developer: Black Matter
platforms: Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, PC (Reviewed)
release date: 27 July 2021
Price: $39.99 USD – Available Here
What is one thing that draws you to multiplayer games? Graphics, attention to detail, gore, atmosphere? I suppose if either of those listed is done well, that’s enough to pull you in on your own. But for me, the feeling of greatness is another selling point. Knowing that you’re a nobody, one of the hundreds or thousands in a large-scale multiplayer skirmish. Knowing that your life might end instantly with one well-placed sniper bullet shot from miles away. Or one well-aimed mortar shell could take you and 5-6 people around you. The stakes are so but so is the reward. If anything I wrote so far resonates with you, then you might also see why Hell Let Loose might be your cup of tea.
Story? Whatstory? This is a multiplayer-driven game after all so any kind of story depends on your imagination and level of immersion. You can pretend to be one of those unfortunate soldiers in the opening minutes of Saving Private Ryan or as a sniper from Behind Enemy Lines. There is a significant selection of roles that you can take including an officer, medic, machinegunner, commander, crewman, and sniper. In the end, your level of immersion and self-made storytelling is only limited by your imagination. In other words, a perfect game for Second World War LARPing.
What separates Hell Let Loose from the rest? Complete mayhem, large-scale battles, and a complete lack of visual gimmick that you see in every shooter nowadays. As of right now, the game offers two modes: offensive and warfare. Nine maps in epic 50 vs 50 multiplayer battles and a decent selection of vehicles as a bonus. This is a barebone shooting sim in the best way imaginable. No hit markers or any sort of visual help telling you that you hit your target but there is far more focus on recoil and different weaponry. Every weapon and playing class is a story for itself. Now……why this game might not be everyone’s cup of tea?
Insanely high learning curve. In the first few battles, you’ll have no idea where you are, or where you should even go. There’s very little handholding in terms of objectives and map guidance. The best strategy in the first few hours is just to stick to someone more experienced, follow them, and try to stay alive as long as possible. With all that said, this is a game that really benefits from voice communication. Every single server I joined had a couple of people on my team coordinating attacks and planning defenses through voice chat. The battles are somewhat long, from 45 minutes to an hour on average, so this isn’t a game where you can just rush in, stack up a few killstreaks and watch that level-up bar greatly fills up after every match. This is a game that rewards communication, coordination, and patience.
This is a tricky bit. The visuals in Hell Let Loose isn’t something that I could broadly define since, strangely enough, they depend on whatever map I’m currently in. It’s interesting, really. Feels like every map was done by a different dev team. Some have a crazy attention to detail and intricate level designs while in others I managed to stumble upon some rather grainy textures and copy-paste structures. I would like to single out the Omaha Beach map as one of my favorites. Everything from level design to atmosphere is top-notch, especially if you manage to get into a 100 players server. The feeling of being an expendable nobody while mortar shells are falling all around you and with plans flying over is something that you have to experience for yourself.
There is good attention to detail when it comes to weapons, level atmosphere, and vehicle sounds. Strangely, this is one of the few games where I’m perfectly fine with the absence of climactic music (and music in general) since it only adds to the realism. Every weapon is a story for itself not only when it comes to handling but also regarding sound design. After a while, you’ll get so familiar with some that you’ll eventually be able to recognize MG42 from afar.
There is only one thing you should know before starting Hell Let Loose. Know what you’re getting into. This isn’t a game for instant gratification or one that rewards going full Rambo. Another one would be – unity in numbers. You won’t get far alone. You’re a nobody just like everyone else and not some future hero. This is a game that requires a great deal of patience from you and knowing how to take a loss. In Hell Let Loose you play to learn and only later you get to play to win.
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