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Hell Let Loose Preview: A lovely day for a war

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Hell Let Loose might not be to everyone's taste, but what it lacks in accessibility it mostly makes up for in focus.

Five years ago you’d have struggled to pick out an ambitious first-person shooter with a Second World War lick of paint. Turn to 2019, however, and the market is flooded with them. Battlefield V doubles down on combined arms warfare, while titles like Battalion 1944 and Call of Duty WW2 cater to the arena crowds. In this climate, you’d have thought that an early access shooter would struggle to find it’s footing, but Hell Let Loose manages to find a niche that suits the situation just nicely.

Image Courtesy of Team17

While most available historical shooters lean towards the arcade style of gameplay, one that’s arguably more accessible, Hell Let Loose chooses to lean in the opposite direction for those craving for an almost mil-sim experience. Teams are expected to communicate closely with each other and execute intelligent tactics to achieve victories as they capture a series of linear capture points across the map. Almost everything about the design of Hell Let Loose’s gameplay leans into team play, which works both in its favour and to its detriment.

Image Courtesy of Team17

The three maps that are currently available offer locales ranging from dense forests to rolling fields, and they’re both vast and visually stunning. Each new round chooses a random set of capture points set across each map, which contributes to an incredibly varied experience when playing the game over long periods; long play sessions are likely, with each round lasting upwards of an hour. Their colossal size contributes to an emphasis on team play, as respawn points are few and far between. It’s instilled in the player early on that decisions shouldn’t be made lightly, as redeploy timers can often last up to 15 seconds, and it’s a long walk back to the front line.

Image Courtesy of Team17

Although there are only three maps, their huge size and the random capture point system does mean that they can be challenging to learn quickly and require either active communication work or time dedicated to working out their intricacies. While pretty to look at, Hell Let Loose is no easy feat to run and will require a fairly beefy PC to play at high frame rates. A large amount of visual clutter makes target acquisition more frustrating than it could be, especially on smaller laptop screens.

Image Courtesy of Team17

There are 14 different classes in total, most of which have access to their own unique set of equipment and abilities. Medics, for example, are mostly relied upon for reviving fallen teammates, where Spotters are responsible for marking out the territory ahead. In theory, these roles should mesh together and form a team that runs like clockwork. However, a lot of the classes have overlapping equipment, which diminishes the impact of choosing which role to play. Overall, the class system as it stands lacks focus, and when playing solo without any teammates on comms, it’s especially frustrating.

Image Courtesy of Team17

Your enjoyment of playing the game will depend on your situation. Hell Let Loose features a fully fledged VoIP system that allows for secure communication with your team and squad, but finding players who use them effectively is rare. This game is best played among a group of like-minded friends who can play distinct roles that compliment each other. Playing as a solo-player felt bewildering; none of my team was willing to communicate, nor co-ordinate, with matches resembling bloody deathmatches rather than deep tactical gameplay. Weapons feel satisfying to shoot, but a lack of arcade-style hitmakers or damage indicators made diagnosing hits or enemy locations very tricky. This is by design, of course, but it caters to a particular type of player - one who is gratified by immersing themselves in their own skill.

Image Courtesy of Team17

Hell Let Loose manages to find an audience that few other World War Two shooters cater to. In a similar fashion to Squad (a tactical shooter with a modern warfare theme), the team at Black Matter have managed to blur the line between arcade and mil-sim shooters. It’s not as accessible as maybe I’d like it to be in some areas, but there’s a specific audience out there that would seriously benefit from keeping on eye on how Hell Let Loose progresses through early access.

Image Courtesy of Team17

Hell Let Loose is currently available on Steam Early Access for £24.99.

Lead image credit: Courtesy of Team17




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