With games able to be more realistic with each passing year, many make the attempt to recreate scenarios from the past in order to reframe how we look at them, or to create an immersive experience by utilizing all the available information to create a hyper realistic end product. This is a case of the latter, and Hell Let Loose delivers in a strangely satisfying way. While I cannot say I’m a huge fan of the game itself or realistic shooters in general, Hell Let Loose was most certainly a memorable experience that brought with it some laughs, and a lot of anxiety.
To start this off, I feel the need to say that Hell Let Loose has absolutely no tutorial and expects you to drop right into the action. Even reading the “How to Play” section didn’t do much, and on loading in I was immediately placed in the battlefield after attempting to navigate some menus about joining teams and only being able to pick from the remaining infantry class. The new player experience is incredibly unfriendly, and honestly needs a lot of work. On loading in you’re thrown into a sprawling map that either has absolutely zero action or everything happening at once. You spawn at headquarters outposts and officers can create further outposts as areas are captured, and the goal is to capture the enemy outposts and control the map. While this seems simple, the size of the map and amount of players possibly on each team makes this either a total washout, or one of the longest rounds of a shooter you can play. Most of my experience as a new player was attempting to reunite with my team or experience combat, but as a realistic military shooter Hell Let Loose makes sure you know that this is war. I can honestly say a good chunk of my time spent playing was running through a field and getting shot in the head over and over. If it’s a nonfatal wound you can be revived by your team, but fatal wounds end you on the spot. That, and getting carpet bombed by planes were the main causes of my demise. Even after a good few hours of gameplay I couldn’t warn you about the planes, they seem to just “happen” every so often. I’m proud to say though, after my third or fourth hour of gameplay I finally managed to get a single kill in a match, landing me my first achievement.
The game looks pretty decent and honestly seems period accurate. There’s not a lot distinguishing most of the maps apart from each other aside from some landmarks and the size, with the most major change I’ve seen being a burnt forest. Navigating the map takes some getting used to, as the areas are absolutely massive and your map is period-accurate as well. Following the trenches to see combat and trying to regroup was my main way of travelling after a while, since I had awful luck in the tanks. The only thing off about this is the player models in a major way. They are comically doll-like and seeing them in the same vehicle or standing next to them feels like seeing mannequins. Even in combat it can be kind of unnerving, but generally combat consists of shooting from cover until you can pinpoint someone running along enemy lines. As hectic as it gets, it’s a bit comforting knowing the playing field is even, and just being skillful and smart about how you move and shoot defines a lot of the combat. A stray bullet can kill you in a firefight, but positioning is incredibly key and holding vantage points helps a ton when in a prolonged fight.
Overall I can’t really say I “enjoyed” my time with Hell Let Loose so much as I “experienced” it. It’s one of my very few run ins with this genre of game and for good reason: I’m terrible at these games. That being said, a change of pace was cool for a bit until it got downright frustrating. This is a game for those with a passion for not only realistic shooters, but that feeling of playing an early access game with your friends. The features like proximity chat and running around without an idea of what to do brought me back to early DayZ times, playing with a group like chickens without heads. If you’re really deep into WW2 history and want to attempt to experience something close to life then this game is for you, but not if you’re the type to want to put down a game after a “few rounds”. Hell Let Loose will chew you up and spit you out, but overall leaves no lasting impression as something that will be impactful going forward.
Score: 6 out of 10
Reviewed on PlayStation 5