Hell Let Loose is the methodical version of Call of Duty. That’s right, this Early Access review has started with a bold statement, and a sweeping one at that. Think what you will of Call of Duty, but let’s consider it a solo game, regardless of the modes.
In Hell Let Loose, from Black Matter Ltd and Team17, you get to coordinate a plan of action (pending you level up to the appropriate military rank), and be strategic as one would assume in a real war scenario. While most skirmishes are chaotic and frantic in practice, there is obviously an element of planning involved.
It’s not that this is a real-time strategy title or anything, it’s probably more on par with the Battlefield series as it’s a rather large 50 versus 50, strictly online, multiplayer experience: the Allies against the Axis forces. Is it any good, in this Early Access stage?
Hell Let Loose Early Access Review
The setting is atmospheric, the presentation superb, but working with others online isn’t the same as in the workplace, or with people you know. Hell Let Loose is a big game, and you’re potentially working with another 49 players, albeit in your allocated units.
First impressions were good in terms of presentation, but the number of players was disappointing; the maximum number of players for a time was only nine, and there isn’t any solo campaign. The day of the week may change that, however, as by the weekend it was hard to get on a game as they were full to the brim: 100 players at a time on multiple servers.
New players need to climb the ranks, so you begin as a rifleman, and when you level up, unlock other classes and load-outs, as well as the opportunity to lead a unit. Communication is critical as a unit leader, and if you don’t actively speak on voice chat, you may be kicked out or demoted!
But there is the temptation to do your own thing as the time for redeploying then sprinting through fields to ‘catch-up’, only to be shot by an enemy who managed to break through is frustrating. The pace is very realistic, so encourages you to make the most of your time in-game when you can.
By the default, the UI is very minimal. It’s possible to configure it to your needs, but it’s so much better without obstructions. Playing this in 1440p was great, and you can admire the gorgeous maps. Hell Let Loose ain’t no sight-seeing tour, but make the most of it. Besides, you don’t need a health gauge as you only take a hit or two.
The atmosphere in the game us stellar. When the numbers are low, listening out for footsteps as you would in Fortnite can give you the edge, but in a full 100-player battle, it’s daunting. Bullets ricochet, bombers fly overhead – on several occasions running through the woods was terrifying as you’d hear the echoes of rifles and artillery elsewhere, then either a snapping twig or the sound of a bullet buzzing past. The second one would never miss when in the open.
It is therefore encouraged that you work with your unit – not just to win the battle, but for survival purposes. There won’t be a cavalry unit riding in from the sunset to heal you. It’s possible, but such a risk that once you’ve been taken down, it’s best to redeploy. I chose to keep off the grid, but unit leaders would command players where to go, while other members would type in chat an enemy sighting etc.
Experiencing this had pros and cons. The pros were the level of involvement and strategy – it’s a real sense of accomplishment when working as a team. Unfortunately, the cons were too much for me, with dictators rather than leaders barking orders and taking the game far too seriously. In their defence, Hell Let Loose is not an arcade game.
A Decorated Career
With the various units and classes in the game, it had a very familiar Battlefield flair to it – the early 00s games rather than the current FPS flavour. While the latter was more of a free-for-all skirmish of doing as you please, Hell Let Loose is much more calculated.
Even if you want to do your own thing, you won’t last. Either you’ll be killed by the enemies or your team will boot you out. The game takes a no-nonsense approach to any abuse in the game. Though the players who were way too serious were annoying, they weren’t abusive, but there was a lot of ‘voting off’ players.
Not hearing or seeing anything in the chat, it was hard to conclude what they had done. Was it people ganging up on better players, that they weren’t following orders/going AWOL or perhaps were abusive but sending private messages or from a previous game? Who knows. Unless it’s glaringly apparent someone is ruining it for everyone else, I’m not a fan of this sort of ‘gaming culture’.
For someone who’s not entirely into the online multiplayer experience, this just highlighted the many reasons why I avoid it. It’s a bit similar to the days where I played Destiny with an IRL friend and some hardcore, wannabe military advisors. They were so intent on lecturing the party on how to blast aliens and the methods, that I would pull a Leeroy Jenkins, my mate in tow. We all play games for different reasons; mine being escapism, but mostly fun, and if I wanted to get that serious, I’d play a game of Risk.
Ignoring the multiplayer side of things, there were a few moments of indifference, on my part, where the controls wouldn’t respond. This was more apparent in exiting a vehicle, and either being shot at like a fish in a barrel or mounted on a hedge not being able to get out.
On one occasion, I had to redeploy as there was no way my solider could escape and unobstructed vehicle. Upon redeployment, a penalty was issued and a killed in action title card shown, followed by another countdown until getting back into the action.
It’s not the frequent deaths from much better players that bothered me; it was the getting back into the action. As maps are massive, it takes an age to get anywhere and should you foolishly sprint everywhere; you draw attention to yourself as there are so many people eager to kill you from the shadows.
This was a highlight as you appreciate your ‘run’ a little more and admire the skill of the opponent. However, rinsing and repeating this method, you end up retorting to the sprint method to join in. It’s sod’s law as you crawl everywhere expecting an ambush for nothing to happen. When the timer’s up congratulating/commiserating you on your win/loss, all you recall are the deaths and limbo-like redeployments.
Hell Let Loose is a fantastic game, but it’s not for me. I can also say that the Mona Lisa is a masterpiece but I wouldn’t own it, or think Ferrari’s are cool, but wouldn’t want one. Objectively speaking, the game is highly engaging, a proper multiplayer that encourages communication and the atmosphere is one of the best war-time I’ve experienced, and my heritage is Capcom’s Commando – an authority ;). If you’re a fan of FPS in teams, then I highly encourage that you watch some streams and read up a bit more to help with your decision. It’s a superb title, just not the genre I actively play, except for Team17’s other title, Worms Rumble.
Have a look at the Hell Let Loose Steam page for further details.