It’s the Allies vs. the Axis powers in this new multiplayer FPS by Black Matter. Hell Let Loose draws inspiration from WWII-era events to deliver an action-packed multiplayer experience with innovative mechanics like resource management and large-scale worlds. The game also boasts dynamic maps and stunning graphics built atop the Unreal Game Engine.
Though still in early access, the game is already incredibly popular among the FPS community. Intrigued by its premise, I jumped into a match to experience Hell Let Loose for myself.
- What is Hell Let Loose? A large scale, squad-based, historically accurate WWII FPS.
- Game Modes: Multiplayer (50 vs 50)
- Reviewed on: PC
- Platforms: Windows
- Developer: Black Matter Pty Ltd
- Price: $29.99
- Business Model: Game Sales
Enter the Battlefield
In my first round of Hell Let Loose, I entered a server that had 99/100 players. The game matched me with the American side, and I landed a spot in the Easy Squad.
Before jumping into the action, I spent a few moments in the settings menu, adjusting key bindings and video options. Once I’d got them just right, I entered the battle. But I wasn’t quite prepared for what I was about to experience. True to its name, it was hell let loose.
A quick scan of my environment showed that I was surrounded by about 30 teammates pinned down in a heavily contested area. They were getting walloped by an assaulting German force. There were explosions everywhere, and bullets zipping all around. Some hit the tops of the trenches I was in, and some hit my allies. Things weren’t looking good.
Answer the Call
I laid down in a trench to gather my bearings, and this was when I started to discern my squad’s voices from all the proximity chat voices. Everyone was shouting different orders and calling out enemy positions. It was just like a real battlefield, and chaos reigned supreme.
All of a sudden, the squad leader came on the voice chat with a heavy Canadian accent. He had a mission for us. Easy Squad was tasked with outflanking the German reinforcements.
The 6 of us in Easy Squad rallied on our squad leader’s position, and he quickly laid out a plan for us amongst all the chaos. “Ok, gents, we’re gonna follow the trenches out west to that retaining wall and hug it tight up to the crossroad. That’s where we’ll dig in.”
“Don’t fire unless you have to— we don’t wanna give away our position. Single file after me. Let’s get it done, eh?”
We all fell in line behind him, and he led us out of the trenches past our fighting comrades. Fortunately, it didn’t seem like the Germans spotted our maneuver. We got to our position and waited. Sure enough, we soon saw about a dozen Germans in the open field running directly toward us.
No Guts, No Glory
The squad leader quickly ordered us into positions behind cover. He put our machine gunner right on top of a pile of rubble behind us, then positioned the rest on either side of the gate.
“Don’t fire until 20 meters, eh? They don’t know we’re here, and we need to make it count. Grenades first, then rifles.”
We waited in silence as the enemy ran closer. At 20 meters, the squad leader gave the order, and we all let loose our grenades. 4 Germans dropped with the sound of the explosions. The rest went prone and started to return fire. But they had no cover, and we got the drop on them. We stopped the rest dead in their tracks with small arms and machine gunfire. Victory was ours.
High Ground View
We’ve categorized the next part of the review by gameplay, community, and graphical elements.
The review above is an excellent example of what Hell Let Loose can be like at its peak. Namely, a highly immersive FPS experience filled with cooperation and camaraderie. In that sense, the game takes many pages out of the books written by its predecessors, like Squad, Arma, and Red Orchestra. But HLL differentiates itself from these titles by being more streamlined and offering a more tactical multiplayer FPS experience.
In HLL, battles are fought over strategic points on the map that, when held, generate resources. The resources are: “Munitions,” which allow your team to buy aerial strafing runs and restock artillery; “Fuel,” which enables the commander to spawn vehicles; and “Manpower,” which allows commanders to respawn infantry and governs your rate of attrition.
Which resources your team decides to go after and hold can completely change how a game plays out. It also adds a level of meta-strategy that offers an excellent addition to the game.
In the 50 vs. 50 squad-based battles of HLL, it’s rarely a good idea to branch off from your squad and try to get yourself some “lone wolf” kills. It’s highly encouraged to use a microphone, communicate, and stay organized with your squad. You, as an individual, aren’t the star of the show. You’re a small cog in the machine of war.
This can be a double-edged sword at times, as I often found myself in servers where every squad I joined had a silent voice chat. In these servers, no one seemed to be doing anything specific to push our team to victory. Rather, everyone spawned in, ran towards gunfire, and joined whatever fight they could before getting killed. Rinse and repeat.
This can make the battles of HLL a frustrating and unrewarding slog, and it might turn some players away. Fortunately, this haphazard style of play can be mitigated by joining servers that specifically say something like “tactical” or “realism” in their name. But even then, it’s hit or miss.
The developer, Black Matter, states very clearly that their mindset while creating this game is “fight alone, die alone. Fight together, win together.” If you can find a server that adheres to that philosophy, this game has a hell of a lot to offer.
Graphically, Hell Let Loose does surprisingly well for an early access game of this scale. All the maps are made using archived reference material and satellite imagery to recreate real battlefields at a 1:1 scale. The effort put towards detail and realism on each map definitely shows.
Moreover, the Unreal Engine 4’s volumetric lighting help immerse the player in whatever environment they find themselves in. This is true whether it’s an open field, a french village, or foggy, smoldering forests. In fact, I often found myself getting distracted by the beauty of the environment, even with the expected hitches that come with an early access title.
The game looks especially good in motion, which lends itself well to the franticness of the big firefights. Recreating the actual battlefields makes the maps feel less like a shooting gallery and more like a real lived-in place being torn apart by war. You will come across dead cows in fields, broken wagons, homes, and crumbling churches. Not only that, but the environment changes as the game progresses.
Game title: Hell Let Loose
Game description: Hell Let Loose is a WWII-inspired multiplayer FPS that emphasizes strategic gameplay and co-operative teamwork.
Gameplay Elements - 7/10
Multiplayer Elements - 7/10
Graphical Elements - 8/10
You don’t buy an early access game like Hell Let Loose to be on the cutting edge of graphics or to experience flawless gameplay. I have confidence that these things will be patched and improved along the way. You purchase a game like this because you believe in what Black Matter is trying to accomplish.
To that end, I think Hell Let Loose is off to a fantastic start overall. The game is shaping up to be an enriching and immersive experience, especially for fans of WWII and realistic-style gameplay. That said, the more casual player may want to look elsewhere.
- Plenty of strategy
- Exciting co-operative gameplay
- Beautiful graphics and dynamic maps
- Not for solo-minded players
- Occasional graphical bugs
- May be daunting for casual gamers