Loose. The developers designed every infantry rifle, pistol, grenade, and their reload and firing animations perfectly. The historical accuracy adds so much value to the title, and you can often get pleasantly surprised with the development team’s attention to the smallest details.
All in all, Hell Let Loose is another typical World War II first-person shooter in the sea of the genre. Although there is nothing special about the title to make it stand out, it offers hectic 100-man battles on historically accurate locations with tremendous attention to visual and audio detail. Does it deliver all this without flaw? No, not exactly. You will definitely take time to get accustomed to all the different roles, or even find a suitable server to play on, considering the common connectivity issues. The development team also need to consider opening official servers for certain regions, to avoid high-ping servers for non-EU and US residents. Hell Let Loose is currently in Early Access, so time will tell if they address this and the other current issues with the game.
[Reviewed on PC]