When Hell Let Loose was first shown, I was quite excited due to the setting which reminded me a lot of the classic military FPS games like the early Battlefield or Call of Duty experiences. However, then I found out that it was supposed to be more like Red Orchestra, which excited me even more due to my love for that game, but after playing it, I have no idea what this is supposed to be.
Before I go any further, I want to remind you that like all reviews, my impressions are heavily influenced by not only my taste in competitive games but the attention-span I have with them. So, if you mostly like games such as Battlefield or Call of Duty, with an occassional love of more hardcore games like Insurgency or Red Orchestra, then most of what I mention will resonate with you.
However, if you prefer games like Insurgency and Squad and can’t stomach shooters like Battlefield or Cod, then this review probably won’t speak to you. A game can be good or bad for different people, and I am sure it would be the same for this.
Hell Let Loose is dubbed as a hardcore World War Two shooter, which lets you take on the role of infantry, tanks and artillery in hundred player battles. On paper, it sounds fun but the execution is rather lacking.
Most of my time playing this game was spent looking at queue screens. The game has a queue system designed to help with an overflow of players but even in matches where there were only 89-95 people in a 100 player lobby, I was still stuck in a queue.
A lot of this is apparently due to map changes between rounds, where players are not allowed to join. This does feel like a tech and design issue that could have been addressed to place players in game sessions regardless of its state.
What makes it even worse is that there is a VIP queue system for custom servers, which further hinders players looking for a quick match, making them wait more than needed. I understand that these might be reserved for certain admins in rented servers and such but it still feels like wasted space.
Then, the other problem is the fact that by the time I did get to a match, I was minutes from the end of the round, making all that waiting useless. It would be beneficial if the servers at least showed the time remaining.
Now here comes another kicker (in case there weren’t enough of them already), most servers are privately owned, meaning that they have weird rules such as being from the same country or joining a certain discord server. This is fine if the server is rented privately, but by renting away so many servers, the whole experience suffers as I was only able to find a few official servers that weren’t empty.
Gameplay-wise, whenever I did manage to get into a round, it didn’t get any less frustrating. I am a huge fan of Red Orchestra 1 and 2 and played those games a lot. They had a perfect balance of simulation and arcade to make them fun. However, with Hell Let Loose it doesn’t seem like they’ve hit that sweet spot, stretching the experience all over the place.
The shooting itself isn’t too bad but when all of a sudden I stop moving because I am being “suppressed”, it does take a lot of the fun out. There is nothing wrong with a suppression mechanic, and in my opinion, the recent Battlefield games have done that well where your vision becomes a bit hectic and blurry. It didn’t take control away from me but still made fighting under suppression a dangerous affair. I am not saying that this is exactly what this game should have done, but that there were better ways to reach the same goal.
The maps are quite big, where most of my time was spent running from a spawn point into a fight. It is scale that isn’t utilised properly, as the actual fighting would be happening around a few chokepoints, wasting a lot of the space the developers had to make.
The spawn system is more punishing than other games as well, where you can be waiting longer just to spawn closer to a fight. It felt like the game was penalising me for not trodding to the fights from one end of a map. The design of the maps isn’t bad but feels quite generic with what feels like realism getting in the way of interesting verticality and good signposted battles.
For gamers like me who mostly play single-player games but are fans of competitive shooters, we want to play something when the hunger hits, quickly jumping into a game. This isn’t at all possible with this, as you will be waiting quite a bit just to get into the match due to the aforementioned issues.
The only way for you to have fun with this is to have a huge group of friends that you can rent out a server for. The game starts getting more fun when you are strategising with people you know. There were a few matches where I joined in with people communicating over VOIP and it felt like a night and day difference.
There clearly is an audience for this, a lot of who are playing this game religiously and even having fun. So, if you are someone who likes uber-immersion and hardcore penalties in a shooter, then you might enjoy it but if you are like me who wants to get into a game or two for fun when the feeling hits, then it probably isn’t.
Overall, I am not sure if Hell Let Loose is worth it, especially with better multiplayer games available that are much more fun. At £36 the game isn’t exactly cheap either, and you are better off getting something more refined. I understand that some people are longing for a fun and authentic WW2 experience, but this isn’t it. Hell Let Loose is more about waiting and trodding than fighting. I would recommend saving your money for something else.